The state of Rhode Island is emblematic of the social, cultural, financial, and political problems that have seized the heart of America. For decades the smallest state in the union has, for the most part, been held hostage to the unionist-controlled, political Left, the faction that is at this time in our history strongly exerting its seeming forced influence upon the entire nation. The people, however, are awake; they’re beginning to view the Democratic Party with a healthy dose of skepticism if not downright anger, as has been evidenced in the degree of push-back that they’ve engineered to policies such as Universal Health Care, Cap & Trade, illegal immigration, etc. The union-controlled political class is beginning to encounter serious resistance
across the country, and it is no different in Rhode Island.
Donald Carcieri, the current Republican Governor of Rhode Island, will have finished his service to the state this year and will be stepping down. Similar to New Jersey, a state in which spending issues – due mostly to the grip of the unions – are out of control and are now being addressed in a common-sense, fiscally-oriented fashion by Governor Christie, the most likely Republican candidate for Governor this fall in Rhode Island, John Robitaille, has plans to deal with the spending issues in Little Rhody that have, quite simply, paralyzed the Ocean State.
When Patrick Kennedy announced his intention to step aside and not to seek re-election for the House seat that he has held for two decades, many of the names at the political forefront in Rhode Island threw their hats in the ring, as was to be expected. John Loughlin, however, while fairly well-known as a three-term state representative from Tiverton, stepped up and announced that he had every intention of running and winning a seat in the House and to represent the people of Rhode Island. He, too, plans on using conservative common sense to reform not only the issues in his home state but also to speak on behalf of his people in reforming Washington, DC, as well.
Both men agreed to take some time out of their schedules for America’s Right.
AR: Let’s get right to business. It seems as though Rhode Island has reached an historical crossroads, in both a financial and possibly a cultural sense. The political left seems to have dominated the state since the time of the Great Depression to the point at which many people who consider themselves “common sense” individuals generally or conservatives more specifically don’t even bother to vote, since they assume that Rhode Island is merely a Democratic, leftist-controlled political entity. With the current political and cultural conditions, however, one would think and hope that nearly everyone would be able to see what I think is an obvious truth: the democratically-controlled unions have taken the state to the breaking point, show no interest in the fact that there simply is no more money, and seem perfectly content to walk the state right off the proverbial cliff. If Republicans/conservatives make significant gains in November, how do we begin turning this state back in the direction of common sense?
John Robitaille: If Republicans do make the gains in the general assembly, it will happen quickly. As governor, I will take action to shrink government and make it more efficient. I will also work with the GA to lower taxes, reform the public employee pension plans and redesign our social services programs. RI does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. When we control spending, we can lower taxes and make RI a business-friendly state. I have already called for a constitutional amendment that would cap local property taxes at 2 ½ % per year. I have also said I would submit budget articles to eliminate state income tax on military pensions, the minimum income tax on small businesses, and will propose that we eliminate the death tax.
John Loughlin: This issue applies not only to Rhode Island, but to the current Congress as well. Spending is out of control; they’ve passed sweeping changes to our health care system, and the left-wing of the Democratic party has demonized businesses and anyone who disagrees with their desire to expand entitlements.
The first step for the country and for Rhode Island is to get spending under control and stop spending money we don’t have. We need to re-create a business-friendly environment that will encourage job growth and allow businesses to prosper. This means across the board tax cuts and incentives for businesses to invest in new technology and new equipment. We also need to encourage banks to lend to small businesses with government-backed loans. This isn’t giving money away like TARP or the various bailouts – this is providing an opportunity for small business to do what they do best – create jobs.
AR: Nationally, we’ve seen what I refer to as “lines in the sand” being drawn by certain states in reaction to the liberal, statist policies that are coming out of Washington at relentless speed. Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, and Arizona have all made it clear that the power of the federal government has gone far enough. Governor Christie in New Jersey is facing quite a bit of resistance from the public sector in his state, simply because he’s trying to do what’s best for the state, not merely for the unions. Can his tact be applied here in Rhode Island?
John Robitaille: The next RI governor will have to exploit the bully pulpit to get the public behind him, form a strong coalition with the newly-elected conservative members of the GA and work to transform state government. We must immediately work to reform the public employee pension plans, eliminate unfunded mandates on our cities and towns, and renegotiate labor agreements that are no longer sustainable.
AR: In what sense have the Rhode Island Tea Party and the Young Republicans of Rhode Island contributed to your campaign?
John Loughlin: The Tea Party, not only in Rhode Island, but across the country, has awakened a sleeping giant – taxpayers and others have seen that government has become too big and too intrusive. Over the last 18 months, the country has lost its way and the Tea Party has reminded us that it is imperative that we revert back to the principles of our Founding Fathers. But the biggest inspiration in Rhode Island has been the support of the Young Republicans. In a state that has been controlled by the Democrats for over 70 years, these women and men have revived their group and inspired the conservative base. The YR’s have helped with our grassroots efforts while also assisting in fundraising, canvassing, and phonebanking. One of the YR Board members, Patrick Sweeney, has been hired as our Deputy Campaign Manager.
John Robitaille: We have paid staff and volunteers from both the YRs and the Tea Party. They are passionate and energized, and they are focused on winning in November. I have received the formal endorsement from the Young Republicans. The Tea Party has not yet endorsed candidates for governor.
AR: What can you tell me about your opponent(s)t in the upcoming election?
John Loughlin: Right now there is a four-way primary on the Democratic side, and although I’ll leave predictions up to the pundits, one thing I can tell you is that all four candidates are Kennedy clones. Rhode Island deserves better representation in Washington, and it’s abundantly clear that none of these men represent the kind of change that Rhode Island needs. Even more disturbing is that they all said that they would support the Nancy Pelosi agenda, and we’ve seen how disastrous that’s been for Rhode Island.
John Robitaille: In the primary, I will be facing a Republican who wants to build an aquarium, regionalize all the schools, and believes that we should legalize marijuana. Enough said. In the general election, I will be facing legacy politicians who have been a part of the problem. Caprio is trying to escape his Democrat party’s record of taxing and spending. Chafee is leaning so far left that he’s passed Caprio, who is moving right. Chafee wants to raise taxes on food, clothing, and prescription drugs, and both he and Caprio want to give illegal immigrant children in-state tuition at our state colleges and universities. There will be a clear choice for the voters. I am the only genuine pro-business, pro-jobs candidate for governor who will shrink government and transform state government.
AR: I’d like to go a bit more general or national. I believe that what many people should begin to note more often is that administrations that are run from the far left seem to continually operate amidst one crisis after another. Look at what this country has been through since the Obama administration and this Congress were sworn in ‐ a financial crisis, a crisis of health care, the impending doom of the planet, the oil spill, the Black Panthers ‐ is there a Modus Operandi to all this?
John Loughlin: Whether or not it’s intentional, the crisis-hopping is symptomatic of the fact that government is too big. The government does not have bandwidth to handle all the problems that this administration has led people to believe it can. The administration is too busy jamming through sweeping legislation in the form of a $787 billion stimulus bill and a $2 trillion healthcare bill, instead of focusing on jobs and the economy. The train has fallen off the tracks, and I plan on righting the train when I get there.
John Robitaille: Liberals both run and govern on emotion, while conservatives run on facts and logic. It’s easier to gain media attention when there is a crisis and an opportunity to blame someone for it. Crisis often evokes strong emotions, and political opportunists capitalize on the media mantra – if it bleeds it leads. I don’t believe the Obama administration has created the events, but they sure do capitalize on them.
AR: Back during the heat of the health care debate, I maintained all along that the timing of that vote was crucial. It took place just before the Easter recess, which meant that those Democrats could not, under any circumstances, return to their home districts with the vote still hanging in the balance; further, the Democrats clearly needed enough time to pass between then and the November elections in order to give the degree of anger a chance to subside in the hopes that people would begin to forget what it was that they were so angry about. Do you think there’s any of that in the country right now? Are people beginning to forget?
John Loughlin: I can’t speak to the country, but the people of Rhode Island are angry. They are angry that we have the third-highest unemployment rate in the country. They are angry that they can’t afford to stay in their homes. They are angry about the taxes that the government is piling on when the people of the United States can least afford it. The people of Rhode Island are not sitting back, though. They are turning this anger into energy. They are attending town hall meetings, they are joining tea party groups, and they are volunteering for a campaign. I embrace their energy and am going to use it to push myself to victory November 2nd.
John Robitaille: I don’t think people will forget. The economy will not improve by November, and people are both angry and apprehensive about the future. I think many people will not vote for incumbents, regardless of their party affiliation.
AR: Given that we’re now witnessing an immigration battle between Arizona and the federal government, and that there were some reports that as many as 39 states had either filed or were in the process of putting together lawsuits against the federal government in an attempt to shield their citizens from the individual health insurance mandate, do you feel as though more states will begin to invoke their sovereignty per the 10th Amendment?
John Loughlin: I certainly hope so. Under the 10th amendment, states have the power to protect themselves against federal intrusion and should use it to protect the interests of their citizens.
John Robitaille: I do believe that many states will. If that number is already 39, that’s nearly 80%. This administration wants to grow the federal government and take more control over our lives. They are leaning so far left that the people will push back in November.
AR: It would seem as though the legislative centerpieces for the liberals at this time have been multiple stimulus bills, Universal Healthcare, Cap & Trade, and Amnesty. Taking that picture into account, what would you say are the general goals of the political left?
John Loughlin: I can’t begin to guess what the goals are of the leftists, but I believe that the current administration has failed the people of America. The Democrats’ spend, borrow, and tax agenda is not working. Washington has advanced a course of unprecedented spending, record deficits, increased partisanship, and bigger government. When the citizens of the United States have had to tighten their belts, this administration has only continued to spend despite telling the world to “pay as you go.”
John Robitaille: Greater federal government control over our lives, less individual freedoms, and more redistribution of wealth.
AR: Do you feel as though we’ll experience another serious economic downturn?
John Loughlin: As the Wall Street Journal just reported, there is increased speculation of a double dip recession (a recession, followed by a small recovery, followed by another recession). In order to prevent this, it is critical that our elected officials put in place policies that provide long term solutions, not just quick fixes. For example, in May more than five times as many homeowners were kicked out of the Obama administration’s primary foreclosure program (Home Affordable Modification Program) than were granted new relief. This is not the help that the people of America need. What we need to do is decrease the size of government, cut the red-tape, and cut taxes in order to improve the landscape of the economy and create jobs.
John Robitaille: This current downturn, I believe, is a major correction that will require a resetting of expectations, spending, and taxation. I believe we are at a point of setting a new norm, one that will force us (government and individuals) back to basics.
AR: If elected, are there any specific issues in Rhode Island that you plan to address immediately?
John Loughlin: We need to create jobs. One of my specific proposals is to increase the reinvestment tax credit from $20,000 to $100,000. This would provide small businesses a mechanism to use their profits for reinvestment rather than to turn it over to the government in taxes. If a sandwich shop needs to buy a new oven, someone will need to design that oven, fabricate that oven, manufacture that oven, install that oven and later repair that oven. This is one way to create jobs and this can be done across the board.
John Robitaille: Job creation. There are no silver bullets – just common sense and economics 101. We know what must be done to improve our economy in RI. We must lower taxes, cut spending, reform and streamline permitting and regulations, and make government efficient. RI must become a magnet for business and entrepreneurship. If we create the right environment, the jobs we so desperately need will come. Government cannot create meaningful jobs; it can only make it easier for the private sector to create jobs. Government should not pick winners or losers – it should just get out of the way.
AR: Thanks very much, gentlemen, for taking time out of your schedule for America’s Right and good luck with your campaigns.