The image of Chris Christie still standing and smiling at his podium at the end of last Tuesday night’s debate in the studio of NJN today threw the question back onto Steve Lonegan, who had pledged in the lead-up to “take him out.”
On the eve of their second television encounter – thisone taped, not live -Lonegan told reporters in a conference call that he did not feel bogged down in the minutia of defending his flat tax, and trusts in the voters to value detail and explication of a definite plan over what he believes are platitudes from Christie.
“I’ll do what comes naturally,” said Lonegan. “Mr. Christie has spent $1.5 million attacking my tax plan, and I’m still moving up and he’s moving down.”
The last Quinnipiac University poll shows Christie nine points up on Lonegan, who incidentally dismissed the numbers-crunching efforts on Christie’s behalf of Peter Lawrence, state treasurer for former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, who Lonegan says produced the 70% tax hike figure to denounce Lonegan’s flat tax plan the same way he mistakenly argued that the stock market would fund a nine percent increase in the pension fund.
“It’s a made-up number,” Lonegan said of the 70%.
Christie’s efforts to solder the record of incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine to that of former Gov. James McGreevey at Tuesday’s debate proved irresistible to Lonegan, however, as he too invoked what he sees as the failings of the Democrats under Corzine and McGreevey.
“When McGreevy passed the so-called millionaires’ tax he had a press conference in which he guaranteed rebate checks for seniors, which never came to pass,” Lonegan said. “The point is none of this works. The tax structure we have no absolutely cannot be sustained. We need to move into this flat tax I have proposed and create job growth.”
Lonegan acknowledged that under the provisions of his flat tax proposal, residents in the $20,000 to $30,000 income bracket would pay more in taxes than they pay now.
“Those relegated to the lower end of the income scale would pay more,” he said, a phenomenon his plan would offset with tax cuts at the higher ranges of income earners that he believes would result in greater investment, job creation, and wealth growth.
Supply-sider Dr. Arthur Laffer, former economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan, agrees with Lonegan’s economic plan.
"Steve Lonegan's economic plan is the best medicine for New Jersey's ailing state economy," Laffer said in a release. "The Lonegan Flat Tax would replace New Jersey's stifling progressive income tax and its top rate of 9 percent with a simple, flat tax of 2.9 percent that would unshackle entrepreneurship and capital formation and give New Jersey residents a huge incentive to work, save, and invest. His plans to cut spending and repeal business taxes would also help turn New Jersey from an economic laggard into a leader among the states.
"The Lonegan Flat Tax plan would unleash the animal spirits of New Jersey's most productive citizens and create a wave of economic growth that will leave all New Jersey citizens better off," Laffer said. "I'm an income tax refugee myself, so I know the Lonegan Flat Tax plan will reverse the drain of New Jersey's best wealth producers leaving the state and once again make New Jersey a magnet for jobs, growth, and prosperity."