As a service to its readers, New Jersey Jewish News in cooperation with the Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey extended invitations to major party candidates to contribute to a 2010 Voters’ Guide.
Each candidate was asked to address the same questions on issues of concern to the Jewish community.
Running for District 11
Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R) is serving his eighth term.
Attorney Douglas Herbert (D) lives in Chatham.
What is your position on ensuring the realization of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis? What efforts would you employ to encourage both or either side to remain at the negotiating table? What role do you see Congress playing to combat the well-financed and widespread campaign to delegitimize Israel?
Frelinghuysen: Since its founding, Israel and the United States have enjoyed a special relationship, and I openly acknowledge and always acknowledge and always recognize the unique bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two nations.
Of course, a sustainable Middle East peace is key to the region and the world. I fully support a peace process based on bilateral talks with no preconditions. The United States must do all it can to promote the process, but in the final analysis, it is Israel and her neighbors that must reach enforceable, sustainable agreements. Indeed, the current-day security relationship between the United States and Israel is among our most important. Both nations recognize that our mutual interest in promoting stability in the Middle East is only possible if the United States continues to help ensure Israel's qualitative military edge over current and future enemies. I will continue to support security assistance to Israel to meet increasing threats, including those from Iran.
Herbert: I support a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Israel. However, peace is not a one-sided affair. The United States and our president must realize that we cannot continue to ask Israel to make concessions, while demanding none from the Palestinians. I applaud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s openness to direct talks with the Palestinians, but I fear that it will lead to nothing unless the Palestinians cease their disruptive actions and start talking in earnest.
The U.S. government believes that Iran could have a nuclear weapon by 2012. What options will you support to address Iran’s nuclear efforts?
Frelinghuysen: Iran, the world’s most active state sponsor of global terrorism, must not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons. I recognize that marrying a nuclear device with increasingly sophisticated missile technology imported from North Korea would present a grave threat to the security of the region and Europe.
I have been a consistent supporter of accelerated sanctions against the Iranian regime and those companies and nations that do business with Iran. A cosponsor of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act and other important legislation, I understand it is now critically important that new sanctions bills be implemented fully and aggressively by the Obama administration.
Herbert: The threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to global security is of the gravest nature. We need to continue to apply pressure through the United Nations and, if need be, through an embargo. We must never allow Iran to gain nuclear capabilities. We must invest the proper financial and military support into preventing it.
Unemployment in New Jersey has been hovering around 10 percent. What policies would you support to increase employment?
Frelinghuysen: I share the concern of the Jewish federation community regarding the persistently high unemployment rate in our area. “Official” unemployment hovers around 10 percent, and the “real” unemployment rate is closer to 17 percent. Three million people have lost their jobs since President Obama took office in 2009. Half of them have been out of work for a year.
Small business men and women are the job creators in our economy, and they have made it clear: They want government “to get out of their way!” But, they also say uncertainty surrounding looming tax hikes is making it impossible for them to invest in their businesses and create jobs.
It is clear to me that higher taxes won't get anybody hired. Raising taxes on job creators in a recession won't create jobs. That is why it is so important that Congress acts quickly to cut federal spending and freeze current tax rates in place and prevent major tax hikes in January.
I also understand that the federal government must provide a strong social safety net for Americans in poverty and for middle-class families. Indeed, I am proud of the record I have forged in Congress to support important programs that provide protection for vulnerable Americans. It has been a pleasure to work with the Jewish federation on many of the programs, including “Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities” (NORCs).
Herbert: Small businesses are the engine of our economic growth, and we must help them grow. I have proposed a three-point plan to allow them to gain access to the necessary resources: (1) I will fight to provide payroll tax credits for small businesses that hire and rehire Americans currently unemployed. (2) I will fight to expand government-guaranteed loan programs and credit lines to small businesses. As a small-business owner myself, I know that access to capital is a primary concern for many small business owners now. (3) Lastly, it is time that District 11 has a congressman who will support innovation and high-tech job creation. Through investments in research and a tax credit so that businesses can innovate, I will work to bring new, high-tech jobs to District 11.
Federal energy policy must take into account calls for energy independence, concerns about global climate change, environmental protection, and domestic energy production. Do you think an energy bill would be important at this time, and what provisions would you make the highest priority?
Frelinghuysen: Energy security is an important issue. In 1974 — our last “oil shock” — the United States imported less than 25 percent of its oil. Today, we import 70 percent at a cost of $700 billion a year. The majority of our foreign oil comes from unfriendly or unstable nations, nearly 70 percent.
We must find other sources of energy besides petroleum. America is simply too dependent on oil, particularly foreign oil. This dependence is not only an economic or environmental issue, it is a national security risk.
No source of energy, not oil, coal, nuclear, or electric, can be relied on absolutely. In order to provide security, both national and financial, we must diversify our supplies. If one underperforms or cannot meet its production requirements, the effect on the energy supply is not as severe.
Solutions will not come quickly. Now is the time to lay a foundation for energy independence. There are steps we can take as a nation to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, find cleaner energy sources, and make more sources renewable.
Herbert: Our nation should pursue a comprehensive energy strategy that includes increased efficiency as well as the development of green energy sources, such as solar and wind power and innovative biofuels. We have to invest in greening America. There is a green revolution coming, and if we do not meet this green revolution, it is going to be China that does.