Burlington County Times

MacArthur Skips Fundraiser With House Speaker Paul Ryan

Burlington County Times — October 19, 2018

By David Levinsky

House Speaker Paul Ryan was the guest of honor Wednesday evening at a private fundraiser benefiting the re-election campaign of Rep. Tom MacArthur, whose 3rd Congressional District race against Democrat Andy Kim is considered among the most competitive in the nation.

But while the retiring Republican leader sang MacArthur's praises, describing the former business leader as a "class act" and "one of the best we have in Congress," MacArthur himself was not present to hear Ryan's compliments.

He was miles away participating in the annual LeisureTowne candidates forum in Southampton with Kim and 11 other candidates vying for federal, county and local offices.

Ryan, whose appearance for MacArthur was part of a multi-state tour to stump for Republican candidates in competitive districts, told supporters at the fundraiser that MacArthur was a valued member of a small inner circle of GOP members who meet with him weekly to discuss the most pressing issues and legislation.

"We have 12 Republicans who represent a cross-section of our party and country who meet for lunch every single week to discuss all the issues before Congress and how we come together as a team to forge consensus to address an issue," Ryan said at the event. "So that's 12 people that meet weekly to basically help run Congress. Tom MacArthur is one of those twelve."

The event was a private fundraiser, but video of Ryan's remarks surfaced on social media on Thursday.

In his speech, Ryan touted MacArthur's business background and his willingness to serve in Congress, as well as his work helping to draft some of the party's most important pieces of legislation.

He cited the party's Dodd-Frank rollback, which lifted many of the federal government's strict banking and investment rules put in place in 2010 to guard against another Wall Street meltdown. The rollback mostly eased restrictions on small and medium-sized banks but also exempted some larger institutions from some of the toughest restrictions.

"It was making it really hard for businesses to get capital. Well, Tom MacArthur and a few others rewrote that law and repealed Dodd-Frank for our community banks and repealed Dodd-Frank for our financial institutions so more startup businesses, more small businesses, could get credit much easier so we could have faster economic growth," he said. "And because of the policies we have put in place over the last year, the deregulation, the tax reform, things that rebuild our military, we are far safer and we are more prosperous as a result."

MacArthur's opponent, Kim, who paid a surprise visit to the Golden Dawn Diner in Edgewater Park with former Vice President Joe Biden earlier in the week, responded by holding a so-called "retirement party" for both Ryan and MacArthur with volunteers at his campaign headquarters in Mount Laurel and blasted the two Republicans for their roles writing the GOP's failed health care bill and federal tax overhaul that capped the state and local taxes deduction claimed by many New Jersey taxpayers.

"Congressman MacArthur and Speaker Ryan have spent their time in Congress trying to take away health care from Americans and ripping the rug out from under New Jersey families to give a tax handout to corporate donors and special interests," Kim campaign spokesman Forrest Rilling said in a statement. "Congressman MacArthur has voted with Speaker Ryan 94 percent of the time, including voting to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, impose what AARP called an 'Age Tax' on older Americans, and take away New Jersey families' ability to fully deduct their state and local tax deductions. Given MacArthur's habit of following Speaker Ryan in lock-step, we think he should continue to follow the Speaker into retirement."

Ryan is the latest GOP leader to headline fundraisers for MacArthur's re-election. President Donald Trump also helped raise money for the incumbent last year at his golf club in Bedminster and Vice President Mike Pence and White House advisor Kellyanne Conway also have featured at MacArthur events.

Liberal advocacy group New Jersey Citizen Action said their support would not be enough to keep MacArthur in office.

"It's not surprising that Tom MacArthur would be so desperate to bring Paul Ryan, the architect of the Republican tax disaster that is burdening our families every day, to try and save his seat to maintain power," said Ann Vardeman, program director for New Jersey Citizen Action. "The fact is that Tom MacArthur consistently voted against the interests of New Jersey families on health care and taxes and a vote for Tom MacArthur is a vote for Donald Trump and Paul Ryan."

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