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Ayotte, Hassan debate taxes, economic development, commuter rail

Union Leader Staff

October 25. 2016 4:23PM
Challenger Maggie Hassan, left, and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, right, opened some new wounds in a one-hour debate at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Tuesday. (Allegra Boverman/New Hampshire Public Radio)

GOFFSTOWN – Always with a smile, Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan savaged the rival candidate’s policies on business taxes, energy, commuter rail and financial regulation during a debate Tuesday.

The two running in this tight, U.S. Senate race poured over a lot of old ground in their attacks but they did open up some new wounds in this one-hour affair at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Ayotte defended her support for voting to try and place new constraints on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency created from the Dodd-Frank legislation.

“I support having the CFPD, but I want oversight,” Ayotte said adding there should be an inspector general and congressional authority over the agency’s budget.

“What other agency has it that you don’t come before Congress looking for the funding for it.”

But Hassan said the millions in campaign support for Ayotte from Wall Street is why she wants to weaken the watchdog.

“Make no mistake about it. Senator Ayotte has voted to weaken Dodd-Frank, to weaken the CFPD, it’s not really a surprise,” Hassan said.

Ayotte said Dodd-Frank has crippled small banks and led many to merge or go under which is not good for the consumer.

“There are many heavy-handed approaches that come out of Washington that do not make sense for our businesses and individuals here in New Hampshire.”

And Ayotte returned fire that Hassan showed a lack of “engagement” in forcing the developers of big, gas pipeline projects to respect local wishes.

“This is about leadership and certainly at the state level you see companies pushing projects without seeing engagement at the state level,” Ayotte charged.

Hassan said she backed local voices that led to Eversource agreeing to bury underground more of its Northern Pass project that she said still needs more review.

On business taxes, Hassan said Ayotte’s record reveals support for big business.

“I wouldn’t continue, as she has done, to vote to protect tax breakers. She talked about businesses going overseas, well, she has voted against eliminating the moving deduction for outsourcers. She has voted to protect tax breaks for big oil. She’s voted to protect tax breaks for Wall Street CEOs,” Hassan said.

But Ayotte said it was Hassan who cares little about the tax burden of small business as the sponsor of the since-aborted LLC tax and first vetoing business tax cuts she ultimately signed.

“The one thing that is bipartisan against her budget is Republicans and Democrats came together to override her veto,” Ayotte said.

While Hassan said Ayotte has done “literally nothing,” to support commuter rail, Ayotte said Hassan has failed to produce a plan that shows it could be financially self-sustaining.

The pair also disagreed over a requirement for employers to provide paid and family medical leave and a proposed expansion of federal overtime rules.

But they did agree on one thing - their worst job. Both said while in college they each worked making boxes and Hassan said it led to many, “painful paper cuts.”

“I have got to tell you; I would agree with you on that,” Ayotte said, laughing.

The New Hampshire Public Radio, New Hampshire Business Review and Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire co-hosted the event.

The forums airs on NHPR at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 9 on 'The Exchange' with Laura Knoy, who moderated the debate.

Politics Goffstown

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