About Joe Pitts
Congressman Pitts has spent his entire life serving his community and his country. He was a decorated officer in the Air Force, serving three tours and flying 116 combat missions. He was a high school math and science teacher and basketball coach. He was a highly respected state legislator and is now our U.S. Congressman. Constituents and colleagues know him as a workhorse, not a show horse. “I’m not interested in running for higher office,” he says. “I want to use this job my neighbors have given me to make America safer and stronger so that no one has to be afraid of losing their job, losing their health insurance, losing their home, or losing their investments.”
Congressman Pitts believes that government can help farms, businesses, and families succeed—often by getting out of the way, but sometimes by getting involved. He believes that America is still the land of opportunity where entrepreneurship and ingenuity can make anything possible. But he also recognizes that government sometimes needs to level uneven playing fields and reach out a hand to those who need it.
“One of the reasons I joined the Air Force was that I couldn’t support my family on a junior teacher’s salary,” he says. “When Ginny started staying home with our first child, we couldn’t make ends meet. The government helped me then by training me and giving me a job I could support three children on. But the job I had also gave me a chance to serve and defend my country. I’m proud of that.”
He believes in free market economics, but recognizes that greed and irresponsibility make government oversight important. “The last economic downturn was the result of predatory lenders making money on the backs of working people,” he says. “However, the entire thing began with government regulations that pressed lenders to give mortgages to people who really couldn’t afford them. Government makes mistakes too. That’s why it’s so important that we elect the right people to public office. We can’t afford mistakes like that.”
Even as we struggle to shake off the recent economic downturn, America is still the strongest, most vibrant, most entrepreneurial economy in the world. This is not the product of government policy. It is the result of a nation full of people who have the courage to take risks and the imagination to dream big. America really is the Land of Opportunity. People still come from all corners of the globe seeking the American Dream. Even in Europe, old class distinctions sometimes limit a person’s potential to succeed. In America we can all succeed, and we need to keep it that way by keeping our economy strong and the playing field level. The government has a bad habit of picking winners and losers. The more we ask it to do, the less freedom (and money) we keep for ourselves. The government has a critical role to play in keeping America strong and prosperous. But it is a limited role. The government makes mistakes. The welfare laws of the ’70s and ’80s and the housing policies of the ’90s and ’00s were disasters that caused immeasurable harm to many American families. Those who could least afford it were hurt the most. Now, new mistakes are being made in healthcare and energy policy. Elections have real consequences. We need a government that has the wisdom to know when and how to help and when to get out of the way.
Health CareAn important part of every family’s economic security is the knowledge that they have health insurance they can count on. Too many families don’t have that security because they lack sufficient income, their employer can’t provide it for them, or because of pre-existing conditions. I offered details plans for addressing each of these problems while also strongly opposing the “Obamacare” law that wasforced through Congress on a party-line vote in 2010. We don’t need a new trillion-dollar bureaucracy to help people get the care they need.
The fundamental problem in American healthcare is that it costs too much. The very best thing we can do is to increase competition in the healthcare marketplace. Today, more than half of all healthcare in America is provided by the government. That means no competition to drive prices down. “Obamacare” forces young people to buy expensive insurance policies and punishes them if they don’t. Instead of making insurance affordable, it buys it for people and raises 20 different taxes to pay for it. This is the wrong approach.
National SecurityIt is hard for Americans to understand how today, in the 21st century, so much of the world is still dominated by hatred, tyranny, and fanaticism. We have to recognize that that’s the way it is, and to understand that some of that hatred and fanaticism is directed toward us. Tyrants hate us because the American model of freedom is a threat to them. Fanatics hate us because we don’t subscribe to their hateful ideologies. The events of September 11, 2001 proved once and for all that wide oceans are no longer an effective defense from foreign dangers.
We must remain vigilant in the war on terror. Al Qaeda and its allies remain dedicated to killing Americans on American soil. Iran wants nuclear weapons and North Korea already has them. The world is a dangerous place, and we must respond accordingly. At the same time we must safeguard dour Constitutional freedoms and arefrain from violating the principles our soldiers are sworn to defend.
Cleaner and Better EnergyI am a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and I work on these issues every day. We need to make significant changes to the way we produce electricity and power our cars in this country. At the same time, we must remember that we can’t do without energy. In fact, we need more of it all the time. The price of constricting energy production is economic stagnation, unemployment, and poverty.
Truly renewable sources of energy are few. Wind, solar, and hydroelectric power are used today to produce about seven percent of our nation's electricity. Wind and solar account for about one percent. We definitely need to increase the amount of electricity we produce this way. But the places where wind and solar power can be produced on a large scale also tend to be far away from the cities that consume the most power, creating technical challenges. Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, which creates a need for back-up generation capacity.
One thing we can do to protect our atmosphere from pollutants and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to increase the amount of electricity we generate from nuclear power. France generates over 85 percent of its electricity from 59 nuclear power plants. We, on the other hand, produce only 20 percent of our electricity from nuclear power. Increasing the amount of electricity we generate from nuclear power would protect the atmosphere and lessen our dependence on oil imported from dangerous and unstable parts of the globe. Nuclear waste storage is a serious question, but it is a question with viable answers. Nuclear waste can be reprocessed and used again, reducing the volume of radioactive waste by as much as 95 percent. What remains needs to be safely stored and guarded.
The current popularity of hybrid cars is just the beginning of a revolution in cleaner ways to drive. Plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars are not as far away as many believe. These technologies need to be promoted and used.
Protecting the EnvironmentWe live in a place where many families still farm land first deeded by William Penn 300 years ago. We are conscious of this remarkable heritage and we want to protect it. I am also a person of faith, and I believe that God created the Earth and made it our duty to protect and cherish it. As one bumper sticker says, “Good planets are hard to come by.”
Organic gardening, recycling, and simply turning the lights out when we’re not in a room are some of the things each of us can do to protect the environment. Smart growth policies and open space preservation programs are some of the things we can do as a community to conserve our heritage. Lessening our dependence on imported fossil fuels and promoting the development of clean and renewable energy sources are critical priorities for our nation. There is great reason for optimism in this area, but we need to make the transition through encouragement, entrepreneurship, and investment—not through taxation, bureaucracy, and punishment, as some in Congress want to do it.
Regaining Economic Security for FamiliesThe purpose of a strong economy is not to make Wall Street bankers richer or to get politicians reelected. The purpose of a strong economy is to help individual Americans and their families succeed. For some people, that means paying the rent and putting food on the table. For some people, it means going to college or putting a down payment on a house. For some people, it means expanding a business and hiring new employees. Whatever your goals are, the government cannot help you by taking more of your money from you. It can help you by passing laws that help you instead of making your life more difficult.
I pushed hard for the law that now allows Americans to save more in 401(k)s, IRAs, and Section 529 college saving plans. But those options don’t help a family that doesn’t have enough money left at the end of the month to invest. That’s why I believe so strongly in reducing taxes. We need trade policies, tax policies, and regulatory policies that will fire the engine of the American economy, while also keeping greed and irresponsibility from ruining things.
The government cannot create prosperity. Only the American people can. And the government needs to stop making it hard for us to do so.
Creating JobsUnemployment is not a statistic. Unemployment is a critical problem facing millions of Americans who struggle daily to meet their basic needs. But where do jobs come from? They don’t come from Washington. They come from private sector employers who see opportunities for growth and invest in them. High taxes, complicated and inconsistent regulation, an unwillingness to expand domestic energy production, and protectionist trade policies all lead to higher unemployment.
Businesses invest in jobs when they see a good opportunity to make money. The huge changes that were made in healthcare policy (“Obamacare”) and financial services regulation (“Dodd-Frank”) made it very hard for employers to make investment decisions even for the near-term future. I believe this is the largest reason the so-called “Great Recession” lasted so long. Ask any business owner and she’ll tell you: predictability in taxes, regulation, energy costs, and the cost of employee benefits are all essential to making a decision to grow, expand, and hire. Washington has spent the last several years moving
these goalposts around the field, sometimes repeatedly. This wasn’t smart. It hurt people.
Rebuilding Economic Strength for AmericaThe recent recession is the result of bad government policy and private sector greed. In 1995, the Clinton Administration changed regulations to force lenders to help more Americans afford homes of their own. This was a well-intentioned initiative, but it forced banks to give loans to people who were poor credit risks. Lenders, at first reluctant, eventually saw it as a way to make more money. More people in the housing market meant higher demand and higher prices. As long as the value of houses went up, a repossessed house was always worth more than the mortgage so lenders made money no matter what. That led to more and more “creative” and irresponsible mortgages. In 2008, the bubble burst and America paid the price. Congress deserves the most blame for allowing this to happen. Leading members of Congress were warned, but chose to do nothing for fear of alienating campaign donors.
The lesson? The government often gets things wrong. When it comes to laws and regulations, more is not better. Smarter is better. Most American businesses are run by honest executives and powered by the best workforce in the world. The real strength of the American economy lies in everyday businesses in every town across our country. It does not lie in Wall Street or Washington. It is America’s inherent strengths that are bringing our economy back today, despite a series of government missteps.
Washington needs to be more humble, and recognize its limits. Democrats and Republicans need to work together for the benefit of the American people. Congress and the President both need to stop making promises we can’t keep. Our government has enough on its plate already, and we should focus on doing those things well.
Latest Joe Pitts News
Health Subcommittee to Review Legislative Solutions to Protect Americans from Broken Health Care Law
The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), has scheduled a hearing for Monday, July 28, 2014, at 3 p.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Read More
“From telling Americans falsely that they could keep their health plan and doctors, to Secretary Sebelius’s commitment that the exchanges would be ready to launch on October 1, implementation of this law has been a series of broken promises,” Read More
Josh’s moving story certainly underscores how difficult, expensive, and uncertain the current drug development paradigm is – and how current clinical trial protocols often don’t meet the needs of desperately ill patients. Read More
Many companies that moved their operations overseas discovered something: cheap labor has its own costs. Read More