By Rob Christensen
As she begins her two-year re-election cycle, Sen. Kay Hagan said she is focused on programs designed to stimulate job growth and efforts to address the federal deficit.
In an interview in her Raleigh district office Tuesday, Hagan acknowledged that she is bucking recent North Carolina history in seeking re-election in 2014. No Tar Heel Democratic senator had won a second term since Sam Ervin in 1968, and that was before the advent of two-party politics in the state.
"I look forward to making history," said Hagan, a 59-year-old old former attorney and banker from Greensboro.
In a midterm election, Hagan said, she believes the election will focus more on the individual than on the national ticket. She thinks her brand of politics - she used terms like "common sense" and "middle of the road" and "independent thinker" to describe herself - makes her a good fit for North Carolina.
She also stressed her ties to the state. She said she returns to North Carolina every weekend. She has held numerous forums and listening tours across the state. She has five district offices. Hagan said her office has closed more than 20,000 constituency service cases involving agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Social Security.
This week, she announced that her office has hired as a senior adviser Lindsay Siler, who was state director of the Obama campaign last year and oversaw the Obama operation in the state the past four years.
Hagan said that this year, she will reintroduce two major pieces of legislation that failed to pass in previous sessions:
* The America Works Act, which would create a system of training programs across the country to offer industry-recognized credentials qualifying workers for employment in that industry in any state. Hagan said there are 3 million jobs open nationally, without skilled people to fill them. The bipartisan measure has the backing of the National Association of Manufacturers among other groups.
* A bipartisan bill to entice U.S. corporations to bring home offshore profits at a sharply discounted tax rate in an effort to jump-start the economy. The measure has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many major corporations, because it would temporarily lower corporate taxes for offshore profits from 35 percent to 8.75 percent. But it has been greeted with skepticism by the Obama administration. She co-sponsored the bill last year with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
"It is a program that will bring money back into the economy," Hagan said. "If you hire more people, you pay a lower tax. That is the purpose. To bring that money back and put people back to work."
Hagan also said that Congress needs to reduce spending as the next step toward getting the federal deficit under control and avoiding the sort of drama that occurred at the end of 2012 with the so-called fiscal cliff.
"I am a big believer in what Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson did on their fiscal commission," Hagan said. "Erskine and Simpson say we need $4 trillion in cuts. It's a big number, but we've got to get serious about bringing down this deficit."
She said Congress had already cut $1 trillion, and lawmakers need to find $3 trillion more.
"We need to put everything on the table," she said.