Marino, Molesevich clash over the government’s role

Job creation, federal regulations and issues with the environment dominated the 10th District Congressional debate between U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, and his challenger, Democrat Mike Molesevich, of Lewisburg, hosted by WVIA Public Broadcasting on Tuesday evening.

Marino is running on issues such as border security, a strong military and limited government.

Molesevich said the country can achieve security by decreasing its dependence upon the Mideast for oil. He also said implementing campaign finance reform would remove the “influence of special interests in Congress.”

The candidates clashed over job creation, as Molesevich said the federal government should play a collaborative role with the private sector to create jobs, while Marino countered the government should stay out of the way of the private sector.

“We need to work together,” Molesevich said.

“The federal government does not create jobs, it spends more,” Marino said, adding that businesses continually are hurt by “job-crushing regulations.”

Marino said job creation also would help to solve the Social Security funding problems and fix the infrastructure in the United States.

“Create jobs so we can generate the money so we can fix our highways,” Marino said.

Molesevich said the Social Security system would not be fixed by the private sector.

“The first thing we need to do is protect Social Security and not privatize it,” he said.

The candidates addressed regulations imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement “best management practices” on local businesses and municipalities.

Marino said the federal government should “keep its hands out of it” and rely on the best practices already in place. He used the example of the Sunoco pipeline that broke during the Oct. 21 flash flooding in Northcentral Pennsylvania, sending 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Loyalsock Creek.

Marino said the regulations already in place worked to fix the problem.

However, Molesevich said that if the pipeline were deeper beneath the creek, in line with EPA’s regulations, the problem may not have occurred.

“The role of government should be to regulate those who cannot and will not regulate themselves,” Molesevich said.

Immigration also was a key topic during the debate, with Marino saying the government should enforce “the rules that are on the books” and secure the border.

Molesevich said legislation previously passed through the U.S. Senate would have helped the immigration issues, but it was shut down in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Marino said this was because the bill offered total amnesty to immigrants.

Molesevich also opposed the idea of repealing the Affordable Care Act, as presidential candidate Donald Trump has promised he will do. Repealing the entire act will eliminate the benefits as well as the problems, he said.

“Anything has its problems and issues and it needs to be worked out,” Molesevich said.

“The American people can’t afford this,” Marino countered, adding that the the government health care system, commonly referred to as Obamacare, will increase costs by 25 percent next year.

The debate was held at the WVIA Public Broadcasting studio in Jenkins Township, near Pittston.

The candidates responded to questions from three panelists, Jennifer Wakeman, news director at Sunbury Broadcasting Corp.; Dr. Atiya Stokes-Brown, associate professor of political science at Bucknell University; and L. Lee Janssen, news editor for The Williamsport Sun-Gazette.