Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Chris Christie – weighing down New Jersey

The word on the street is that New Jersey’s corpulent crown prince – Republican governor Chris Christie – is eying a run for the White House in 2016.

Hopefully, if he ever does, people will remember what a thoroughly disgraceful job he’s been doing running New Jersey.

This is the man who ran on a campaign of fiscal responsibility – lambasting Democratic incumbent John Corzine for wasteful spending while in the gubernatorial chair.

Yet how has Christie himself behaved?
  • He’s surrounded himself with a larger administration than former governor Jon Corzine, costing the New Jersey taxpayer $440,000 more per year (while he’s simultaneously demanded cuts in every other government department.)
  • And although a millionaire like former governor Corzine, Chris Christie is pocketing the $175,000 salary that Jon Corzine refused to.
In terms of policies, Christie has talked tough about cutting taxes and cutting spending, all in an effort to reduce the state’s $11 billion deficit. Yet how has he fared?
  • He shed 1,300 government jobs and cut $820 million from New Jersey’s schools.
  • Simultaneously, he negated all those savings by allowing a tax bill to expire which would give New Jersey’s richest 2% a billion dollar tax cut.
In perhaps his biggest blunder so far, Chris Christie’s administration bungled paperwork which would have given NJ schools almost half a billion dollars in federal funding.

His response?
“I’m taking responsibility. You want to take shots? Take shots at me.”
Yet as soon as the news cameras start rolling, where does Chris Christie pass the buck?
"This is stuff the Obama administration should answer for. When President Obama comes back to New Jersey, he's going to have to explain to the people of New Jersey why he's depriving them of $400 million.”
Similarly, he stood firm in support of his team - to a point.
“Am I happy about it? Of course not – but I’m not gonna fire somebody over this.”
Yet a few days later, he did exactly that – canning State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler for ‘misleading him’ about the cause of the blunder.

Yet if Christie was really looking to find who was responsible for screwing up, he need only look in a mirror. Just days before the paperwork was due to the federal government, it had been completed – correctly – with the support of the New Jersey Education Association.

But the day the paperwork was due to be submitted, Christie’s administration scrapped the completed paperwork (which would have won the federal funding) and instead submitted a version that he claimed was not “compromised to achieve a contrived consensus among various affected special interest groups.”

It was also not “compromised” by the inclusion of the correct information, hence New Jersey loosing out on the funding.

If Christie’s administration hadn’t attempted a last-minute bait-and-switch, and submitted the previously agreed-upon application, this debacle would never have happened and our schools would be $400 million richer because of it.

"New Jerseyans deserve an honest accounting from Gov. Christie about what truly happened with this costly error," State Assembly speaker Sheila Oliver demanded. So far, she's still waiting.

Chris Christie: Larger than Life. Larger than a lot of things, actually...

In his short tenure in office, Chris Christie has demonstrated complete hypocrisy, total incompetence and a resolute failure to take responsibility for anything.

The fact that he’s considered one of the ‘up and coming’ stars of the modern Republican Party - and a viable presidential candidate - reflects very badly on the GOP. They'd be best advised to do what I hope New Jersey will in 2013 - ditch this dead weight and find a competent candidate instead.


Tom said...

Corzine was the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. He managed to make $500M when that company went public - that doesn't include the salary he drew.

Christie has about a million dollars in stocks and bonds, and about half that in mortage debt. He might have a net worth of a million dollars - but that's a couple of orders of magnitude less than Corzine had. It's especially not a huge amount when you realize he'll have to put four kids through college. So I wouldn't begrudge him a salary.

(Unlike the blog post, I'll source my comments: Christie's Financial Disclosure)

Christie's payroll is $8.86M, or $8.69M not including himself. Corzine's was $8.43M, not including himself. So the increase was 3%, which isn't a terribly huge amount.


You need to put that in perspective: Christie managed to eliminate a couple of billion dollars of spending. (source)

If someone saved you a two thousand dollars, wouldn't you pay him a couple of dollars for his services?

Re: The top 2% it makes sense to cut their taxes if it means it keeps them from leaving. And that's the problem - over 4 years, 70B of wealth left the state (source).

It's also fundamentally the point of the exercise: what's the point of cutting the government if you can't give the cuts back to the people.

More later, maybe.

Roland Hulme said...

Wow! That article about the 70 billion leaving the state in inarguable, I'll give you that. Anecdotally, it's also something Mummy Militant's wealthy siblings frequently discuss doing.

That being said - we're in the middle of a recession. I'd have been much more willing to swallow the 1,300 job cuts (which equal lost tax revenue AND lost spending. The middle class spend more than the rich) if the top 2% didn't get a tax break RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT. I don't expect them to pay any more - but it was inopportune. It's difficult to justify while simultaneously putting THOUSANDS on unemployment, during one of the periods of highest joblessness in recent record.

Something needs to be done about Jersey's ridiculous taxation - but Christie's been cavalier and careless in how he's handled it.

Tom said...

The thing is, government workers are a net drain on the economy. Say people pay 10% of their income in taxes. And (just to make the math easy) everyone gets a 100k salary. That one employee take the entire tax revenue from 10 people - themselves, and 9 other people.

When you get rid of them, you free up quite a bit of revenue that can be put to other purposes - like trying to stimulate the economy.

Now, how do tax cuts stimulate the economy? Well, realize that we don't tax wealth. We tax making money - investment (capital gains and dividends), income (profits and salaries), and spending (which is someone else's income).

Now, when you tax something, you get less of it. That's the rationale behind taxes on cigarettes, for example. And it makes sense - if something is more expensive, I tend to buy less of it, or to look at alternatives.

When you tax making money - you get less people making money. But isn't my desire to make money why I would offer you a job? Another name for "making money" is "economic activity" - and that's what gets us out of this mess.

So who is the best at making money? - Who has the most income and investment (and usually spending)? - who produces the most economic activity? It's the people who are making the most money - the rich.

(I'm talking about the self-made rich, rather than those who simply inherited the money. But we tax income, rather than wealth - so wealthy people without income aren't rich on this scale.)

If you want to help stimulate the economy, shrink the size of government, and put the money into the hands of the people who are best at creating economic activity with it. That seems like a reasonable plan to me.

And to be totally pedantic, he isn't cutting the taxes. The tax ended automatically, and Christie won't re-raise them. (To be fair, this is the same situation with the Bush tax cuts / Obama tax raise.)

Susanne said...

Enjoyed reading Tom's comments!