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Interview with John Faso

by Stephen Kaye
Thu Apr 21st, 2016

We met with John Faso in Hudson, NY on Tuesday, April 12.

TMI – Tell us what you want the voters to know about you; something that sets you apart from the crowd.

Faso – I have lived and worked here for 33 years; I served in the State Assembly and was Republican leader.  I ran for comptroller and in 2006 for governor. I’ve practiced law here in Hudson, and with a national firm in their Albany office. I decided to run for Congress. I have been endorsed by the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform parties. My campaign is about three main themes: economic growth, security and values.

Upstate has been a slow-growth area; there has been an exodus of jobs for decades.  There is low workforce participation in the economy; in the last five years each county in the district has lost jobs. 

On the national level I am concerned that we are heading for a financial cliff as uncontrolled entitlement spending takes a growing share of the national income. 

I think we can address these problems by taking steps to promote economic growth. We need corporate tax reform; we need a less complex tax system for individuals; we have a regulatory process that is out of control.  There are economic disincentives in Obamacare. When agencies like the EPA and the Army Corps get involved with a farmer’s use of his land for agriculture the red tape is excessive. 
The reporting and regulatory requirements of Dodd-Frank weigh negatively on small banks and on many industries.

The regulatory state is a real disincentive to economic growth. Look at Belleayre in Ulster and Delaware counties: It takes 15 years to get a project off the ground. We need a third rail tunnel under the Hudson. The planning and environmental hearings alone impede progress on basic infrastructure projects needed if we are to move ahead. Regulatory change is critical.

On national security.

I see a conflict between modernity and 15-century thinking. We have enlightenment values; we have to defend them against the forces that seek to destroy those values.  Since 9/11 we are under attack by a ruthless, evil enemy. 
We therefore need robust military strength to protect our citizens and our interests.

We are in an aggressive world…N.Korea, China, and the Middle East all present challenges.  Iran is a real threat to our interests and to Israel.

On values.
We have drifted away from how the US became so successful: Free enterprise. Private property. The rule of law. We have seen how freedom of speech is selectively enforced. When conservative speakers can’t be heard on college campuses, the Bill of Rights is diminished. 
Tolerance is needed; we have to respect different points of view. We need to remind ourselves that progress comes from a private-sector economy. Not every problem is a federal problem. Race to the Top was a huge waste of federal dollars…there is no evidence that it had any beneficial effect. That is an example of federal intervention in an area that can well be left to the states.

I was chairman of the budget transition team for Governor Pataki when we were left with a $5 billion deficit by Gov. Cuomo. We drafted the budget and cut state spending for the first time in 52 years. It can be done.

We can fix Social Security and Medicare. It is an area that Congress has avoided because the two sides can’t talk to each other; each side has dug into positions and they won’t budge. I think the logjam can be broken. I know most of the New York congressional delegation. I can work with them.   
 
I have a Medicaid proposal that will relieve the property tax burden on New York taxpayers which is such a drain on New York’s competitiveness and one of the  drivers of the exodus of employers.  (See separate post on this topic.)

TMI –What about global warming and climate change? 

Faso:  What can we do about it?  We can’t operate in a vacuum. We need international consensus. We didn’t sign the Kyoto agreement but, unlike all the other major nations, we are meeting its targets by becoming more efficient in our use of energy in switching from coal to natural gas, a tend that is continuing.

While I accept that human activity is affecting the climate, I don’t buy the apocalyptic vision that some environmental organizations use as scare tactics. I believe in a measured approach. I agree that we have to continue to reduce emissions,  without damaging our economic vitality.
 
TMI – Andrew Heaney claims you were a consultant for the Pilgrim Pipeline and that you have a conflict there.

Faso: I had no involvement with that oil pipeline project. I was an outside consultant for the Constitution Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that will bring gas to communities in Delaware County, including a number of major employers. I completed my work some time ago and have no continuing connection. Similarly, Mr. Heaney has misrepresented my position on the Second Amendment. I am a strong Second Amendment supporter and have a Lifetime A Rating from the NRA. It's unfortunate that Mr. Heaney would use those tactics. He only recently moved here, so he may not realize that voters in this district frown on that kind of thing.