In my first televised debate with Rodney Frelinghuysen on Oct. 17, the congressman insisted the economy is in bad shape.
Most of us have reason to agree. Frelinghuysen’s remedy, however, asks us to follow the Romney/Ryan budget plan that will almost certainly lead to even more severe income, healthcare, education and gender inequality.
And that’s not just my opinion. I recently reviewed the home page of one of our biggest and strongest companies, headquartered right here in our district in Morristown: Honeywell International. Most of us know Honeywell because of the thermostat in our homes – or if we happen to be one of the 58,000 Honeywell employees in the USA.
Honeywell’s highly successful CEO, David M. Cote (a Republican) served on the Simpson-Bowles Commission. What Cote learned in the process was clearly important to him because he took the time to address his team and to post his thoughts and insights on the Honeywell home page.
In a nutshell, this highly successful CEO - who had a deep ‘insider’ look at all the facets of our economy – stood before his people with the same message I have for the voters of the 11th District: we need a bi-partisan solution. We need to get Washington moving and we need to make compromises. The rich have to give a little of their wealth and the rest of us have to make concessions so that all of us can thrive.
Cote’s insight, one that I have been espousing for months, is supported by recommendations from leading economists, members of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.)
There is no magic wand. There is no quick-fix. It took decades of risky decisions and bad bets for all of us to be where we are now. It will take tough decisions and good long-term planning for us to get to where we want to be.
The Romney/Ryan/ Frelinghuysen ticket focuses, in part, on increasing the military budget. Frelinghuysen has stated publically (including during the Oct. 17 debate), he wholeheartedly supports increasing military spending.
To further this agenda, the Republican Party paints a fearful picture of a planet where everybody is out to get the USA. They willfully ignore the peaceful alliances that exist between us and other nations. They shrug at the fact we are already ranked #1 in military spending in the world. We spend about $700 billion per year on defense. By comparison, China spends about $140 billion per year and Russia about $70 billion per year. These numbers speak for themselves.
My approach and solutions are different; I propose that we fix our problems at their root.
- We need to support income equality through measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act and fair tax laws.
- We need to support a healthy population. This will help create a healthy workforce that can enjoy a longer active life – one of the most likely measures necessary to save Social Security – through expanding on what is known as “Obamacare” to include more preventative screenings. We also need better tracking measures to prevent fraud and to enhance the care we receive.
- We need to provide more resources to every level of education in order to prepare ourselves and our children for the economy of the 21st century. We can do this by improving the schools we have and through partnerships with our industry leaders.
- We need to invest in infrastructure. This will create jobs as we make much-needed improvements to our roads, bridges, tunnels and rails.
- We need to support local initiatives to promote innovative measures to reduce costs – through cooperative health centers, through environmental groups dedicated to protecting resources and our environment – (e.g., towns banning the use of plastic bags) and through partnerships between schools and local businesses.
If we want to get out of the slump and back on the trail of milk and honey - we need to work together on every level. That’s what I did as the mayor of Roseland and that’s what I intend to do in Washington, D.C.
P.S. You can watch the insightful and inspiring speech by CEO David M. Cote at: