Matt Rooney calls out the Democrats on their hypocrisy

This is a must read from Matt Rooney – one of New Jersey brightest Republican stars (and, hopefully, a future candidate for public office).  Rooney is a South Jersey attorney and editor of the Save Jersey news website.  He often teams up with NJ 101.5’s Bill Spadea both on radio and on Fox’s Chasing News program.

Rooney’s latest column is titled, As rich white guys battle for control, N.J. Democrats’ rhetoric doesn’t match their reality.  In it, Rooney makes these important points:  

For all the progressive/woke/social justice warrior BS we hear from New Jersey Democrats these days, their party’s power structure is remarkably simple and boils down to two mega rich white guys (Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and Norcross, a labor leader turned insurance industry titan) battling over the Garden State’s Iron Throne.

Power, money, tax credits, crony capitalism, special legislation… even loyalty oaths.

…My issue here is one of intellectual integrity. The public sector unions are powerful, you bet, but the NJEA couldn’t touch Steve Sweeney (the Senate President and the Norcross-led machine’s top elected asset) in the 2017 election.

Diversity gets a lot of lip service from the Left in this state, but New Jersey’s most powerful Democrat decision-makers (Murphy, Sweeney, Norcross, Assembly Speaker Coughlin) are all older white dudes. 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).

They may disagree with one another on tax credits and a small handful of other issues, but Leftist economic policies supported by both sides of the Murphy-Norcross divide haven’t helped the Middle Class in this state. New Jersey’s women, minority communities, and millennials are being left out of the economic BOOM sweeping the rest of the country as a direct result of the aforementioned bad decision and sometimes self-serving business decisions of the Democrat power elite which has dominated the legislature (and therefore Trenton) for almost two full decades.

Helping the Middle Class = lowering property taxes. None of these guys are talking about that. Ever wonder why?

Yes, why indeed?

You can read Matt Rooney’s entire column here…

https://savejersey.com/2019/05/as-rich-white-guys-battle-for-control-n-j-democrats-rhetoric-doesnt-match-their-reality/

Regina Egea: Connecticut’s housing crash a warning for NJ

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The Garden State Initiative’s Regina Egea has once again brought home some hard truths that New Jersey’s political class had better embrace.  Egea is one of the smartest thinkers on public policy in New Jersey.  An M.B.A., former AT&T executive, state Treasury Department official, and Governor’s Chief of Staff – Egea also served in local government as a Deputy Mayor and School Board Member.  As President of the Garden State Initiative, she’s been collecting data, studying issues, and coming up with solutions to New Jersey’s most pressing fiscal concerns.

On May 9th you too can be part of the solution.  The Garden State Initiative will be holding its 2nd Annual Economic Policy Forum.  Join policy leaders like Senator Steve Oroho, Senator Declan O’Scanlon, and Senate President Steve Sweeney in a discussion about the future of New Jersey.  The details are below:

Garden State Initiative's 2nd Annual
Economic Policy Forum  
Thursday, May 9th, 4 to 6 pm
Hyatt Regency - New Brunswick

Egea recently wrote:  The Garden State Initiative's first research report in 2017, “Connecticut’s Fiscal Crisis Is a Cautionary Tale for New Jersey”, detailed how our neighbor up I-95, with its struggling economy, saddled with massive public debt and high taxes, served as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for New Jersey unless we take the necessary measures to get our own fiscal house in order.”

Below are excerpts from Regina Egea’s op-ed published today in the Bergen Record and NorthJersey.com:

A recent Wall Street Journal report, “Wealthy Greenwich Home Sellers Give in to Market Reality,” on Connecticut’s real estate market should concern all New Jersey residents.

The report documents a severe price decline among high-end real estate in the Nutmeg State’s most exclusive areas, notably Greenwich, long a symbol of modern American affluence. Despite America’s booming economy, the report cited numerous reports of owners selling homes for far below what they paid a decade or more ago. 

This was typically preceded by these homeowners' establishing residences in more fiscally attractive states like Florida. (Sound familiar, New Jersey?)

The evidence is staggering. The median home price in Greenwich dropped by 16.7% last year to $1.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a report by brokerage Douglas Elliman, with early reports showing a 25% decrease in early 2019. In a jarring anecdote, the Journal cited “a stately Colonial-style home on Greenwich, Conn.’s tony Round Hill Road is being sold in a way that was once unthinkable in one of the country’s most affluent communities: It is getting auctioned off. Once asking $3.795 million, the four-bedroom property will be sold … for a reserve price of just $1.8 million.”

…The storm that is currently hitting Connecticut’s real estate market has clouds gathering in New Jersey.

When the wealthy flee a state, sustaining massive losses on their homes in the process, it is unfortunate for the individual but likely devastating for those remaining, particularly if this occurs in New Jersey due to our extraordinary reliance on property tax revenues to sustain local governments and schools. 

The research firm Wealth X reported that New Jersey lost 5,700 people with liquid assets from $1 million to $30 million in 2018 — and that’s before the implications of the state and local tax (SALT) cap on federal taxes were truly felt. Recent reports indicate that New Jersey’s income tax receipts are falling well below projections.

Discussions around yet another tax increase on the wealthy, to fund the nearly $40 billion state budget, will only exacerbate the exodus of wealth. As reference, Connecticut has a top marginal tax rate of 6.99%; last year’s budget agreement increased New Jersey’s to 10.75%. The top 2% of all New Jersey income tax filers (those making $500,000 per year) account for over 40% of all income tax revenue to the state. Since close to 40% of state revenues are from personal income taxes, increasing dependence on this group exacerbates our vulnerability at both the state and local levels. An individual loss in this income category reverberates throughout the state.

The risk now is not just those wealthy fleeing our state. As high-end real estate values deflate, as in Greenwich, the taxes to support our local governments and schools will be redistributed to moderate- and lower-value property owners.

A recent Monmouth University poll illustrates that New Jersey residents’ views of the quality of life in our state are tumbling to an all-time low. The latest poll shows that only 50% of residents are positive, down from the prior result of 54%, and in no surprise, 45% of residents named property taxes as the state’s most pressing issue.

To read the entire article, visit NorthJersey.com

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2019/04/29/connecticut-housing-crash-predictive-nj/ 

For more information on The Garden State Initiative, visit…

https://www.gardenstateinitiative.org

Is gun control just political theatre for Trenton Dems?

Trenton Democrats have an opportunity to show they are more than just b.s. artists when it comes to gun control.  They can follow the lead of many of New Jersey’s new Democrats in Congress and pass a resolution to condemn Washington’s radicalism that wants to make it easier to put guns into the hands of illegals in America.

Led by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-05), most of New Jersey’s freshman Democrats in Congress opposed the Democrat majority in Congress – run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who opposed common sense gun safety legislation that required ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – to be notified when an illegal immigrant is trying to purchase a firearm.  Congressman Gottheimer and a number of other Democrats joined with Republicans to support this legislation, which is designed to prevent illegals with violent criminal records in their home countries – and recruits to violent gangs like MS-13 – from obtaining a handgun or semi-automatic rifle.  

Democrats like Tom Malinowski (D-07) stood with Speaker Pelosi in opposing this common sense gun safety legislation.   Malinowski and Pelosi say that Americans should undergo background checks when they seek to purchase a gun to protect their home homes and families, but not illegals.  Malinowski and Pelosi support giving new recruits to groups like MS-13 the means to make their mark on American society.

As the former campaign manager for Malinowski’s campaign in Morris County, Democrat Assembly candidate Darcy Draeger should be asked what she thinks about her Congressman’s bad vote on this common sense gun safety legislation. Draeger should be asked to step up and do something about it – at the very least to issue a statement from the (Lisa) Bhimani – (Darcy) Draeger for Assembly campaign that opposes Malinowski’s position in opposition to this common sense gun safety legislation.

In voting against this common sense gun safety legislation, Malinowski joined with professional gun-criminal coddler Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-12) whose own sons were convicted of gun-crime – the armed hold-up of a toy store in central New Jersey.  It is disgraceful for Malinowski to endanger the lives of his constituents and their families in this way. 

As State GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt of Warren County said:  “Tom Malinowski is way out of step with the people of North Jersey” and is “perpetuating a prioritization of coddling illegal immigrants rather than supporting taxpayers and keeping our communities safe.” 

Steinhardt added: “This was obvious and important enough to earn the support of New Jersey Congressional Democrats Van Drew (D-02), Kim (D-03), Gottheimer (D-05), and Sherrill (D-11), and, of course, Republican Chris Smith (R-04).”  Now the question is for Trenton Democrats like Senate President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Craig Coughlin to step up and show that all their “gun control” talk isn’t just political theatre and that they mean it, by adding their voices in support of this common sense gun safety legislation.

Pass a resolution to condemn Tom Malinowski and the other members of Congress who opposed this common sense gun safety measure, thereby putting all New Jerseyeans and their families at risk.

If the NJGOP is to survive then the “spinning” must stop

Putting the best face on a defeat is the oldest spin in politics.  The practice is ancient…

Rather than spend time trying to convince people that defeat is really victory, learn from history and discard what failed and embrace a new message.  After Watergate, Republicans embraced the message of Reagan conservatism and came roaring back at the 1980 elections – taking both the White House and the Senate.  After Democrat Bill Clinton defeated the “kinder-gentler” GOP brand of George H.W. Bush, Republicans adopted the conservative Contract with America – ending 40 years of uninterrupted Democratic control of the House of Representatives and capturing the Senate.  The populist “Tea Party” message of 2010 saw Republicans gain 63 seats to take back control of the House.  In 2014, that message completed the takeover of Congress, gaining 9 Senate seats and another 13 House seats.  And in 2016, a populist Republican took the White House in an upset that caught the professional political class of both parties by surprise. 

Nationally, and at the state and local levels, Republicans need to embrace the setbacks of 2018 and learn from them.  These lessons are clear: 

(1) Money doesn’t replace message. 

(2) Technology is a means to convey a message, not a replacement for having a message. 

(3) In the era of Trump, trying to out-liberal the Democrats is a fool’s errand. 

(4) Turnout is key and that means registering every person who would likely vote Republican and then motivating them to vote.

(5) Your message should maximize your vote without turning off your base.  Better still, find a message that excites your base while adding to it.

At present, the man with the ideas – the man leading the charge to put New Jersey back on the right economic footing – the man standing in the way of the more crazier notions of Governor Murphy’s Democratic Socialism, is in fact not a Republican at all, but a Democrat.  Senate President Steve Sweeney is calling out the Governor, challenging him to debate their contrasting ideas. 

Republicans should be challenging Governor Murphy to debates, leading with ideas and a clear message that contrasts with Murphy’s Wall Street-style social activism.  And if they can’t manage to come up with ideas of their own, then they should at least be prepared to add their united voice in support of the man who has taken on the task of challenging Murphy’s crazier instincts.

Politically, New Jersey Republicans need a message, with fully fleshed out ideas and solutions.  There are people already at work on this.  The Garden State Initiative – run by state government veteran Regina Egea – is producing a solid product of facts and stats that could back up a message… if the political will is there.  It’s up to the folks who run campaigns and the party’s leadership to take the next step.

ICYMI: Mulshine explains the gas tax

Paul Mulshine is New Jersey's top conservative columnist.  He writes for the state's largest circulation newspaper.   

The 23-cent gas-tax hike: Pigs will fly before the opponents find an alternative.

By  Paul Mulshine | The Star Ledger

October 06, 2016

The weather was sunny with a light breeze outside the Statehouse Wednesday after the state Senate took a key vote on a package that would raise the gas tax by 23 cents a gallon.

It was perfect flying weather for pigs.

My reference is of course to that fabled Statehouse rally in 2008 at which a talk-show host from NJ 101.5-FM presided over the release of hundreds of flying-pig balloons to protest a prior attempt to bail out the Transportation Trust Fund.

That was then-Gov. Jon Corzine's  plan to generate billions by having the toll roads run by a state-owned hedge fund that would bond against future toll hikes.

"Pigs will fly over the Statehouse before there's a realistic level of new taxes or spending cuts that can fix this mess," Corzine told the legislators as he introduced his scheme.

But the plan came crashing down to Earth when drivers learned that it called for tolls to eventually rise by800 percent. 

When those balloons rose over the Statehouse, the plan was dead – laughed to death by the voters. So score one for the guys at 101.5-FM.

But if we weren't going to fill the hole in the TTF with toll money, just what source of revenue could we use?

On that score, the talk-radio guys are all talk. The guys at NJ 101.5 have become the loudest opponents of the gas-tax hike.  But a lot of porkers will have to turn into pilots before the critics can come up with a good alternative for funding the TTF.

The three main objections to this plan simply don't make sense.

The first, which is repeated like a mantra among the radio talkers, is "It's too much money" or some variant thereof.

No, it's not. If they had implemented this tax hike when it was first proposed earlier in the year, drivers would have forgotten it by now. There would still be stations charging a bit over $2 a gallon. A few years ago we were paying almost $4 a gallon.

We survived.

Another objection is that the total package is slanted in favor of that group that liberals love to demonize: "the wealthy." The Sierra Club is one of many liberal pressure groups making that point.

"We believe in a plan to fix the TTF with a gas tax, but this would be on the backs of the middle class by tying it to two other tax cuts that benefit the wealthy," Sierra's Jeff Tittel said in a release. "This plan is a complete sellout to working families and will give a huge tax break to the wealthy."

One part  of the plan is the elimination of the estate tax, which now kicks in at the $650,000 level. The plan would eliminate taxation on pension income up to $100,000 a year for a couple.

Given the cost of living here in Jersey, that would include a lot of the middle classas well as thewealthy.

But the more the merrier, I say. So does state Senate President Steve Sweeney. The South Jersey Democrat teamed up with Republican Gov. Chris Christie to push the bill, which passed the Senate yesterday on a procedural vote and is expected to win final passage in both houses Friday.

Sweeney said those cuts will help keep people home after retirement.

"Those are the people who get up and move to other states," he said. "We recently had one person, David Tepper, leave and it cost us $100 million."

Tepper is the billionaire hedge-fund manager who moved himself and his business to Florida. He didn't cites taxes as the reason, but plenty of other retirees become legal residents of Florida to escape our taxes.

Oroho said his fellow financial planners have no choice but to inform retirees Florida's the best option.

"We're losing income. We're losing wealth. We gotta be competitive," he said.

Then there's the third objection. Some critics of the package argue against it on the grounds that the TTF will still have to keep borrowing even after the gas-tax hike.

That's regrettable, said Oroho. In a perfect world, we would be able to put the TTF back on the pay-as-you-go basis that existed after Gov. Tom Kean last hiked the tax in 1988.

But ensuing governors just kept borrowing money rather than raise the tax a few pennies. Now we're so far behind that returning to pay-as-you got would mean some real pain at the pump.

"If you wanted to pay off the current debt plus have no future debt,  then you'd have to raise the tax by almost a dollar a gallon," Oroho said.

Or in other words, if we want to fix this mess we don't need a flying pig.

We need a time machine.

Unless the critics have one stashed somewhere, they need to accept the inevitable.

ADD - THE REAL MISTAKE: The real mistake the Trenton crowd made was to fail to index the gas tax for inflation back in 1988. Pegging it to the price of a gallon of gas did not account for the time value of money. If it had been pegged to inflation, the tax would have slowly rose from 14.5 cents a gallon to 30.5 cents a gallon.

No one would have even noticed such a small hike and the trust fund could have remained solvent. 

Instead we had the usual gutless politicians of both parties who were glad to borrow the money while pretending to be responsible by not raising the tax.

That's what got us into this mess. Judging from the comments, you readers fell for it.