Scheller announces bid for Congress
Allentown resident and Tamaqua business woman Lisa Scheller announced last week that she is running for Congress next year in the 7th Congressional District. The district includes Lehigh and Northampton counties and part of Monroe County.
Speaking to supporters and the press in a small event room at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Allentown, Scheller read an announcement touching on her personal history, her business experience, her community service and her philanthropical work.
Notable was her pledge to serve for only four terms, or eight years.
Describing herself as an “outsider who can bring real change to a gridlocked Congress,” she also reminded the attendees that she has served as a Lehigh County Commissioner “at-large,” where she had been elected chairperson of the board of commissioners. Scheller was on the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners for four years, ending her tenure in 2015. She was board chair for two years.
Scheller, a Republican, was part of what has been described as a “reform” team or Tea Party-affiliated group that took office in response to a 16 percent tax increase in Lehigh County.
Scheller will be running against another well-known Republican, Dean Browning, who has indicated his intent to seek the GOP nomination. Browning is also a former Lehigh County commissioner.
The Tamaqua businesswoman has made campaign donations to local Republicans in their bids for political office.
Scheller said part of her motivation to seek the Republican nomination for U. S. Representative, a position currently held by Democrat Susan Wild, is because the district “has been overlooked amid divisive partisan battles in Washington.” She offered no specific instances of how she thinks the incumbent has, or retired Republican Charlie Dent had overlooked the seventh district.
She invoked a sense of noblesse oblige in describing herself as being “blessed,” saying “with these blessings comes a certain privilege” – the privilege of serving others.
Scheller said she will address “issues that matter to people here:” jobs, education, health care, secure borders.
She is president and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing, based in Tamaqua; the company makes pigments used in paint. Scheller said her company has 600 employees and has manufacturing and technical and research centers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
She asserted “over-regulation destroys employment,” while simultaneously claiming, “We have record low unemployment.”
Education, one of her issues, is furthered by her and her family’s philanthropic initiatives. She donated money for construction of the Lisa Jane Scheller Student Center at Lehigh Carbon Community College and sponsors an eponymous scholarship, the Lisa Jane Scheller Technology Scholarship.
She said she has created “a series of scholarships…the most recent being an endowment that funds dual enrollment for our high school students, so that they can graduate from high school with an associate degree from LCCC – debt free.”
Her mother and father established the Roberta and Ernest Scheller Jr. Foundation scholarship at LCCC.
Scheller said she is “committed to reforming our educational system,” but offered no details about her plans, saying only that “student loans are out of control.”
Concerning health care, she offered no plan nor details for reform other than to promise she would “ensure that pre-existing conditions remain covered for all people.” Scheller blamed the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “ObamaCare”) for soaring insurance premiums. She called the bill “another well-intentioned government disaster.
“As a provider of health insurance for hundreds of people here in Pennsylvania, I know first-hand what that means.”
The Trump administration said earlier this year that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.
According to the U. S. Census Bureau, “in 2018, 8.5 percent of people, or 27.5 million, did not have health insurance at any point during the year. The uninsured rate and number of uninsured increased from 2017 (7.9 percent or 25.6 million).”
She asserted that 16,000 IRS agents are needed to process the insurance verifications for the ACA. This figure is a nine-year-old Republican talking point (usually citing 16,500 agents) that has been debunked by Fact Check.org, which refutes the question: “Will the IRS hire 16,500 new agents to enforce the health care law? No, the law requires the IRS mostly to hand out tax credits, not collect penalties. The claim of 16,500 new agents stems from a partisan analysis based on guesswork and false assumptions, and compounded by outright misrepresentation.”
Politifact.org’s Georgia issue gave the claim a “mostly false” rating.
A spokesperson for the Scheller campaign said the claim is based on information from the House Ways and Means Committee; however a review of the committee’s website found no mention of the issue.
Politifact found that the, “Ways and Means Republicans did not find that the IRS would have to hire 16,000 or more new agents, as [former New Mexico U.S. Representative and later Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Trump, [Tom] Price and other Obama health care bill foes have said. That number was for ‘employees,’ a broader category that can include other workers such as administrative assistants, phone operators and staff attorneys.”
On the subject of border security, Scheller said border security is not about intolerance.
“This isn’t about keeping people out. It’s about letting them in in ways that give them full purchase to the American dream, identity, and the rule of law that has made this the greatest nation on earth.”
She also touched on what she described as her own past addiction to drugs as a young woman and her recovery. “I’m not ashamed of my addiction and I empathize with people [and their families] who struggle.”
According to a statement released by her campaign staff, Scheller last year opened a coffee shop, Hope & Coffee, in Tamaquan which employs people “recovering from addiction and helps them re-enter both the community and the workforce.”
Scheller received a standing ovation from her supporters as she concluded her remarks. “I will carry your values with me to Washington.”
Scheller has lived in Lehigh County since 1987 and has lived in Allentown for more than 20 years.
Silberline Manufacturing was founded in 1945 by Lisa Scheller’s grandfather, Ernest Scheller who, according to a campaign person, immigrated from Austria.