By Sade Calin
Steve Lonegan is the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in the special election that will be held in NJ on October 16th. This is historic because this is the only race we know of in NJ that was ever held on a Wednesday. So this election is different because there’s going to be a very low turnout very focused on just the U.S. Senate race. Below is an exclusive Q&A that the candidate held with The Rider News.
TRN: I’ve seen you referred to as being Tea Party before there was a Tea Party, referring to the article published by the New York Times after an interview you conducted with them. Also, from your campaign website, I see that you have very conservative views with a focus on fiscal issues. What do these factors mean for the foundation of your platform and what kind of issues do you prioritize?
SL: My election is focused on individual liberty. I’m a successful small-business man, my background is in economics and finance… My platform is one based in Libertarianism, the rights of individuals to go out and achieve and keep the fruits of their labor, and, as long as the things you’re doing don’t hurt anyone else, to live the way you choose. I also believe in sound monetary policy, the rule of law, and the fundamentals that are necessary for economic growth. So my campaign is focused on individual liberty and returning to those core principals because that’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created this nation. This is a nation created on a belief in a limited government that unleashes the unlimited ability of every person to achieve their best possible potential. And that’s the model I want to see America return to.
TRN: On your campaign website, I see that you are in support of a full repeal of ObamaCare (officially the Affordable Care Act) which many college students feel is a measure that benefits them. Also, you made a statement about how government involvement in education has had a negative effect. Can you speak as to why you believe the government should have no involvement in education?
SL: Well, why don’t we start with ObamaCare… the two thousand and sixty-something page bill was a monstrosity of bureaucracy, overregulation, and intrusion into the privacy of students’ healthcare needs and issues. Every one of the students reading this interview should understand that under ObamaCare their health care records will be gathered by the government and be available through the NSA intruding into their privacy. Health care is a very intimate decision-making process and should not be ruled by regulators and government bureaucrats. The solution is not big government intrusion, regulations and oversight; rather it is the free market and the ability of students, or seniors, and parents to make decisions about their children’s healthcare with their physicians and their hospitals. I fear very much that the ObamaCare bill is going to lead toward Socialism and the reduction of the quality of healthcare in this country.
On the issue of education, it is tailored to the needs of individual students. Children are like snowflakes, they’re all different and their education should be tailored accordingly. When you come to college here, you pick the classes you want. You have the freedom to do that. You’re tailoring education to the needs of every individual child and that decision should be made my a student, a parent, and a teacher, not by a federal bureaucrat who’s standardizing a one-size-fits-no-one education system. So yes, I want to see the federal government out of the education system. I want to see it returned to the local level, as local as the family, then the teacher, then the school board. And really, that’s where the decision-making should stop.
TRN: Should you win the seat in the senate, you would be a proponent of freezing taxes and making spending cuts. What would that mean for student loans and for students as far as funding for college?
SL: I encourage every single student not to borrow money to go to school. Do everything you can to keep those student loans to the bare minimum. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s cheap money because the interest rates are artificially low because that student loan’s going to follow you the rest of your life. You cannot escape a student loan through bankruptcy and I see far too many students running up their loans and borrowing money for dorm rooms and even for food and then getting out of school with six-digit debt and going into life in debt, and debt is the enemy to prosperity. So, I can’t stress to students enough to do what I did and that is get through school without borrowing money. If that means having to live at home and having to work during school and work a full time job while going to school full time, that’s what I would do… Neither a borrower nor lender be.
My concern, also, for students today is you are not facing the same bright future I faced when I graduated college in 1980. The value of the dollar is diminishing, the Federal Reserve Bank is out of control with their printing of new money, and I would bet that if I polled this campus and asked students if they thought Social Security (money) would be there for them when they retired, the answer would be overwhelmingly ‘no.’ So you need to learn how to save for the future and do not plan on having Social Security there for you unless, of course, we’re able to revamp that system. I want to push for a program which students coming out of school, when you guys graduate, have a choice of whether you’ll go into the current Social Security system or into a privately held Social Security account where that money is invested into a pension style 401-type system which you will keep and follows the same rules as Social Security follows now, you can’t touch it until you retire, but it’ll be your money and you could leave it to your children. By the way, that model has been used in Chile; it’s a remarkably successful model.
TRN: There have been polls predicting that Cory Booker (the Democrat candidate) would have a blowout win, estimated to be as much as 35 points at one point, but lately the margins by which you both are separated have been shrinking. The most recent poll, by Quinnipiac University, shows that Booker only has a 12 point lead. Twenty-three points is a big jump in the span of just a few weeks. What would you attribute this drastic change in opinion to?
SL: Going from 35 to 25 to 12 is what we call momentum. With that kind of momentum, seeing the trajectory, that means this’ll be a neck and neck race come election day. That’s because of the fact that my opponent in this race has a very failed record as the mayor of Newark. When he became the mayor of Newark seven years ago the unemployment rate was 8%, it’s now over 14%. They have a high school drop out rate that’s between 50% and 70% depending on how it’s measured. Let’s take the lowest number, 50%. That’s a disgrace, it’s an absolute disgrace by anyone’s measure. This mayor has failed generations of young people who are dropping out of high school and will spend the rest of their life, unless the succeed on their own, which some will, in poverty or even in jail or in crime, which tends to happen much more when you’re a high school dropout. But the worst thing is the increase in violent crime and the murders and the shootings. Ten days in a row of shootings in the streets of Newark. This mayor claims that he’s taken guns off the streets of Newark. Well, the only guns he’s taken off the streets of Newark are the couple of hundred cops he’s laid off, rendering this city open to crime and instability. So that failed record is impacting this race in a big, big way.
Compare that to my record as the mayor of Bogota, crime dropped 30% while I was mayor. I kept taxes stable. I kept property values up and we just had a terrific town. And that’s a 2-1 Democrat town, by the way, where I was elected as a Republican. So as we hone in on these issues and people look at the real record of my opponent and the issues of how this administration is affecting our economy, that’s what’s going to win the race.
And the other issue is that I very much enjoy getting out and campaigning hard across the state, and I’ve been doing that for the last 10 days. I’ve campaigned all over NJ. And my opponent’s been in California. He’s been campaigning in San Francisco and last night in Hollywood. Well, you know what? California doesn’t need a third senator. New Jersey needs a senator that’s going to represent the college students and the working people of this state.
TRN: Now for a hot-topic question about Syria. On your campaign website it said that you are against sending in troops unless we are threatened directly. If you should win the senatorial race, what exactly would your stance be and what do you plan to do?
SL: First of all, this country needs to stop engaging in these endless wars; we are not the police force for the world. And the statists and internationalists who think we should intervene in every country’s problems mean we will be in a state of perpetual war. I will not support any that’s not voted on by Congress and unless it’s passed by Congress, this country should not be engaging. I am totally opposed to intervening in Syria, even just using bombs. There’s no strategic purpose for that and we would only create even more chaos and more death. I was very clear on Syria from day one and you know what, I don’t know what public opinions polls said on day one, but it doesn’t matter to me. I know what I believe in. I have a very simple standard of a U.S. senator. I’m not going to vote to send a single troop into harms way unless I’m willing to send my own daughters. That’s a very high standard. I’m not going to send other people’s kids to war unless I’m going to send my own, so that means a very high standard to what we’re fighting for. So I want to put an end to the perpetual warfare this country’s engaged in and our military should be hear to defend us against our enemies, not interfere in every country’s affair.