Kuster calls jobs foremost priority

Last modified: 9/8/2010 12:00:00 AM
Ann McLane Kuster says she wants to be part of the Congress that helps President Obama move the country forward.

Right now, the Hopkinton attorney said, that means encouraging businesses to create jobs.

'There's no silver bullet,' Kuster, a Democrat, said in a recent interview with Monitor editors. 'There's not the deepest tax cut or the greatest stimulus that is going to pull us out of this recession in one fell swoop. . . . But what we can do, there are a series of very practical steps we can take to move forward.'

If she wins election to Congress in the 2nd District, Kuster said she would support increasing tax breaks for companies that create jobs in the United States. She would eliminate the capital gains tax for investing in small business. And she would give community banks more flexibility in assessing loan applications from small businesses.

'You need to be able to say: Look, my business looks like it isn't doing well because people weren't buying widgets last year and the year before. But now they're looking to buy widgets, and I need money for inventory so I have widgets on hand for them to buy,' Kuster said.

Economy, energy

Community banks need their own regulations because the reform law directed at Wall Street has had the unintended consequence of stifling lending to small businesses just when such loans are needed to create jobs, she said.

Kuster attributed dissatisfaction with the federal stimulus to problems with the program's administration, including insufficient transparency and inadequate accountability. And she said the government could have moved beyond investing in the traditional infrastructure of highways and bridges to helping expand access to broadband communication and making buildings more energy efficient.

She said she would support tax incentives for renewable energy projects that would create jobs in the state while reducing energy costs. She cited a conversation with electricians who had worked on the construction of turbines at a wind farm in Lempster.

'They're jobs that are right here,' she said. 'They can't be outsourced. Their physicality is right here at home.'

Kuster said she would support cap-and-trade legislation to create economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions, but she said any proposal should include a rebate to protect families from the cost.

'I want to make absolutely sure this doesn't happen at the expense of the consumer when the shareholder is doing just fine,' she said.

Kuster lauded this year's health care reform law as a historic change accomplished after many years of effort. The law's most critical contribution is its expansion of health insurance to 31 million people, she said. She also cited the law's prohibition against companies dropping a person's coverage if he or she becomes sick and the extension of coverage for dependent children until age 26.

Kuster said she supports the idea of a government-run insurance plan, and she believes lawmakers will consider the public option again as they look to lower the cost of health care.

'I support the public insurance option to increase competition and bring down costs,' she said. 'We can't print enough money to have access to health care for everyone without addressing costs.'

Immigration

She said the country needs comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for people who illegally entered the United States. Illegal immigrants should face consequences, such as fines, she said, but exporting millions of residents would cause 'total dislocation' for communities.

Kuster said immigration reform should focus on securing the border, and she said she supported Obama's decision to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to support border agents. But she said she is 'flat-out opposed' to the Arizona immigration law that requires police officials to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws and people to carry their immigration papers.

'There is no way to enforce that type of subjective test without racial profiling,' she said. 'Really, that's the bottom line. So I don't want to compromise our values, as Americans, to freedom and justice.'

Kuster said she opposed the president's decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan because she believes the United States should focus on finding terrorists and preventing attacks. Implementing the U.S. military's mission of counterinsurgency according to its manuals would require keeping 250,000 troops in the country for 12 years, and even that would not keep Americans safer, she said.

'We need to stay totally focused on a much more narrow mission that is described as counter-terrorism, the disrupting of al-Qaida wherever we may find them,' she said.

On the Bush tax cuts, Kuster said she opposed the distribution of savings and would let the tax cuts for the highest earners expire while continuing the rest of the cuts.

Kuster said the 2008 election held in it a basic civics lesson that applies to the coming midterm elections.

'We sent a new president to the White House, but we have not yet given him a Congress that he can work with,' she said. 'I want to be part of the Congress that will continue to move the country forward and not slip back.'




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