Over the past three weeks, I visited 28 Pennsylvania counties. I met with business owners, students, and workers along the way. I hosted town hall meetings and jobs roundtable discussions with many hundreds of Pennsylvanians. At all these stops, one message came through loud and clear.
People are worried about jobs.
I heard agreement from one corner of the state to the other -- the economy is sluggish and the job market is disappointing. Folks understand that the policies out of Washington are exacerbating the problem.
Pennsylvanians cited many examples of policies that are stifling job creation. But two areas were mentioned above others and have people worried the most: Obamacare and energy.
Examples of how Obamacare is already affecting employment can be seen in the news most days, but I heard it first hand in the last few weeks. Small business owners are worried about the threshold that subjects them to additional health care mandates if they have more than 50 full-time workers. One town hall participant -- an entrepreneur with 60 employees -- asked me, "What am I supposed to do, lay off 11 people?"
Workers are also worried that their hours may be cut. The law states that employers must comply with the often unaffordable Obamacare mandates for full-time workers clocking 30 or more hours per week. In response, businesses are cutting employees' hours to less than 30. It is perverse indeed when laws encourage less hiring and fewer hours.
Since the law's adoption, I've been clear -- we need to repeal it. I have voted to defund or repeal the president's health care law at every turn. I am an original cosponsor of the Obamacare Repeal Act and the Defund Obamacare Act introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz.
As the American people become increasingly aware of how awful this law is for them, I remain hopeful that momentum will continue to build to overturn it.
In the meantime, I am working to dismantle the law piece by piece.
We could start off with repeal of the harmful medical device tax. Such action has bipartisan support and I am working with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to strike down this tax, which is particularly harmful to Pennsylvania -- the fourth-largest producer of medical devices in the country and home to 576 medical device companies.
In addition, the president has implicitly acknowledged his law is unworkable by giving waivers to his political allies and announcing he will not enforce a central part of the law by delaying the employer mandate. Why not delay the whole thing?
Government policies are also threatening Pennsylvania energy jobs. Two weeks ago, I visited a Trainer, Pa., refinery, which is now required to blend millions of gallons of biofuels -- notably corn ethanol -- into the gasoline supplies.
Under these requirements, the amount of biofuel required to blend is increasing, while gasoline sales are not. In order to comply with these mandates, refiners are forced to make a choice: increase the ethanol content in their fuel blends or pay a penalty by purchasing what are known as credits from government-moderated markets.
Ethanol is a good example of how government central planning harms good-paying jobs -- about 600 in south-east Pennsylvania. Moreover, the policy drives up gas prices, increase food costs and actually harms the environment. The Environmental Working Group, an environmental health research group, said the policy is polluting America's air and water, contributing to climate change and hurting consumers.
For the good of our economy, we must repeal mandates for corn ethanol in our gasoline, and I am working in a bipartisan fashion to do just that.
Pennsylvanians don't mince words. They are worried about jobs. They understand that the red tape from Washington is making matters worse in many ways, and the president's health care law and nonsensical fuel requirements are the most egregious.
As Congress returns in September, I will continue my work reforming these expensive, ill-conceived regulations so the economy can grow and produce jobs.
Thank you for the feedback.
-- Sen. Pat Toomey is a Republican from Pennsylva nia.