- Associated Press - Sunday, September 7, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Candidates seeking the Republican nominations for New Hampshire’s two U.S. House seats mostly agree on why businesses are hurting though they differ on how best to help spur job growth.

New Hampshire has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, but as of June, it still hadn’t recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession.

Asked by The Associated Press to describe New Hampshire’s unique challenges when it comes to jobs, Republicans hoping to unseat 1st District Democrat Carol Shea-Porter and 2nd District Democrat Annie Kuster largely overlapped in their answers. Both Gary Lambert and Dan Innis cited the state’s high energy costs; Innis and Jim Lawrence noted the high business tax rate; and Lawrence, Marilinda Garcia and Frank Guinta said overregulation is a major problem.

Garcia, Lambert and Lawrence are competing in Tuesday’s primary in the 2nd District; Guinta and Innis face each other in the 1st District primary. Guinta, who previously held the seat for one term, declined to answer specific questions but offered a broader statement about jobs, saying he would spur job growth through tax reform that closes loopholes and lowers rates and by repealing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law.

“New Hampshire has fallen to the bottom half of the nation in economic competitiveness,” he said. “Only when Washington places its faith in the entrepreneur will we right this economic ship.”

Innis, a University of New Hampshire administrator, offered the most specific answer on what he would do to create more good-paying jobs in New Hampshire and the nation, saying he would focus on three areas: energy, education and infrastructure. Energy suppliers should start by improving efficiency and capacity, he said. Ensuring a supply of trained and educated workers also is important, as is investing in transportation, utilities and broadband access, he said.

“Strategic investments in infrastructure are critical to helping businesses to grow and hire,” he said.

Lambert, a former state senator, said repealing the health care law will do more to help businesses than anything else, but he also is pushing for tax code and regulatory reform. “My wife and I are both small-business owners, and our experience confirms what we hear around the district,” he said. “Repealing Obamacare is not a political goal; it is an economic imperative.”

Garcia, a state representative, agreed but also emphasized her support for both lowering the overall corporate tax rate and closing loopholes that benefit large, well-connected business interests. Lambert has said the latter amounts to a tax increase, a point Garcia disputes.

“In addition to lowering tax rates, we need to scale back the size and scope of federal government so our economy can thrive,” she said.

Lawrence, a former state representative, sounded similar themes, saying as a small-business owner himself, he knows how government gets in the way of job creation and economic growth.

“Obama’s lack of an economic policy combined with federal government overregulation and over-taxation of small businesses are crippling the U.S. economy,” he said.

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