Chris Smith irresponsibly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act numerous times when it didn’t matter, but voted against repeal when it counted. He crossed party lines to vote against HR 1, the Republican tax plan that would raise taxable income on New Jersey residents with changes to State and Local Tax Deductions, and hurt millions with the future cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid it will require.
These votes were the right thing to do. Voting against the wishes of party leadership must mean that Smith’s beliefs on these issues were deeply held and the consequences for his constituents severe. However, the votes alone are not enough. The ACA repeal survived the house, and the tax bill may yet become law. If Smith was serious about protecting New Jersey residents from the effects of these bills, he would have done more to persuade other members of his party and the public.
Aside from a press release/social media post, there was no public presence from Smith during the ACA repeal or tax debate. Shouldn’t Smith have been on the airwaves detailing his just concerns about the 500,000 New Jersey residents who would lose healthcare coverage if the ACA were repealed? Weren’t they worth a little more effort? A Republican from a higher tax state is exactly the type of person news outlets were looking to interview during this tax debate. Where was Smith on television advocating for his constituents whose taxable income would increase with changes to SALT? How was he protecting those who rely on Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid?
While Smith should be credited for doing what is right for his district, his effort doesn’t represent someone overly concerned with the outcome. If these issues were important enough to vote against party, then they were important enough to fight for publicly. A 36-year congressman should have plenty of clout and confidence to lead, and when it comes to protecting New Jersey residents, Smith seems content with a face-saving vote while letting his party do damage to his constituents.
New Jersey and the residents of the fourth congressional district deserve an advocate who is truly willing to fight for their best interests. They deserve better than Chris Smith.
This letter also appeared in the Trentonian.