After 12 years and some choice committee assignments, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan has shed the “rising star” label that was pinned on him by congressional watchers during his early days on Capitol Hill.
Today, Ryan of Howland, D-13th, is considered one of the most effective legislators in Congress. Of course, it helps that he represents a leading Democratic district in the state and has had a relatively easy path to re-election.
The congressman is seeking a seventh two-year term this year with inconsequential opposition in the May 6 primary. He will face a write-in candidate in the November general election.
He should have no trouble breezing through the two contests.
However, it would be a mistake to conclude that Ryan is taking his job for granted because he’s so safe politically. He has worked hard on behalf of the people of his district, has successfully directed hundreds of millions of dollars to this part of the state, and has been rewarded for his loyalty to the Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill with an appointment to the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
The committee controls the federal government’s expenditure of money. Ryan also is a member of the House Budget Committee, which oversees the federal budget process.
He serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Manufacturing Caucus and has been in the forefront of the fight to strengthen America’s manufacturing base and reform U.S. trade policies.
The congressman’s political vision is evident in his answer to a question in the The Vindicator’s survey form sent to all candidates:
“I believe that continuing to protect the economy and put citizens back to work should remain one of our highest priorities. I believe that fundamental change results from innovative, far-reaching legislation that will grow the economy, reward businesses and keep jobs in the United States, reduce the deficit, and create a level playing field for American workers in the global market place.”
But even a representative with a safe seat must deal with messy aspects of politics, and in today’s hyper-partisan climate, there is no issue messier than the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare.
Health-care reform is the issue that Republicans believe will not only enable them to strengthen their hold on the House, but to take over the Senate. Thus, many Democratic congressmen are steering clear of Obamacare and aren’t inviting President Obama to campaign with them in their districts.
But Ryan sees things differently — obviously because he isn’t in jeopardy. The congressman insists that Obamacare has been good for the country and that Democrats who voted for the legislation should not run from it.
Rather, he says, his colleagues should find constituents who have benefitted from the ACA and feature them in their re-election campaigns.
Ryan’s leadership and involvement in local economic development projects and initiatives have been well publicized, but without a doubt America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in downtown Youngstown, is his crowning achievement.
America Makes has been singled out by President Obama in two national speeches and has received worldwide attention for its role in helping the U.S. increase its capabilities and strength in 3D printing — additive manufacturing.
A consortium of universities, including Youngstown State and Eastern Gateway Community College, and businesses in the Pittsburgh-Youngstown-Cleveland tech belt was formed to bid on the federal program. It went up against such heavyweights as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Building on this success, the congressman envisions the creation of a “smart park,” which, he says, would make this area “an international beacon of additive manufacturing.”
But Ryan is also well aware that the pillars of the Mahoning Valley’s economic stability and growth demand his attention.
He continues to work closely with management and labor at General Motors’ Lordstown plant not only to ensure that production of top-selling Chevrolet Cruze continues uninterrupted, but that the next generation of the compact car will be launched without a hitch.
As for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, which was dealt a major blow with the reassignment of four C-130 transport planes to other bases, the congressman remains optimistic.
He insists that the base is on solid ground, and that he’s working on increasing the number of missions at YARS. He mentioned the possibility of a medical unit when he met with Vindicator editors and writers.
In the May 6 Democratic primary, Ryan faces John Luchansky of Boardman who chose not to seek The Vindicator’s endorsement.
Ryan receives our unstinting endorsement for the Democratic nomination and is deserving of a solid vote next month.