PUNXSUTAWNEY — U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson told the audience at Friday's "Legislative Breakfast" that despite all the doom and gloom that his constituents hear in the mainstream media regarding the economy, there is a reason to be optimistic.
Thompson was the speaker at the breakfast that was sponsored by the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce, and he said that the U.S. has always had challenging times throughout its history.
"We've had evil individuals fly airplanes into the seat of our military, the seat of our financial district, and one that was headed to our Capitol before the heroes of Flight 93 crashed it near Shanksville," he said. "There are people in this room today that remember gas rationing during World War II."
Thompson said our country has always had difficult times, and our people have always overcome them.
"Our strength lies in our citizens, and I'm tremendously optimistic about our future," Thompson said.
"Not only have we overcome them, we've excelled and taken this country to even greater heights once we get past them," Thompson said, adding that the U.S. is still the greatest country in this world.
Thompson said that the U.S. can excel and overcome economic troubles by getting back to the fundamentals.
He said it comes down to what kind of culture Americans have in our country.
Thompson said there's been a growing movement that America is a country
that is based on entitlement.
"'I should have whatever you have, and if you're successful in life, you get to give me some of that,'" he said. "Life doesn't work that way, and that's not true, but that's what we're up against."
Thompson said the reality is that this country was founded on and exists today because the true culture of the U.S. is the culture of opportunity.
The only promise that this country has made to each and every citizen is that there are opportunies available for those willing to work for them, he said.
"You must be willing to sacrifice and take risks," Thompson said, adding that there's no guarantee of success, but all citizens have the opportunity to reach for it, which has a lot to do with self-reponsibility.
Thompson said that since he's been in Washington, jobs have been the No. 1 issue.
The best social program that could be created is one that would help people find a really good job, he said.
Thompson said there's a lot of debate on jobs today.
"President Barack Obama recently put out a jobs bill; I've got to tell you it was like a rerun of a bad 'B' movie, where the dialogue doesn't match up with the mouth," Thompson said, adding that the bill was defeated in the U.S. Senate.
Thompson said the swing voters who defeated the bill were members of Obama's party.
"When the bill was introduced in the House, a Democrat introduced this bill, but put a disclaimer on it that it was at the request of the White House," he said. "The bill had no co-sponsors, but the mainstream national media beats us up, because we're the ones that are defeating the president's job bill."
Thompson said Obama's plan is flawed because it would mean more stimulus spending.
The country now has a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, which is higher than when the first stimulus spending was passed, Thompson said.
Approximately $3 trillion was added to the debt since Obama has been in office, Thompson said.
Thompson went on to talk about what he called the "Forgotten 15" jobs bills that have been passed by the House, but have never been acted on by the Senate.
Here are some of those bills:
• Reduce emergency regulations and repeal some Environmental Protection Agency bills.
• Fix the tax code and reduce small business paperwork.
• Free-trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and and South Korea, which would be a tremendous help to agriculture, especially the dairy farmers.
• Streamline permitting, processes and shutting off that pipeline to the Middle East, Thompson said, adding that the U.S. receives 30 percent of its oil from the Middle East.
"That's a dangerous relationship to have — let them keep their oil; I don't care what they do with it," he said. "We don't need to be buying it; we should use our own resources."
According to Thompson, the U.S. needs to live within its means.
"I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle that I'm proud of, which says, 'You can't spend what you don't have,'" Thompson said, adding that it will require discipline and sacrifice to bring spending under control.