Senate hopeful holds Laconia Town Hall Forum
Laconia — Two-term state senator and businessman Jim Rubens spoke about the nation's debt, inflation, and what changes he would bring to Congress at a Town Hall Forum in the Laconia Public Library on Monday.
Rubens is running against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith in the Republican primary to face off against Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.
He has lived in New Hampshire for the past 40 years and currently resides in Hanover. During his time in the state Senate, Rubens pushed for “SB2,” voting for towns and school districts, energy deregulation, and authored the state's charter school law.
“We're showing how bottom-up innovation, more choice for parents, more innovation, reduction in top-down control over schools, [and] diversity has improved people's lives,” Rubens said.
Rubens said he'd like to take the same approach to Washington. He said voters are more agitated, fearful, and distrustful of Washington than he's ever seen.
Rubens said one of the causes is the national debt.
“In the last 5 1/2 years since Obama/Shaheen took over in January 2009, $7 trillion in new debt has been loaded on Americans,” Rubens said. “Most of it is printed money because China has stopped loaning America money. Now we're printing the money.”
According to a July 15 Congressional Budget Office report, “the total amount of federal debt held by the public is now equivalent to about 74 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP) — a higher percentage than at any point in U.S. history, except a brief period around World War II and almost twice the percentage at the end of 2008.”
It adds that, under current laws, the level of federal debt is expected to decline in the next two years followed by an upward trend “that could not be sustained indefinitely.”
The report blames an aging population, rising healthcare costs, increasing federal subsidies, and an expected increase in interest rates for the problems, not inflation.
Rubens said the government can't continue printing money and have the currency survive.
“We witnessed what happens when the government starts printing money like crazy in Weimar, Germany, etc.,” Rubens said. “The problem is it's not fixed the economy. One out of eight Americans is either out of work, given up looking for a job, or underemployed.”
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System states that they aim for 2 percent inflation over time because a lower rate would risk deflation, which would make prices and wages fall.
Rubens also criticized the Obama Administration's actions in Syria, especially its advocacy of weakening President Bashar al-Assad.
“What would that have accomplished? It would have straightened ISIS,” Rubens said. “Here we are 10 months later and people in Washington, in both parties, are somewhat proposing bombing ISIS.”
Rubens called the administration's foreign policy “mosquito-like” and said the world doesn't know what the U.S. stands for.
He said he'd like to bring “bold ideas” to the Senate to solve the nation's problems. Those include bringing Super Wi-Fi to New Hampshire and improving cellphone service.
“We have companies like Time-Warner, Comcast, and Verizon, and they won't build fiber to every house,” Rubens said.
He proposes that the government take frequencies and freely license them to the public.
Rubens said he'd also like to eliminate all energy subsidies.
“Nuclear, coal, oil, wind, solar, bio ethanol — let's take them all away and let the free marketplace [take over],” Rubens said.
On the education front, he advocated abolishing the Department of Education and establishing a nationwide voucher program.
“Parents can choose the best public or private schools for their sons or their daughters nationwide,” Rubens said.
Rubens said the public is sick of career politicians and lobbyists that influence them. To fix that, Rubens said, he will give himself a term limit to two terms, give back his pension, and push for labor laws to apply to Congress.
“Let's have a Congress that's connected to the lives of real people who live here in New Hampshire and representing people here in New Hampshire,” Rubens said.
He said he considers holding office to be like volunteer firefighting: doing the job and coming home afterward.