U.S. Rep. Mark Critz toes his party's line at the same time he believes his fellow Democrats need to step in a new direction. He opposes repealing President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, but he resisted keeping Obamacare standard-bearer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a leadership position after the Republican onslaught in the midterm election.
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Critz, who also favors letting tax cuts expire for those who make more than $250,000, said in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview that the Western Pennsylvania residents he represents are socially conservative.
“We’re conservative on most issues,” he said. “The people of the district know who I am, they know the work I’ve done over the past several years and know that I’m going to tell them exactly what I believe and do exactly what I believe.”
Critz, who was Rep. John Murtha’s district director before succeeding him in a special election in May after the 26-year member of Congress died, retained the seat Nov. 2.
After the Republican wave washed over the political landscape during the elections, it was clear that change is needed in the House leadership, said Critz, a member of the House Armed Services and Small Business committees.
“I’m a football guy . . . when you have a season like we had earlier, what happened on November second, I think the coaching staff has to go," he said. "The people of Western Pennsylvania want a new direction in the Democratic leadership and that’s what I supported, a change in direction.”
Within the Democratic Party, "we need to look at the way forward,” he said.
“If you look through the rust belt states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, a lot of very blue collar Democratic districts went Republican this year. I think it’s something we have to assess and we have to do a better job.”
Democrats must return to their base to launch a comeback in 2012, he told Newsmax.TV.
“The Democratic Party at its core has always been about working men and women and listening to the public,” he said. “I think we have to get back to doing what working men and women want us to do and that’s work with the middle class to make this country stronger and move forward.”
On other issues, Critz said:
• He supports the repeal of the mandatory purchase provision for insurance in the healthcare legislation but does not favor jettisoning the whole bill. He called for using the measure “as a jumping off point, support the things that do work and get rid of the things that don’t.”
• He backs continuing the middle class tax cuts up to $250,000 a household, but would allow the tax cuts over that to expire.
• He is disturbed about the 250,000 government documents posted on the WikiLeaks website. “We have to do a better job of securing our secret information,” he said, adding that the people responsible will have to be brought to justice.
• The controversial screening techniques at airports also are being used in other countries where security is high, but the United States needs to balance what’s best for the safety of passengers with the country's national security.
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