It was Cory Booker's constant sneering attack in the first New Jersey U.S. Senate debate - Steve Lonegan is a "tea party leader." What does that mean?
It's true, Steve Lonegan has long been one of the Garden State's strongest leaders for fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and constitutional government - the core values of the tea party. That Booker considers "tea party leader" an insult shows that he opposes these fundamental principles and that reflects negatively not on Lonegan but on Booker.
Steve Lonegan's fiscal policy leadership has had major concrete benefits for New Jersey taxpayers.
Lonegan galvanized opposition to corrupt Governor Jon Corzine's toll hike scam, which involved a long-term lease to a foreign corporation that would have been authorized to raise tolls 800% on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Lonegan was even arrested on a public sidewalk peaceably protesting a Corzine toll-hike event; the police later apologized. Whether you live in New Jersey or are just driving through, you can thank Lonegan every time you pay a toll that could be much, much higher. Booker recently said he wished Corzine had been reelected.
Lonegan led the fight against a $450 million bond issue for stem cell research that didn't have enough promise to attract private sector financing. The measure had a backdoor tax increase hidden inside that Lonegan exposed: it said the state must tax "real and personal property" if it lacked funds to pay principal and interest on the bonds. So Steve kept New Jersey from going deeper into debt and raising taxes, defeating a ballot question for the first time in nearly two decades. Booker has never seen a bond issue or tax hike he didn't like.
Lonegan led the fight against cap-and-trade energy taxes, successfully stopping them from being adopted nationally as well as convincing Governor Christie to withdraw New Jersey from the state version. Booker enthusiastically supports these energy taxes, which a recent analysis found would increase natural gas bills 40 percent, raises the price at the pump 20 cents a gallon, increase electric bills 9.2 percent, and destroy over 30,000 New Jersey jobs.
And Lonegan as much as any activist nationally fought for the voice of the American people to be heard in Washington on health care, repeatedly organizing dozens of buses for rallies in Washington throughout the 2009 and 2010 debate.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.