“National security expert Andy Kim has spent his life serving our country and keeping our families safe. From fighting ISIS on President Obama’s National Security Council to working alongside General Petraeus in Afghanistan, Andy has delivered results for our nation and he will bring that same attitude and dedication to his community. Andy is running a strong campaign with growing momentum, and he is well positioned to win this fall.” –DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján
To: Interested Parties
From: Evan Lukaske, DCCC regional press secretary
Date: June 5, 2018
Re: The Case Against Tom MacArthur
Democrats are in strong position to flip New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. The general election pits national security official Andy Kim against self-serving multi-millionaire Congressman Tom MacArthur. Kim has a strong record of service to our country, working on President Obama’s National Security Council and in Afghanistan, advising our commanding generals. Conversely, MacArthur has spent his time in Congress looking out for himself, his rich donors and special interests. As the author of the health care repeal bill and as the only member of New Jersey’s delegation—Democrat or Republican—to vote for the GOP Tax Scam, MacArthur’s agenda has consistently inflicted pain on Garden State families. Worse, he’s repeatedly used that agenda to enrich himself.
The grassroots energy behind Kim and against MacArthur is palpable, as constituents have time and again confronted MacArthur over his disturbing and self-serving record. With Kim’s impressive profile and MacArthur’s damaging voting record, Democrats are in strong position to flip this winnable seat this fall.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“It didn’t help to learn that the Toms River Republican, one of the richest members of New Jersey’s delegation, was among the GOPers buying or selling stock in health care companies while working on this health care industry bill…most damaging is that it fits the prevailing impression that MacArthur, like Trump, is primarily out for himself.” [Star-Ledger, Editorial, 6/12/17]
“MacArthur put the House’s cruel American Health Care Act back on track last week by making a deal with the hard-right Freedom Caucus. Without their votes, the plan rightly failed in March. Now it has a greater chance of life than many Americans will if it passes.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, Editorial, 5/2/17]
HEADLINE: Ex-Obama Aide Challenges Congressman Who Revived Health Bill [AP, 6/19/2017]
“In New Jersey, the MacArthur-Kim matchup is emerging as one of the best bellwethers in the country for which party holds the political edge on health care. An April poll, commissioned by an outside House Democratic super PAC, found MacArthur only leading Kim by a point, 42-41 percent. [National Journal, 5/20/18]
“A recent Monmouth poll showed that only 35 percent of New Jerseyans approve of the GOP tax law, and only 19 percent believe their taxes will go down because of it. That probably explains why MacArthur’s approval rating has cratered to 33 percent and why his race against Democrat Andy Kim is now a dead heat.” [Star-Ledger, Editorial, 5/1/18]
REP. TOM MACARTHUR: OUT FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS, DONORS, AND HIMSELF
Only NJ Congressman to vote for Tax Scam
MacArthur was the only New Jersey member of Congress—from either party—to vote for the Republican Tax Scam, a massive giveaway to big corporations and the rich. The Tax Scam hurts New Jersey more than any other state in the country and a key cause of the financial pain is the capping of the state and local tax deduction, a major tax break that saves Garden State families thousands of dollars per year. 45% of filers in NJ-03 claim the SALT deduction, one of the highest percentages out of any district in the country.
On the trail, MacArthur will have to explain to voters why 83% of the tax cuts go to the wealthiest one percent, why big corporations deserve larger tax cuts than middle-class families, why companies that have announced over $450 billion in stock buybacks are simultaneously laying off workers, and why he voted to blow a $1.9 trillion hole in the deficit. Speaker Ryan may be retiring, but not before making a clear, problematic declaration that Republicans like MacArthur will have to address: Republicans intend to use the deficit hole they created to slash Medicare and Social Security.
An April Monmouth poll found that voters in GOP-held House districts in New Jersey have a decidedly negative view of the GOP Tax Scam, with 46% of residents disapproving to 42% approving. 47% expected their federal taxes to go up.
Author of Health Care Repeal
After the Republicans’ first attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, MacArthur spent April recess vacationing at his beach house and coming up with a scheme to revive the repeal effort. The resulting legislation—the MacArthur Amendment—was designed to appeal to furthest right fringe of the Republican Party and was more extreme than the original failed effort.
MacArthur’s health care repeal bill would have gutted pre-existing condition protections, imposed an age tax, increased deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, and done nothing to lower the price of prescription drugs. Had the bill passed, MacArthur’s vote would have resulted in nearly 30,000 of his constituents losing their health care coverage.
Even though his bill ultimately failed in the Senate, MacArthur did succeed in causing massive spikes in New Jersey health care premiums. Directly citing uncertainty in health care markets due to the Republican effort to repeal the ACA, New Jersey’s largest health insurer hiked premium rates an average of 24% for 2018.
Unfortunately, the damage is just getting started. The Congressional Budget Office released a report this May showing that health insurance premiums will rise about 15% nationwide next year, largely due to the actions of Congressional Republicans and President Trump.
Padding his own pocket
Republicans have spent the lion’s share of their political capital on two high-profile pieces of legislation—the health care repeal bill and the Tax Scam. Tom MacArthur tried to make a quick buck off both of them. In the period preceding each piece of legislation, MacArthur bought hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in companies that stood to directly benefit from the new laws.
First, prior to authoring the Republican health care repeal bill, MacArthur purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock in health care companies that would have received massive tax breaks. At the time, an ethics watchdog said MacArthur’s actions “raised red flags” and that “it’s always concerning to see lawmakers explicitly participating in the marketplace while simultaneously making policy choices that could impact those markets.”
Next, MacArthur “bought thousands of dollars’ worth of securities in gas and oil companies weeks before he voted in favor of a tax bill that would give companies in the industry a direct, one-time tax break worth up to $25 billion.” The investments included stock in Chevron, which received a tax benefit of more than $2 billion from the Tax Scam.
The fact that multi-millionaire MacArthur has (at least) twice used his position inside the halls of Congress to try to enrich himself is sure to be an issue in the campaign.
THE PATH TO VICTORY
New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District is a highly suburban district that stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the Jersey Shore. The top of the 2018 ticket, Senator Robert Menendez, carried the district in 2012, and President Obama won the district in both of his presidential runs.
National security official Andy Kim puts Democrats in a strong position to flip this seat. Kim served two years as President Obama’s director for Iraq in the White House National Security Council, and served in Afghanistan as strategic adviser to Generals David Petraeus and John Allen during their tenures as commanding generals. Kim’s foreign policy experience will cut across ideological lines and resonate in a district with a large military presence. Notably, MacArthur’s attempt to attack Kim’s resume failed so miserably that a reporter had to ask a political scientist if the “backfire” would hurt MacArthur’s chances in November.
Kim’s impressive network has enabled him to become an excellent fundraiser. After the first quarter of 2018, Kim had nearly $1 million cash on hand. Importantly, with no primary opposition, Kim was able to save his resources for the general election.
Polling has shown a tight race. An April PPP poll found Kim in a statistical dead heat with MacArthur, whose job approval was underwater at 33% approve to 38% disapprove.