Republican Robert Latta plans to focus on four issues for the 5th district — jobs, taxes, government spending and a 10-year plan to get the U.S. to energy independence.
“The first three tie together,” he said Thursday in an interview at the Eagles Club in Norwalk. Latta met with more than 70 local residents at the annual McKinley Club dinner.
On Tuesday, he faces Democrat Robin Weirauch, from Napoleon, in a special election to replace Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Tiffin), who died unexpectedly after a fall in his Washington home in September.
Latta said reducing taxes boosts the economy. If businesses pay lower taxes, he explained, they can afford to expand and hire more workers - more jobs. If residents pay lower taxes, they have more money to save or spend, boosting the local economy. If government spending is controlled, the government isn’t borrowing more money and driving up interest rates.
The candidate said U.S. taxes on businesses are the second highest in the world, driving many companies to other countries with lower taxes and lower salaries.
Latta pointed to his 10-year campaign to bring a Bass Pro store to Wood County. He drafted a state law for tax relief - giving .75 percent of each penny the county would get in sales taxes back to the company for expansion - as the winning ticket to attract the business. The huge sporting goods company will open a store next June near I-75 and the turnpike, bringing both jobs and tourists to the area, he said.
But those moves alone aren’t enough, Latta said.
“If businesses are scared of getting sued out of business, they won’t locate here or stay here,” he said, so tort reform is also on his agenda.
Latta said reform is also needed for personal income tax.
“We need tax simplification in this country,” he said. “We’ve made it so complicated.”
Latta also said a major platform issue is the need for energy independence. He said several promising projects involving fields such as solar energy and wind turbines are already present in the 5th district.
He pointed out the U.S. accounts for 23 percent of the world’s energy use now.
“In a few years China and India will be competing for that energy,” he said, so prices will continue to rise. “We must produce more and also conserve more.”
No single program could prepare the U.S., Latta said, so the nation must explore all avenues.
Immigration is another hot-button issue for Latta.
“I’m absolutely against amnesty. I’m against drivers licenses for illegals. It’s a slap in the face to people doing it legally,” he said. “We have a lot of laws on the books that need to be enforced.”
Amnesty for illegals already in the U.S. just encourages more illegal immigration, he said.
“They figure there will be another amnesty program in another 20 years,” Latta said.
Latta said the war against terrorism is another important topic for Congress.
“I’m a firm believer you’ve got to trust the commanders on the ground,” he said. “The armchair quarterbacks in Washington are absolutely the worst people to be running the war.”
He said 5,000 troops will be brought home soon and not replaced.
“The surge is working,” Latta said. “First we need to make sure our troops over there are safe. Then we help get another democracy in the Middle East on its feet.”
While speaking to the crowd at the dinner, Latta emphasized the need to get to the polls Tuesday.
“This is a Republican-leaning district,” he said, “but a special election is one in which anything can happen. I don’t take anything for granted.”
He said his opponent is running on a platform of change, but he is actually a change from the status quo in Washington.
“Who controls Congress? Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - they control Congress,” Latta said.
Latta, from Bowling Green, is currently a state representative. He has also served as a state senator and a Wood County commissioner.