HAZLETON – U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta said every elected federal official, from President Obama on down, must work together to get things done over the next several years.
Critics have called the 112th Congress the do-nothing Congress and gridlock – caused by stiff political partisanship – has to end to effect real change, Barletta, R-Hazleton, said.
In my first two years in office, I've experienced the gridlock that cripples Washington, Barletta, 56, said. We pass bills in the (Republican-controlled) House that don't even get brought up in the (Democratic-controlled) Senate. But the Senate hasn't passed a budget in four years. Then the president blames his political opponents for not getting anything done.
Barletta made his comments a day after the GOP failed to take over the White House. Many are concerned the political divisiveness that has hamstrung Washington for the past two years will continue.
He said that if Democrats don't like Republican ideas, that's fine, that's America. But, he said, the president and the Senate should propose their own ideas.
Barletta said that in Congress procedure should be: The House passes a bill; the Senate passes its own version of that bill; then both sides get together in conference and work out a compromise.
That's not happening now, he said. Instead, both parties are looking to one-up the other politically, and the economy suffers, the American people suffer, and our long-term planning and stability suffer.
Tom Baldino, Wilkes University political science professor, said the House GOP leadership needs to stop catering to the Tea Party faction.
If and when Obama comes to them with a package of legitimate budget cuts and tax increases that include real tax reforms, the (House) speaker needs to negotiate in good faith and reach a compromise, Baldino said. The same holds true for the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.
Baldino said these scenarios are complicated by the fact that Obama is facing mid-term elections in Congress in two years, and as a result has only 12 to 18 months to get meaningful legislation passed.
If the Republicans don't budge and insist on only budget cuts, then Obama needs to take his case to the people in the mid-term elections just as Clinton did in 1998, he said. That 1998 election was the first time in decades where the party of the president actually picked up a few seats in an off-year election. Basically, Obama would blame the GOP for obstructionism and would pay the price at the polls.
Brian Carso, political science professor at Misericordia University, said the federal government is moving to the precipice of financial crisis, so overcoming gridlock is imperative.
I have no great faith that this will happen, since the American people seem to have voted for gridlock, he said. But perhaps the atmosphere of crisis will inspire some cooperation.
Barletta said he intends to keep doing what the people who sent him to Washington to do while seeking areas for compromise.
From what I've heard from my constituents, that includes cutting spending, saving our entitlement programs for the long term, cutting regulations that hurt small businesses and family farms, stopping the defense cuts coming under sequestration, and repealing and replacing Obamacare with common sense reforms.
Baldino said it's critical for the nation that both parties work to fix the tax code and the entitlement programs quickly.
Honestly, all of our local congressmen (Barletta, Matt Cartwright and Tom Marino) are in safe seats, he said. They don't need to do much of anything. Gerrymandering assures their re-election. The only way any of them will be defeated is if they fall victim to a self-inflicted wound. They are only vulnerable in a primary fight.
• U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta said two of his district offices – Wilkes-Barre and Taylor – will not be in the new 11th District. He said he will work with U.S. Rep-elect Matt Cartwright to coordinate the transfer of case files of constituents who live in the new 17th District.
• Barletta said he will take a look at the new nine-county 11th District to determine the best locations for new constituent service offices.
• Barletta said his district staff will visit the offices of state representatives and state senators on a regular basis to meet with constituents in those areas.