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Casey welcomes Obama; Reps. Marino, Barletta question visit

WASHINGTON – Sen.Bob Casey, D-Scranton, was in the Senate on Wednesday, not his hometown during President Obama’s visit to push for a Social Security payroll tax cut extension.

But Casey sent out a statement welcoming Obama to Scranton and thanking him for promoting the payroll tax cut extension proposal. Casey helped unveil Senate Democrats’ bill seeking to extend the current one-year payroll tax cut expiring Dec. 31, expand the size of the cut for 2012, and pay for it by placing a surcharge on income taxes paid by people making more than $1 million.

“I’d like to welcome President Obama to my hometown of Scranton to discuss a critical issue for working families in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth,” Casey said. “Congress must pass legislation I have introduced to help businesses create jobs and stop a tax increase for working families.”

Republican Reps. Lou Barletta of Hazleton and Tom Marino of Lycoming Township also were on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, but their reactions to Obama’s visit weren’t nearly as positive.

“It’s always exciting whenever the president of the United States comes to your area,” Barletta said via email. “But I believe the president would have been better served had he stayed in Washington and talked to members of Congress about his (payroll tax cut extension) plan rather than campaign in Scranton at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Noting his 11th congressional district has the highest unemployment rate in the state, Barletta said, “The people of Scranton need a job, not a presidential campaign stop paid for by the American taxpayer.”

Marino charged that Obama’s “lack of leadership and his refusal to do what is best for the country and his insistence on sticking to his worn-out ideologies and Chicago-style politics is clearly hurting the national economy and Americans of all walks of life.”

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