Across Loudoun, Gillespie pitches economic plan, condemns Obamacare
"What I heard here again today is what I hear when I talk to a lot of small business owners,” Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and adviser to President George W. Bush, said in an interview with the Times-Mirror. “The impact of the Affordable Care Act on small businesses and their employees is very, very negative. It's hindering. It causes people to feel squeezed.”
The five stops in Leesburg, Sterling and Aldie came on the fourth day of Gillespie's “Ease the Squeeze” tour, a phrase he oft-repeated during the interview.
Key points of Gillespie's economic proposal include: reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent and eliminating loopholes and special interest tax breaks; abolishing the Affordable Care Act's sales tax on health insurance that increases the cost of health care coverage; giving relief to lower income working Americans by replacing the Earned Income Tax Credit with wage enhancement tax credits; regulatory reform; and consolidating some of the existing credits and exemptions that parents can take for their children, while increasing the existing child tax credit, indexing it to inflation.
Gillespie, who has spent months campaigning across the state, said one thing he hears from business owners is how uncertainty surrounding the federal government is inhibiting business growth.
“Everything I do will be subject to a very simple test in the United States Senate: Will this ease the squeeze on hard-working Virginians if we pass this bill? If it doesn't, I won't vote for it,” Gillespie said.
When asked what experience he has working across the aisle or with opposing views, Gillespie pointed to his time working in the office of former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, saying “all those bills passed with bipartisan support.”
"I was also there when we were able to negotiate the first balanced budget in 25 years with a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Democratic White House,” Gillespie said, speaking of years during the Clinton administration. “I believe the combination of my experience in the Congress, in the White House and in the private sector will make me effective on day one.”
At Tart Lumber in Sterling, a Republican-friendly, 60-employee business that often hosts GOP politicians, Gillespie listened as owners Craig and Libby Fritsche derided the Affordable Care Act and what they consider over-regulation.
"I've often said I don't know how anybody starts a business today because there are so many regulations,” Libby Fritsche said.
Gillespie nodded in agreement, saying “more businesses are closing than opening in Virginia today.”
"The new normal is the old mediocre. We can do better. If we get the right policies in place, I think things can boom,” Gillespie, who also founded a lobbying firm, said.
Joining Gillespie at a couple of the stops were local state Dels. Randy Minchew (R-10th) and Barbara Comstock (R-34th). Comstock and Gillespie could become colleagues in Congress if Gillespie wins and Comstock wins the House race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.-10th).
The Republican candidate is facing an uphill battle in his attempt to knock off the incumbent Warner, a popular former governor in a state that twice voted for President Obama and opted for Democrats in the three statewide races of 2013.
Responding to Gillespie's visit, a Warner campaign spokesman said the incumbent is the only candidate with a “comprehensive and bipartisan tax proposal” that lowers both corporate and individual tax rates.
"Ease the squeeze? Ed Gillespie was the man behind the bind,” the spokesman, David Turner, said. “While Ed Gillespie was paid millions as a DC lobbyist for special interests like Enron, Mark Warner was creating jobs and opportunities for all Virginians as a business leader, governor and senator."
Gillespie's campaign has zeroed in on Warner's support for most of President Obama's agenda, specifically playing on the Affordable Care Act's unpopularity, in hopes of wooing voters away from the incumbent.