Thursday 23 May 2019
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Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate Candidates Weigh In on Key Business Issues

On Tuesday, November 6, Americans will go to the polls to vote for who makes the rules to govern our lives, keep us safe, and pave the way for our future. This midterm, we will also choose one of our two U.S. senators in Pennsylvania. We reached out to the candidates, Republican Lou Barletta and Democrat Bob Casey Jr., for their take on issues facing our Pennsylvania business community.

Lou Barletta,

Barletta turned the family business into the largest in the state inside of five years. Frustrated with his hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, he successfully ran for City Council before being elected mayor in 1999, where Democrats significantly outnumbered Republicans. In 2004, the White House appointed Barletta to represent the Unites States on the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities and, in 2008, the Pennsylvania State Mayor’s Association voted him Pennsylvania’s Mayor of the Year. He gained national attention for his Mayoral initiatives and in 2010 defeated a 28-year incumbent Democrat to represent Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District where he has served four terms.

Bob Casey Jr.,

Casey is the incumbent U.S. Senator and son of former Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey Sr. He is a native of Scranton, where he practiced law before he was elected to Pennsylvania’s Auditor General in 1996 and served for two terms. After failing to win his party’s nomination for Pennsylvania governor and being term limited as auditor general, he successfully ran for state treasurer in the 2004 election. In 2006, Casey defeated incumbent Rick Santorum for the U.S. Senate and was re-elected in 2012. He is seeking his third term as U.S. senator.

In 2009, the federal government established the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour, the final tier in the three-step implementation of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. A mere three years later, many advocacy groups were not satisfied and have pushed for a more than double increase to $15. Some states and cities have given in and made, in a few cases, substantial increases. However, due to Newton’s law of cause and effect, many industries have implemented measures to replace unskilled workers with automation. With an increased minimum wage, this has become more cost efficient for unskilled labor. Additionally, there is the unholy correlation in states and cities with the highest minimum wage laws and corporate tax rates, i.e. California, New York and Seattle to name a few, to be considered.

Should the federal minimum wage be increased, left to each individual state, or something else?

Barletta: Since Pennsylvania is different from California or Montana, future minimum wage increases should be determined by individual states. One-size-fits-all policies from Washington create unintended consequences and prevent each individual state from governing in a way that makes sense for their residents, workers and businesses.

Casey: Candidate did not respond as of press time.

As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first real tax overhaul in over 30 years, the economy is booming and American’s optimism is highest it has been this decade. According to the Tax Policy Center, 91 percent of the middle class are receiving these tax breaks. Many companies have enjoyed this support and are returning the favor to our economy by hiring more employees, giving raises and expanding their operations. However, the clock will strike midnight in 2025, and many of the cuts will return to 2017 rates.

Should the results of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act be made permanent, left alone or reversed?

Barletta: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act should be made permanent. The new tax code gives America a competitive advantage against international economic rivals, and American workers are already seeing strong wage and job growth due to the tax cuts. To fully realize these benefits, businesses and families need certainty for long-term planning. Making the tax cuts permanent would help to achieve this.

Casey: Candidate did not respond as of press time.