Who Is Jeff Bell Again?


Filed Under Latest News on Aug 29 

Jeff Bell is a veteran of politics and the think-tank circuit. And it just might be that this fall, people will actually know who Jeff Bell is. Last June, he won a four-way primary for the GOP in New Jersey and just lately, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP’s all-things-elections organization in the senate, has begun running attack ads against New Jersey Democratic Senator Corey Booker, Bell’s formidable opponent who holds the New Jersey Senate seat. Have they rolled out the red carpet for Jeff Bell? Hardly, but it is worth remembering who he is and what he has done.

After working on Reagan’s national campaign staff in 1976, he was a Reagan delegate for New Jersey in 1980. But in between, in 1978 he won an upset in the primary for the GOP Senate seat in New Jersey. He did it by anticipating the Reagan tax cuts of 1981 on the same day in June of 1978 that Proposition 13 passed in California. He lost the election back then, but 36 years later is surely hoping that his luck will change. What is he running on? He criticizes quantitative easing as a Wall Street bailout that has left middle class America in decline. It’s a bold strategy that he’s outlined in pieces for the Weekly Standard, and it puts him at odds with some in his own party. But he earned his place in the GOP a long time ago, and now he might have an outside chance to collect some dividends on all the years he’s put in as an advocate for monetary discipline, even a return to the gold standard.

To even mention the gold standard today is to put yourself at odds with the overwhelming consensus on monetary policy within the halls of the Fed, or other major central banks around the world. Quantitative easing is seen as a successful strategy that saved America, and the world, from depression. Perhaps it did save the financial system from a freeze-up that would have turned the crisis into something much worse; but the question remains as to whether it went on too long and whether central banks around the world are now addicted to easy money. At some point there will be inflation – how much is hard to say as the competitive pressures of global marketplaces help contain price pressures. According to some measures, inflation is already here. And it may be that Jeff Bell is at least partially right and his stance on Wall Street will not hurt him with average voters. It may be that the media is swooning over Booker, but Jeff Bell may be able to mount a better campaign than most expect. And even if he doesn’t win this election, he might turn out to be right in the longer run.