Rep. Scott Garrett (R) of New Jersey's 5th congressional district said he decided to run for Congress when he realized “Washington was getting in the way” of what he and his fellow state legislators were trying to do.
“Our Constitution has certain enumerated and limited powers that they put on the federal government, and it’s always my admonition when I’m down in Washington to ask this question ... ‘do I have the constitutional right to actually be doing these things and expanding the powers of the federal government,’” he said.
The New Jersey College Republicans held their annual convention last Saturday at the Wood Lawn Mansion on Douglass campus. The convention featured talks by a number of prominent New Jersey Republicans, including Garrett, Rep. Leonard Lance of the 7th district and State Sen. Michael Doherty of the 23rd district.
Ron Filan and Tom Szymanski, both previously chairmen of the New Jersey College Republicans, also delivered talks at the event.
Garrett, who said he was voted “most radical” of his high school senior class, represented New Jersey’s 5th legislative district since 2002. He is the longest serving member of the Congressional Committee on the Budget.
“If it’s on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, it goes through our committee,” he said. “It’s a very neat committee to be on because all the members of the cabinet come before you ... so you get a great insight into how government works.”
The committee is also one that can be used to advocate for rollbacks and restrictions on the growth of the federal government, Garrett said.
Cabinet members and legislators in the nation’s capital are not always aware of the needs of the states they preside over, Garrett said.
“If you have absolutely no idea what our roads are like or what our transportation needs are like, why is it that you’re controlling and dictating to us what we’re doing on our roads and bridges and highways in our states?” he asked. "Shouldn’t it be left to the people back in New Jersey to make the decisions on this?”
Garrett also warned of the possibility of a coming financial calamity stemming from the trends of certain industries.
“What’s that expression? ‘Be afraid, be very afraid.’ We got through the last crisis of '08, and it caused devastation across the economy, (in) this country and across the globe as well,” he said. “That’s when things were relatively good, where the financial markets were okay. Now where are we? Now we have seen a consolidation in the financial markets.”
Few banks have been created since 2008. In 2015, CNN reported there have been only three new banking institutions created since 2010.
By using loans with interest rates close to zero, banks have been able to buy up their competitors, creating a consolidation in the banking industry and stopping start-ups in their tracks, Garrett said.
Lance, the other congressman present, spoke to the roughly 40 College Republicans present about the year’s coming elections and the changes the winners could bring.
“The question is where will we proceed in this year. This year of (campaigning), this year (is what) will determine the presidency, will determine both houses of the federal congress, will determine — in my judgement — the Supreme Court of the United States as well,” Lance said.
The current vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the ages of some of the sitting justices, will provide the next president a great amount of power over the court, he said.
“In my estimate, the next president will get to appoint two or three justices to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Lance said. “Fundamentally this country will be changed if the new president is a Democratic president with the ability to appoint liberal justices who tend not to interpret the Constitution but try to be super-legislators.”
Nikita Biryukov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikitabiryukov_ for more.