Published 5:29 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2008
drilling for oil,
Touts her time spent in state to help residents
By TED STRONG
At a power luncheon presented by the Greenville/Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said she backs tax cuts, more drilling for oil, reforms to guest worker programs and keeping tobacco away from the Food and Drug Administration.
After her speech, Dole said she’s spent lots of time in North Carolina lately.
Dole, the state’s senior senator and a Republican, said she slips back to North Carolina whenever she can on weekends and when Congress is in recess.
Her comments came in answer to frequent criticism by her Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, who has called Dole “Senator Nowhere” and accused her of not spending enough time in North Carolina.
During her speech, Dole talked about the military, agriculture and energy. Questions from the audience focused on health care, immigration and education.
Dole said she favors a tax-credit approach to health care that would allow average Americans flexibility in choosing their doctors, though she hasn’t succeeded in implementing such a plan yet.
She said the No Child Left Behind Act needs serious changes.
Asked about immigration, she said the nation needs to effectively secure its borders as part of immigration reform and that changes are needed in guest-worker programs to help local businesses get enough seasonal labor.
The present energy crisis requires a broad cross-section of approaches, including drilling in controversial areas, she said.
Dole said she once had opposed drilling off of North Carolina’s coast, but changed her mind because of rising gas prices and advancing technology.
Dole said she also supports drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, where drilling would have a small footprint that wouldn’t harm much wildlife.
Dole said that expanded drilling, nuclear power, alternative energy and increased conservation should all be on the table.
She proposed taking subsidies given to oil companies and repurposing them to promote sustainable energy.
Another option is to release about a third of the nation’s strategic reserve of petroleum, she said. The move would lower prices quickly and send a strong message to speculators, a group that should be investigated by the Department of Justice, she said.
The overall goal must be to cut reliance on foreign oil imported from nations run by the likes of Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin, she said.
Until the problem is fixed, the country’s energy difficulties will continue to spread into other areas of peoples’ daily lives, she said.
She tied increased prices for meat, milk and eggs to the use of corn to make ethanol to combat rising food prices instead of as feed for cattle, chickens and hogs.
Dole also addressed the nation’s economic condition and the housing woes that helped halt the last bull market’s charge.
She said reform is key for national housing policy, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
She said North Carolina’s economy is helped by the presence of a number military bases. She also praised America’s men and women in uniform as well-trained and capable.
She also called for lower tax rates, including for corporations, and the creation of a line-item veto power and better infrastructure in North Carolina.
She called the tobacco-quota buyout a “legislative miracle” and said it saved farm families all over North Carolina. She also said she was for keeping tobacco out of the Food and Drug Administration’s purview.
The FDA is already understaffed to regulate the pharmacy industry and manage food-safety issues, without the added burden of another product which is regulated by other branches of government already, Dole said.
She also invited the audience to head to Greenville today, when her husband, Bob Dole, will be there.
Bob Dole will be in Washington on Thursday morning. He’ll arrive at the Beaufort County Republican Party headquarters on Gladden Street at 9:30 a.m., said Jane Alligood with the Beaufort County Republican Party.