Primary 2014: A Conversation With U.S. Senate Candidate Jim Rubens

Aug 26, 2014

Jim Rubens at NHPR's studio, 2014.
Credit NHPR Staff

We continue our series of conversations with three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination in the U.S. Senate.

Jim Rubens served in the N.H. State Senate from 1994-98 and is former chairman of the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling. 

Scroll down to find the full, unedited audio of our interview with Rubens. Here are excerpts of his responses to some of the issues discussed, with his full answers (and more questions) in the audio.

You've said your number one priority is bringing good paying jobs back to America soil, and there's a recent report saying that jobs created during the recovery aren't as well-paying as those lost during the recession. What's driving that and what should be done about it?

We've got to make products and services in America again. We've got to shift our policy away from being a progressively consumer economy to a production economy, and it's going to take a variety of things to do that.

We've got to change our tax code. We have a tax code that's forcing companies offshore, forcing manufacturing offshore, we've got to simplify and make lower the rates on corporate and personal taxes. Simpler, flatter, fairer tax code.

We need need to fix our regulatory structure. We are now the seventeenth most economically free country in the world, we've slipped from third in just thirteen years. We've got to dial back these regulations. I'm proposing that every ten years, all these regulations be sunset. They go back to Congress, Congress looks at them... are they compliant with statute, are they constitutional, are they doing what they are supposed to be doing, so we can reduce the burden on small business.

You've proposed an alternative to Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act and one of the pieces of that is "to accommodate diversity in insurances preferences." So, for example, the 'young invincibles' could opt for catastrophic coverage only, or someone dealing with infertility could have that added to their coverage. Does that potentially run the risk of having people who need coverage not get it, and the people who do need it find the prices higher than they can or would like to pay?

I'm not in favor of mandating people to buy a product or service, and that includes health insurance. So we need to restructure the insurance marketplace so that people are incentivized to buy insurance. How do you do that? You let the free market - you let insurers and hospital and health providers, whether they be insurers or not or networks of hospitals and care providers - provide products and services that people want to buy.

That's why I'm proposing things like long term health insurance so that the 'young invincibles' can buy twenty years or thirty years of health insurance at a known price, be incentivized to take care of themselves in their own interests. It's why I support allowing insurers to have a much broader portfolio of products and services available to consumers, so we can structure incentives into the solution so that people are not compelled to buy insurance, so that they want to buy insurance in their own interest.

But the marketplace needs to be released from the clutches of Obamacare which is, you know, has the fingerprints of Jeanne Shaheen all over it. 

You have been critical of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, recently aimed at the group now known as the Islamic State. What is the U.S. role in that region as you see it?

We have a distinct humanitarian role. We have a role in trade. There are cases when coordinated stiff economic sanctions should be used and have been used to good effect, like in Iran, we seek not to have Iran have a nuclear bomb, as is being used now against Russia in their breach of the treaty in the Ukraine. So there's a role again for coordinated economic sanctions, for humanitarian aid in the case of the folks being brutalized, this genocide by ISIS. 

There's a role for trade, for diplomacy, and there's a role for engagement of the regional powers whose interest is just as strong as ours in regional stability.

What has not worked is this crazy, haphazard United States policy. Less than a year ago in September of 2013, Jeanne Shaheen voted to bomb al-Assad and Syria for the purpose of strengthening ISIS. Now here we are, bombing ISIS to weaken them less than a year later. We have this crazy, haphazard policy. No plan, no plan to win the war, no plan to exit, so we need to reinstate a long-term military strategy.

I don't think it requires boots on the ground for Americans, so obviously we need the strongest U.S. national defense in the world, we need the most technologically advanced defense in the world. We're weak in certain areas as I mentioned: on the ground intelligence, industrial espionage, cyber warfare...our pants are down in these areas, so I perceive the need to strengthen in that area. But we do not need American soldiers' boots on the ground, coming home, these young men and women coming home in boxes, without legs, and with brain injuries...I am sickened to my heart, and it has not enhanced U.S. national security. 

So if there are cases when ISIS and other organizations are threatening American national security, we can use surgical mechanisms to eliminate these specific threats when on-the-ground and other means of intelligence discloses such threats, where ever they may originate from in the world.  

On immigration, you've called for additional resources and personnel to secure the border, and that could be costly according to a report from Bloomberg Government, that securing the border could cost about twenty-eight billion dollars a year. That's about what we pay now for the entire Department of Justice. That would be money well spent?

Well, we're spending, the latest numbers I've seen is that we're spending about eighteen billion dollars a year to secure the border and obviously it's not very effective. We have the most porous border of any nation in the industrial world. This is insanity.

We need to shift resources to building a 1900-mile fence and it's going to be a fence which is both physical and technological, and we have to enforce that fence.

If we have an open border we're encouraging two things. We're encouraging people to continue to flow across the border under the notion they can come to America and get free housing, food, education, which our town and cities such as Manchester can't afford right now. And we're enabling these corrupt dictatorships in countries like in Central America to persist in subjugating their people to gang warfare and internal terrorism in their own countries. 

Assuming that you win the nomination and the election, what can citizens of New Hampshire see six years from now that Senator Jim Rubens could point to and say, "this is where I made a difference?"

I like to bring bold ideas to the table as I did in the state senate so I can take on the tough issues and get them moved into law. It's going to take 60 votes to get solutions to our country's serious challenges through the U.S. Senate. It's going to take someone who is thoughtful, it's going to take someone who is principled, who can articulate those principles, and its going to take a statesman to navigate our way through the fog of the differing viewpoints toward 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to get some solutions on the table, talked about among the American people and passed into law.