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Shuster faces Franklin County foe in House contest

October 21, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Voters headed to the polls Nov. 6 will be choosing between incumbent Bill Shuster and his opponent, Karen Ramsburg. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is no early voting in Pennsylvania.
Voters headed to the polls Nov. 6 will be choosing between incumbent Bill Shuster and his opponent, Karen Ramsburg. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is no early voting in Pennsylvania.

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — A Democratic challenger from Franklin County, Pa., is eyeing the U.S. House of Representatives’ ninth district seat long held by a Republican.

Voters headed to the polls Nov. 6 will be choosing between incumbent Bill Shuster and his opponent, Karen Ramsburg. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is no early voting in Pennsylvania.

Shuster, 51, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., is running for his seventh term in the House. A Republican, he won the seat in a special election in 2001, succeeding his father, Bud Shuster.

Shuster serves on the House transportation and infrastructure committee, as well as the armed services committee.

Ramsburg, 50, of Mercersburg, Pa., won the Democratic nomination for the seat. Ramsburg, previously a registered independent, changed her party affiliation to Democrat after the primary election.

“It’s been a real grass-roots effort,” Ramsburg said of traveling the district and talking to voters.

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The Ninth Congressional District is made of all or part of 15 counties in southcentral Pennsylvania, including all of Franklin and Fulton.

Congress’ No. 1 responsibility is national security, followed by the need to connect the country coherently through transportation methods and routes, Shuster said.

Shuster said he feels he has a good chance of becoming chairman of the House’s transportation infrastructure committee in the next term. He described the committee as active, with its work concerning bridges, railroads and harbors. He also said the nation needs a transportation bill with long-term funding authority.

A cornerstone of Ramsburg’s campaigns are her claims that Shuster “votes against working people.” She said the federal government is only creating more low-wage jobs, while she thinks the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, should be repealed and tariffs placed on international commerce like Indian call-center services and Pakistani textiles.

“Trickle-down economics does not create wealth and prosperity. ... We need to return to the Clinton-era tax rate,” she said.

Shuster said he wants to see reforms made to Social Security, but he does not want those reforms to negatively affect people 55 and older.

“It’s not fair, it’s not right,” he said.

Shuster said people his age and younger should consider Social Security to only be a supplement to other retirement income they earn. He said overall government spending problems are largely tied to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“I personally believe having a limited government means only doing a few things. ... My goal since I’ve been in Congress is to shrink the size of the federal government,” Shuster said, saying one role of government is to help the people who are truly in need.

A registered nurse, Ramsburg said she has developed a health care plan she wants to see implemented.

She wants to have a public option plan that people could opt into if they cannot afford insurance on their own, and it would be separate from the private sector.

“That would create competition and lower costs within the private sector. ... I’m not happy with the mandates in the (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act,” she said.

Ramsburg said she would fund her plan by looking for waste elsewhere, including unnecessary defense spending and subsidies in the gas industry.

Shuster, who criticized Obamacare for affecting employers and using a 15-member board to make care decisions, said he fears the United States could experience economic collapse like Greece without changed policies.

“We need to learn from what Europe tried to do (in providing) services for everyone and saying everything is free, when in reality, nothing is free,” he said.

Shuster said Congress needs to take back its constitutional authority, rather than give away decision-making power to the executive branch.

Ramsburg said she refuses to take money from corporations and would not be a “bought-and-paid-for politician” like she says her opponent is.

“As a middle-class person, I think we need more middle-class people in Congress,” she said.

Economics and national security make decisions in the Nov. 6 election critical, Shuster said.

“I believe this election is the most important election in U.S. history since we elected Abraham Lincoln in 1860,” he said.

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