By Kiernan Schalk
Republican Congressman Tom Marino was one of the first in the U.S. House of Representatives to endorse Donald Trump's bid for the GOP nomination for president.
Thursday, Marino visited The Sentinel to discuss some legislation and concerns he has during a whirlwind trip that had him visiting a lot of places and speaking with as many of his constituents as he could.
Marino said he didn't want to wait to endorse Trump for fear of being seen an "opportunist."
"He's not a career politician, people are frustrated with career politicians," he said.
Career politicians and the establishment have led to things like the bombshell news of the "Panama Papers."
Marino said the "Panama Papers" are perfect example of what happens when an entrenched establishment writes rules that allow for loop holes to "protect their turf" using tax havens to hide money.
In the end, Marino said it's the "middle class that gets crushed."
Marino said there are ways to fix these problems associated with these offshore tax havens and one such way includes rewriting the tax code and instituting a flat tax.
Marino advocates for closing the loop holes and lowering the corporate tax rate to keep businesses on American soil.
"We need to bring jobs back here. Our products are the best products in the world," he said.
There other factors as well which Marino feels are negatively impacting the economy, including the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is often called.
Marino said that everyone should have health insurance, especially those with pre-existing conditions, an element of the ACA with which he agrees. However, Marino said the ACA has not curbed the cost of health care and the costs associated with it have ballooned to $2.4 trillion.
"The middle class is getting squeezed," Marino said.
Another economic factor Marino points to is education.
"We are not preparing students," he said of data indicating America is falling behind other nations in math and science oriented careers.
"Microsoft has thousands of jobs," Marino said, adding that the company pushes for increases in visas because there simply are not enough qualified Americans to fill the open positions.
Marino said there needs to be more accountability for universities and colleges that receive federal money. He also supports abolishing the Department of Education and allowing the state and local government to have more control on education.
As Vice President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Marino has had a first glimpse of national security from a global perspective, and like Trump, he supports strengthening national security.
"We do need a wall between Mexico," he said.
Marino is concerned that Islamic extremists are coming into the country and he believes that no matter where someone comes from, everyone should be carefully vetted before they are granted entry into the United States.
"There is no deterrence at this point," he said.
During his tenure in Congress, Marino has made some headway in pushing legislation through, including a cooperative effort by local, state and federal entities to get the long anticipated Selinsgrove bypass on the construction docket.
Marino said the $600 million project should be underway soon.
The Rapid Act, is another piece of legislation with which Marino was involved, which streamlines the permit process for businesses.
Other pieces of legislation include the Drug Enforcement Diversion act, which allows for closer cooperation between drug distributors, the Drug Enforcement Agency and pharmacies to prevent the illegal sales of prescription drugs.