Chris Christie engages audience in Waukee
On Dec. 30, 2015, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is running for the republican nomination in the race for president in 2016, made a stop for a town hall meeting in Waukee. The town hall was 33 days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses and took place at Mickey’s Irish Pub.
Christie, who has been the governor of New Jersey since 2010 and won reelection in 2013, is no stranger to town hall meetings where he encourages interaction with the audience. Christie says he has done 134 town hall meetings in New Jersey since becoming governor.
“After about six months as governor I realized that you can become very isolated in that job,” said Christie. “You’re in those black SUVs all the time, they bring you up to the back door of everything… I’ve walked through every kitchen of every catering hall in New Jersey in the last six years. You don’t live a real life.
“After six months as governor I realized that I need a way to get interaction from the people that I work for, so I said ‘let’s start doing town hall meetings. Let’s travel around the state.”
Christie said that he has decided to do his town hall meetings the same way in Iowa and New Hampshire as he does in New Jersey and that the ones he has done in New Jersey would look exactly the same as the scene at Mickey’s on Dec. 30.
Christie said that hosting town hall meetings follows the advice of one of his political science professors at the University of Delaware when he was 19 years old. That professor told that more than half of leadership is about listening.
“If you listen to people, you will know where people want to go and then you’ll have people who are willing to follow you,” said Christie. “If you don’t listen, people will not follow you.”
The first question he took from someone in the audience came from an Iowa farmer who asked him what he planned to do about the economy if he were elected president.
Christie said that two biggest problems with the economy right now are the tax system and the regulatory system, calling it a wet blanket on American economic growth. He said that last quarter the United States had 1.5 percent GDP growth and that that is unacceptable.
“The tax code in America has been rigged for the wealthy,” said Christie. “And the reason for that is because they are the ones that can afford the lobyists and the accountants and the lawyers to go to Washington and put all those special little deals on the tax code for them and what it’s done is made this such a specialized, narrow economy that we don’t have the opportunity for growth.”
Christie said that all tax loopholes need to be gotten rid of except for two: the home mortgage interest reduction and the charitable contribution deduction. He says that those are the two deductions that “real people” use.
“We want to continue to encourage people to own homes and we want to make it more affordable for them to do so,” said Christie. “Secondly, we want people to support the charities of their choice. We want you to decide who are the best charities, local or national, that you think are helping the people most in need in this country and I want to encourage you to continue to do that because the more we have non-profits that do that, the less government needs to do that kind of thing.”
Christie said that if those things were to happen he could break the tax system down to three brackets with the highest being 28 percent and the lowest being eight percent. He noted that 28 percent was where it was during the Reagan administration.
If Christie’s plan were to be implemented, he said you could “do your taxes in 15 minutes.”
“Here’s how much you made, deduct how much you paid in mortgage interest, deduct how much you donated to charity, multiply times the bracket, write your check, send it and be done in 15 minutes,” said Christie. “And you keep more of your own money and a little side light that will be very helpful and, I think, enjoyable to many of us, I could fire lots of IRS agents that we wouldn’t need anymore because the tax code would be so simple.”
Christie also said that we need to lower corporate taxes to reduce the number of companies that move overseas and never bring the money they make there back to the United States.
One citizen who got a chance to ask a question at the event asked about where he stands on solar energy. New Jersey is the third-largest producer of solar energy in the country because they have partenered with the private sector to make it affordable for people.
Christie said that the federal government should encourage the use of renewable energy but the type should be left up to the states.
“If you can make it (renewable energy) affordable for people here and state governments can do it — we’ve done it — in partnership with the private sector people will use,” said Christie. “People will use renewable energy if it’s affordable and effective.”
He noted that the types of renewable energies that work differ from state to state, joking that if they had wind turbines in a small state like New Jersey, they would have dead birds and dead people.
Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses are on Feb. 1.