- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2000

About a year ago, well-heeled liberals were invited to become well-oiled donors at a cocktail fund-raiser for Jon Corzine, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey seeking to succeed retiring Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Mr. Corzine, of course, is the erstwhile Wall Street CEO who turned to politics last year after a power struggle within Goldman Sachs left him odd man out, albeit with an even $300 million dollars in the bank. As was noted at the time, maybe Mr. Corzine should pay his own way to the nation's capital.

That, to date, is what the political novice has done, making history with the most expensive Senate primary campaign ever, spending about $34 million of his fortune to defeat his Democratic opponent, former New Jersey governor Jim Florio. But sticker-shock aside, what Mr. Corzine chooses to do with his money isn't the issue. As his Republican opponent, New Jersey Rep. Bob Franks put it during his three minutes at the podium of the Republican National Convention last week, "What's dangerous about Jon Corzine isn't how he spends his own money. What's frightening is how he'll spend yours."

Mr. Franks is right. Mr. Corzine promises to spend federal dollars as at least as lavishly as he spends his own. His political utopia is a place where the government is not just big, but "universal" as in "universal health care," "universal higher education," "universal equal opportunity," and more. George Will sums up this former Wall Street colossus this way: "Think of [Hubert] Humphrey frolicking with a trillion dollar surplus."

Mr. Franks, who has run the numbers, has priced Mr. Corzine's health care and education programs alone at an ozonic $756 billion. This is heady stuff. No wonder Mr. Corzine sometimes sounds more like Socrates on a Tibetan holiday than a U.S. Senate hopeful. In a speech about one of his "universal" programs in this case, the "universal pre-school" to "universal higher education" plan Mr. Corzine waxed philosophical on that terribly mundane matter of dollars and cents. "Some say: 'How much will it cost to do this?' I reply: 'How much will it cost if we don't?' " This may pass for food for thought out on the stump, but it is not exactly evidence of fiscal responsibility.

Besides committed to spending money, Mr. Corzine is "passionately pro-choice." "Fiercely pro-affirmative action," Mr. Corzine upholds racial set-asides as measurements of social "progress." He also opposes the death penalty as "the ultimate form of racial profiling." Even the New York Times has noticed Mr. Corzine's spectrum-stretching liberalism, describing the Democratic Senate candidate as "almost certainly to the left of the entire United States Senate, including Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone." That's saying something.

As a budget-balancing, tax-reducing moderate conservative, Mr. Franks, who currently serves on the House Budget Committee, offers a satisfying alternative to Mr. Corzine and his frightening plans for Brobdingnagian government that is, if anybody ever hears about his candidacy. After a resource-depleting primary campaign, Mr. Franks still has to raise between $8 and $10 million to mount an effective fall campaign. Mr. Corzine, of course, doesn't need to raise a cent.

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