By Joel Burgess
The United States needs to help the middle class, not wealthy "deal makers" with its tax policies, U.S. Senate candidate Elaine Marshall said Friday.
Marshall, who is up against incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr, told the Citizen-Times editorial board she supports repealing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and that the stimulus was working to create jobs.
Marshall, currently N.C. secretary of state, addressed issues from pay inequality for women to today's harsh tenor in politics. She also spoke about her accomplishments as secretary of state, modernizing the system of approving lending documents that once took 100 days and going after makers and importers of counterfeit goods.
But she spent much of her time talking about fixing the economy while not balancing the budget "on the backs of middle-class folks."
"The gap between the rich and the poor in the last 30 years has grown ever wider and the resolve to do anything about it has grown narrow," Marshall said.
Congress faces a decision later this year whether to continue tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, which expire Dec. 31.
The cuts lowered regular income tax rates and resulted in even lower tax rates for capital gains -- like selling stock at a profit -- and dividends.
Burr favors keeping the cuts, saying they would provide marketplace stability and encourage businesses to hire more people.
But Marshall said she favors only keeping the tax cuts for the middle class and poor. The wealthy need to pay their fair share, she said, especially "deal makers" who make $1 billion a year in some cases while creating no jobs.
"We really have gone to rewarding quick deals and not hard work in this country, and I think that is wrong and our priorities need to change on that," she said.
Further adding to the nation's financial burden is the war in Afghanistan, she said.
The U.S. should stop spending money on nation-building and withdraw the military as much as possible, she said.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, which many have panned as harming U.S. industry and workers, would be "very difficult" to repeal, she said, but should be revisited. China, meanwhile, which imposes strict measures on imports and foreign businesses operating there, was also hurting the U.S. economy but would have to be dealt with more skillfully since they hold much of our debt, she said.
Marshall said she opposed the massive aid package for banks but thought the federal stimulus program was working, despite criticism that it has led to a soaring deficit without adding much to private sector jobs.
She cited expansions at battery manufacturer Celgard in Charlotte and semiconductor maker Cree in Research Triangle Park.
"I do know that stimulus money has helped move those projects forward."