And unlike Bradley who was running for office for the first time, Booker already has a well-established political agenda, governmental record, and philosophy of bipartisanship that neither Lonegan nor his Democratic opponents would let him run away from, even if he wanted to.
“Booker is a Bill Clinton ‘third-way’ Democrat,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “One area where he stands with a lot of urban Democrats is in favor of school choice and school vouchers, which puts him in opposition to the teacher unions that are a traditional Democratic constituency. But President Obama has been out there on charter schools and tenure reform issues that Booker has taken on, so his school reform positions have legitimacy.
“On all of the important social issues and on important pocketbook issues like the minimum wage, he is clearly in the liberal Democratic mainstream, and that puts him in clear opposition to what Lonegan and the national Republican Party represent,” Murray concluded. “And while people can question just what a freshman senator can do to end the gridlock in Washington, it’s clear that Booker will not be an obstructionist.”
While Booker, like Republican Gov. Chris Christie, sees the federal government shutdown as a failure -- a failure that Booker blames on the “Tea Party fringe hijacking our government,” Lonegan says the nation is “seeing Republicans hold the line on the Obamacare assault on our healthcare freedom.”
Lonegan made it clear that he would not vote to raise the federal debt ceiling without deep spending cuts. “Under Barack Obama, we’ve watched the national debt grow from $8 billion to over $16 billion,” Lonegan asserted. “We need to put an end to the massive borrowing and deficit spending. We need to cut the size of government, cut hard and cut deep.”
Lonegan blasted Booker for recommending “a $1.4 billion tax hike” with his plan to cut corporate tax loopholes by lowering capital depreciation rates, barring companies from deducting offshore profits not sent back to the United States, and cutting out oil and gas tax breaks.
Booker says his corporate tax changes would equalize corporate taxes and enable the corporate tax rate to be cut from 35 percent to 28 percent.
Unlike Lonegan, however, Booker wants to increase government spending to build infrastructure, strengthen public K-12 education, and provide more financial assistance so that college students do not graduate with college loans averaging $26,000.
Lonegan made it clear that “I don’t support using federal funds for education, period.” He noted that he worked his way through college because his father had died, and asserted “there’s a big difference between working your way through school and being enticed by the government to borrow money you shouldn’t borrow to invest in a degree that may never pay itself back.”
“Mayor Booker, did you ever have a job in college?” Lonegan baited Booker. “Did you ever even work?”
Lonegan said he would work to protect Social Security and Medicare “for my 80-year-old mother,” but “we do need to make changes. I would be a big advocate to allow young people coming in to join the current system,” he said, “or choose to be in their own personal Social Security account,” he said. “This has been done successfully in other places and would be a way of weaning the country off Social Security over the next 60 years before it’s too late.”