U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield is seeking election to a ninth term in Congress, listing his top priorities as addressing the federal debt, creation of jobs and protecting national security. Not only is the nation facing many challenges, Americans are frustrated and upset, Whitfield said Wednesday night at Madisonville City Hall, speaking to approximately 30 people attending his re-election announcement.
"If (President) Barack Obama was here tonight standing right next to me, he would tell you that he wants to solve the federal debt, he wants to create jobs and he wants to build up the infrastructure," Whitfield said. "But I want to tell you there are significant differences in the way that we would do it."
The federal debt, estimated at $15.2 trillion, recently surpassed the nation's gross domestic product, Whitfield said. Economists believe economic growth cannot be sustained, he said, if debt continues to exceed the nation's annual production over a long period of time.
"That's one of the reasons that I voted against every stimulus package and every bail out," the Republican said. "I did it primarily because I did not think there were significant guidelines on how the administration could spend the money."
He cited a list of companies, many involved with green technology, that went bankrupt after accepting stimulus funds in the form of grants and loan guarantees. The administration earmarked up $48 billion in stimulus funds for projects that utilized unproven green technology, he said.
The Hopkins County native, who plans several stops throughout the 1st Congressional District this week to discuss his campaign goals, was first elected to the U.S. House in November 1994. He was part of a large class of incoming Republican congressmen, many of whom campaigned under the banner of New Gingrich's "Contract With America."
Republicans have controlled the House for much of Whitfield's tenure, but the party just regained the majority during the 2010 mid-term elections.
Several of the people speaking in support of Whitfield's candidacy Wednesday night praised his advocacy of the coal industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency is holding up permits for new coal mines and attempting to shut down coal-powered electrical plants, according to Whitfield. When EPA administrators meet with Congress to discuss new regulations, they promote policies based on how many jobs can be created through green technology, he said.
"We all recognize that green energy has a role to play," he said, "but there is no way in the world that green energy is going to provide the base-load of electricity that we need in America. It cannot be done without coal and nuclear (energy) and other fossil fuels like natural gas. It simply cannot be done."
In areas where the EPA fail to win congressional support for regulations, he said the agency is entering into consent decrees in lawsuits filed by third-party groups whose interests coincide with the administration's goals. He estimated that more than 700 lawsuit are pending against the EPA.
"That is not the way we need to adopt environmental policy in America," he said.
While Obama talks about addressing the federal debt, jobs creation and natural security, many of his administration's policies are making those goals more difficult to accomplish, Whitfield said. Some of the president's actions, he said, are hurting America's competitiveness in the global economy.
"I think there are strong philosophical differences between myself and many members of our party at the national level and this administration," he said. "So because of that, I want to ask for your support. I think it is imperative that we maintain control of the House."