U.S. Rep. Tom Marino says that making further large cuts to federal spending, eliminating job-crushing regulations of the EPA and OSHA, and repealing the Affordable Care Act are among the goals that he hopes to achieve if he wins a second term in Congress.

The United States is now paying $1.6 billion daily in interest on the federal debt, which now stands at over $16 billion, Marino said in a recent interview with staff from The Daily Review.

And the federal government racked up a $1.4 trillion deficit in the 2010-11 fiscal year, when it took in $2.2 trillion in revenue but spent $3.6 trillion, Marino said. And for the 2011-12 fiscal year, the deficit again exceeded $1 trillion, he said.

"We have to stop this mad spending," he said.

Reducing federal spending is the key to limiting or even lowering federal taxes on the middle class, which will help grow the economy, Marino said. Marino also described a scenario where the large size of the federal debt, together with possible future actions taken by China, could result in skyrocketing inflation in the United States.

Voters in the 10th District will decide on Nov. 6 whether Marino (R-Lycoming Township) or Democrat Phil Scollo will be their congressman for the next two years.

To address the federal debt, annual federal spending needs to be cut to the point where it is significantly below the amount of revenue that the federal government brings in each year, he said.

There are federal agencies and departments that need to be targeted for cuts, revamped or even eliminated, as they "are not doing what they are supposed to do," he said.

The EPA and OSHA, for example, which impose job-crushing regulations that hurt the economy, need to be scaled back, he said.

For example, in response to recently imposed EPA regulations, an "extraordinary expense" is now being paid to convert a coal-fueled power plant in Selinsgrove to run on natural gas, even though almost $1 million had previously been spent installing scrubbers at the plant to help clean its emissions, he said. And the cost of the conversion will be passed on to the customers of the utility company that owns the plant, he said.

The size of the IRS also needs to be scaled back, given that it has tens of thousands of pages of laws and regulations that are a burden to people filing taxes, he said.

"Let's just go to a flat tax," he said.

Marino, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he doesn't think China wants to rule the world militarily. However, he said he thinks China does want to rule the world financially, and China's financial goals could have dire consequences for the United States, given the large size of the United States' debt, Marino said.

Marino explained that there is a good chance that the rating on U.S. debt will be downgraded again, and that if that occurs, "China is going to step forward and say to the World Bank and the world: 'Our currency is stable. We do not have any debt. The United States has all this debt.'"

Besides making those pronouncements, the downgrading of U.S. debt will also prompt China to increase the value of the yuan, the Chinese currency, and manipulate the value of the dollar, the congressman predicted. And if the world increases its investment in China and "recognizes the yuan as the stable currency, our dollar will plummet, and inflation (in the United States) will skyrocket," Marino said.

As far as other steps that need to be taken to improve the economy, Marino said that he would reduce the corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the world, and at the same time eliminate many of the loopholes in the corporate tax. He said the net effect of his proposed changes to the corporate tax would be to increase revenue to the federal government and at the same time create jobs in the private sector.

To help create jobs, Marino said he also supports the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, which is the health reform legislation that was signed into law in 2010. The Affordable Care Act "will continue to cripple small businesses," the congressman explained.

Marino said he does support certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the provision of health care for people who either cannot afford it or who have pre-existing conditions.

On the issue of abortion, Marino said: "I'm very pro-life. I've got two beautiful reasons for that: my 17-year-old daughter and my 13-year-old son, who we adopted and brought home the day they were born."

On the issue of natural gas drilling in the 10th District, Marino said: "I support the drilling. I see rigs from my house." Marino added that he is on a private water well.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of gas wells does not pollute ground water, Marino said.

Marino also discussed his accomplishments during his first term, saying he had helped to bring resources, such as bottled water and emergency housing, to where they were needed during the flooding last year.

"I have voted consistently to help the middle-class taxpayers, and I will continue to do that," he said.

The Congress that has been in session since January 2011 has cut more discretionary spending than any other Congress since World War II, he said. "We'll do more (cutting of discretionary spending) next year," too, he said.

He said his office has handled over 62,000 inquiries from constituents, and has set up informational forums for seniors and veterans.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.