Tonight President Trump will stand before Congress to give the State of the Union address. I, along with Northeastern Pennsylvania, will be reflecting on the growth over the last year under President Trump's leadership.
In my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, business is picking up after eight years of no to slow job growth under President Obama. This is personal to my family and my community. Like many in Northeast Pennsylvania, my family started out by doing the “dirty jobs” that liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Matt Cartwright want to legislate away.
My grandfather provided for his nine children by working long, hard hours as a coal miner. At night, he dug graves by hand and on weekends he had an old truck and delivered coal to homes. It wasn’t glamorous work, but as an Italian immigrant with an eighth-grade education, he always believed hard work was the solution to every problem. My father put himself through Penn State by working construction and lived the American dream by partnering with his older brother installing boilers in 1969. This grew into Bognet Plumbing and Heating, and 50 years later our family firm has worked in schools and factories across eastern Pennsylvania. I spent my teenage years working on construction sites, swinging a sledgehammer and digging ditches, trying to work as hard as my father and grandfather. I got a scholarship to Penn State, two graduate degrees from UCLA, and worked for blue-collar conservatives like Lou Barletta and Rick Santorum. I was even blessed to work for President Trump on manufacturing and export issues in his administration.
Thanks to President Trump and his pro-growth policies, the State of the Union in Northeast Pennsylvania is growing and getting stronger every day. President Trump has spent three years stripping away aggressive government regulations that have hampered our core industries under Obama. The results are undeniable: since 2017, we’ve seen an 8 percent growth in mining, logging, and construction work; a 2 percent increase in manufacturing jobs; and near record-low unemployment rates in the region, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Liberal Democrats like Matt Cartwright have tried for years to get rid of these good-paying jobs because they’re not “green” enough for their donors in New York, California and Washington, D.C. They’d rather have our skilled workforce driving Ubers and “learning to code” than building homes, mining coal, and working in factories. President Trump has put an end to that nonsense, and when I am elected to Congress, I will support his work to extend the economic growth that’s happening right now for Pennsylvanians.
There is no doubt that under President Trump Northeastern Pennsylvania is stronger but there is still work to do. Illegal immigration is taxing our hospitals, schools, and infrastructure while hurting the quality of life in our city cores. Many families -- including my own -- have been gravely wounded by the opioid epidemic that has been affecting Americans of all races, classes, geographies, and political affiliations. I support the work President Trump has done to address this crisis through new laws like the SUPPORT Act. On my first day in Congress, I will introduce new legislation to increase treatment for addicts, counseling for families, and severe penalties for drug kingpins and traffickers. If you pump poison into our communities for profit, you deserve a new federal death penalty. If I am fortunate enough to represent the 8th Congressional District in Pennsylvania in Congress, I will work with leaders on both sides of the aisle to address an issue that has cost us too many family members and neighbors.
There is a lot that’s changed these past three years, a new attitude of pride and can-do spirit. President Trump has loudly proclaimed that we should stop apologizing for being American. Our military is stronger than ever, well-funded and vigilant. Our Second Amendment rights are better protected by 150 newly confirmed conservative, pro-life judges. Conservative principles and the Republican Party are winning again, and I’ve seen it in the first 10 days of my Congressional campaign.
Last week, a local Hazletonion Tom Rohrbach, visited our campaign office. Tom turns 89 this year and has been a registered Democrat for 70 years. Tom had something important to tell me.
“This is a big day and a big change for me,” he said.
“Why?” I asked
“Because I just became a Republican to vote for President Trump and you in April,” he said, almost overcome with emotion.
President Trump is delivering for Northeastern Pennsylvania, and while Democrats are flirting with outright socialism in their nominee, Pennsylvania will lead the nation to President Trump’s historic re-election and help the party of Lincoln wins back the House of Representatives.
Jim Bognet is a former Trump administration appointee who is running for Congress in Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District.