The Suburbanite
  • 16th Congressional District: Results mixed for Renacci's first term

  • Congressman Jim Renacci ,who’s represented Stark County in Congress the past two years, is running to be elected from a new 16th Congressional District that includes only northwestern Stark County.

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  • Did Congressman Jim Renacci do what he promised?
    The answer is he tried, with mixed results.
    After nearly two years as Stark County’s congressman, Renacci, R-Wadsworth, is seeking re-election to represent the new 16th Congressional District that includes only northwestern Stark County.
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    And while the Affordable Care Act still is the law of the land, Congress hasn’t passed a balanced budget plan, there still isn’t a stable and predictable environment for employers as taxes are set to increase Jan. 1 and employment hasn’t returned to 2006 levels, Renacci has a series of votes — many of them to repeal Obamacare that have been stymied by the Democratic Senate — and some accomplishments to tout in his campaign.
    But a concept in one of Renacci’s nine bills, which proposes allowing states to pay employers federal unemployment compensation money if they hire people on unemployment, made it into February’s payroll tax cut extension that became law, his spokesman said. But, he said, only Texas has applied to be in the program.
    The House GOP caucus with Renacci’s votes may have risked a government shutdown and a catastrophic debt default last year. In return for agreeing to an increase in the national debt ceiling, they were able to wring concessions on spending cuts of more than $2 trillion over 10 years from Obama and the Democrats. The cuts by themselves will not balance the budget, and they could lead to mass layoffs of federal workers and contractors.
    Democrats, including Renacci’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Copley Township, have blasted Renacci for voting in April 2011 for the long-term deficit reduction plan of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. Rather than guaranteeing benefits, the plan would overhaul Medicare for future seniors, now younger than 55, by providing set payments for them to pay for health insurance that Democrats said would eventually be insufficient.
    “You have to come up with a plan,” said Renacci, adding the plan includes greater Medicare payments for those with less means, encourages competition that reduces costs by allowing private insurers into the market and ensures Medicare’s solvency beyond 12 years. “That doesn’t mean you agree to every specific thing in the plan, but it’s a plan.”
    He said he favors cutting spending by cutting waste — he says many federal agencies leave their lights on at night — as well as overhauling entitlement programs and addressing “multiple departments regulating one thing.” He opposes automatic cuts in defense programs that would occur as part of the debt deal he supported that he hoped the so-called supercommittee would have stopped because “the military still has to have the money to pay for its troops and make sure to have its best equipment.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Renacci said the Affordable Care Act, by requiring insurers to expand coverage, has dramatically increased costs, a point disputed by Democrats. He said he would expand access to health care by reducing its costs through allowing health insurers to sell policies across state lines to increase competition and capping punitive damages in malpractice suits. But he couldn’t say how many more Americans would be able to afford health insurance under this plan.
    Renacci said he would make it easier for businesses to create jobs by cutting top tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent. He would offset the loss in revenue by eliminating or curtailing deductions such as accelerated depreciation. He said he does not support getting rid of the mortgage and charitable deductions, but he’s open to modifying them.
    Renacci wants to reduce “overreaching regulations” to encourage businesses to hire, and while “I’m all for clean air and clean water,” he wants to scale back “little bit extreme” environmental regulations.
    “The best way to fix things is jobs,” he said. “If you want to fix Social Security, let’s get more people working.”
    He opposes the Obama administration’s plan to allow tax cuts for those making at least $250,000 a year to expire.
    “We shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone in a time of recession ... that tax increase would affect job creators.”
    According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Renacci, 53, has a net worth of more than $32 million.
    While he grew up with modest means in Monongahela, Pa., before taking a job in 1983 in Wadsworth, he became an accountant, financial consultant and owner of more than 20 nursing homes, and had stakes in car and motorcycle dealerships, sports teams and an amphitheater in Columbus. He served on Wadworth’s council from 1994 to 2003 and as that city’s mayor from 2004 to 2007, cut more than 20 city jobs by attrition to balance the budget and facilitated the development of the Wadsworth Crossings shopping plaza.
    In 2010, Renacci beat incumbent Democratic congressman John Boccieri with 52 percent of the vote.
    Renacci has garnered national headlines by co-founding with a Democratic Delaware congressman a bipartisan group of 16 congressmen that met for breakfast to discuss legislation they could agree on.
    Congressmen Daniel Webster, R-Fla., Mike Kelly, R-Pa. and Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., say Renacci is disciplined and analytical, starts and ends the meetings on time, keeps discussions focused on the legislation and keeps the meetings free of partisan bickering.
    The group has endorsed several bills including legislation sponsored by Renacci that would set up tax-free accounts where people could save for down payments for a home. Another bill would allow companies to bring profits from overseas tax-free to the extent they increase payrolls.
    “He’s got a quiet but professional demeanor and comes to the gathering with a plan,” Meehan said. “It’s a results-oriented approach, and I think it’s been effective.”

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