Newtown Advance - News - 01/04/2006 - To serve and protect: "Community News
To serve and protect
By: BRIDGET BRIER 01/04/2006
Bob Casey Jr. fights to bring funding back to Pennsylvania
The 2006 Senatorial race between Republican incumbent Rick Santorum and the current Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr., has been touted as one of the most anticipated political races of the year.
Yet despite the daily increase of national media attention, Casey took time before the 2005 holiday season to explain his intent focus is on the daily issues of the people of Pennsylvania.
Of the issues especially affecting the people of Bucks County is the current hardships of the small businessmen and women. Casey sees the lack of federal funding for health care as a direct blow to small businesses and is determined to make federal funds more accessible to the Pennsylvania people who own, operate and work for, a small business.
"One of the major challenges of any small business in Pennsylvania is the cost of health care. I think it's crippling many small businesses in our state and I've talked to business people across the state about this. I think that the answer from Washington has been just total abdication of responsibility by the federal government to do something, anything about the cost of healthcare," Casey said.
It is a priority of Casey's to force Washington's attention back to those business owners who live off of their monthly revenue. He wants to allow small businesses access to a purchasing pool of health care, thereby making it more possible for them to provide for their own families and those families who work for them.
"One thing that a lot of people in Washington have talked about but haven't done anything about it is creating a broad purchasing pool for small businesses - just like federal employees have. They have a broad purchasing pool that allows costs to stay down. And a lot of small businesses want to see that," Casey said.
Casey went on to speak earnestly of such government organizations as the SBA, which critics maintain has not seen its fair share of federal funding in the past several years.
"One agency in the federal government that's had a tremendous effect in a very positive way for small businesses is the [United States] Small Business Administrations and the SBA has been cut by a third just in the last couple of years. Under the Republican leadership in Washington, supported 98 percent of the time at least by Senator Santorum, they have supported time and again cuts for the SBA - that's wrong." Casey said.
"I think the federal government's approach to helping small businesses is central to our economic plan, my economic plan, but it's also central to the concerns that a lot of people in Pennsylvania have."
Bob Casey Jr., the son of the late Pennsylvania governor Robert Casey, can easily be referred to as a "people person." Though Casey has spent the last decade in politics (serving as Auditor General before being elected as State Treasurer), he was once a teacher and a basketball coach, and Casey clearly enjoys the one-on-one contact of meeting the people of Pennsylvania and listening to their concerns about providing for themselves, their parents, and their children.
His previous positions have made him intimately aware of Pennsylvania's fiscal past and present and now Casey wants to insure the state's financial future as well.
Especially important for Casey, is providing an adequate and accessible education. "I think the federal government has to do more that we're doing right now to invest in early learning and to take what was a good goal and a laudable objective, 'No Child Left Behind,' and actually fully fund it. Or at least begin the process of funding it in a way that's fair. Pennsylvania is hundreds of millions of dollars behind in what we should be getting under No child Left Behind, "Casey said earnestly.
"Because frankly if we don't do the job of investing in a child at a very young age, literally in the early days and weeks and months of that child's life, no education program ten or fifteen years later can save them." Casey said.
In addition, Casey wants to make higher education another top priority. "Pennsylvania is having trouble keeping up payments in investments in higher education. Our families are struggling with that. The federal government has been changing the eligibility for the PELL grant and making it harder for families and students in Pennsylvania to afford the cost of college. This is going in the wrong direction when what we need is more help not less from the federal government," Casey said.
Casey believes that the people of Pennsylvania are earnest for a change and want leadership that has their best interests at heart. "People are going to vote in 2006 for a new direction, a different path, a more helpful road, which is a road where we come together in a bipartisan way to work on the question of health care and reducing the cost and to work on reducing the deficit. We will work together on priorities like education, like early learning. We work on the challenge that we have with retirement security where more and more we are faced with with challenge of more and more American's facing retirement with no health care.
"Economic security for a lot of people is a real worry. People are frustrated, people want a change and they want Washington to reflect some of our shared values. We will try our best to lessen or reduce or somehow mitigate the economic insecurities that people feel. We're going to work very hard to earn people's vote by addressing these problems." "