Congressman Forbes talks economic recovery

Published 9:48 pm Thursday, April 8, 2010

FRANKLIN—Government policies are helping to drive businesses out of the United States and stunting the growth of others, according to U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va.

“Across the country, the No. 1 concern that I hear from businesspeople and from individuals about the economy is we need stability,” Forbes said during a luncheon at Cypress Cove Country Club in Franklin Thursday. His appearance was sponsored by Manry-Rawls Insurance and Franklin/Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Forbes noted it’s not too late to create a friendlier environment for businesses.

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“I think there are some simple things that we could put in place tomorrow that would at least stop the hemorrhaging,” Forbes said. “There are some simple truths and some simple principles about this recovery and I really think you can find them right here in Franklin and Southampton County.”

He listed several principles that he said the government could use to help lead to recovery, including listening to businesses and manufacturers, listening to what Americans are saying, telling people the truth and enacting policies that grow small and medium-sized businesses.

Forbes said that the country’s economic recession couldn’t be characterized as “a bump in the road.”

“This is transformational…the good news is it’s not prewritten,” he said. “We still hold the chalk.”

Although employment numbers improved in March, Forbes said many of those new jobs are temporary Census workers who will soon be unemployed again.

The recently passed healthcare reform bill will hit restaurants and manufacturers particularly hard, he said.

“With just this healthcare bill, I have had I don’t know how many companies across the United States calling and saying we’re either going to layoff people so that we can get under the numbers where we’re (required) to pay for it, or we’re shutting down our operation,” Forbes said. “Imagine what we could’ve had with healthcare,” if all the stakeholders were involved in the process, he said.

The new healthcare bill, he said, creates 16,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents.

“One of the first bills that I’ve told my staff to drop on Tuesday when we go back in session is a bill defunding those 16,000 IRS agents,” he said. “We don’t need them out there going through a sluggish economy already and trying to damper business activity.”

Forbes also noted the “avalanche of debt” that he said is building for the country. Growing debt could even have a negative effect on national security, he said.

“For the first time in any of our lifetimes, our budget is driving our defense expenditures instead of our defense posture driving our defense needs,” he said, noting that China now has more ships in its Navy than the U.S

“They have over 300 ships and they’re on a trajectory going up,” Forbes said. “We have 285 ships and we’re on a trajectory going down to 270 ships.”

However, Forbes said Western Tidewater residents are resilient and will recover from the economic recession just as they recovered from the devastating 1999 flood.

“I think one of the key principles that Franklin…Southampton County has to offer America is this: How you take adversity and turn it into opportunity and despair and turn it into hope,” he said. “I think we could have a greater opportunity here with what’s in the future than anything that could’ve happened in the past.”