By Karl Henkel
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan believes federal legislators know what the country needs.
Ryan, however, is unsure whether they know how to come to the necessary agreements to fix the nation’s struggling economy.
“I feel like we know where we want to be at times, but I am convinced that we can’t get there from here,” said Ryan, who spoke to a crowd of about 400 at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Salute to Business breakfast Thursday. “The current political environment in Washington is poisonous.”
Ryan, of Niles, D-17th, focused most of his 20-minnute address on ways to address the sluggish economy, most notably creating more jobs.
He said President Barack Obama’s pending jobs proposal will set the stage for America’s potential growth during the next few years.
It also may provoke more legislative bickering.
Ryan said additional government spending — which may or may not be part of Obama’s plan — shouldn’t be frowned upon, though Republicans likely won’t care for it. Ryan previously has called for more stimulus money to “try and jump- start the economy.”
“We have a national story now where every single thing the federal government spends money on is bad,” Ryan said. “If a coach runs a play three or four times and it doesn’t work, they don’t call it any more.”
Ryan didn’t elaborate on specific program cuts but said short-term fixes were the failed “plays” in his analogy. He said it’s time for the government to look long-term or risk further expanding the deficit.
“I’m concerned about the deficit,” he said. “No question that in the long term we have deficit issues. If we don’t have job creation in the next few years, we are going to have long-term deficits because there won’t be people paying taxes to the federal government to pay down the deficit.”
Ryan cited statistics that show 60 percent of jobs lost in the past two years were middle-class jobs.
“We can’t think we’re going to move forward in an economy where we just shine each other’s shoes and give each other massages and back rubs,” Ryan said. “That’s no way to generate long-term economic growth.”