U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta and Dem. Carol Shea-Porter discuss their ideas for New England
U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta said Monday he opposes federal subsidies for high speed rail in New England in part because he objects to New Hampshire residents traveling out of state to work.
Guinta’s comments came during his first post-primary forum with his Democratic challenger, Carol Shea-Porter.
The two are in a rematch of 2010, when Guinta, the former mayor of Manchester, unseated Shea-Porter, who had held the 1st Congressional District seat for two terms.
While high speed rail may provide an economic boost to communities along the route, Guinta said it doesn’t make sense in New Hampshire because it’s too expensive, it’s not self-sustaining and because the population base is too small.
“I never quite understood this notion of sending our residents out of state to work someplace else,” Guinta said.
“I understand, particularly from my 10 years as mayor, the economic impact along the corridor, but I think there’s a lot of different ways we can grow our economy here in New Hampshire.”
Shea-Porter replied that the state’s unemployment rate would be far higher if southern New Hampshire residents stopped commuting to Massachusetts.
She backs federal help for high speed rail because it reduces highway congestion and gas consumption.
“Of course we need high speed rail,” she said.
“Anybody who’s ever traveled down the I-93 corridor knows it; anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of traveling by train to work understands that this is a good way to travel,” she said.
“Where does the money come from?” Guinta asked.
The closest the two came to agreeing on any issue was when, in a nod to Twitter, they were asked to describe their economic philosophies in 140 characters or less.
“Pro-growth economic principles, predictability for job creators and entrepreneurs, and reducing federal government oversight into our personal and business lives,” Guinta said, going well over the character limit.
Shea-Porter started her answer in exactly the same way, saying “Pro-growth economic principles, working hard to support industry, both small business and large.” Though she kept that answer brief, she spent much of the rest of the time interjecting during Guinta’s answers and talking over the forum’s moderator.
Asked about energy policy, both Guinta and Shea-Porter advocated an “all of the above” approach to alternative energy, but they tangled over the details.
Guinta said instead of picking winners and losers, the federal government should either provide the same subsidies for all energy industries or none at all.
Shea-Porter said that sounds good, but said in reality, Guinta has backed subsidies for the oil and gas industry over renewable energy by voting for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.
On health care, Shea-Porter said President Barack Obama’s health insurance overhaul legislation will help small businesses because they ultimately will have healthier, more productive workers.
And bringing young people into the insurance risk pool will eventually slow the rate of insurance premium increases, she argued.
Guinta, who favors repealing the law, declined to say what aspects of it, if any, he would keep in place.
But he said the business people he’s spoken too say they are spending more money on compliance.
“I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s said to me, ‘Thank goodness for the Accountable Care Act,” he said.
The forum, focused on business and economic issues, was hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, the Business and Industry Association, the New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire Public Television and New Hampshire Public Radio.
Candidates in the 2nd Congressional District face off on Tuesday, followed by gubernatorial candidates Wednesday.