Josh’s Full Remarks
Thanks everyone for coming here to officially launch Republicans for Josh. It’s our own take on the Republican Convention.
My campaign, from moment one, has been about reaching out to Democrats, Republicans and Independents. It’s why I’m so proud to have these business and community leaders here this morning and to have the public support of more than a hundred Republicans here in the District and beyond.
In fact, over the last 3 months, thirty percent of my financial support in the Fifth District was from Republicans and Independents. Nationally, we have the support of many Republicans and business leaders, including Jim Cicconi, one of the top AT&T executives who was the former Deputy Chief of Staff to President George H.W. Bush and was special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. I’m also proud to have the support of a Delegate to the Republican National Convention, the law enforcement community, the firefighters, and small and large businesses across our state.
As you’d imagine, these days I’m speaking in living rooms and community centers now about five days a week, including tonight in Ridgewood and Oakland. And I start every talk pretty much the same way.
I talk about how I’m running for Congress because as a pro-business centrist, I’m sick and tired of the extreme, ideological partisanship, on both sides, that’s getting in the way of progress – progress for Jersey families, for our community, and for our businesses, small and large.
This election is not about a Democrat versus a Republican – ask the folks here with me today. This election is about who best represents the values of our community and what we need to accomplish. It’s about who’s willing to roll up their sleeves and work across the aisle to get things done.
To a person, each and every Republican who is supporting my campaign has chosen to put principle over party and people before politics. They believe, as I do, in fiscal responsibility and Jersey values, not rigid extreme ideology.
At my core, I believe in lower taxes. In my Tax Cut & Growth Plan, I laid out my roadmap to lower tax rates, cut spending, close loopholes, and eliminate out-of-date regulations.
I also think we have to invest in fixing our roads and bridges and improve transportation, so we can shorten our commutes and spend more time with our families and attract new jobs. I also believe in Jersey values – values that include treating everyone with respect, a woman’s right to choose and equal pay for equal work, and standing by our veterans and first responders, so we can protect our homeland, fight ISIS, and the looming threat of Lone Wolf Terror.
I may be a fiscally conservative and socially progressive Democrat. But, in many ways labels like that really shouldn’t matter.
Problem solver is probably the best way I describe myself. I like to say that I’m for the commonsense middle – I’m for business and for working families. President Eisenhower said it best, “The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.”
So, it’s time to get out of the gutter. I’m going to Washington to work with both sides – with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – to get things done. So, yes, there will be days when the Democrats will be frustrated with me and other days the Republicans will be. To me, that’s the right balance. Because I’m not going to Washington to toe the party line. I’m going to do what’s best for the Fifth District. I’m going there to solve problems, build bridges, and work with both sides.
That’s the lesson I learned from my old boss, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, a moderate problem-solver, who used to sit down with the Republican Leader, Bob Michel, every week over a Scotch to find ways they could get things done for the American public.
Similarly, President Reagan invited Speaker Tip O’Neil to the White House every week for a drink and work session. Together, they passed comprehensive tax reform and lowered taxes.
I learned that same lesson from President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich, who, despite their strong differences, worked together to pass welfare reform, balanced the budget, and put a 100,000 community police officers on the street. That’s the kind of spirit we need more of in Washington.
When you think about it, it’s the same lesson we’ve all learned in business. If you take a “my way or the highway” approach, well, you just won’t get anything done. That was certainly the case when I was at Ford and Microsoft.
Now, this approach to politics isn’t a new thing – and not even for our District.
After all, it’s what the former Congresswoman from this District, Marge Roukema, believed. She was a Republican, but she also worked to pass the Family Medical Leave Act.
She believed in lower taxes and a woman’s right to choose. As Marge said herself, “I was an independent voter in Congress, and I voted my conscience and my state.”
I like to think of myself as a Marge Roukema Democrat.
That’s what’s so disturbing to me right now about what’s going on in Washington. We have too many elected officials who want to make their bones by paying homage to some extremist Washington-driven agenda, instead of worrying about what’s best for the families in their district, as Marge Roukema did.
They’d rather send a nasty tweet, or scream at their colleagues on cable news, or disrespect one group or another, instead of worrying about what’s best for our children and our district.
For instance, when you look at the House Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party organization in Congress, their whole purpose is block every single bill, no matter what the consequences no matter how much it might help our communities. Last year, they sent Speaker Boehner packing because he wanted to work with Democrats.
Just last week, the Freedom Caucus stood in the way of Speaker Paul Ryan’s agenda and forced him to send the House home on a recess without addressing key legislative matters. Even if I don’t agree with everything Paul Ryan believes, I respect that he wants to find a way forward, working with both sides.
My opponent, Scott Garrett, is one of the Founding Nine Fathers of the Freedom Caucus – of that gang of some forty-odd members, who are the poster children for obstructionism. Garrett’s own staff called him the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party.
Garrett always puts his Tea Party extremism ahead of what’s best for us. The instance, he was the only member in the NJ delegation, Democrat or Republican, to vote against the transportation and infrastructure bill last December. And he voted against the Export-Import Bank last year, a profitable, job-creating entity- for companies in New Jersey.
Despite being one of the top three percent tax paying Districts in the country, Garrett refuses to get us a decent return on all of the money we are sending to Washington, for things like schools, fire trucks, and support for law enforcement to fight lone wolf terrorists.
We are getting back, here in the Fifth, 33 cents for every federal taxpayer dollar we send to Washington, compared to 68 cents for the rest of New Jersey and $4.23 that goes to states like West Virginia. This Garrett Tax is costing us $14,000 a person. We’ve basically become a welfare provider to other states because Garrett won’t ever send a letter for a grant for a fire truck or police officers that we are already paying for. He’d rather send it to Mississippi.
On top of this, Garrett is way out of touch with our Jersey values, fighting instead to keep up his Tea Party ranking. He votes against prosthetics for veterans and health care for our 9/11 first responders, as Allen discussed.
He has voted consistently against equal pay for women, the Violence Against Women Act, one of eleven, and against a woman’s right to choose — even in cases of rape and incest.
He’s voted 13 times in the last year against measures that would prevent ISIS-inspired terrorists from buying assault weapons on the FBI watch list.
A couple of months ago, Garrett was the only one in the NJ delegation to vote against the Republican bill that outlawed flying the Confederate flag in veterans cemeteries.
And, a year ago yesterday, news broke that Garrett said that if you’re gay, you shouldn’t be allowed to run for Congress as a Republican.
Ironically, I read this morning that the chairmen of New Jersey’s Republican organizations have asked the Republican National Committee to strike anti-gay language that’s in the national platform. I’m guessing they didn’t call Garrett first.
Then there’s this: When America’s airline pilots asked for a secondary barrier to prevent terrorist hijackers from gaining access to the cockpit, Garrett’s office replied, when you fly you – and I’m quoting here – “assume the risk.”
All of this is to say: Sorry Scott, our country, our state – and especially our District — can’t afford to “assume the risk” of your all-or-nothing Tea Party approach anymore. We can’t afford to have you put your extremism ahead of progress. And I’m here – well, we’re all here – because people in New Jersey, on the both sides of the aisle, are fed up with that. Scott Garrett seems to have forgotten the word “mainstream” that was on the bumper sticker in his first campaign. My campaign is about delivering on what Garrett should have a long time ago.
The bottom line is this: Whether it’s the far left or the far right, extremism on either side is counterproductive. It’s time for problem solving for the Fifth District from the sensible middle.
We have a big tent here on my campaign and it’s open to everyone Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.
So, I welcome every Republican in the 5th District to visit with us, check out our plans at republicansforjosh.com, and join the team. We’d love to have you on board. Because, in the end, this is about progress over partisanship, about lower taxes and Jersey values, and commonsense leadership.