Ohio's senior U.S. Senator paid a visit to Akron on Friday, and touched on a number of familiar themes...and some recent controversy.
Senator Sherrod Brown told the Akron Press Club that trade policy with China should be reformed, and that unique resources in Akron are being tapped to help in the continuing effort to rebuild the area's job base. Akron, he says, does it right.
"In Akron, we know what's right and we know how to make things better, in so many ways," Brown told the Press Club. "Folks like Russ Pry and Mayor Plusquellic, major institutions like the Austen BioInnovation Institute (and) the Akron Global Business Accelerator have worked together to promote economic opportunity."
Turning to recent headlines, Senator Brown said President Obama had "no choice" but to use a recess appointment to name former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the nation's new consumer watchdog. He said that big bank oversight wasn't the problem that the new agency headed by Cordray needed to get into gear immediately to address.
"It's not banks that are the biggest problems in a lot of this," Brown said, "Payday lenders, private student loan companies and all that...they couldn't regulate those...they could regulate the banks but not the 'non-banks' until there was a confirmed director in place. That's the law. So I think the president had no choice."
Senate Republicans have pushed back on the president's recess appointment of Cordray, though their objections are mainly with the new agency itself...and not specifically involving the former Ohio Attorney General.
Brown says he understands both sides of the "fracking" debate, saying he's been "neither a strong supporter of fracking, or a vocal opponent" of the process. He says Ohioans should be assured jobs from the process...and environmental protections should also be assured....though he says state goverments will have more oversight of the process, he wants to keep an eye on it at the Senate.
"My job as a senator is to make sure that we address as much of that as we can," Brown said, "both formally in terms of legislation, and informally in terms of working with these companies and working with community colleges so they can hire Ohioans who have been trained to do this work."
And in a humorous shot at his expected November opponent, Brown - answering an audience member's question - said he would "know the major differences" between himself and Republican Josh Mandel..."if he would come to the Akron Press Club and speak here."
Mandel has not accepted the club's numerous invitations to become a speaker, citing scheduling and other concerns.
Senator Brown pointed out that outside groups have already started running "$3 million worth" of television ads against him...ten months before he'll face voters in this year's general election.