- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Saying that America needs leaders who will fight for a middle class left behind in the current economy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laid out an economic platform Tuesday that called for a simpler tax code, reduced regulations, a national energy strategy and policies he says would incentivize hiring and technological innovation.

The address is the second major policy speech Mr. Christie has delivered in New Hampshire in several weeks — he outlined an overhaul to entitlement programs such as Social Security last month — and marks his second visit to the state in a week as works to lay the groundwork with possible Granite State voters ahead of a potential White House run in 2016.

He said President Obama’s policies were to blame for the comparatively weak growth during the current economic recovery.

“In my view, this weak growth is no coincidence,” Mr. Christie said at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. “It is the direct result of the policies that this president, the worst economic president since Jimmy Carter, has put into position.”

He also called Mr. Obama “the most anti-growth president in post-war American history.”

He said the weak economy, coupled with the monetary policies put into place over the last six years, has exacerbated the problem of income inequality in the country.

“Under this president, we have a roaring financial markets economy for the wealthy and a weak real economy for the middle class,” Mr. Christie said. “He — this president — has worsened income inequality through his policies.”

He said that unlike Democrats, he doesn’t feel the need to “vilify the wealthy and accomplished,” but that they’ve already done pretty well in the economy.

“I will not attack or vilify those who have been successful, but America now needs leaders who will fight for our middle class by growing all of the economy and unleashing the opportunities that will come with that growth,” he said.

In order to spur economic growth, Mr. Christie proposed consolidating the tax code and lowering individual income tax rates, putting the top rate no higher than 28 percent and the bottom rate in the single digits.

He also called for a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and said American companies should be allowed a one-time repatriation “tax holiday” whereby they would return profits earned overseas to the U.S. at a lower rate of 8.75 percent, as well as a permanent “territorial tax system” in which profits are taxed once, in the country where they’re generated.

He also called for an overhaul to government regulations, a “pro-growth national energy strategy” that included building the Keystone XL pipeline, eliminating the payroll tax for people above the age of 62 and those newly entering the workforce below the age of 21, repealing the 30-hour definition of “full-time work week” in Mr. Obama’s health care law, and prioritizing investments in research and development.

Mr. Christie also made several nods to younger listeners, lamenting a “failure to launch” problem of people between the ages of 18 and 31 living with their parents and saying that if a college bill came to people at a restaurant, they simply wouldn’t pay it.

“It’s like three lines, right?” he said. “Tuition. Room and board. Other fees. And a big number at the bottom. And we don’t ask: what are you spending the money on?”

But Mr. Christie also referred multiple times to his recent address in the state in which he proposed raising the retirement age to 69 and means-testing social security to reduce payments to wealthier seniors — a plan to reform entitlement programs he says would collectively save more than a trillion dollars over the next decade.

“You had some typical politicians respond, ‘don’t touch entitlements,’” he said. “Let me remind everybody: 71 percent of the federal budget now goes to entitlements. Anybody who says they want to engage in this national conversation and says leave entitlements the way they are should be booed out of the room.

“We need to deal with this problem, we need to tell you the truth, and I quite frankly believe the American people are smart enough and mature enough to hear the truth,” he continued.

The Democratic National Committee said his plan would cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, but that it’s still unclear what Mr. Christie would do for the middle class.

“Prioritizing the wealthy and corporations while failing to put the middle class first is typical of the failed Republican playbook, and typical of Chris Christie. It didn’t work for him in New Jersey and it won’t work this time either,” said DNC spokeswoman Kaylie Hanson.

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