Hodes, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, put in his share of special spending requests during his two terms in the U.S. House, but swore off earmarks after he decided to run for Gregg's seat. Hodes requested $122 million in earmarks by himself or with others before taking his anti-earmark pledg in January. Among them was $475,000 last year to support homeless veterans in Nashua. Former Republican Sen. John Sununu and Gregg joined him in the request. He also teamed up with others--including Gregg--over the last three years to get $1.5 million to treat uninsured patients at community health centers.
Hodes and Ayotte accuse each other of adopting the anti-earmark position as a matter of political convenience.
Hodes insisted the problem rests with those who request earmarks for groups that later funnel money to their campaigns, called "pay for play." Hodes said it was more important to be independent and not necessarily do what was politically popular. "Some people have criticized me for not bringing home pork, not bringing home the bacon," he said. "When I asked for the earmarks I maintained a policy that I would not ask for contributions from anybody on whose behalf I asked for an earmark because I did not want it to be pay for play."
Hodes defended the spending and argued the stimulus funds created needed jobs for teachers, fire fighters and police officers. "It was certainly necessary to stabilize our economy that was in absolute free fall," said Hodes. "At the time the recovery act was passed we'd lost almost 4 million jobs, the financial markets were locked, the economy was in a free fall."
Ayotte said the stimulus only created "temporary or government" jobs and more taxpayer-paid spending hurt the economy as national unemployment increased by 2.5 million jobs. "It was a big government program, but it didn't allow the growth in the private sector," Ayotte said.
During the four years Hodes was in Congress, Ayotte said the federal deficit went up 525%, the debt increased $5 trillion to $13 trillion and Hodes voted for 9,000 earmarks last year. "Congressman Hodes is wanting to portray himself as a fiscal conservative," Ayotte said.
In this campaign, both candidates call for a ban on earmarks. Ayotte said Hodes had an election year conversion on earmarks. Hodes noted Ayotte earlier in this campaign had defended earmarks as long as they were transparent until after Hodes had endorsed the ban.
Ayotte was non-committal about more money for the project and suggested getting additional highway dollars. "I don't know if that is worth the amount of money we are putting in," Ayotte said of the commuter rail project. "I-93 might be a greater priority."
Ayotte said congressional pay should be "performance-based" and predicted Hodes would not fare well under such a system given his votes on taxes and spending. "I think that he owes the taxpayers of New Hampshire a refund," Ayotte concluded.
Ayotte opposed all three proposed changes in federal labor laws.
Ayotte argued a repeal of the tax cuts amounts to a tax increase that would hurt the Granite State small businesses and cost $300 million. Ayotte argued it is simply the "wrong philosophy to raise taxes during difficult economic times" as she believes her opponent is trying to do."We're a small business state and these tax increases are going to hit our small business owners," said Ayotte.
Hodes said keeping tax cuts for the wealthiest would add $700 billion and nearly double the federal deficit. "It is simply reckless and fiscally irresponsible to allow the tax cuts to go on to the top 2%," he shot back.
Ayotte warned that repealing tax cuts for the wealthy would cost individuals and small-business owners in the state $300 million a year.
Hodes has proposed to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and he accused Ayotte of opposing them by signing a no-tax increase pledge from Americans for Tax Reform. "My opponent, she believes that tax cuts for shipping jobs overseas will create jobs," Hodes said.
Ayotte declared, "What I have said is no tax increases on any business."
Hodes instead wants to exempt from the tax $5 million for an individual and up to $10 million for families with a 35 percent tax applied to estate income above those caps.
The above quotations are from 2010 New Hampshire Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 New Hampshire Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts by Paul Hodes.
Click here for a profile of Paul Hodes.
Paul Hodes on other issues:
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