Editor’s note: Due to a realignment of political districts as a result of the 2010 Census, Surry County is being moved from North Carolina’s Fifth congressional district served by Rep. Virginia Foxx to the Sixth District of Rep. Howard Coble. This was done to balance the number of Democrats and Republicans in the district in light of population shifts. Coble, a Republican, is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger Tony Foriest. Background information on the candidates and their responses to a series of questions are presented here.
Name: Howard Coble
Place of residence: Greensboro
Educational background: Holds an undergraduate degree in history from Guilford College and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Government/military service: Was elected to four terms in the N.C. House of Representatives and has served 14 consecutive terms in Congress; served more than five years’ active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard and more than 21 years as a Coast Guard reservist, retiring with the rank of captain.
Question: Since Surry County is being added to the Sixth District, what qualifies you to represent the unique views of its residents and meet their needs?
Answer: Well, I’m not sure that Surry County is unique in terms of the economy. I think Surry shares that trend with every county in the country. When I was first elected (in the 1980s), textiles and furniture were the major industries and that’s no longer true. My mama was a former textile worker, so that hits close to home. So I’d like to revive those industries and bring them back to where they were when I was first elected. If it means anything (to local voters), I date a woman whose mother was born and reared in Surry County.
Question: What is the biggest economic challenge Sixth District residents face, and what do you plan to do about that?
Answer: I think, presidentially, it would be a good idea to elect Gov. Romney. He would bring a business acumen and insights to the table. I think Gov. Romney has a past record of building businesses and creating jobs, and I think we start at the top. I think the Republican Party is better-suited to meet this challenge and improve things than the Democratic Party.
Question: Briefly summarize your tax philosophy and discuss what reforms, if any, you would advocate.
Answer: I support a graduated system with incentives for creating jobs and economic development. The first thing I would do in terms of reform is repeal the estate tax. If we don’t repeal it by the end of the year, it will be even more of a problem (the estate tax exemption limit is scheduled to drop significantly from $5.1 million to $1 million, and the estate tax rate will jump from 35 percent to 55 percent). The estate tax, referred to as the death tax, should be the first tax in the code to go and I would advocate that.
Question: What should be done to reduce the federal deficit? What cuts would you make? And what parts of the budget would you refuse to cut?
Answer: Well, I don’t think that anything should be sacred, because we’re up to our eyeballs in debt. That should include compensation for members of Congress. I am the only member I know of who refuses to participate in the congressional pension plan and another one provided which is similar to a 401(k) plan. The taxpayers already pay my salary and I don’t think they should be burdened by those other things.
Question: Do you support President Obama’s Affordable Care Act? If not, what is the alternative?
Answer: I think it should be completely overhauled. There are problems with the individual mandate and the state mandate, which the Supreme Court struck down, and the part that requires Catholic hospitals to have plans that violate their faith. This act cries out for amending if not repeal.
Question: Should U.S. military spending be cut, and why or why not?
Answer: Well, I think a good place to start would be to shut down military bases around the world where they are serving no strategic purpose for us. We could save a lot of money without compromising our security.