N.J. politicians discuss presidential economic plans

State Republican Sen. Tom H. Kean, Jr., and State Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., promoted the economic policies of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, respectively, at the College on Oct. 20, highlighting differences in democratic and republican tax policies. Now, students will have the opportunity to see if Bush puts his plans into action over the next four years.

Kean and Pallone spoke at the Student Forum on Presidential Economics, hosted by the School of Business. They discussed Bush and Kerry’s positions on job growth, health care, Social Security, outsourcing, energy conservation, the minimum wage and the national budget deficit. They also presented conflicting views on what caused recent economic difficulties, the proper way to handle job losses and the Iraq war’s effect on the economy.

Kean said that an inherited recession, Sept. 11 and corporate scandal brought down our economy – not Bush’s economic policies. The rapid depletion of Social Security is a structural problem that has grown over the past few decades, he said.

Kean said Bush’s tax cuts helped New Jersey residents. The average tax cut for a family of four, he said, was $1,800 to $1,900.

Tax cuts ensure economic development and create jobs, especially for small businesses and partnerships, Kean said.

Pallone disagreed, saying Bush was responsible for the conditions of the economy. “The reason is directly related to Bush’s economic policy,” he said.

Pallone said Bush’s tax cuts contributed to the deficit, forcing the government to borrow money from Social Security and health care, therefore draining Social Security and Medicaid.

Pallone said Kerry would repeal the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of Americans making over $200,000 to fund his health care plan and would close tax loopholes to reduce the deficit.

About this issue of Iraq, Pallone said United States paid internationally by going there alone with its “cowboy” attitude. Americans are bearing 90 percent of the burden of the Iraq war in dollars and lives, he added.

According to Kean, “We’re on the right track. Creating peace and stability will decrease costs everywhere.” Over 2 million jobs have been created since last August, Kean said.

Questions from a five-person panel of business students, and later from members of the audience, prompted the topics for discussion. The panelists were students Alyssa Conlow, Guilange Fabien, Erica Klazmer, Keith Lucas and Brian Mulvihill. Eugene Sonn, NJN Public Radio personality, moderated the discussion.

In his closing statement, Pallone said the very nature of the questions asked implies the economic picture is “not as rosy as Senator Kean and President Bush suggest.”

Kean, in his closing statement, encouraged the audience to get out and vote.

“It was exciting to see our political representatives think on their feet,” Aimee M. Rogers, program assistant in the School of Business, said. “It was a great opportunity for our students to get the answers they are looking for this year.”

Kean filled in for Republican New Jersey businessman Doug Forrester, who was unable to attend the debate. He is the son of former New Jersey governor, Tom Kean, Sr.