Voters in Ohio's 6th Congressional District face a clear choice when they vote in Tuesday's election.
They can return Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson to Washington or choose a new direction with Republican Bill Johnson. We endorse and recommend you cast your vote for Johnson for the 6th District House of Representatives seat.
Johnson speaks of what we think the United States, and our area, needs to bring itself back on track economically and to revitalize its spirit: Smaller, less intrusive government and less federal spending.
Wilson and Johnson both speak of the need to review government spending. Wilson favors solutions that gain quick attention in election season: A 2 percent cut in federal spending, except for the military and entitlements, for three years, which he says would save $400 billion. That's not even a quarter of the federal deficit built up during the current Congress. Then, there's his proposal for a $3 check-off on income tax forms to go toward deficit reduction. Government budgets shouldn't be a charitable contribution, especially when citizens already pay taxes. According to Johnson, it would take decades before any meaningful impact on the burgeoning deficit would be made, even if every taxpayer decided to contribute $3 a year.
Johnson said he'd favor a full review of all federal programs, cutting those that don't benefit the nation's economy, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, which he said would be better off as a privately funded entity. Further, Johnson's experience as a retired career Air Force officer has allowed him to see there are ways to save on military spending without harming troops in the field. He said a study should concentrate on finding efficiencies in administration and logistics shared among the services, which would benefit the ability to spend on actual front-line defense.
Johnson views the health care reform law as a major abuse of the constitutional powers of the federal government. He favors replacing it with health savings accounts, tort reform, a truly portable insurance system that would allow interstate competition, and, vitally, making sure decisions are kept in the patient-doctor relationship without government intrusion.
Wilson views his vote in favor of the health care reform law as one that benefited tens of thousands of people in his district. Still, he knows the bill isn't perfect and speaks of adjustments that are being attempted. One is a measure that passed the House and is stalled in the Senate to get rid of the health care act's burden on business requiring any transaction with a vendor totaling more than $600 to be reported on a separate federal tax form. The result will hit small business, which Wilson says will create most of the jobs in the future, with increasing costs on paperwork and accounting at a time when spending should be on inventory, capital improvements and new employee hiring if the economy is to recover.
Wilson doesn't apparently realize the time is long past for tolerating claims the House is making changes in the right direction without actually solving problems. That's reflected in his voting record, cited by the Washington Post as 98.1 percent with the Democrat majority. Breaking with Democratic leadership and slowing the health care bill's process would have given time to study the bill's contents. Passing a train wreck and then trying to clean it up is less effective than making sure the train didn't wreck in the first place.
Wilson stood with the area in voting against the cap-and-trade legislation. However, when that is coupled with his vote in favor of the costly health care measure while still proclaiming to be a champion of small business, it's no wonder the claim he traded the cap-and-trade vote for support on health care continues to have traction despite his claims to the contrary.
Also appearing on the ballot will be Richard Cadle of the Constitution Party and Martin Elsass of the Libertarian Party. Both have brought up interesting ideas during the campaign, but neither seems to be the right fit for our district.
Johnson is clear about what he would do in Washington: Smaller government, business-friendly policies, strong national defense.
Johnson says he's not a career politician and says he's had two careers already, in the Air Force and now in private business. We hope that means he's strong enough to withstand what happens sometimes - and happened in Wilson's case - in Washington. We've watched Wilson change from "Charlie" into "Congressman Wilson" during the last two years when every vote became needed to pass the radical policies of the liberal majority and he was courted by the likes of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House. We've felt a change in attitude and responsiveness from Wilson, and not for the better.
It's time for Wilson to become Charlie Wilson, businessman from St. Clairsville, once more.
Johnson touches upon the American spirit of free enterprise and invention, citing the litany of American inventions and systems that led to the country being the industrial leader of the world for the past century. He's saddened, as most Americans are, by that spirit being replaced by bailouts that didn't free up capital or increase employment in a meaningful way, government ownership and regulation.
He is "Bill from Mahoning County," and we hope he serves as, but never becomes "Congressman Johnson" as his main identity.
It's time to bring back sensibility and accessibility in our region's representative, and Bill Johnson represents that choice.