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Vol. LXIV, No. 8
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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U.S. Congressional Hopeful Sipprelle Shares His Vision, Plan for Renewal

Dilshanie Perera

Princeton resident Scott Sipprelle announced his candidacy for the 12th Congressional District last month, and opened up his campaign office on Alexander Road last week.

A first-time political contender running for the Republican nomination and incumbent Rush Holt’s seat, Mr. Sipprelle has a specific plan for addressing the nation’s economic woes, which he calls the “Blueprint for Renewal.”

The major tenets of the plan are related to “job creation, debt and government spending, tax reform, systemic reform, reforming Wall Street, and solving our healthcare problem,” Mr. Sipprelle said.

A previous career on Wall Street working in the financial services industry informs Mr. Sipprelle’s thinking about the nature of economic practice, and the relationship between the government and the private sector.

“I’m from a family that always discussed and debated politics. My parents have actually run the local Republican organization here,” Mr. Sipprelle explained, referring to Linda and Dudley Sipprelle, who are also longtime residents of the town. “I am one of four boys, and we always debated, discussed, argued politics, public policy around the dinner table. There’s a little bit of that in my blood.”

After an internship with then Senator Pete Wilson during his junior year in college, Mr. Sipprelle was inspired to get involved in the political arena, and on advice from Mr. Wilson, decided to seek some “real world experience first,” and became involved in business, later founding his own investment firm after his tenure at Morgan Stanley.

Mr. Sipprelle’s current engagement with politics emerges from a “public service instinct,” as well as frustration about current economic policies. “We’re in awful shape financially, and it’s the result of reckless decisions over many years. and we need to begin to repair that. I think people who have my kind of experience as problem solvers, as job creators, as people who understand what it takes to grow the private sector, are in demand. We have plenty of lawyers in Congress. We need more businessmen.”

Each of Mr. Sipprelle’s target areas for renewal involve a set of proposals. In the case of job creation, he advocated a zero-percent capital gains tax to “encourage America’s capital to invest in America,” and spur the immediate creation of jobs.

Emphasis on education is a corollary, with Mr. Sipprelle saying that “We have an archaic educational finance system … I think we should actually incentivize new kinds of learning. Why are we just funding the state university? Why not fund vocational schools? Why not create more charter schools? Why not create more choice? We need to create more of a free market in education; that’s part of the jobs problem.”

Freezing federal spending, spurring opportunities for investment by businesses, and instating a flat tax code of 20 percent, “with a large individual deduction, so if you’re a low-income taxpayer, or a middle income taxpayer, you would not pay more under my flat tax,” are also part of Mr. Sipprelle’s plan, which he envisioned would make the entire process of filing and calculating taxes much more straightforward.

“I think Congress is dysfunctional, and it needs to be reformed,” Mr. Sipprelle said. “The longer you serve in Congress, the worse you become. You just become removed and detached from reality. So my proposal starts with term limits, hard term limits for new legislators, and a bit of a grandfather clause, one additional term for congressman and senators, and then they’ve got to leave. That’s the ideal of our founders, the citizen-legislators who come from ordinary walks of life.”

“I’m not going to Congress to win a popularity contest. My plan is to be aligned with the American public and not to be aligned with Congress. The concept of building alliances and being popular in Congress is working against the common good,” Mr. Sipprelle reasoned. “My allegiances will not be to some party dogma if it doesn’t serve the people of this district and the people of America …. I will be a wrecking ball if necessary to get that done.”

Making the healthcare system more efficient is another key item in Mr. Sipprelle’s plan, which he suggested can be achieved by allowing buyers to exercise free choice, and also utilizing existing technology to smooth the process.

When questioned about social issues, like the abortion debate, Mr. Sipprelle paused to note that such topics are not the crucial items on the agenda right now. “If we don’t fix the financial problems in this country, it will overwhelm everything else. The reason I’m running is to address the financial issues,” he noted.

Nonetheless, “I have said I’m personally opposed to abortion,” he remarked. “I’m not in favor of the federal funding of abortions, and I’m not in favor of partial birth of late term abortions … but I haven’t gotten to the point where I would outlaw abortion.”

While some political candidates have written memoirs about their experiences, Mr. Sipprelle has written a recently published novel called The Golden Dog, a fictional tale about “a young man from the midwest who grows up with great ideals, and a great fascination for New York, as this epicenter of American capitalism.” Acquiring a job in New York, the man “begins to have his eyes opened to the good and the evil, the things that work and the things that don’t work,” he added, calling the novel a “story of the man wrestling with his own conscience, about what he sees there and what he needs to stay pure to his own ideals.”

The writing was acknowledged as a “bit of a catharsis” by Mr. Sipprelle, who called Wall Street a “laboratory for human behavior” where personalities can be enlarged. “It was the story that was welling up inside of me.”

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