Name: Tony Foriest
Place of residence: Graham
Educational background: Graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in economics and also has an MBA from Elon University.
Occupation: Retired from Xerox Corp. in 1999.
Government/military service: Served in the N.C. Senate from 2006-2010 representing District 24; served in the U.S. Army for three years, mostly in West Germany.
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: I don’t really think that Surry County is going to be that unique from the rest of North Carolina and the rest of the country. I think the thing Surry County is going to need as much as anything is getting this economy turned around and getting people back to work. The issues are going to be pretty much the same.
Question: What is the biggest economic challenge Sixth District residents face, and what do you plan to do about that?
Answer: The biggest challenge is just getting the economy turned around and moving the country forward, and this Congress hasn’t done a lot to aid the economy. In fact, what they have done is made it a lot worse. We need to get people in who will work for the economy and put partisanship and special-interest politics behind them. That isn’t happening in the 112th Congress and that’s one of the reasons I’m running.
Question: Briefly summarize your tax philosophy and discuss what reforms, if any, you would advocate.
Answer: We really need to look at our tax structure for this country and this state. The tax laws that we have in place for the most part were based on an economy that has changed much in the last two decades. We need to make taxation fair and equitable while making sure we have the revenues to do what we want to do. Now some people are paying more than their fair share and some are paying less than their fair share. That’s what Congress needs to talk about.
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: As far as I’m concerned, the issue is what do we need to do going forward that’s different from what we are doing now. Everything needs to be put on the table, the taxes coming in and the revenues going out. We need to re-establish the priorities of what we’re going to do.
I believe Simpson/Bowles (the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) is a good place to start, combining spending cuts with tax reform, something to counteract health-care payments, something to bring in Social Security reform. And we’re going to have to change some attitudes if we’re going to move forward. Simpson/Bowles is a good place to start in opening a discussion on the specifics.
Question: Do you support President Obama’s Affordable Care Act? If not, what is the alternative?
Answer: I do support it, not because I think it’s perfect or not because I don’t think it can be improved. But I support it because it’s a start. Other presidents have attempted health-care reform but were unsuccessful. We finally get something passed and all the opposition wants to talk about is repealing it — at least let’s take what we have and move forward. The law is extensive, more than 1,000 pages. There are some good things and bad things there. We need to tweak it to where we want it to be.
Question: Should U.S. military spending be cut, and why or why not?
Answer: It is absolutely imperative that we have a strong military. The problem is that we’ve got only a limited amount of money to go around, and this country has a lot of needs. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give the military even more than they’re asking for. We don’t need to make drastic cuts, but to make sure the military funding is adequate to support what is actually needed. With the kind of money we have been spending, we need to make sure there is justification for what is allocated.