He’s been busy hitting the campaign trail both in his bid for the U.S. Senate and on behalf of the McCain-Palin ticket. But Jim Gilmore, who served as Virginia’s attorney general and later governor, recently sat down for a candid interview with ExecutiveBiz. In the following Q&A, Gilmore talks about the issues he’d tackle as Virginia’s next senator, as well as his response to three key issues on the minds of Virginia’s business community: gas prices, taxes, and the union check card.
What issues would you would focus on if elected Virginia’s next senator?
Jim Gilmore: We certainly want the participation of the contracting community. The philosophy behind this is that that work can be done cheaper and more efficiently if private business people are involved in a way to make their services effective and efficient for the United States government. That’s what the classic outsourcing philosophy is and I support that. We obviously want to make sure we have good competition in that area and that there is good oversight on behalf of the public. We want to avoid all of these allegations you see from these Washington politicians trying to exploit the situation that say that somehow it is all “pork barrel” or it’s all “earmarks” or it’s all special interest groups. We want to make sure the public is being well served and the best way to do that is to have proper oversight and accountability. Again that is a key point.
When you talk to business folks around Virginia, what is the No. 1 issue they bring up?
Jim Gilmore: The three principle issues that I’m hearing now both from the community and the business community are as follows: High gas prices — the public is most concerned about that issue. They recognize high gas prices are taking away people’s disposable income. It’s slowing up people from going and eating out. It’s slowing up people who want to have disposable income for education. It’s adding to high food costs. People in traffic in Northern Virginia are very alive to the fact they are burning up gasoline the whole time they are on the highways in Northern Virginia. They want somebody who is going to act on this decisively … I will and of course I’ve laid it in my energy program.
The second issue is taxes. Higher federal taxes are getting ready to come at the people of the United States including of course Northern Virginia. Those higher taxes are coming like a freight train — that’s because the tax cuts that were put into place in 2003 and 2001 are going to expire. If they expire it’s going to be dramatically higher taxes for everybody in the United States specifically in Northern Virginia. It’s going to mean higher debt taxes for business people. We’re very alarmed by that, they’re working their hearts out as small business people in order to create some value for their families and their next generations and it’s going to be taxed away. They are concerned about the higher brackets that are coming into play. Families are concerned about the higher marriage penalties and the lessening of the child credit. People are concerned about higher capital gains taxes aren’t going to be paid, business people in particular are worried about that. People are concerned about higher taxes on dividends; senior citizens in particular are worried about that. This is going to happen unless a ‘big risk’ senator goes in and makes sure those tax cuts are renewed and of course I will do that.
The third issue, which is not really thought about very much in the general public but the business community is very alive to, is the union check card issue. This is, as you know today, the law that says that if a union wants to organize then they have to get a petition signed and certified by the National Labor and Relations Board and then there is a secret ballot election. This new bill will eliminate the secret ballot election. It will say that if they get a certain number of cards checked off they take people aside, union bosses do, and get them to check off cards then there is no longer a secret ballot election. Working people not only in our state but in the United States will lose the right to have the ability to in a secret ballot decide whether there is going to be a union or not. The business community is deeply concerned about this bill, and it has other very significant provisions in it mandatory arbitration for example.
Now I am different from Mark Warner in all of these three issues. I have proposed a long term balanced program for energy including conservation and renewable resources as well as nuclear power and coal and refineries. An essential component to reduce gas prices must be to drill for and find oil domestically in the United States. I advocate drilling in ANWR in Alaska and certainly drilling offshore. Mark Warner refuses to consider Alaska and when he had a bill before him as governor to do offshore drilling he vetoed it. While that won him accolades from the Sierra Club that has contributed to the difficult position the people are in right now in energy. Secondly, Mark Warner has said he thinks those tax cuts should expire. In fact in one newspaper article when he was running for President in the Midwest he said those tax cuts were immoral. I know they must be renewed and he will not look to renew them. Third of all, on this issue which has emerged on the union check card issue, the AFL-CIO actually videotaped him telling them he was going to be in favor of this ‘fair choice’ type of language that would be in this bill. That’s on the AFL-CIO website. The Chamber of Commerce then discovered it and then picked it up; simultaneously business people were calling me and talking to me about this and reporting to me Mark Warner was telling them he was going to be in favor of these union changes. I will oppose those union changes. We are very different in all these issues and it should have a dramatic impact on the business community in Northern Virginia.
What’s been the best part of your campaign so far this year?
Jim Gilmore: I have traveled all over the state. I’ve done about 70 cities and counties in the past couple of months. Everywhere I go I have a chance to visit factory floors, construction sites, people who are out there working for a living, painting contractors, folks who are out there right now trying to take care of their families. It’s been a real joy to have a chance to talk to people.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Jim Gilmore: I think the last point I would make is that your audience can believe I do what I say I’m going to do and I’m trustworthy. I have balanced the state budget. Mark Warner has repeatedly asserted I left a $6 billion deficit when I was governor of Virginia; that is not true. That is false. We balanced the budget. We gave a major car tax cut and we put $1 billion in the rainy day fund. The state was well managed when I was governor and this mudslinging is not supported by fact.
Interview with Jim Gilmore was conducted by JD Kathuria
Read more interviews here: https://blog.executivebiz.com/category/interviews/