A Tioga County native looking to cut spending and shrink government is hoping to go to Washington and help guide the nation back to prosperity.
John D. Vernon, 51, was in Williamsport Wednesday to kick off his candidacy for U.S. Senate.
The U.S., he said, is facing "a national crisis, the result of spending practices, over-regulation and high taxes that have grown government and hurt the business climate."
"I can't stand to see the country slide," Vernon told a gathering of supporters at Le Chocolate, 420 Pine St.
Vernon, a retired U.S. Army colonel who has spent the past two years as a civilian Department of Defense inspector general, is running for the Senate seat held by Democrat Bob Casey, of Scranton.
The Republican candidate, raised on a beef and dairy farm near Mansfield, said he's tired of seeing empty storefronts and closed factories.
"It's tough to see people lose their life savings," he said.
The nation formerly was seen, he said, as the land of opportunity.
Vernon, taking note of the more than $14 trillion U.S. debt, said Casey embraces the philosophy that "we can spend our way to prosperity."
But in just the past few years, $4 trillion has been added to the debt.
"The country is at a watershed moment," he said.
Quoting Winston Churchill, Vernon said that he likes things to happen, "and when they don't happen, I like to make them happen."
Vernon, who served in a number of combat capacities while in the Army, including those in support of Desert Storm in Iraq and Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia, said the challenges facing the country present opportunities.
Regarding the nation, he said, "At times of crisis, we have always come together."
Vernon said government needs to stay out of the way of business.
Among the government agencies that came under his fire were the departments of energy and education.
The former, he noted, has failed to develop a policy for weaning the nation off foreign energy sources.
"We don't have energy independence," he said.
Vernon said he believes drilling for gas should be done in Alaska, off-shore and in the Marcellus Shale as long as it's done responsibly.
He noted that Gov. Tom Corbett's policies on gas drilling have yielded economic opportunities for the state.
On the other hand, Vernon said President Barack Obama's agenda, from health care reform to economic stimulus, has sent the country in the wrong direction.
He said he would vote against the president's recent job stimulus package and called for a balanced budget and reforming the tax code.
"It (tax code) needs to be fairer and flatter," he said.
Obama's health care plan should be reformed.
The federal government, he noted, "doesn't belong in that business."