Guinta: I’m Not Saying It’s the Senate’s Fault, But…

PORTSMOUTH– If you’re frustrated with Congress, you’re not alone. Congressman Frank Guinta owned up to a certain amount of frustration himself in Tuesday remarks to 50 people at Politics & Eggs, hosted by the New England Council.

The House is working on the budget but “the [Democratic controlled] Senate has announced that they aren’t going to,” Guinta said. “I’m trying not to point fingers, but it cannot go unnoticed by the country that we have a body that is not working” on the nation’s business.

Guinta focused his remarks on the budget, the need for entitlement reform, and his own work as a member of the House Transportation Committee.

Guinta identified the widening of I-93 as the state’s top transportation priority, mentioning improving the Sarah Long bridge inPortsmouthand improving the port and harbor there as competing priorities. To critics who say the transportation bill is larded up with unnecessary spending, Guinta said, “I’m here to govern.” He cited the Constitution as his basis for making infrastructure projects a national, Federal responsibility.

On tax reform, Guinta stated that Republicans and Democrats largely agree about lowering rates and broadening the tax base. He said everyone dislikes loopholes for certain companies and sectors of the economy.

After speaking for 20 minutes, Guinta fielded Q&A for 35 more. Expanding – at some length – on his work as one of nearly 60 members of the Transportation Committee, Guinta came off as a freshman coming to terms with Washington realties: divided government, plenty of posturing to go around, inevitable compromises that leave no one getting all they want, and the inability of a freshman to have much of an influence on anything.

Responding to a question on Medicare reform, Guinta said “the mistake I think House Republicans made last year” in presenting the Ryan reform plan was in not having laid groundwork with the public, which didn’t understand that the program is unsustainable without changes. There’s “not enough revenue today, nor can we tax enough in the future” to meet promised benefits to future retirees, Guinta said.

“I’m perfectly fine having this debate” between doing nothing and Republican reform proposals for the campaign season, Guinta said.

Asked by a visitor fromQuebecabout the prospects for high speed rail to connect his province withBostonandNew York, Guinta effectively advised not to hold one’s breath.

fergus@ferguscullen.com, February 21, 2012

Author: Fergus Cullen

Fergus Cullen is a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party (2007-2008) and an editorial page columnist for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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