Paul Hodes in 2010 N.H. Senate Debates


On Government Reform: $122M in earmarks while in House; pledges none in Senate

In his three terms in the Senate, Judd Gregg has helped bring home millions through earmarks, a process that has fallen so much out of political favor Ayotte and Hodes have taken pledges against it.

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.

Source: Boston Globe coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Oct 7, 2010

On Government Reform: No pay-to-play: earmarks without campaign contributions ok

Ayotte accuses Hodes of adopting the anti-earmark pledge as a matter of political convenience. "Congressman Hodes is having an election-year conversion on earmarks. He requested over 60 earmarks last year. He's voted for 9,000 earmarks just in 2009 alone," Ayotte said.

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."

Source: Boston Globe coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Oct 7, 2010

On Budget & Economy: Stimulus bill was needed to stabilize economic free fall

As for the controversial stimulus spending that supporters argue kept a recession from becoming a depression, Ayotte believes the government's role should be one of support through pro-growth policies and lower taxes. "It's not the government that's going to create jobs in this country, it's our small businesses. It's the private sector," said Ayotte. "Many of the so-called jobs that were created under the stimulus were essentially temporary jobs, government jobs, not private sector growth."

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."

Source: Fox News coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Budget & Economy: $800B stimulus was an emergency investment

Hodes defended his 2009 vote for the $800 billion stimulus package. "Nobody wanted to make those investments, but they had to be done; it was an emergency situation," Hodes said.

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.

Source: Nashua Telegraph coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Environment: Extend Boston commuter rail to Nashua & Concord

Hodes said he supports extending commuter rail from Boston through Nashua to Concord despite the up-front cost of more than $250 million. "It's important to relieve congestion on our highways; it is important for reducing energy," Hodes said.

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."

Source: Nashua Telegraph coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Government Reform: Cut Congressional pay by 10% during recession

To empathize with the struggle working families have had through this recession, Hodes supports cutting the pay of Congress and the president by 10 percent.

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.

Source: Nashua Telegraph coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Jobs: Raise minimum wage & index to cost-of-living

Hodes endorsed raising the minimum wage to include increases in cost-of-living, giving unions the option of organizing by collecting names of supporters rather than through a secret ballot vote and mandating employers offer paid sick leave to their workers.

Ayotte opposed all three proposed changes in federal labor laws.

Source: Nashua Telegraph coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Social Security:

On Social Security, Ayotte said she was open to raising the retirement age for younger workers while Hodes was against changes to the entitlement. No changes to entitlement; no changes to retirement age
Source: Nashua Telegraph coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Tax Reform: Fiscally irresponsible to allow tax breaks for the top 2%

Ayotte and Hodes show stark differences in their approach to taxes, business development and spending. Hodes believes the Bush tax cuts should be repealed for the wealthiest Americans, applying the influx of cash to the country's increasing deficit. " It is simply reckless. It's fiscally irresponsible to allow the tax breaks for the top 2%, where all the wealth has gone, while the middle class has been clobbered, to continue. That's $700 billion," said Hodes who argued an opposing strategy would double the deficit. "That's not fiscally conservative. That's not fiscally responsible," Hodes said.

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.

Source: Fox News coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Tax Reform: Irresponsible to give $700B in tax cuts to wealthiest 2%

Ayotte favors extension of all Bush tax cuts while Hodes agrees with Pres. Obama that the tax cuts should end for those making more than $200,000 a year. "It's the wrong philosophy to raise taxes during these difficult, economic times and that's what he would like to do," Ayotte said of Hodes.

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."

Source: Nashua Telegraph coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

On Tax Reform: Estate tax of 35% after first $5 million

Ayotte would keep the zero federal tax on estates that will jump back up to more than 50 percent if Congress doesn't extend that Bush tax cut.

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.

Source: Nashua Telegraph coverage of 2010 N.H. Senate debate Sep 23, 2010

The above quotations are from 2010 New Hampshire Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 New Hampshire Senate Debates.
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Paul Hodes on other issues:
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Page last updated: Sep 27, 2012