On June 30, 2015 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his candidacy for President- probably several years too late since he now has a record as Governor. It is not a resume of which one can be proud. This writer is somewhat forgiving of the bromance with Obama on the beach and I believe he was not personally involved in the bridge closing fiasco, although he likely laid the groundwork with his bully attitude and philosophy that rubbed off on underlings anxious to please their boss.
Instead, as a lifetime resident of New Jersey, there is much, much more over which to criticize Christie other than a bridge and a hug. Let’s start with Hurricane Sandy. Of 15,100 homeowners affected by that storm (me included), only 1,300 are back in their homes (not me included). Christie’s response is to blame the bureaucracy. Blame becomes a common theme here…continue reading.
New Jersey continues to have some of the highest property taxes in the country. This, despite Christie’s touted caps on increases. Although property tax increases are capped at 2% annually, the Star Ledger analyzed 566 municipal property tax rates and found that they increased 2.4%. It may be Common Core math, but a 2.4% increase is greater than the touted 2% cap suggesting that the state (Christie) has handed out waivers along the way.
In terms of jobs, New Jersey lags behind the Nation as a whole with its unemployment rate still above the national figures. Although there have been promising improvements of late, New Jersey is clearly late to the game. Only two states have a worse long term unemployment rate than New Jersey. Christie’s response is “you should have seen it before I got into office.” Meanwhile, businesses are voting with their feet and leaving the state along with the population. If things continue, the state will lose another representative in Congress come 2021. In fact, New Jersey has led the country in outbound migration for three consecutive years and when the statistics for 2015 come in, it can expect to be back at the top of that list. Some accomplishment! Christie’s response: “You should have seen it before I got into office.”
He touts the fact that he’s balanced the state budget. Actually, the state constitution mandates this; it is not achieved at the leisure of the Governor. Regardless, most of the “balancing” is done through budget gimmickry. Peter is robbed to pay Paul along the way. Although the state pension shortfall is not his making, other than bluster he really has done little to reform a system that is $80 billion in a hole. He had to go back on a promise to fund the system and received a pass from the state supreme court, but now a likely state constitutional referendum will result forcing the issue. Christie’s inattention has set up his successor with nothing short of a very ugly situation. Regardless, Christie cannot disavow the fact the state’s credit rating has been downgraded nine times on his watch.
On education, he has become a late convert to opposition to Common Core. His response is that it was basically an experiment that failed and that it strayed from its original intent once the feds got involved. In other words, his acceptance of Common Core wasn’t his fault; the federal government misrepresented it. Meanwhile, he’s retained the PARCC test which is based on…you guessed it- Common Core. In short, his rejection of Common Core is good words, but in practice it is very much alive and well in New Jersey.
There is also the example of phony capitalism when the state stepped in and saved the Revel Casino in Atlantic City at a time when Atlantic City was bleeding revenue and business. Instead, the state is on the hook for millions and the Revel is shuttered. Despite winning a lawsuit against ExxonMobile, the state was set to have a financial windfall. Some experts estimated the settlement at $8.9 billion. But not the Christie administration. Despite winning in court, he settled for $225 million.
The state’s transportation trust fund is basically bankrupt. One understands his reluctance to raise the gas tax- one of the lowest in the country- but he has increased tolls on the Turnpike and on bridges and tunnels. Meanwhile some of the most traveled roads in the country are in disrepair and appear as if from the lunar landscape.
The next President may appoint three Supreme Court justices and Christie’s performance on the state level should not give any conservative comfort. In fact, his appointments have returned unanimous decisions forcing same sex marriage on the state. In another unanimous decision, they broadly and liberally read the state’s consumer protection laws to make class action lawsuits easier. His appointment of Lee Solomon who received one major endorsement- from a pro-choice group- was a deal that allowed the powerful and very liberal chief justice to be renominated. A President Christie making judicial appointments is truly a scary thought.
For me, the troubling part about Christie is his violation of a very important rule: “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.” It is low-ball politics to portray himself as making decisions and not casting votes in the Senate because the decisions he does make are not the stuff of which to be proud. He can criticize Rubio (and one suspects Cruz) because they “cast votes” and are not executives. If Christie’s tenure is being “executive,” I’ll take the voting Senator any day over Christie’s “execution.”
While he criticizes Rubio over missed votes on bills where his presence would have made no difference, Christie has spent over 200 of 365 days out of the state. Rubio may have switched his position on immigration, but Christie’s flip-flops are more numerous- gun control, abortion, Planned Parenthood and, yes- immigration.
With his state approval ratings at an all-time low, it is time for the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire to reject Christie as much as New Jersey has. His ego and bloated sense of self-importance is matched only by his size. Not only should Christie exit the presidential race, but he should abandon the Governor’s mansion and let the Lt. Governor build up her resume for a run in 2017. What the hell? At this point she is more of a Governor than Christie and couldn’t be any worse. Again, New Jersey was hoodwinked by an alleged Republican reformer. The country cannot afford to make the same mistake.