At the first formal press conference of his campaign, Jon Runyan -- the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd District -- outlined an eight-point plan to cut taxes and spending
But Geoff Mackler, the campaign manager for Runyan's opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. John Adler, D-3rd, called the plan "reckless" and said that the people who it would benefit most would be millionaires like Runyan himself.
"I really think (the thing) that a lot of people in this country, let alone the state of New Jersey and the 3rd District, have in common is we're paying entirely too many taxes. We really have to control that," said Runyan, while standing in a supporter's front yard in the Holiday City West section of Berkeley Township. "Making a living right now is very difficult, and if we can put the money back in peoples' hands it's going to go a long way. ... We need to be cutting taxes, but at the same time cutting spending to maximum capacity."
Runyan's eight-point plan includes:
* Cut tax rates across the board by 15 percent: "You saw it in the Kennedy administration and you saw it in the Reagan administration, it increased revenue and spurred economic growth. But at the same time it will encourage savings and entrepreneurship."
* Reduce the corporate tax rate by 25 percent: "Make it appetizing for companies to continue do business here and draw them from over seas. Which is going to do what? It's going to create jobs for us, and it's going to put money back into our country."
* Eliminate the double tax on Social Security benefits: "What better way of taking care our seniors ... to pull that tax off them and put more money back in their pocket."
* Increase the child tax credit by 25 percent: "I think the child tax credit for next year is on the books to be set back to previous levels. I think we need to increase it."
* Moratorium on the taxation of unemployment benefits: "Once unemployment gets back under seven percent, we can put the tax back on."
* Cut capital gains and dividends taxes in half: "I think (this) would encourage savings and investment. It would open that aspect of this country to a whole new class of investors."
* Ease restrictions on 401k and IRA investments: "It's a savings tool, but yet there's a ceiling. Encourage savings and set the high ceiling, we do it to people all the time. It's only going to help us."
* Permanently repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax and the death tax: Congress changed the tax to lessen its effect, Runyan said. That "blatantly admits that there's a problem with it. Why don't we just throw it out? ... I think to repeal that would be a huge tax relief on a lot of people in this state."
Runyan said there are "obvious" items in the federal budget that could get cut, including what he called "two basic, simple cuts" -- reducing nondefense discretionary spending and government employment back to pre-Obama levels.
"Just with those two examples is almost a trillion dollars in savings, it's not that hard to figure out," said Runyan, claiming he had a long list at his office of other cuts that could be made.
Runyan then took aim at Adler.
"John Adler's first vote in Congress was to elect Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House, which was the first step in the wrong direction. And he's followed that up by voting with her over 90 percent of the time," he said. "Now he realizes it's time to get re-elected. He is a career politician. He is doing what he has to do to save his job, he's not doing what's best for the people of this district."
But Mackler rebutted soundly.
"Jon Runyan has just proposed a reckless tax plan that primarily benefits millionaires like himself. That's not surprising from someone who has exploited loopholes to save himself thousands in taxes and still can't seem to pay them on time," Mackler said in an e-mail to The Press of Atlantic City on Tuesday afternoon. "Once more, Jon Runyan has put his interests before the community's. While families and seniors pay their taxes and play by the rules, Mr. Runyan has been late paying his taxes 33 times.
"When pushed, he wouldn't even close the loophole. Jon Runyan skirted the law for selfish reasons, and now he wants to write law for his own self-interest."
Mackler said the middle-class tax pledge that Adler proposed in April would expand the Child Care Tax Credit for families with small children and provide a tax credit for families caring for an elderly parent.
"The middle class, seniors and small businesses deserve real tax relief and lower deficits, not Jon Runyan's plan that will explode the national debt in order to provide the wealthy and special interests with tax cuts," Mackler said in the e-mail. "Our nation cannot afford more debt, or Mr. Runyan's giveaways to special interests."