CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Rep. Frank Guinta has made ‘‘Getting Granite Staters back to work’’ his mantra, with one notable exception: Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, who is fighting to return to the 1st Congressional District job she lost to him two years ago.
Guinta often points to the six job fairs he’s held around the state as proof that middle-class job creation has been his top priority both in Washington and at home. But Shea-Porter argues he has little to show for his efforts and has actually put New Hampshire defense industry jobs at risk by voting for the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.
The $1.2 trillion in cuts, half coming from defense, are part of a budget compromise that Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed to avert a default on the federal debt. They'll start taking effect in January unless Congress comes up with alternative budget cuts.
‘‘Tea partier Congressman Frank Guinta has done virtually nothing in Washington, D.C., to create jobs,’’ said Shea-Porter, who also criticizes Guinta for refusing to vote on Obama’s comprehensive jobs bill.
But Guinta argues that when Shea-Porter says ‘‘comprehensive jobs bill’’ she really means ‘‘another failed federal stimulus plan’’ like the one she supported when she was in office.
‘‘From raising taxes to another round of stimulus, Carol Shea-Porter just doesn’t get it. The same failed policies of the past that yielded us 43 consecutive months of unemployment over 8% and a $16 trillion national debt aren’t going to help put Granite Staters back to work,’’ said Guinta spokesman Derek Dufresne.
Guinta says it has been Senate Democrats who've stood in the way of job creation by refusing to vote on more than two dozen bills related to jobs. And he defended his job fair initiative, saying it gave him perspective on what kind of legislation would most help the state’s small businesses.
‘‘You get to talk to employers one-on-one, you get to establish a relationship as the member of Congress and you have these people who can be informal advisers to you and tell you what’s going on on the ground,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s the most important thing. You can look at statistical analysis and data all you want but you also have to have some personal experiences.’’
Less clear is how successful the job fairs were for job seekers. Guinta said the feedback he’s received from businesses has been largely positive, but ‘‘there are rules in terms of what I'm allowed to publicize once these people get a job,’’ he said. ‘‘There are privacy issues there.’’
Several of the participating employers contacted by The Associated Press did not mention any privacy issues, however. EFI VuTek, which designs and manufacturers large-format printers in Meredith, hired one or two temporary workers at each job fair, said Wendy Lague, manager of talent acquisition. Those have been mostly in shipping, receiving and manufacturing positions lasting six months to a year, she said.
‘‘We've done really well,’’ she said. ‘‘I've been pleased to see someone in public office really putting that effort toward building jobs in New Hampshire.’’
Joe Veilleux, branch sales manager at Bankers Life and Casualty in Concord, had no complaints about the three job fairs his company attended, but said he hasn’t hired anyone as a result.
The rematch between Shea-Porter and Guinta has been viewed as among the most competitive in the nation. The latest WMUR-TV Granite State Poll, released Oct. 11, showed Guinta slightly ahead, with nearly a quarter of likely voters still undecided.
Shea-Porter, a former social worker and activist from Rochester who became New Hampshire’s first female member of Congress when she was elected in 2006, has spent much of this race trying to cast Guinta as a tea party extremist. She has called him a member of a ‘‘do-nothing’’ Congress, highlighted his support for the austere budget plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan and accused him of wanting to end Medicare guarantees.
Guinta, a former mayor of Manchester, has tried to portray Shea-Porter as a liberal tax-and-spender, criticizing her support for what he considers the Obama administration’s failed economic policies and health care overhaul.
Shea-Porter believes the federal health care law 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.Continued...