In the photo below, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan speaks with Ashley Allison, a Franklin County organizer for Obama for America (OFA). Tim Ryan was at the Short North Tavern on Sept 15 to help with the fight against Ohio SB 5 and Ohio HB 194. After my own talk with him, I'm inspired, surprised and confused. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan

I'm inspired because it seems that ordinary people such as myself can engage with politicians. I'm surprised because Ryan said fracking (if done right) is a way to address Global Warming by using clean natural gas. And I'm confused by his support for a flat tax that is somehow progressive. I didn't know the two were compatible.

First, the congressman's remarks about fracking, then on to taxes and rebuilding US manufacturing.

Tom Over: Why do you support fracking ?

Congressman Ryan : First and foremost, we got to make sure the technology is right. I have no interest in polluting anybody's water. My environmental record I will put up against anybody in the Congress. So, I'm very concerned we got to do it the right way.

If people own the property and have (water) wells, we've got to be concerned about that and we got to make sure the regulations are in place before we do anything on this.

But there is great opportunity now because the number 1 threat to our world is global warming. Having clean, accessible natural gas can transform our economy and reduce our dependency on foreign oil, which we are doing now.

It's a clean fuel. It's jobs here in the United States and it reduces our dependency on foreign oil, so we an wind these wars down and get out of Afghanistan and get out of Iraq, and use that money to invest back into the United States.

Tom Over : What is your opinion on raising taxes on big corporations and the super wealthy? One percent of the US population controls 40 percent of the wealth. Meanwhile we're hearing about cuts to education, and union busting affecting cops and firefighters. What's your opinion on progressive taxation ?

Congressman Ryan: I've been one of the few voices in Congress over the past couple of years making sure we do ask the top 1 percent to pay more. I don't think we have anything to be ashamed of.

If you look at the income that was controlled by the top 1 percent in the late 70s, it was about 9 percent of all the income in the country. Now the top 1 percent controls about 25 percent of real income in the country.

So I think it's only fair that they pay a greater percentage to help us reinvest that money back into the country for roads and bridges, teachers and education, Pell Grants and in National Science Foundation and NIH.

That's how we're going to stay competitive as a country. So we have to ask them to pay a little bit more. Now, I will say in a down economy--in the short term--I don't think anyone's taxes should be raised.

I think we need a bigger stimulus actually than what we're getting from the president. I wish it were bigger (with) more (money for) transportation and infrastructure, and more money going into the economy to directly hire people to get them back to work. But over the next 10 years we definitely need to ask those folks that are at the top end of the pay scale to help us pay for this.

Tom Over: What type of increases are you thinking of ? Way back in the 1940s, the marginal tax rate may have been up around 90 percent. What are you thinking of ?

Congressman Ryan: Well, it was that high, but I don't think they were paying all of that either. The corporate tax rate now is high but people don't pay the whole thing. So, what I would like to actually see is a complete transformation of the tax code. I think it needs to be simpler. It needs to be fairer, but it definitely needs to be progressive.

We need to get rid of all these loopholes. Everyone's rates are higher because we're subsidizing people who have enough money to get lobbyists who are going to D.C. to put loopholes in. So that burden gets spread around the rest of society. Basically, (he supports ) a flatter tax for everybody (that is) simpler but progressive.

The high end, quite frankly, should be at Clinton era levels. We had great investments going on then and we had economic expansion.

Tom Over: You're from Youngstown. So you see first-hand the loss of the manufacturing capacity of the United States. What are you working on to do something about that ?

Congressman Ryan: A lot of what we've been able to do in the past year that President Obama put on was a tariff on a lot of these Chinese goods that are dumped into our country.

That helped us with a couple of major steel investments. One was a Russian company. Then another one was a French company that came in and expanded. It was almost a $700 million expansion in Youngstown and Girard, Ohio.

They make steel tubing, and in part because China was dumping their products. They're cheating. They're manipulating their currency which gives them anywhere from a 25 percent to a 40 percent advantage on the products they are shipping in.

So, we were able to combat some of that and it lead to almost $2 billion of investments in facilities in the United States just since that tariff went on. So, now we're creating jobs in the United States because of it.