Despite the excellent budget put forward by President Trump last year, federal spending continues to flow in a business-as-usual manner — much to the frustration of taxpayers. The Republican Congress has continued the unfortunate trend of passing numerous, short-term continuing resolutions (CRs) to fund the government (albeit, in part due to the challenge of achieving 60 votes in the Senate). These continuing resolutions do little to serve the interest of taxpayers nor our military which desires a stable and predictable allocation of funds for the future.
The most recent continuing resolution, passed by Congress yesterday, will fund the government for a mere three weeks. The resolution may have served its purpose as a “cease fire” during a time of immense partisan bickering, but it also kicks the can down the road on the serious effort that is needed to curb Washington, D.C.’s appetite for spending.
Will Congress ever get itself off the train of unchecked federal spending? I believe there still is light at the end of the tunnel, and it can be found in a place hardly known for fiscal stewardship: New Jersey.
In New Jersey’s 5th district, longtime taxpayer champion Steve Lonegan is making a spirited run for the congressional seat formerly held by Republican Scott Garrett. (Disclosure: Lonegan previously served as an advisor to the organization which runs The National Pulse, prior to my professional affiliation with this publication.)
As someone who grew up in New Jersey, I have long admired Lonegan’s sterling record of success in fighting on behalf of taxpayers — very much including his efforts to block former Governor Jon Corzine’s multi-billion dollar toll hike plan — even while I was working against him.
I first got my feet wet in politics by volunteering for Chris Christie’s primary campaign against Lonegan for governor. At the time, I was 18 years old and politically disengaged, but I had read the book “The Soprano State” and was under the impression that I was volunteering to elect a real-life Superman. But even back then, I was well aware of Lonegan’s unparalleled track record for injecting bold, new ideas into public debate. Consider this my penance.
During his tenure as Mayor of Bogota, N.J., Lonegan rose to national prominence when he passed the city’s “Taxpayer Protection Act,” which prohibited the borough’s government from increasing spending in excess of inflation and mandated that additional debt must be approved by the public. His groundbreaking legislation to rein in government spending earned him a “National Hero of the Taxpayer” award, and municipal spending remained frozen during the 12 years he served as mayor.
As mayor, Lonegan also took an all-of-the-above approach to protecting every taxpayer dollar feasible. In addition to the Taxpayer Protection Act, Lonegan eliminated wasteful programs, privatized some municipal services, and cut taxes by 6 percent on net.
It has long been said in politics that the best time to inject new ideas into public debate is during an election, and Mayor Lonegan has no shortage of ideas. If you are looking for fresh thinking on bold, transformational policy ideas, this is the race you should be watching. I will concede that getting Congress to show meaningful fiscal restraint is a mountainous task — but did I mentioned Lonegan has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro?
Photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0