If you haven't read the front page of today's Newark Star-Ledger you should. Tom Moran, the Ledger's Editorial Board Editor has a good take on how Chris Christie has hurt New Jersey due to his personal ambitions for a much higher office.
By Tom Moran/ Star-Ledger
Gov. Chris Christie last week rejected the notion that his ambitions for the White House are driving his behavior as governor.
"Regular people don’t see it that way," he told reporters. "You all have been asking me about running for president since 2010, so is every action I’ve taken since 2010 been through the prism of the presidency? I don’t think so and I don’t even think you all can make that argument."
Granted, no one can peer into the man’s heart. We’d need his diary to divine his true motives.
And no sane person would argue that Christie’s "every action" has been dictated by the need to seduce the Republican base. He did concede the science on climate change, a move that will alienate the flat-Earth crowd in the Republican base, no small loss. He appointed a Muslim judge and called conservative critics of the move "crazies."
Worst of all, he hugged that usurper, President Obama, in the heat of the 2012 presidential race.
But enough nuance. Time to accept the governor’s challenge and make the case that he’s running this state with one eye on the White House, that he is putting New Jersey second, behind GOP primary voters.
The list below offers 10 cases in point.
1. Birth control
In his first budget, Christie cut $7.4 million in funding for family planning, giving up a potential 9-1 match in federal dollars as well. The money was not used for abortions, but for birth control, cancer screenings and other services for low-income women without insurance.
Six Planned Parenthood clinics were forced to close as a result, and others cut back their hours.
Christie claimed his only motive was to save money. But giving up that 9-1 federal match is irrational budgeting. And this program was tiny, amounting to less than 0.03 percent of the state’s $31 billion budget.
Gov. Pinocchio had political motive for this one. Funding Planned Parenthood clinics would have been tough to justify on the trail.
2. Gun control
Christie vetoed four gun control bills, including one that would ban .50-caliber sniper rifles, and another this month that would limit ammunition magazines to 10 bullets.
On this issue, he is an incoherent mess. He proposed a ban on .50-caliber rifles himself last April, then vetoed the ban that reached his desk. And he’s offered no rational reason why New Jersey gun owners could possibly need more than 10 rounds in a magazine.
"The last thing he wants is the right mad at him for being a gun control advocate," said Julian Zelizer, a political science professor at Princeton University. "He’s now entering the Republican primaries as a fragile candidate. He can’t have any more enemies."
3. Climate change
Yes, the governor conceded the science. But he’s following the GOP playbook when it comes to policy.
He pulled New Jersey out of the regional agreement to reduce emissions from power plants. He diverted roughly $1 billion from the state’s Clean Energy Fund for unrelated purposes. He withdrew from a bipartisan lawsuit aimed at reducing emissions from Midwest coal plants. And in the Hurricane Sandy recovery, he has set requirements for building heights that are 1 foot lower than in surrounding states.
So if he gets grief for his rational talk about the science, he can defend himself by showing that his policies are perfectly aligned with the dictates of the Koch brothers, the billionaire kingmakers who earned their fortune on fossil fuels. Even the flat-Earth crowd in the party’s grass roots might forgive him when they take a second look.
4. The gas tax
The condition of New Jersey’s roadways ranks 46th in the nation, according to a study by Reason Foundation. Nearly 10 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient, and another 26 percent are functionally obsolete, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
But the trust fund for transit projects is broke. Worse, Christie broke the piggy bank and spent nearly $3 billion that had been set aside for the Hudson River tunnel. And he’s borrowed billions more to squeak by, breaking a promise and adding to the state’s crushing debt load.
The math is unforgiving: We need to raise the state’s gas tax, the third lowest in the nation. Privately, most Republicans concede this.
But raising any tax could be toxic on the trail. So count this as another mess Christie is leaving behind to protect his presidential ambitions.
Christie was not content to just win last year’s election. He wanted a gigantic victory with bipartisan support to show that he could win a national election. That’s why his staff was pressing Democratic mayors such as Fort Lee’s Mark Sokolich for endorsements, even when it was clear Christie was coasting to victory.
In the end, the governor won re-election in a 22-point landslide, and the story line seemed solid.
Bridgegate wrecked that. Aside from exposing the ugly underbelly of the Christie administration, it has been an expensive distraction for the state government. The governor’s whitewash by attorney Randy Mastro is expected to cost taxpayers at least $3 million. On top of that, taxpayers are paying the legal bills for most of the key players, and for the Democrats, which are unknown at this time.Continue reading