Four Pennsylvanian Congressman addressed business leaders and local officials at a breakfast this morning about the effects of sequestration. In a panel discussion, Congressman Charlie Dent (15th District), Congressman Lou Barletta (11th District), Congressman Tom Marino (10th District), and Congressman Scott Perry (4th District) talked about issues ranging from sequestration to healthcare reform to natural disaster assistance.
Due to reapportionment, the Central Pennsylvania business community went from having two to four Congressional members. All four have been conducting outreach in the newly acquired region by meeting with constituents and businesses. President/CEO of PACB Nick DiFrancesco, also a Harrisburg CREDC Board Member, spoke with all four Congressmen following the panel discussion to encourage support for community banks and for measures that would roll back the regulatory tide. Last year Congressman Barletta toured Mid Penn Bank with President/CEO Rory Ritrievi, also the PACB Legislative Chairman, to see firsthand the issues facing community banks.
The topic that, by far, received the most attention was sequestration cuts. A few members criticized the cuts as not being proportional to the budget, as it was pointed out that half of the cuts are coming from defense spending (17% of the budget) while entitlement programs account for roughly 13% of cuts, despite being two thirds of the budget.
Another topic that received significant attention was China’s currency manipulation and patent abuses, as well as the recent news that state-sponsored cyber-espionage was behind several cyber-attacks on banks and other businesses. All four were in agreement that the issue is one of great importance and action needs to be taken to strengthen our cyber defense and protect intellectual property.
Congressman Tom Marino drew a thunderous applause after remarking that Congress needs to stop worrying about re-election and get down to solving the problems at hand in a bipartisan fashion.
One item that wasn’t discussed heavily was immigration reform. Perhaps the one issue that has a chance of garnering bipartisan support and bringing about a sweeping overhaul of our system, the subject of immigration reform has touched off a firestorm between Republicans about the best way to reform the broken system.