By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
At a small business roundtable in Winchester on Thursday afternoon, former Gov. George Allen said repealing Obamacare and opening up domestic energy sources are priorities he'd take to the U.S. Senate if elected next month.
The Republican is seeking to regain the seat he lost to Democrat Jim Webb six years ago. Webb is facing another former governor, Democrat Tim Kaine.
On Thursday, he met with Frederick County and Winchester business leaders, entrepreneurs and other interested citizens for about an hour-and-a-half in a board room at Greenway Engineering.
In introducing Allen, Frederick County Back Creek Supervisor Gary Lofton said the former U.S. senator actively engaged in bipartisanship the last time he was In Washington -- a point Allen made several times Thursday.
"He's truly a person who cares about all of the people, even those who disagree with him," Lofton said.
Reviving the economy is crucial, Allen said.
"Jobs are going to get created, not by government, but by the private sector, and primarily by small businesses," he said.
The federal government taxes job-creating businesses 35 percent, Allen said, adding the global average was 25 percent.
"I think America should be better than average, and that's why I'm advocating 20 percent," Allen said. "The criteria is what's going to create the most jobs."
His proposal would lead to the creation of 500,000 jobs a year, he said.
If elected, the first bill he'd introduce, the former governor said, would be one allowing for oil and natural gas off of Virginia's shores to be tapped. Royalties from that -- which Allen said would be in the millions -- could be used to pay for roads and transportation, he said.
As far as the Affordable Care Act -- "I want to see it repealed," he said.
However, Allen said he'd support keeping young adults on their parents' health insurance policies up to age 26, given the poor economy.
"Repealing Obamacare will save us over a trillion dollars over a 10-year period," Allen said.
He said he's heard from some business owners who've said the policy will drive them out of business, and some seniors are worried they won't have access to doctors who will opt out of Medicare.
Frederick County resident David McNeal is one of those seniors who says he has already felt the impacts of the health care reform.
"My cardiologist just quit," said McNeal, who added he's got 18 blockages in his heart. "He said the hell with it. He's going to go into research rather than treating patients."
"Well, there you go," Allen responded. "That's the real-life reality. You may have health insurance, but you're not going to have access to health care."
Front Royal Town Councilman Bret Hrbek said in his job with Edward Jones he sees the effects of capital gains taxes, with smaller investors upset at having to pay 15 percent on their growth.
"That capital gains tax doesn't just affect the wealthy," he said.
Some business representatives wanted to see the Environmental Protection Agency disbanded, while others pushed for Tea Party initiatives.
"When you go up there, will you join the Tea Party in the Senate?" asked Jay Marts, chairman of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.
Allen responded, "I'm going to work with everyone in the Senate. We've got to get this fiscal house in order. I haven't decided what caucuses I'm going to be in. I'm not going up there to be a member of a club. Let's make some tough decisions, and a lot of them have to be made urgently."
When it comes to Medicare and Social Security benefits, Allen said he supports a gradual increase in eligibility age for Americans age 50 and under.
"People are leading longer, healthier lives," he explained.
Harry Smith, senior vice president at Union First Market Bank, said the economy is weak, but getting better.
"Banks do have money to lend," he said.
But, "excessive regulations" have tied banks' hands, according to Smith.
"It's taking a shotgun approach where a rifle should've been used to really go after the few who have made it bad for the many," he said. "I've been in banking for 35 years, and you could take a chance, you could take a risk on a person, a small business. Some failed. Most thrived."
But, today's regulations mean that if someone wanting a loan doesn't have a certain collateral ratio, banks are prohibited from lending them money, Smith said.
Allen also touched on the promise of diesel, compressed air and battery power when it comes to energy. He said his criteria are whether the energy is affordable, reliable and preferably American.