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Can Americans still have a sensible and friendly political discussion across the partisan divide? The answer is yes, and we intend to prove it. i">>Julie Roginsky, a Democrat, andi">> Mike DuHaime, a Republican, are consultants who have worked on opposite teams for their entire careers yet have remained friends throughout. Here, they discuss the week’s events editorial page editor i">>Tom Moran.

Q. In a White House meeting Tuesday, President Biden told Rep. Josh Gottheimer that the plan to restore the full SALT deduction, for state and local taxes, would be dropped from the reconciliation bill. But, Politico reports, Sen. Charles Schumer then called the White House, and the fate of the SALT deduction remains unclear. This doesn’t look good, does it?

Mike: A huge portion of the Democratic caucus in the House comes from states disproportionately impacted negatively by the elimination of the SALT deduction – New Jersey, New York, California, Maryland, Illinois and others. More importantly, the Majority Leader of the Senate and the House Speaker come from states where their constituents want this deduction.

Julie: That’s exactly right. Reinstating SALT would provide tax relief to nearly one-third of the state’s households. Every member of this delegation, on both sides of the aisle, knows this. And if SALT is included in this legislation, I would hope that Reps. Smith and Van Drew, the Republicans members of the House, seriously consider supporting tax relief for their constituents.

Mike: Conversely, if Democrats vote for all this new spending and taxes without SALT deductions reinstated, it will hurt them with many constituents.

Q. Sen. Robert Menendez says he will oppose a House bill to reduce drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices, a measure championed for years by Rep. Frank Pallone. The GAO says the bill would save nearly $500 million, money Pallone would use to expand Medicare coverage to include dental, hearing, and eyesight. How do you see this one playing out?

Mike: Sen. Menendez made strong points that this proposal helps the government, not individual citizens, and hurts an industry that’s important to New Jersey and has been life-saving to the entire world during COVID.

Julie: I would agree that the pharmaceutical industry is crucial to the state but let’s not forget that a huge amount of our taxpayer dollars go to develop these life-saving drugs. Taxpayers spent more than $9 billion to develop the COVID vaccine and billions more to develop delivery systems for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Rep. Pallone has been a champion of lowering healthcare costs for Americans for the many decades he has been in Washington.

It’s unacceptable that Americans pay nearly 3x more than people in other countries for the same prescription drugs! We have the opportunity to finally rein in Rx prices, and I’m going to fight hard to get it done. https://t.co/VstMAJKP5y

— Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) August 22, 2021

Q. Gov. Phil Murphy says that for now, he will continue allowing teachers and state workers to weekly take Covid tests in place of vaccinations, an escape clause that New York City is now permitting. Is the governor slow walking this

? Is the election a consideration? Does it put people at greater risk?

Mike: It doesn’t look good. We all know that by the time someone gets a positive test, they’ve been contagious for days.

Julie: Weekly COVID tests don’t work. If you test before work on a Monday morning and get COVID at work on a Monday afternoon, you will have infected many others before you re-test again. That’s why we don’t allow weekly testing for the measles in schools. Remember a few years ago, when almost everyone but Jenny McCarthy thought vaccines should be mandated? What happened to that generally accepted scientific consensus? Mandatory vaccination should not be controversial.

Mike: Who could have predicted the new McCarthy-ism would come from Jenny?

Q. Jack Ciattarelli, the GOP candidate for governor, has repeatedly said he opposes vaccine mandates, but he now says he supports Murphy’s mandate for teachers and state workers because of that testing option. They say with that testing option, it’s not really a “mandate.” Is this a response to polls showing Murphy crushing him on the pandemic issue by a 2-1 margin?

Mike: Ciattarelli isn’t backtracking. Jack is smartly pointing out the hypocrisy of Murphy having mandates for seemingly everyone but the powerful union that endorsed him. Ciattarelli is the one being consistent here. He’s opposed to mandates, and his point is what Murphy is doing with teachers isn’t a mandate, therefore out of step with what he professes to believe.

Julie: Well, Ciattarelli is right that it isn’t a mandate. A mandate would be to require everyone to be vaccinated, which is what I would support.

See full coverage, photos and video collage of @Jack4NJ's visit to Lakewoodhttps://t.co/p2U3MyVeHc

— Lakewood News Network (@LakewoodNewsNet) October 22, 2021

Q. In Virginia, the only other state having an election for governor this year, a huge enthusiasm gap has emerged in what is now a tie race, with 49 percent of Republicans and just 26 percent of Democrats say they are enthusiastic about their choice, according to a fresh Monmouth poll. Do you see any sign of that in New Jersey?

Mike: It’s a good sign for Jack in New Jersey, too. Mostly, this is a reflection of the national mood. Biden’s numbers are dropping in all states. Also, Democrats just won everything – White House, Senate, House – so there is a natural complacency within their ranks. On the flip side, Republicans are energized after a loss. This scenario played out in 2009 as well, a very similar election with a GOP challenger against a Democratic incumbent a year after Democrats won everything back. Obviously, the registration gap in favor of Democrats is much greater in NJ than VA, but the national dynamics could impact each race.

Julie: There is genuine concern about voter turnout among Democrats. Murphy will win because there are more than one million more Democrats than Republicans in the state, even if many of them are not motivated to vote this year.

VIRGINIA POLL: Voter engagement metrics show widening partisan gap.

MOTIVATED TO VOTE:

REP: 79% (75% in August)

DEM: 72% (76%)

MORE ENTHUSIASTIC THAN PAST #VAGOV ELECTIONS:

REP: 49% (34% in August)

DEM: 26% (21%)https://t.co/OMsesEGWbu pic.twitter.com/WIbVx1K5zP

— MonmouthPoll (@MonmouthPoll) October 20, 2021

Q. Finally, Bridget Kelly,

the former aide to Chris Christie who sent the infamous “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email, is running for county clerk in Bergen County, a Republican in a county dominated by Democrats. I’m curious to see if her role in the Bridgegate scandal hurts her or gins up a sympathy vote for those who felt she took more than her share of the blame. What do you expect?

Mike: With all the public policy stories going on in America in 2020 and 2021 – COVID, a new president, Afghanistan withdrawal, election mistrust, Trump, Biden, a governor’s race in New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo resigning, a new mayor coming in New York City – I just don’t think people in Bergen County care very much about a county clerk’s race and whether it was impacted by something that happened eight years ago.

Julie: Bridget Kelly was treated reprehensibly by the very people for whom she worked relentlessly. There is no question whatsoever that she was exposed to disgusting sexist tropes in the taxpayer-funded Mastro Report. No man, including the two who were charged in the Bridgegate case alongside her, had to suffer from that kind of sexism. Without ever interviewing her or her ex-boyfriend, Randy Mastro somehow concluded that Kelly, an accomplished, professional woman in her 40s, decided to shut down a bridge to impress a guy who had dumped her. I’ve read Sweet Valley High books that were more evolved.

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Source : https://www.nj.com/opinion/2021/10/friendly-fire-mandates-for-teachers-salt-and-the-bridgegate-candidate.html

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