By CARL E. FEATHER - firstname.lastname@example.org
With four weeks and one day under his belt as congressman of Ohio’s 14th district, Dave Joyce has seen enough of Congress to understand what his predecessor, Steven LaTourette, prepared him to face.
“He told me ‘You are going to get down there and realize you got 434 high school class presidents who all have something to say,’” Joyce said Friday morning at the “Pancakes and Politics” breakfast held at Elks Lakefront Lodge.
The event was organized by the Ashtabula Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by COSE Energy Choice. Jessica Forsythe, executive director of the chamber, said the group’s focus this year is on business development and the chamber
felt this would be a good opportunity to introduce the local business community to the district’s new legislator.
“He’s a blank slate, and he is open to hearing what our needs are,” Forsythe said of Joyce, a Republican from Russell Township, Geauga County
Most of the 125 people who attended the event were chamber members or elected officials. During a question and answer period, they asked Joyce about proposed sick-pay legislation and fines for fair housing violations — a case prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General. Joyce promised the audience that he would represent their views as he looks into the issues.
Prior to winning the 14th Congressional District race in November, Joyce was Geauga County prosecuting attorney for 25 years. He told the breakfast crowd that when he was appointed to that post in 1988, he promised to fight crime and make sure the residents, not developers or courts, decided the county’s direction.
That same populist attitude was evident in Joyce’s comments Friday as he encouraged constituents from Ashtabula County to bring their concerns and needs to his office in Painesville, where LaTourette maintained his office.
“When you see things that don’t make sense ... let me know,” he said. “I want to bring common sense back to our government.”
From simplifying the tax code to delaying implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, Joyce called for common sense approaches to challenges facing Congress. Of the latter, he said regulations need to be completed before provisions are implemented. He would like to see implementation delayed for a year so that can happen. Joyce said there are two dozen new taxes buried in the act, and each one has to be evaluated as to its impact on jobs and economic growth.
One of them involves a 2.3 percent tax on the sales of medical devices. Joyce said while that seems like a small percentage, it’s more like a 46 percent tax on the actual profits of a small manufacturer. With northeast Ohio positioning itself as a hub for medical-device manufacturing, the tax will be a big issue for Joyce as he strives to “putting people in northeast Ohio back to work.”
Joyce also touched on the $16 trillion federal deficit and the need to have a budget document so lawmakers and the president have a starting point for deficit-reduction efforts.
“We need to go in with a scalpel and knife to cut areas of our budget and we need to do it promptly,” Joyce said.
He pointed out that the interest on the federal deficit is $200 billion annually, or enough to pay the grocery bills for 55.1 million American families for an entire year.
Joyce said during his first month in Congress, he’s seen how legislation gets inflated with spending measures and concessions in order to win a majority vote. He said there are instances where those “ear marks” are necessary, such as funding a project put on hold because federal funding was otherwise stalled, but overall, Joyce wants bills to stand on their own merits.
“I’m a big fan of one issue, one bill, so everybody very clearly understands what it is and then it gets voted either up or down,” he said.
Joyce serves on the House Committee on Appropriations; his subcommittee assignments are health and human services; transportation, housing and urban development; and interior, which includes the Environmental Protection Agency. Of the latter, he said there is a great need to be sensible about balancing environmental concerns with economic growth. He said, for example, that while he’s all for clean air, he feels America should draw upon its large coal deposits in the short term while developing cleaner forms of energy.
The congressman did not talk much about economic development, but did comment on Ashtabula County’s port resources and lakefront assets.
Joyce said people are “sick” of Congress not getting anything done and said it’s time to create “jobs that are solid, meaningful and get people back to work.”