In a preview of what to expect , during a speech at the annual New Jersey Reagan Day Dinner, Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan announced that he will be proposing sweeping reform in the shape of a flat tax for New Jersey.
Lonegan is expected to reveal the details of his proposal at a press conference scheduled for Thursday.
The announcement came during his speech to a crowd of more than 200 people who attended Assemblyman Jay Webber’s 6th Annual New Jersey Reagan Day Dinner in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey on Wednesday.
Guests at the well attended event, did not hear only from Lonegan though.
Also in attendance and scheduled to speak were former federal prosecutor Chris Christie and Franklin Mayor Brian Levine. But Lonegan was the first to take to the podium and he quickly became a hard act to follow.
Invoking the name of Ronald Reagan, Steve Lonegan reminded guests that the current economic woes that we are in are a result of too much government and regarding the recent stimulus package, he stated that “we are witnessing an all out attack on the free market principles which have delivered more prosperity and more opportunity to more human beings than the world has ever seen”.
Lonegan’s brief speech, which accompanies this post, rekindled some of the Reagan era wisdom which showed us that it is big government which is “responsible for shackling taxpayers and stopping us from gaining prosperity”.
As such, Lonegan intends to make New Jersey the battleground for the nations economic recovery and promised to take on the challenge laid out in Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address when he asked if we have the courage to challenge the immorality of the progressive tax.
Demonstrating his courage, Lonegan announced that in the coming days he will issue detailed economic policies that include scrapping the current state tax code in favor of a fair, equitable flat tax.
Before ending his speech, Lonegan took a swipe at his most formidable rival for the nomination, Chris Christie.
While standing a mere six feet away from each other, Lonegan referred to Christie as his “primary opponent” and accused him of not understanding the Reagan philosophy. He said “my primary opponent, in his opening remarks, when he kicked off his campaign made the following profound statement. “The Wall Street philosophy is responsible for our state’s fiscal ruin” Lonegan continued, “ladies and gentlemen, the Wall Street philosophy is not responsible for our state’s fiscal ruin, that Wall Street philosophy has elevated this nation’s prosperity for two centuries. It is big government that is responsible for our state‘s fiscal ruin”.
After Lonegan made it clear that he believes government is the problem, not the answer, Christie took to the podium and ducked the swipe taken at him by saying, “I am not here tonight to talk about me. Not to talk about the problems with New Jersey. I am here tonight to talk about Ronald Reagan.”
And in an unintended demonstration of overconfidence Christie added, “over the next nine months there will be plenty of time to talk about the rest of the stuff”.
Problem is, if Christie doesn’t win the nomination , he will only have the four months leading up to the June primary to make his case and unlike Lonegan, Chris Chritie has not been making much of case for himself. A fact not helped by his refusing to discuss any of the issues on this night. In fact by not addressing any issues he lacked any presentation of the Reagan-like vision that many in the audience appreciate.
Instead, Chris Christie offered a glowing but unmoving tribute to Ronald Reagan that credited Reagan for his unique personality and leadership but left you wondering if Christie really understood the Reagan philosophy. Whereas, Lonegan spoke about Reagan and laid out a vision for New Jersey much like Reagan did for America.
The contrast between the two was startling.
Lonegan left you feeling hopeful and optimistic about change coming our way. Christie just left you wondering.
Last to speak before former assistant to President Reagan and the nights keynote speaker was Franklin Mayor, Brian Levine.
Levine painted a picture of a dreary economic situation and after calling his opponents for the nomination “a good group of colleagues” he headed the audience to understand that any one of the Republican candidates for governor could help bring us out of the economic malaise that the state is in.
Touching on his background as a C.P.A, and a mayor, Levine spoke to his ability to deal with the numbers and create an atmosphere in his township that is more conducive for citizens than the atmosphere Governor Corzine has created for the rest of the state. And in what was perhaps his best line, he quoted Nancy Reagan regarding C.O.A.H., the Council On Affordable Housing.
According to Levine “we need a political leader who will just say no to C.O.A.H.”
C.O.A.H is a state agency which has recently mandated every community in New Jersey to insure a certain percentage of low income housing. The measure will decimate many municipalities and will be a major cause for already skyrocketing property taxes to reach even greater heights.
The appearances and briefs statements from three of the four Republican candidates for Governor merely added to the already special occasion which was as well run as it was well attended.
Emcee and host, Assemblyman Jay Webber provided guests with another successful celebration of the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan and helped to cement the event as a surefire stop on the campaign trail for any and all statewide candidates.
Aside from the gubernatorial candidates, dozens of county leaders, freeholders, mayors and state legislators were also in attendance. Among some of the most prominent included, local conservative assemblyman Michael Patrick Carol, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. and former Jersey City mayor and 2001 Republican gubernatorial nominee Brett Schundler.
Below you will find videos of the NJ Reagan Day statements made by each of three potential Republican candidates for New Jersey governor who spoke at the event.
“Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.” ~Ronald Reagan