As we sit down in 1st District Congressman Frank Guinta’s Manchester office on one of the last days of the August recess its not surprising that the conversation immediately turns to fiscal policy. Specifically, Guinta’s vote in favor of the deal to raise the debt ceiling, which he defended in a series of somewhat tense town hall meetings over the past several weeks.
While Guinta extols the virtues of the deal, noting that it is the first time that a debt ceiling increase – historically a relatively routine Congressional action – has been accompanied by mandated spending cuts, and touting a provision in the package that requires Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment, which he supports.
But he tempers his enthusiasm by acknowledging voters’ frustration with the political process, noting that his constituents are upset about “the inability of Washington to appreciate that people have to live within their means and that most people do, including communities and states across the country.” He continues, “So, when everybody else is doing the right thing and the responsible thing…and Washington just seems to borrow and spend more money, rightfully people are angry and I join in that frustration.”
We interviewed the Congressman just days prior to Mitt Romney and President Obama laying out their respective job creation plans, and shortly after Jon Huntsman revealed his. When it comes to jobs, Guinta stressed the need for the government to create an economic climate that encourages business owners to invest in their companies. Elaborating, he listed tax reform, regulatory reform, and above all stressed the importance of demonstrating a commitment on the part of the government to cut spending as essential to that effort.
For the tax reform portion, Guinta notes that the United States has the highest corporate tax rate of any nation in the world, which makes it increasingly difficult for American companies to compete. He has pledged his support to a reduction of the corporate tax rate from its current level of 35 percent to 25 percent, a less-drastic cut than he would like, but one that stands a chance of accruing the bipartisan support it will need to succeed in the Senate.
When it comes to regulatory reform, Guinta notes that “the President has come on board to a certain extent,” referring to President Obama’s recent pledge to slash some of the 4,000+ regulations bearing down on the business community.
“We will be sending – every week – regulatory reform bills over to the Senate and I think it is owed to the country for the Senate to take up the legislation that the House sends over,” he says, in response to a question about how some of the aforementioned legislations will fare in a Democrat-controlled Senate.
While explaining how he would go about creating lasting spending reductions that would instill confidence in the private sector, Guinta tackles a long-held ‘third rail’ of politics: entitlement reform.
“[Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security] have to be addressed and I think the quicker both parties in Washington appreciate that and acknowledge that, the quicker we can get to a solution-based discussion rather than a finger pointing dialogue,” says Guinta, explaining that until and unless these reforms are enacted, businesses will remain fearful that tax increases could be just around the corner.
Specific policy issues aside, Guinta – sitting just around the corner from his old mayoral digs at City Hall – repeatedly expresses his pride at being part of the 112th Congress.
“The House of Representatives is doing the people’s work, it passed a budget as it is constitutionally required to do, we’ve passed the majority of our appropriations bills and will complete them in September on time,” he says, adding, “I think it is incumbent on all of us – particularly the freshmen – to try to conduct ourselves in a proper, respectful manner whether we’re here in our districts or back in Washington, and focus on substance and have that debate.”
Watch video of our interview with Congressman Guinta below:
Amelia Chassé contributed to this report