"River towns have built our country" - and it's not right to ruin them in turn, which is what U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, said may happen if the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 isn't repealed altogether.
The latest federal legislation that gives some reprieve to homeowners whose flood insurance rates have skyrocketed is not a complete solution, and not a solution at all for commercial properties, Marino said at the Williamsport Lycoming County Council of Republican Women at the Genetti Hotel Monday afternoon.
"I'm still fighting for a commercial bill," Marino said.
Dilonna Coran, right, of the Williamsport Lycoming County Council of Republican Women, gives U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, a plaque of Mother Teresa holding a baby, during Marino’s talk Monday afternoon at the Genetti Hotel.
Marino sponsored legislation that would repeal the act entirely, but it never made it to the House floor.
"I'm angry at both sides of the aisle" over this, he said. "If we can bail out the auto industry," why not people, he asked.
There is legislation pending to address the commercial aspect, and a fix could be done administratively, he said - "but I still think it should be repealed."
The most recent legislation would slow the rate hits, as affected homeowners will face annual premium increases as high as 18 percent annually until the government has what it needs to pay out claims. Owners of businesses and second homes face increases of up to 25 percent each year.
Marino said he initially voted for the Biggert Waters act because "FEMA lied" to Congress, saying a cost study would be done and that rates would go up minimally. However, the rates quadrupled in many cases because the fact the federal government was paying two-thirds of the flood-insurance rates on federally backed mortgages was not accounted for, he said.
In response to a question on social issues, if Marino wins another term in the 10th Congressional District seat, he said he will focus on "jobs, debt, health care, the future of children and grandchildren - not gay marriage, immigration or abortion." The first priority is to win 10 Republican seats in the House and eight seats in the Senate to gain Republican control, he said. Then his focus will be on the economy.
"Once we get the economy squared away, we'll begin intensive work on social issues," Marino said, adding he is "pro-life and pro-marriage between a man and a woman."
As to why Marino voted to raise the debt ceiling, it was necessary to "pay the bills" and keep from defaulting on the $1.4 billion interest payments the government must make every day on its debt, he said.
China owns most of the nation's outside debt, he said, and the U.S. owns half of its own debt.
"China can win world power financially" and "will step forward" to do so, if the U.S. defaults, Marino said.
"China keeps the value of its currency low and thus inflates the U.S. dollar, which hurts us selling our product, so if we're downgraded, China will step forward and allow its currency to rise to normal value. Our dollar will plummet (and) inflation will go up," Marino said.
A big issue for the U.S. is that while China backs its currency with gold, "we don't," Marino said. "The world will trust and invest in China."
That would be a problem, as China does not hold the same environmental or ethical standards as the U.S., he said.
As the U.S. is $18 trillion in debt, Marino predicts it will take more than 20 years to get the debt under control and have enough revenue to start paying it down. Marino suggested to go in that direction requires keeping taxes low, downsizing the government, lowering the corporate tax (he prefers it to be at 20 percent), and eliminating tax loopholes.
"If we do that, more companies will invest (in the U.S.) because of the tax structure," Marino said, which will create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Once the U.S. demonstrates to the World Bank Institute it can pay back its debt, the dollar will become stronger, he said.
Marino wants to start with a zero-based budget, asking how the previous year's money was spent and deciding how to wisely spend it the next time around.
He supports continuing financial support to certain nations to keep terrorists out of power, but in a "smarter way" financially. He did not support the U.S. military going into Iraq, but said those efforts would have been better spent in Iran, which he said "finances terrorists around the world."
On energy, he advocates energy independence using natural gas, wind, solar and other resources.
"This gas could help us become energy independent in five to 10 years," Marino said.