I share in your deep and justified frustration with the poor economic situation of our region. For too long, South Jersey has been on the top of the wrong lists and at the bottom of the right ones. Our neighbors are struggling to find work or juggling two or three part-time jobs just to get by. Our families are facing rising food and energy costs while trying to plan for their children's education and their own retirement. Our small-business owners are nervous about making payroll, paralyzed by the uncertainty of their future tax bill, and anxious about what new government regulation will come next. Washington is making worse the growing disconnect with the real world.
There has been a real lack of leadership from President Barack Obama and his administration that has yielded unemployment levels higher than the projected 5.6 percent under the nearly trillion-dollar stimulus bill. The reality: South Jersey's unemployment is almost two times higher. The nation's economic growth has slowed over the past year, demonstrating a stagnant economy. The deficit was promised to be halved, yet we see four straight years of $1 trillion in new debt. And the impact of policies not yet fully enacted could further strain employers and household savings, most notably regulations under Obamacare. The fact remains that there has been no dawn to follow the darkness.
Obama's statement of "you didn't build that" is indicative of how his administration views the role of government in our lives. Yet it runs counter to the principles of the Constitution and the American dream. We are best served when Washington gets out of the way, out of our wallets and off the backs of small business.
Take my dad. His family came to this country when he was 6 years old. They were farmers, a proud tradition in Cumberland County for many generations of families. Then they bought a used truck to transport their produce to market. As more area farmers asked him to take their vegetables, our family trucking company was born. The government didn't buy his truck. Washington didn't raise my dad's crops. His family and his hard work, common-sense and values laid the foundation for our small business.
What I learned over 26 years at our small business is that identifying problems and finding solutions requires cooperation and communication. I've lived those lessons all my life, working to deliver results. In Congress, every day I chose to have a South Jersey-based focus rather than a Washington-based agenda.
When our veterans came to me angry and frustrated that they had to travel to Wilmington or Philadelphia for their health care, I worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs officials to expand community-based services locally. Today our clinics provide new services for tele-health and women's health, while dialysis and referrals for some cancer treatments at local providers are available. And I continue to push for additional local services for our veterans.
When bureaucrats were seeking to reduce care at rehabilitation hospitals for people on Medicare, I formed a bipartisan coalition to permanently stop the new regulations and preserve access to those critical services.
And when our commercial fishermen and tour-boat operators told me about the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to fine them for deck wash, I secured a moratorium so a common-sense solution can be found.
First and foremost I've focused on constituent services, helping those having difficulties with federal agencies to cut through red tape and get good outcomes. I continue to fight to protect South Jersey's economy, such as getting hundreds of furloughed Federal Aviation Administration employees and contractors back to work. I look at real problems in our communities and work toward solutions, always being South Jersey's greatest advocate.
My record is clear: I've always put people before party. I stood against efforts to privatize Social Security or any changes that would affect current retirees and those age 55 or older. I support efforts to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare for our children and grandchildren. And I've voted to repeal corporate subsidies for oil, gas, ethanol, sugar and cotton that are not in taxpayers' interests. I continue to do what I feel is right for South Jersey.
Looking forward, I pledge to continue serving you, your families and our communities as I always have, with honesty, integrity and a South Jersey-based focus. I appreciate your previous confidence in me to represent you, and I ask for your support on Nov. 6.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, of Ventnor, is a Republican representing the 2nd District.