TRENTON – The candidates for the 12th Congressional seat this morning clashed over the role of government: too much of it, particulalry lately, in the view of GOP challenger Eric Beck, versus smart investment to create a more productive future, according to U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12).
“There’s a limit to what the federal government can do for Trenton,” said Beck here at the David Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.
“They are in the middle of a major corruption scandal,” the Republican businessman added, who acknowledged the capital city can benefit from some help. But “The problem is when you’re running trillion dollar deficits, that support can’t go on forever.”
Beck praised Newark Mayor Cory Booker as a contrast to Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, who’s up on federal corruption charges. “I give him credit for not being a corrupt individual,” Beck said of Booker. “We need to talk to the people of Trenton and tell them there’s a limit to what the federal government can do for you.”
The incumbent Democratic congressman strenuously objected.
“His basic theme is ‘You’re on your own,’” Holt said of his opponent, pushing back hard against Beck’s dismissal of programs like COPs as “unaffordable and unsustainable federal” intervention.
Beck fought back.
“What I’m hearing is it’s almost as though the federal government is responsible for the success or failure of Trenton,” the challenger complained.
Holt and Beck faced each other for an hour in a forum moderated by Ben Dworkin, who heads up the Rebovich Institute.
A Princeton physicist who has weathered several tough challenges over the course of his 14-year career in office, Holt this year is expected to enjoy the consequences of 2011 redistricting and build on the margin of his past victories.
“He’s essentially saying if we borrow and spend as much as we can we’ll be a prosperous society,” the Republican said. “You’re a great rocket scientist. I don’t know where you learned economics.”
Holt said Republicans are irresponsibly simply waiting for the end of the Obama administration.
“He wants to talk about the stimulus,” the congressman said. “Put yourself in the shoes of the president the first month of his administration, losing 800,000 jobs a month, a deficit of 8 million jobs. The economy was going south fast. It may be that the stimulus was not as efficient, but there was no alternative. A tax cut was not going to create jobs. It hasn’t worked. It won’t worked.”