Bramnick vs. Sweeney: The politics of competing plans

Good for Jim Florio… at least he remembers who he is.

When asked whether or not he would endorse law partner Doug Steinhardt for Governor, the former Governor put it very simply:  “He’s not the right party as far as I’m concerned.  I would not vote for him.  I’m a Democratic voter.”

Doug is the Chairman of the Republican State Committee.  The two are partners at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli.  This insight came courtesy of that doyen of bloggers… David Wildstein. 

But hey, Florio gets it.  Party means something.

It is the job of the leader of every legislative party caucus – the Speaker, the Senate President, and the minority leaders – to defend and expand their caucus at the expense of the other side.  Those are the rules.  It is first and foremost.  We all understand this.

Last week, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick rolled out his plan for addressing New Jersey’s fiscal crisis.  It was a direct appeal to elect more Republicans to the Assembly and centered on what they would do if elected.

Bramnick did exactly what he needed to do.  After pointing out the fiscal evils perpetrated by legislative Democrats, Bramnick lays out three solid policy positions that points New Jersey Republicans in the direction of what we should be for

(1) Cap State Spending at 2% (just like local government spending is capped).

(2) Cut the State Income Tax by 10% (make NJ more competitive w. other states).

(3) Full Deduction of Property Taxes on the State Income Tax (a move that takes the property tax issue away from Democrats like Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Josh Gottheimer).

In a political sense, the Assembly Republican Leader’s plan does not demonize any organized, well-funded interest groups – it simply starves government for the benefit of taxpayers.  Bramnick makes war on spending, not people.  And that is good politics.    

Bramnick avoids the mistake made in 2015 by then Governor Chris Christie and his Republican Party.  Christie’s pension/health benefits commission called for many changes but he went further and directly confronted the unions and their members, demonizing them in the process.  Christie inadvertently created well-organized, well-financed cells of opposition in every Republican district in the state. 

Like this year, 2015 was a low-turnout election with the Assembly at the top of the ticket.  Public employee unions targeted Republicans and Democrat super PACs – including those controlled by George Norcross – poured money into the campaigns of Democrat challengers.  Republicans lost four seats – four friends by the names of Donna, Caroline, Mary Pat, and Sam.

Yesterday, Senate President Steve Sweeney announced his “bi-partisan” plan that targets many of the same people that Governor Christie pissed off in 2015.  It should be noted that Sweeney’s plan was formally rolled out after the filing deadline for the Democrat primary.  Unfortunately for Republicans… it is some months until the November election.

This is not about the merits of the “bi-partisan plan” but rather, it is about the politics and timing of the plan.   

Are Republicans in danger of repeating 2015 again? 

Will the super PACS’s controlled by Sweeney allies like George Norcross back up every Republican legislator on the ballot this year?  Or will they stay true to form and support their Democrat challengers?  Will the Republicans on the ballot this year end up getting it from both ends?

This situation might be different if New Jersey Republicans had taken the time to build a base of small dollar donors and activists.  But as fundraiser Ali Steinstra noted at the March NJGOP Leadership Summit, broad-based Republican fundraising can only be accomplished by appeals to the party’s conservative base.   

The GOP establishment in New Jersey is barely on speaking terms with its base, so the ground has not been prepared.  We have no equivalent to what the NJEA and the Norcross super PACs will throw against us, so pissing on a hornet’s nest probably isn’t a good idea.  At this moment in time, it is more likely to motivate the kind of turnout that will cost us another four or more seats in November.

Assembly Leader Bramnick has a sensible, Republican plan that addresses the problem of spending and taxation.  It avoids drawing fire from well-organized, well-funded interest groups.  Those on the ballot this year have a choice to make.

Bramnick has a message. Will NJ Republicans follow?

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick recently released this most excellent video.  Bramnick starts by detailing what Republicans are against

But then, more importantly, Bramnick lays out three solid policy positions that points New Jersey Republicans in the direction of what we should be for

(1) Cap State Spending at 2% (just like local government spending is capped).

(2) Cut the State Income Tax by 10% (make NJ more competitive w. other states).

(3) Full Deduction of Property Taxes on the State Income Tax (a move that takes the property tax issue away from Democrats like Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Josh Gottheimer).

In the video, Bramnick is engaging, folksy, and compelling.  So finally, here is the core of something to move the Republican Party forward.  So why isn’t everyone banging the same drum? 

Two days after Bramnick’s video went up on Youtube, the NJGOP – the State Republican Party – blasted out its weekly newsletter via email.  There was some very good stuff in there.  Unfortunately, the Assembly Republican Leader’s video was not part of the newsletter.  An oversight that should be corrected at the earliest opportunity. 

On Thursday, the Garden State Initiative – a free-market, pro-business think tank – held a meeting about the state of New Jersey’s economy and how it can be improved.  All the experts present agreed that the business climate went south after the Democrats gained control over the Legislature, nearly two decades ago.

That said, the most prominent plan for recovery featured at the gathering was the one put forward by Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat and so a leader in the party responsible for the downturn in the first place.  As with legislation protecting the Bill of Rights (specifically the 2nd Amendment) and culturally traditionalist social legislation (like the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Protection Act), the Senate President will always be handicapped in how much he can accomplish by his need to appease the far-Left of his party’s caucus.  In the end, Sweeney will go as far as Leftist Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg allows him to go – and is anyone under the illusion that this Marxist-lite fellow-traveler is pro-business or pro-taxpayer?

In a column published on his Save Jersey news website, Matt Rooney brilliantly dissected the Trenton Democrats last week…  

We hear a lot about the “working class” from Trenton, but each and every policy and budget are designed to put the screws to taxpayers in favor of keeping these rich guys and their power structures chugging right along.

What I’m saying is that Democrats’ lofty rhetoric doesn’t match their reality. On either side of this fight. New Jersey’s true form of government is a blend of socialism and oligarchy (with a sprinkle of kleptocracy for good measure).

So why aren’t pro-business and pro-taxpayer forces pushing the Republican Plan put forward by Bramnick and making its three points the basis of not only the recovery of our party’s fortunes, but those of the state’s taxpayers?  Why aren’t they pulling together behind the Bramnick plan, then building on it, to tackle the obvious divide between the haves (those municipalities who bathe in money, courtesy of the Abbott decision) and the have nots (those who pay the highest property taxes in America)?   

As New Jersey 101.5’s Dennis Malloy recently noted, the public frustration over property taxes and government in the Garden State is stifling:  “Being the state with the highest property taxes in the nation used to be the number one issue in almost any campaign for public office in New Jersey. Lately, (crickets)! Why? …most people have given up hope that it will ever be normal or fair or affordable to most people. There is no one on the horizon with the guts to be honest about it and promise to fix it…” 

And yet, in the midst of this frustration, there are thousands of brave souls who are spending their time and energy – both in and outside social media – to address the oppression of their neighbors and fellow taxpayers.  Too often, they find themselves on their own, without the assistance or direction from the Republican Party, the business community, or even established figures within the state’s conservative movement. 

Take the grassroots effort to Recall Governor Phil Murphy, as an example.  This effort is in the process of training hundreds of volunteers in the basics of one-on-one political outreach that could be harvested in future GOTV operations.  But is anyone providing them with any real assistance?  Listen to this appeal from one of the most effective recall leaders, Bill Hayden of Sussex County:

https://www.facebook.com/raidenhayden/videos/10214053859525724/?notif_id=1557702128406942&notif_t=live_video

In May 1940, the allied armies of France, Great Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands faced the threat posed by a newly re-armed Germany.  One of the great myths about the Fall of France is that the Germans had more tanks.  They did not.  In numbers, weaponry, and armor-protection, the German tanks were outclassed by those of the French Army and its allies.  So why did the Germans so easily over-power the superior tanks of the French?

The French used their tanks piecemeal and fought actions individually.  Many were not even equipped with radios.  The Germans fought coordinated actions, in which not only individual tanks within a unit fought in support of each other, but entire units worked in concert with other units to achieve a particular goal.  It wasn’t hardware that won the battle, but tactics – how the hardware was used. 

The three major units of New Jersey’s Republican Party – the State Committee (NJGOP), the Senate Republican Majority (SRM), and the Assembly Republican Victory (ARV) – do not work in concert or present a unified message or vision.  From there is gets worse.  Each county, each candidate, each club marches to its own beat.  And the party is barely on speaking terms with the movement conservatives who make up its base and constitute its most loyal voters.  Working together could amplify a message and make it punch through to distracted voters.  But instead of amplification, we have a cacophony of murmurs, each from its own silo.   

Jon Bramnick has offered a simple, three-point way forward.  Everyone should amplify it.  That would make a start at working in concert.

At Thursday’s meeting, Garden State Initiative President Regina Egea said voters should ask every politician how they intend to lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business.  The Bramnick Plan provides the answers.

Republican Assembly Leader takes on cop-killers

The “new” Democrats have gone nuts… they’re sounding more and more like those crazy, Soviet-era, New Age socialists from the 1970’s.  Forget pragmatic “centrists” like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrat millennials have embraced their grandparents’ politics… it’s like Jim Jones all over again. 

Remember Rev. Jim Jones?  He was the woke, hip, socialist, New Age, Pro-Green, Pro-Ass, spiritual/political leader so near and dear to the Democrat Party of the 1970’s.  Jones even campaigned with First Lady Rosalynn Carter and was appointed to high office by the liberal Democrat Mayor of San Francisco…

Of course, Jones and his “People’s Temple” ended very badly.  But make no mistake about it, Jim Jones was the original Social Justice Warrior…

We’ve been thinking a lot about this, in light of the so-called “People’s Summit”, a gathering in Washington, DC, that opened with remarks from an officer of the NAACP who led the crowd in a chant that honored a convicted cop-killer.  Now once-upon-a-time, the NAACP was a respected, mainstream civil rights organization, but apparently they’ve gone off the deep end too… or at least one of their officers has.  Here’s the story as it was reported:

As the event began on Monday, there were a series of opening remarks from participants and organizations, and Jamal Watkins of the NAACP led the crowd in a chant.

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

These possibly familiar words are from convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur (aka Joanne Chesimard). In this famous quote, Shakur is herself referencing Karl Marx, who famously wrote “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

The event’s organizers and sponsors include Planned Parenthood, the SEIU, the Sierra Club, and CPD Action, part of the Center for Popular Democracy, the community organizing group that effectively replace ACORN.

Former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Shakur was convicted in the murder of a New Jersey state trooper. She escaped and fled to Cuba where she was granted asylum. In 2013, the FBI under President Barack Obama named Shakur to the Most Wanted Terrorists list, the first woman to ever make the list.

Shakur’s words are often recited at protests, including Black Lives Matter marches and the 2018 “March for Our Lives.”

The Women’s March under the leadership of Linda Sarsour faced controversy in 2017 for celebrating Shakur’s birthday in a tweet.

Eventually the organization was forced to make a statement, saying in a series of tweets that the “Women’s March is a nonviolent movement. We have never and will never use violence to achieve our goals” and that Shakur’s “resistance tactics were different from ours. That does not mean that we do not respect her anti-sexism work.”

Shakur “took a militant approach,” the organization tweeted. “We do not. That does not mean we don’t respect and appreciate her anti-racism work.”

As reported on Matt Rooney’s Save Jersey website, New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan stepped up in defense of his murdered compatriot:

“It is an affront to every man and woman who wears the badge that someone would choose to evoke the words of a convicted cop killer and fugitive from justice at a political conference,” said Callahan. “The men and women of the New Jersey State Police will never forget the sacrifice made by Trooper Werner Foerster on May 2, 1973 nor will we forget that the person convicted of his murder remains a fugitive for nearly 40 years. We will remain steadfast, both in the pursuit of Joanne Chesimard and in the preservation of the memory of Trooper Werner Foerster, Badge #2608.”

And Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick launched his own broadside at Democrats who want to make a hero out of a cop-killer:

Bramnick.png

This year there are a bunch of woke Democrats – all long on emotional rhetoric, with solutions that reek of socialist banality.  All A.O.C. wannabees running for Assembly… like Darcy Draeger and Lisa Bhimani in LD25, Deana Lykins in LD24, Stacey Gunderman and Lisa Mandelblatt in LD21, and Laura Fortgang in LD26.   

Assembly Republicans – led by Jon Bramnick – are standing against their tragic emotional appeals that have failed so horribly in the past.  It is imperative for conservatives to stand with the Republican Leader in this effort.  Jon Bramnick, whose very platform is “reason” – whose watchwords are probity and human decency – must defeat this emotional onslaught from a terrible past. 

betochrist.png

Think the People’s Temple can’t happen again?

Think the emotions expressed at the People’s Summit were a fluke? 

The emotion-driven contagion of socialism stalks our nation again.  Rational Americans of all political parties must join together to drive it back into the past, where is should remain as a nightmare remembered. 

Crazy “new” Democrats honor cop-killer at summit

The post-2016 “new” Democrats who got involved in politics after Donald Trump was elected President keep surprising us with just how nuts they really are.  And there is a fey, lack-of-recognition in their own craziness – like a guest who shows up at dinner with a bag of their own excrement… and thinks nothing wrong in doing so. 

On Monday, eight Democrat candidates who are running for President of the United States of America – and countless other Democrat candidates at all levels of government – showed up for a summit in Washington, DC, that opened with remarks from an officer in the NAACP who led them in a chant that honored a convicted cop-killer.  Now once-upon-a-time, the NAACP was a respected, mainstream civil rights organization, but apparently they’ve gone off the deep end too… or at least one of their officers has.  Here’s the story as it was reported:

Top 2020 Democrat candidates are taking the stage this week at the 2019 ‘We The People Summit’ in Washington, DC. As the event began on Monday, there were a series of opening remarks from participants and organizations, and Jamal Watkins of the NAACP led the crowd in a chant. 

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.” 

These possibly familiar words are from convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur (aka Joanne Chesimard). In this famous quote, Shakur is herself referencing Karl Marx, who famously wrote “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

The event’s organizers and sponsors include Planned Parenthood, the SEIU, the Sierra Club, and CPD Action, part of the Center for Popular Democracy, the community organizing group that effectively replace ACORN.

Former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Shakur was convicted in the murder of a New Jersey state trooper. She escaped and fled to Cuba where she was granted asylum. In 2013, the FBI under President Barack Obama named Shakur to the Most Wanted Terrorists list, the first woman to ever make the list.

Shakur’s words are often recited at protests, including Black Lives Matter marches and the 2018 “March for Our Lives.”

The Women’s March under the leadership of Linda Sarsour faced controversy in 2017 for celebrating Shakur’s birthday in a tweet.

Eventually the organization was forced to make a statement, saying in a series of tweets that the “Women’s March is a nonviolent movement. We have never and will never use violence to achieve our goals” and that Shakur’s “resistance tactics were different from ours. That does not mean that we do not respect her anti-sexism work.”

Shakur “took a militant approach,” the organization tweeted. “We do not. That does not mean we don’t respect and appreciate her anti-racism work.”

The #Resistance continues to quote Shakur’s words, and did so today on the stage at the event where most of the declared 2020 Democrat candidates are speaking, including Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (where the State Trooper was murdered), former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Will any of them offer a similar disclaimer?

As reported yesterday on Matt Rooney’s Save Jersey website, New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan stepped up in defense of his murdered compatriot:

“It is an affront to every man and woman who wears the badge that someone would chose to evoke the words of a convicted cop killer and fugitive from justice at a political conference,” said Callahan. “The men and women of the New Jersey State Police will never forget the sacrifice made by Trooper Werner Foerster on May 2, 1973 nor will we forget that the person convicted of his murder remains a fugitive for nearly 40 years. We will remain steadfast, both in the pursuit of Joanne Chesimard and in the preservation of the memory of Trooper Werner Foerster, Badge #2608.”

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick launched his own broadside at the “new” Democrats:

Bramnick.png

On Saturday, Governor Phil Murphy was up in Sussex County to promote the candidacy of two Democrats who are running for the Assembly, Deana Lykins and Dan S. Smith.  Lykins, is an insurance industry lobbyist, and Smith, the city attorney of Orange (Essex County), was also an officer in the NAACP – just like the “new” Democrat who led the Marxist cop-killer’s chant on Monday. 

We wonder if Mr. Smith has anything to say about this sorry incident???

The GOP is the natural party of suburban New Jersey.

Matt Rooney is right.  The Democrats’ “unwillingness to end the redistribution of funds from the suburbs to failing urban schools remains the single biggest driver of our state’s nightmarish, neighborhood-killing property taxes.”

The Democrats could – and should – be challenged on their cruel insistence that economically distressed families in suburban and rural New Jersey be made to subsidize rich corporations and wealthy professionals in places like Jersey City and Hoboken.  The tax breaks with which urban Democrat bosses favor contributors to political campaigns are paid for with subsidies from struggling communities throughout New Jersey. 

There is more than enough corporate and professional money in urban New Jersey to cover the education of the children who live there.  If those interested parties were made responsible for the children of their communities the educational systems there would be subject to a greater degree of local oversight and on-the-spot scrutiny by those stakeholders.  Absent that, under the current system of subsidy from afar, those subsidized stakeholders are more than content to allow political corruption to flourish, just so long as they keep getting their discount. 

It is shameful for One Percenters like Phil Murphy, Steve Fulop, Lacey Rzeszowski, and Saily Avelenda to don their pussy hats and try to argue that their tax breaks are about “helping poor children”.  Not when their “philanthropy” is paid for by over-taxed, working class families trying to stay out of foreclosure. There is nothing LIBERAL about screwing over working class families to pay for propping-up corrupt urban political machines. 

As far back as the administration of Governor Jim McGreevey, the Democrats knew that half of the state’s economically disadvantaged children lived outside the over-funded urban Abbott school districts.  More than a decade has passed since the state Supreme Court issued its report on this – and NOTHING has been done to overturn the fundamental unfairness of the state’s system of funding education. 

Since the economic crash of 2008, suburban and rural poverty has grown in New Jersey and throughout the United States.  That’s what the liberal to centrist Brookings Institute has argued in their published studies.  Brookings’ experts also note that, since the 1960’s, most of the nation’s anti-poverty programs have been aimed at the cities.   

Rural and suburban New Jersey lack even the basic infrastructure to help get people back on their feet – on top of which local municipalities are robbed of the property taxes that could help with this.  Everything is taken from them – in the name of the urban poor – but for the use of the One Percent and the corporations they control. 

Corrupt urban political machines, corrupt vendors, rich corporations, and wealthy professionals all make out under the Abbott regime.  The genuinely poor remain trapped in schools that, for all the money spent per pupil, fail to educate their students or prepare them for the working world.  The kids are used as pawns, as an excuse, for the corruption and those getting rich from it.

More than a decade ago a prescient writer by the name of Paul Mulshine argued that the life of every child mattered and that the state needed to provide a uniform baseline of funding.  Instead, the Democrats have ensured that the money continues to miss those poor children living outside the Abbotts, while failing to help those living within the Abbotts. 

The question is, will those currently charged with leading New Jersey Republicans into their next battle recognize these stark facts starring them in the face?  Will they make use of them?  If not for their own political ambitions and those of their party – Republican leaders should be urged to do so on behalf of over-taxed working people, their children, and for the child pawns being used but not served.

New Jersey Republicans face extinction.  Their fighting prowess is minimal.  It has reached the point where any plausible Democrat candidate with a modicum of funding can expect to simply march in and take most of their remaining legislative seats.  Not in Northwest New Jersey mind you, where every Democrat on the ballot was just ruthlessly slaughtered and where the Democrat who challenged Senator Steve Oroho in 2017 lost her school board seat.  This is where the pussy hats run into a phalanx of flannel shirts (and those are the women!).  

In his column (https://savejersey.com/2018/11/n-j-republicans-are-letting-sweeney-appropriate-their-strongest-argument-rooney/), Matt Rooney raises the question of whether Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick is up to the task of fighting the Democrats next year.  Whether he is a “wartime consiglieri” or not.  We hope that he is, but at the present, he appears to be more concerned about how he is perceived within the “bubbles” of Trenton and Westfield (whose median income is double that of Sussex County). 

Assembly Leader Bramnick would do well to break out of this bubble.  “Bubble land” doesn’t understand America.  It is too rich, too privileged, too unconcerned with the basics of shelter and debt to worry about those who are.  Bubble land never understood the rise of Donald Trump.  Never got the levels of pain and disappointment that the eight gray years of Barack Obama brought to those working class people who voted for him in 2008.  They put it down to “racism” when it was really about the threat of foreclosure – of losing… everything.

We urge Jon Bramnick and the other leaders of the NJGOP to embark on an experiment in listening and learning.  Not the usual photo-op in Newark… go to where the new poverty is.  Visit a food pantry in what everyone thinks is a middle class town.  Watch the people who once had a good job, with benefits and a pension, but who now work three without.  Notice the high priced automobiles, now over a decade old.  Drive around and take note of the “for sale” signs.  Visit an encampment of working people who have lost their homes.

This isn’t a time for rallying around a corrupt Establishment that – uses poor people as an excuse to rape working people to make rich people richer.  No matter how you personally feel about the Democrats responsible, these are bad policies and they must be challenged.  The choice must be one of clear-blue-water between the parties.  Again, if not for your own political ambitions and those of your party, do it for the over-taxed working people, for their children, and for the child pawns being used but not served.

Matt Rooney makes the point very clearly:  “Taxpayers want an advocate… not a mediator.”  Amen.