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Profile: Ann Marie Buerkle working for a 2nd term

Ann Marie Buerkle for Congress

WRVO News is interviewing and profiling candidates in the region who are running in contended races.  Ellen Abbot took a closer look at  Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle. The Republican from Onondaga Hill won her seat in Congress two years ago by the thinnest of margins - only 648 votes.  She's looking for a second term in the newly drawn 24th Congressional District.

The 61-year old Republican says she's running for reelection, for the same reason she jumped into the race two years ago. She says her goals are as follows:

"Shrink the size of government, reduce taxes and get this economy and jobs back on track. Get this country on a fiscally sound track."

Buerkle says her two-year term in Congress has been an eye opener. She found a federal government culture that's entrenched and opposed to change.

"Some of the resistance you meet is even with your own party. That's been  one of the biggest surprises," Buerkle said. "There's a reluctance on both sides of the aisle to change the way things work down there. And  things aren't working well down there. And we've got to come together and figure out how to make it better."

Looking at the issues, Buerkle says fixing the deficit begins with a revived economy, that generates more taxes.

"You can't just cut your way out of this problem. You've got to have a pro-growth economic agenda that will allow businesses to get back on track, so they are hiring and more people are working," said Buerkle.

Buerkle also says spending is part of the problem. The Auburn native says there is a lot of wasteful spending going on in Washington.

"Whether it's job retraining bills or poverty programs, social services, there's so many agencies that administer the same programs they need to be consolidated and looked at, you can cut down on workers and still get services to the people who need it. But duplication is a big waste of money in government," said Buerkle.

Proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy have been a flash point this election year as a way to reduce the federal deficit. Buerkle doesn't agree with that, and proposes making the Bush-era tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year, permanent.   

"If you look at history, whether it was Coolidge or Kennedy, or Reagan or George Bush, every time you lower tax rates, the economy does better," said Buerkle. "It's pretty simple, you're freeing up capital in the private sector, and rather than investing it in government, you're letting them keep money so they can hire, and buy equipment and expand their business."

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, Buerkle is on the repeal bandwagon.

"It takes the patient out of the center of health care and puts the government in the middle of it. It creates this payment advisory board for seniors that decide what kind of Medicare services are covered. My biggest concern is that it doesn't decrease the cost and it doesn't increase access," said Buerkle.

On the foreign policy front, Buerkle says the Obama administration's lead-from-behind policy has been a disaster. She prefers the idea of leading through strength.  

"We've got to send a clear message that we're not going to be afraid to defend this country, or our ally Israel, or any or our other allies," said Buerkle. "But at the same time it's got to make sense. What we just saw with the Arab Spring, and what  this country, and this administration did in Libya and Egypt, in getting rid of these dictators, who were bad people, but not as bad as you've got in there now."

On the climate change debate, Buerkle calls the science unsettled.  She says that means any policy must be carefully considered. 

"If it's gonna have an impact on business and jobs and the economy, we're gonna have to look at it carefully. There's nobody in this country that doesn't want a clean nation, who doesn't want our water and our air pure and clean," said Buerkle. "But we've got to be reasonable about it. We've seen policies come out of this administration that  have stifled jobs and the economy with this green agenda."

Women's issues may be the ones most remembered in this race. Buerkle is a long-time anti-abortion activist, who believes abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape. A Democrat Dan Maffei television ad accused Buerkle of trying to change the definition of rape, in the context of abortion laws. Buerkle, the first woman to represent this district, remains incensed about that tactic, as well as the whole concept of a Republican war on women.

"It's an insult that he thinks he can talk to me about women's rights and how women need to advance themselves," she said. "He doesn't have a clue."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.