Congressman MacArthur: Joint Military Base Is Vital to Region

Oct 12, 2016
Photo by: Ryan Morrill Congressman Tom MacArthur (NJ-3) speaks at a Barnegat-Waretown Chamber of Commerce meeting on Friday.

As a provider of more than 40,000 jobs, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is the largest employer in South Jersey and the second largest employer in New Jersey. And with the possibility of the joint base being scaled back or shut down, Congressman Tom MacArthur has said he “would do all he could do” to make sure the sprawling facility stays open.

“The base is absolutely essential, not only to the economy of our district, but to our national security,” said MacArthur, speaking at a recent meeting of the Barnegat-Waretown Chamber of Commerce.

The joint base is an amalgamation of McGuire Air Force Base, Army training base Fort Dix and the Naval Engineering Station in Lakehurst, which were all merged in 2009. It covers parts of Burlington and Ocean counties.

The 55-year-old Republican, who represents District 3, was first elected in 2014. Among his numerous assignments is the House Committee on Armed Services, where he is on the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, and is vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

“The base pumps in about $7 billion to our economy in South Jersey annually,” MacArthur said. “These are our restaurants and stores, and small businesses.”

“I think if the joint base were to close, we would have a mini-recession in South Jersey,” said chamber President Jerry Thompson in introducing MacArthur in the banquet room at Kristy’s Casual Dining in Waretown. “We’re glad that the congressman is fighting hard to keep it open.”

In his nearly two years in Washington, MacArthur said he has been troubled by the amount of regulations passed by various agencies, especially those that can hinder business growth.

“Just this year alone, there have been 80,000 pages of new regulations,” he said. “During the Obama administration, agencies have almost become the fourth branch of government, after the executive, judicial and legislative.”

An example would be the “Joint-Employer Rule,” in which he said companies can be held responsible for labor violations committed by their contractors.

“This could really hurt restaurant franchises,” said MacArthur, a former insurance industry executive. “Fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King might assert more authority over, or even cut ties altogether with, local franchise owners. Those restaurants employ a lot of people around here, and this rule might result in some of them shutting down.”

MacArthur will be seeking his second term on Nov. 8. He is opposed by Democrat Frederick Lavergne and Constitution Party candidate Lawrence Berlinskii Jr.

“I ran for Congress to work with Democrats and Republicans to solve the pressing problems we face, and to be a strong voice for the people of Burlington and Ocean counties,” he said.

— Eric Englund

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