Thompson touts nationwide job growth at Brookville stop
Congressman Glenn Thompson says the recent good news on job creation isn't an accident.
"In September, 136,000 jobs were created (nationwide)," Thompson said Friday at the annual meeting of Jefferson County Development Council. "We continue to be on that amazing trajectory in terms of the nationwide economy."
Thompson, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 15th District in the U.S. House, said there are talks in the mainstream media about the slowing in terms of business projections.
"But as I travel around and visit businesses and manufacturers what I am seeing is that any predictions of a slowdown come down to a workforce issue," he said.
Part of filling those jobs is education.
"My view of education is not typical," said Thompson. "I do not focus so much on bricks and mortar. To me it is a system that can be done through employers, community colleges and organizations like Triangle Tech. It is a system that you go into, get what you need and get out of it and go to work. Maybe it is to get a job or a promotion and maybe it is just to be able to continue to work."
Thompson said he has introduced legislation that would allow individuals to take some responsibility to be sure they get those skill sets. "We have created an educational savings account," he said. "You would get some tax-deferred treatment and you would use that to invest in yourself. It would also allow employers to contribute to that educational savings account. It just makes sense.
"Workforce is critically important. There is a lot more that we need to do," he said.
One of those things is the substance abuse epidemic.
"We have to win this war on substance abuse," he said. "There are too many who have taken themselves out of workforce eligibility because of either bad genetics or they made bad decisions. This is the public health crisis of our lifetime."
Thompson said it is difficult for people who have been incarcerated and who have served their sentence to break back into the workforce.
"We need to do a better job with that," he said. "We need to do a better job helping these people redeem themselves."
He also addressed the welfare system.
"What these people need is not a government check but a job," he said. "If they are able bodied we need to encourage them to get out of the welfare system."
Thompson said the welfare program was part of the Great Society program of the 1960s.
"As far as I am concerned that program has failed dramatically," Thompson said. "There are more people on welfare today than there was in the 1960s. In our welfare system today we have poverty cliffs. These are designed to keep people in the welfare system. We need these people in the workforce and they need a chance at the American dream and that only comes through the power of work," he said.
"We have to do something about immigration. We need a merit based immigration system. We need people with skills to fill the demand jobs that we can't find Americans to do today," he said. "There is some good work that is going on mostly in a bipartisan way.
"A new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico is very important to Pennsylvania," he said. "We need a re-do on NAFTA. I have some people on my staff that are not as old as NAFTA. It is long overdue.
"It is all up to (U.S. House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi at this point," he said. "If she puts it on the floor we have the votes. A good bill for me is when you get some support from both sides."
A new North American trade treaty was not the only trade issue addressed by Thompson.
"China is still at the table. China just eliminated some tariffs on our U.S. soybeans and pork. They have a lot of mouths to feed. China needs us," he said.
One of the lesser-known aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the Qualified Opportunity Zones. "It was a big driver in the robust economy today. These are zones that are meant to focus on economically distressed communities," he said. "These are places that don't get private investments because of unemployment, average income maybe blight or a lot of things out there."
Under the Opportunity Zone regulations a successful company may apply its capital gains to a zone and avoid paying a tax on those earnings. "It is a remarkable opportunity," he said.
"What I like best about this is that you people decide where this will go. You are the people on the ground and we trust you," Thompson said. "You know your communities."