Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Christie's Broken Record

So far, the political discussion revolving around Chris Christie's diminishing prospects for 2016 have centered on the George Washington Bridge scandal, (and the laughable investigation by his own attorney), and the not-yet-vetted story about Sandy aid being withheld from less-than-enthusiastic supporters of the governor. These are certainly key issues that tell us a great deal about Christie's style and demeanor, but even without them, he simply doesn't have a record that would support a national run.

There's no New Jersey Miracle, no New Jersey Rebound, and no New Jersey Bounce (OK, there's one of those, but it's unrelated to economics and politics). The governor hasn't led New Jersey into a new ideological paradigm, nor has he provided a new framework by which the state operates. Democrats still outnumber Republicans. His 2013 coattails were, shall we say, a bit short when it came to counting legislative seats. His Supreme Court nominees have been rebuffed.

And this guy wants to be president?

About all he can run on is a state worker's pension and benefits bill that is providing little relief to anyone. Middle class public workers are being whacked because more money is coming out of their checks for pensions and health insurance (which should have been negotiated, not imposed), and property taxes remain stubbornly high (remember that these taxes were supposed to go down as a result of the pensions bill). The result is that the governor took spendable money out of the economy at a time when he should have been putting more money into the economy to create jobs. What we have in  New Jersey now is slow growth, a deteriorating middle class and a governor who wants to have public workers pay even more into their pensions. What about millionaires, you ask? He won't touch their taxes.

Funny side note: Christie is seen as a moderate Republican. You can stop laughing now.

Christie's latest economic gambit is to renege on his mandated duty to make full payments to the public worker pension system. That would put it in serious jeopardy and would negate a promise that the courts have ruled to be essentially non-negotiable. He'll lose this argument and more credibility because the Democrats in the legislature will not cave in to him as they did in 2011 and the crossover vote that earned him his victory in November is abandoning him. Conservative Republicans in NJ still back him, but that's not nearly a majority of the voters.

My sense is that the governor will survive the scandals. The larger question is whether New Jersey can survive him.

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