Rosemary Becchi believes that she can be an independent voice in Washington for the 11th District to fight for tax relief and get the economy moving, foster bipartisanism and help bring manufacturing back to the United States.
“What people are most worried about is the economy,” Becchi told The Jewish Link in a phone interview.
That is especially true in New Jersey where the impact of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown is decimating small-businesses owners, said Becchi, the Republican challenger to Rep. Mikie Sherrill in a district that includes parts of Essex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties.
Sherrill defeated former Rep. Jay Webber in the traditionally Republican-leaning district in 2018.
“We thought this pandemic would be short-lived and it hasn’t been,” said Becchi.
“This is not sustainable.”
To help small businesses that have taken a hit, she would work to modify and extend the federal loan program for small businesses, make the tax rate on small businesses permanent, provide liability protection for those businesses with COVID-related claims and institute a payroll tax holiday.
“We have the ability to help these businesses survive and grow,” said Becchi. “I just think it will take somebody to roll up their sleeves and work in a bipartisan way.”
Becchi is a former IRS attorney and advisor and a majority staff tax counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee where she co-authored the 529 college saving plans. She would like to now see those 529 savings plans expanded to cover homeschooling costs resulting from the COVID outbreak.
Among her other positions, she was vice president of federal government relations for Citigroup and Fidelity Investments, where she established the firm’s government relations office. She is currently a tax-policy lawyer and consultant.
“I’m talking to a lot of small-business owners in the community to come up with ideas to get our businesses working again,” said Becchi, noting that many businesses have spent “enormous” sums of money to redesign their establishments to meet safety protocols, but even with those in place customers are wary of returning.
Noting that the state has seen jobs leave at a record rate, Becchi said she would also “incentivize” investment in American manufacturing equipment and crumbling infrastructure and bring back jobs like pharmaceutical production from China.
“We need to bring back manufacturing to this country and hopefully New Jersey, especially the healthcare industry,” said Becchi.
She also expressed concern about the rising hate in the country, adding “all this anti-Semitism honestly is making me crazy.”
“We have to do more to stand up to anti-Semitism and all the extremism that’s occurring,” she said.
She is concerned that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is continuing “to gain steam” in the U.S., claiming “the Democrats kind of allowed it to happen because some very prominent members support it.”
The resolution condemning the BDS movement passed Congress last year by a 398-17 vote, with 16 Democrats voting in opposition. Sherill was not among them.
“There are radical groups out there trying to create fear and they should be condemning it,” said Becchi. “I don’t think this is a partisan issue. Quite the contrary, I think this is a moral issue.”
Becchi said she is particularly sensitive to bullying because she has a daughter on the spectrum.
“When your child is experiencing bullying because they are different, that is not acceptable,” she explained. “When I think about all the bullying that goes on, including anti-Semitism, we have to stand up and say ‘no.’”
Becchi said she supports President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement reached with Iran in 2015 during the presidency of Barack Obama, which was intended to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United Nations, U.S. and European Union.
“We have to continue to reaffirm our support and stand strong for Israel, which is truly our closest ally,” said Becchi. “We have to really push back on the BDS movement and stand up to it. It’s a little bit frustrating to me how this became partisan when it should be bipartisan.”
Becchi said she believes her chance of winning back the seat for Republicans is good because Sherrill has disappointed constituents. Becchi said her opponent doesn’t represent the values of the 11th District and there is fear that runaway spending under a Democratic administration will hinder residents from getting back on their feet post-pandemic.
“[Sherrill] told everybody she was going to Washington to be a different kind of Democrat and she hasn’t done that,” she said. “She hasn’t been that independent voice and I want to go to Washington to be the voice of this district. People here are very concerned about jobs, the economy, safety and security. They look at New York City and they don’t want to be that.”
By Debra Rubin