PORTSMOUTH, NH – Today, at a Town Hall on the Seacoast, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter listened and answered questions about ending sequestration, standing up for workers in Washington, and keeping the American dream alive for New Hampshire families. See below for highlights.
Growing New Hampshire’s Middle Class: “I have the responsibility to represent the district, to speak up for them, to speak up for the middle class, and I am more committed than ever to protecting them from some really awful legislation, like the sequester.”
“I love the district…I come from the middle class. This is where I’m from. And I know the stories here, and I know my neighbors’ stories, and it just gives me the courage to go down there, especially when you see so much that’s just wrong.”
Keeping College Affordable: “I worked my way through college. I worked in factories and other jobs and I also took out student loans, so I know what it feels like. I’m particularly concerned with what’s happening right now with [student loan] interest rates.”
“I think the interest rates should be much lower and I think we really need to be looking at these schools to figure out why they have these enormous jumps in costs each year, and to try to slow that down.”
“I feel more encouraged now than a year or two ago that at least society is noticing, and legislators are noticing, that this debt is just enormous. And it is hurting our economy, because if graduates are just paying off their student debt, they’re not buying their first home, they’re not buying their first car, they’re not able to settle in and become consumers, and remember, 70% of our economy is consumer-driven. We need people to be able to engage in our economy, so [student debt] is a huge problem.”
Sequestration: “Already the Manchester Meals on Wheels has seen cutbacks. The Newmarket Head Start has seen cuts. We’ve seen furloughs at the shipyard. When people don’t go to work, when they don’t have full pay, then they have to make tough economic decisions, and that impacts small businesses in New Hampshire. There’s really a ripple effect [from sequestration].”
The Economy: “It’s improving, but not fast enough. I was looking at a USA Today article talking about how [the economy] has been steady, not a huge improvement, but a steady improvement, and we have had more than 40 months of steady job growth. I was in Congress at the time when the big banks caused the great collapse, and we were very close to a depression…The unemployment rate of New Hampshire is about 5.5 or 5.6%, smaller than the rest of the country, at 7.6%. That’s too big.”
On Middle Class Tax Fairness: “We need a tax system that will be fairer to the middle class and that will end a lot of the subsidies and tax breaks that we see.”
“Americans struggling to pay their bills are looking around saying ‘How come Facebook isn’t paying any federal income tax? How come corporations can take their money offshore? How come the middle class is taking a hit?’”
Washington Partisanship: “I feel like [Congress is] a car without a driver. We just heard Speaker Boehner say that he is not the leader, he’s the facilitator, and that he’s letting the House work its will. The problem with the House working its will is that there are all kinds of will.”
“We really have three political parties right now. We have the Democrats, we have the traditional Republicans…and then we have the Tea-Party.”
“I actually feel sorry for Speaker Boehner because I think that he would like to work with [the Democrats], but he is prevented from doing so because of the far-right part of the party which has held back the Republican Party.”
NSA: “I absolutely agree that the NSA has overstepped and I was one of the people who voted for the Amash Amendment and I’ve done a number of things to protect people. [The Amash Amendment] really was a way to hold the NSA accountable, to provide more transparency, and to keep them from spying on all Americans who have done nothing wrong.”
“I’m a very big privacy advocate and I always have been…We need to balance the safety of this country and also our civil liberties.”
Working with the New Hampshire Delegation: “We’re all very thrilled that we’re going to have the KC46A Tankers and we see work moving forward on the Sarah Long Bridge. So there’s a lot of things we can work together on in a bipartisan manner.”
Affordable Care Act: “Washington Republicans have voted [almost] 40 times now in the House to stop the Affordable Care Act, which is a lot. First they tried to block it, and now they are trying to block implementation by blocking funding…I would like to point out that we haven’t had a single jobs bill that we could vote for. Nothing. It’s just repeatedly voting to interrupt, interfere, and cancel the Affordable Care Act, so it’s difficult to watch.”
“I can’t understand why they would work so hard to keep somebody from being able to treat their diabetes or make sure their child gets treatment from Asthma. I just don’t get it.”
House Farm Bill: “USA Today wrote that the amount of money, subsidies and gifts that they [the House Majority] gave to agriculture corporations is embarrassing. It makes the Republican claim to be fiscally responsible look absolutely ridiculous.”
Campaign Finance Reform: “I don’t take business PAC money and I don’t take DC lobbyists’ money and I’m working very hard for campaign finance reform because I think that we could get a better campaign here and elsewhere.
“Everything could change today if we had campaign finance reform; if we stop allowing members of Congress to get big checks from these multi-national corporations.”
This was Shea-Porter’s third town hall since January. In April, she hosted a town hall to discuss the future of Great Bay. In June, she held a business town hall with workers at Titeflex Aerospace in Laconia. She’s also held small business and veterans open houses in Manchester and Rochester to discuss challenges facing those groups.