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New Hampshire Voters Have Their Own Prescriptions for Creating Jobs

January 9, 1996

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ The presidential hopefuls proposals for creating jobs are getting mixed reviews from the citizens who will vote in the nation’s first primary of this election year.

Higher-income voters embrace the proposed Republican tax cut, but they want more. Voters lower on the economic ladder want government help preparing for and keeping jobs.

Scott MacHardy, 28, co-owner and president of Coed Sportswear Inc. in Newfields, said his company sends 40 percent of its pretax profits to the Internal Revenue Service. Reducing taxes is the most obvious way Washington could help create jobs, he said.

``Uncle Sam won’t wait. We had to put hiring on hold,″ he said.

MacHardy, a Republican, said he doesn’t know whom he will support in this state’s Feb. 20 primary.

All the major candidates are promising to balance the federal budget and scale back government; most also are promising tax reform, or at least simplification of the tax code.

Sen. Phil Gramm is a prominent advocate for the congressional Republicans’ $245 billion tax cut for individuals and businesses. Gramm also backs a flat federal income tax.

MacHardy said his $25 million company would like to launch new products but cannot for lack of cash.

``Lowering taxes certainly would help the economy and companies that are making money or are close to making money. Most would reinvest that money in themselves. I know we would. If we had the money, it would be two or three less people on the streets,″ he said.

New Hampshire lost 47,000 jobs as it went from a boom to a recession from 1989 to 1991. Its 3.2 percent unemployment rate today is lower than that of many states and well below the 5.6 percent national rate, but many people lament the loss of well-paying jobs.

One common job-creation prescription from the candidates is cutting or eliminating capital gains taxes, which former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander predicts would create a flood of new jobs.

Millionaire publisher Steve Forbes predicts the same for his 17-percent flat income tax.

Down the economic ladder, many voters like Colleen Brooks of Concord are looking for help from the government. She and her husband earned $40,000 a year until a brain abscess stopped him from working and she was laid off.

They spent two years on welfare. Mrs. Brooks tried to find a job, but nothing would cover her family’s $10,000 annual bill for medicine in addition to groceries and other bills. So she went back to school in accounting.

``I knew the only way I could get a job that paid the money I needed was if I had a degree,″ she said.

The Brookses went back to work last summer and earned $14,000 last year. Mrs. Brooks doesn’t know what Washington can do to create good jobs, but she says it must make health insurance and day care affordable for low-income working people.

``If you make $6 or even $8 an hour, there is no way you will be able to pay your rent, buy food and pay for day care,″ she said. ``It doesn’t compute.″

Brooks, an independent politically, said she would consider voting for Gramm or President Clinton but is not sold on either. She also believes cutting taxes would create only low-paying jobs.

Heidi Laramie of Concord, who spent three years on welfare, said affordable day care helps people work, but that education is the key.

``Forcing people to work is fine, but they will be stuck in a $5-an-hour job for the rest of their lives,″ she said.

Laramie, who is studying business management and manages a retail store, said she does not know for whom she would vote. But she says student loan programs should be expanded, and says she doubts lowering taxes will create jobs.

``If I had extra money kicking around, I wouldn’t employ more people if I didn’t need them,″ she said.

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