Keith Crisco | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Keith Crisco

Candidate for U.S. House

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Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Keith Crisco

Full legal name, if different: John Keith Crisco, Sr.

Date of Birth: April 22, 1943

Campaign Web Site: http://www.criscoforcongress.com

Occupation & Employer: Owner, Asheboro Elastics Company, Asheboro, N.C.

Work Phone: 919-675-1495

Twitter handle, if applicable: crisco4congress


1. If elected to the House, what is your highest priority for the next Congress? Please discuss what you would do to help it be achieved.

Jobs and the economy would be my number one priority if elected to Congress. While we have seen some encouraging signs in recent months, there is still work to be done. The unemployment rate in the Second District is higher than the rest of the state and nation, and individuals, instead of finding work, are simply dropping out of the workforce. This is especially true for the District’s veteran population. We have to do a better job.

Before I get into what I would do, I think it is important to talk about my experience which includes decades of private and public sector job creation. In 1986, I started Asheboro Elastics Company. With the help of a dedicated local workforce, AEC has grown into the largest narrow fabrics company in the United States and today employs nearly 200 people. As Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce for four years I led the recruitment of nearly 120,000 jobs and more than $27 billion in investment during one of the worst recessions this nation has ever faced.

Two issues that can be addressed from the outset with some across the aisle cooperation is an increase in infrastructure spending and a revamp of the tax code. As the owner of a business that ships a lot of product, I know the sad state of American infrastructure – this is a quick job creator and a must if the U.S. hopes to maintain a strong economy. Good infrastructure is also critical to increasing exports (i.e. ports) which is the fastest way to add jobs to the economy. On the tax code, removing exemptions, allowing working class individuals to bring more of their paycheck home and encouraging investment in the United States will spur economic growth across the country.

We have to make it easier to start businesses, encourage innovation and spur private investment. As a Member of Congress I will use my real world experience doing this in both the public and private sector to make it happen.

2. Some House candidates favor term limits and pledge, if elected, to limit the number of terms they will seek? Is that a good idea? Will you, if elected, impose terms limits on yourself?

I believe in what our founders called a citizen legislature. I believe term limits help infuse new ideas and new thinking at intervals into the legislative process. I am running for Congress to help my community, not to start a career. I have pledged to serve no more than three terms.

3. As a result of Citizens United and related factors, so-called “dark money” is pouring into American political campaigns without voters knowing where it came from. Do you favor or oppose measures to require that contributors be identified when their money is used to pay for political ads and other activities?

Having had my first significant taste of political fundraising over the last several months, I can say without question that I support openness and transparency in the process – especially from independent expenditure groups.

4. The American economy is not producing enough jobs for everyone who wants one, especially not enough jobs that pay enough to support a family. Conservative critics say the reason is too much federal spending which crowds out private investment. Critics on the left say there’s not enough public investment in job-producing sectors, while private capital is flowing to other countries. Where do you come down on this issue?

I think the answer here is that there needs to be a middle ground.

As a young White House Fellow I worked as Assistant to the Secretary of Commerce and helped lead the Federal Minority Enterprise Program, which provided funding to minority entrepreneurs. These were businesses that, at the time, struggled to get funding from private sources. With government guaranteed loans, these businesses were able to get off the ground, grow and thrive.

There are certainly times when the federal government can and should have a role in facilitating investment in up-and coming-sectors, or in underserved populations. Throughout the history of the United States, government investment has reaped huge rewards for the economy.

It is also important that we nurture an environment that encourages private investors to get involved in those same up-and-coming sectors and underserved populations. Private investors can invest far more and do far more than the government can. I believe we live in a world where both sides can and should have a place at the table.

5. Do you support increasing the federal minimum wage? If so, to what amount? And should it be indexed for inflation?

I do support an increase in the federal minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. I would study at what level it should be raised to.

6. On the Affordable Care Act, what should the next Congress do? Repeal it? Change it? If so, how?

The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and though there are good parts to it there are problems with the law that need to be addressed by Congress. I believe this can only happen with more of a ‘fix it’ attitude than a ‘destroy it’ attitude.

Medicare and Medicaid funding is one significant piece that needs to be addressed if basic levels of medical care are to be maintained in communities throughout the state and in the Second District more specifically. As the largest employers in many rural counties, addressing this funding issue is vital not just for the personal health of the people but for the economic health of the state.

With the fundamental problem in American healthcare being out-of-control costs, I think elected officials across the aisle can agree, we cannot go back to the way things were before.

7. Should undocumented immigrants be offered a path to citizenship? If so, what requirements would you impose? How should the law treat undocumented young adults and children who’ve grown up in the U.S. after being brought here by their parents?

I think it is important, especially for the future economic prosperity of our country, that we look for incremental ways to improve the immigration system in the United States. Providing legal status to those already here who have been productive and otherwise law-abiding members of society and expanding guest worker programs is vital. I would support passage of the DREAM Act.

8. Do you think climate change is a serious, even urgent problem? Do you think human beings are causing it? What environmental policies should the U.S. adopt to combat climate change, if any?

As someone trained in the sciences I place great weight on the non-political data and research that is available. The overwhelming evidence is that we are going through accelerated climate change/global warming. We need to develop a reliable forecast on the effects of these changes, and the associated policy impact. These decisions should be driven more by the scientific community than the political community.

9. Is it time to pass a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to protect the rights of LGBTQ people in the workplace?

I believe all people, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation, should be provided protections in the workplace.

10. Should union organizing be facilitated by changes to labor laws, including the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (ECRA)?

I would be willing to study the issue and specific legislation.

11. Do you support or oppose increasing tax rates on the wealthy, either to reduce federal debt or as part of a package to raise money for public investments and/or cut taxes for the middle-class?

More than one single change in rates, I am a big supporter of overall tax reform – something that has not been done since the year I started Asheboro Elastics – 1986. I believe reform efforts need to be balanced with a variety of interests in mind.

12.What do you think of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s idea of expanding Social Security benefits as private pensions become less and less common?

Continued stability of Social Security benefits should be the top priority. As far as increasing benefits without increasing the cost of the program, there has been some interesting legislation proposed that under the right circumstances I would support. For instance, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), introduced legislation that would eliminate the cap on social security taxes thereby increasing the pool of payers into the system. There have been additional attempts to close loopholes used by some employers to get out of paying Social Security taxes that would also increase funds available for the program.

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