New Jersey economy undercuts Governor Christie’s rhetoric
August 20, 2012By Rob Tornoe for NewsWorks
This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe
When George W. Bush looks back at himself strutting in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner in a flight suit proclaiming an end to major combat operations in Iraq more than eight years prematurely, I wonder if he every thinks, "Man, there's one I wish I could take back."
That might be what Chris Christie is thinking right about now, as his "Jersey Comback" seems more like a "rollback" to the terrible economic situation he inherited from Jon "I lost $1.6 billion" Corzine back in 2009.
Just a week before Christie delivers the keynote address at the Republican National Convention, New Jersey lost 12,000 jobs and is in the midst of the state's worst unemployment rate in 35 years. Maybe he's not the best poster boy for conservative economic policies after all.
I'm guessing the sour economic news won't stop Christie from bragging about fixing New Jersey's economy. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, hours after the unemployment numbers were released, the New Jersey GOP sent an e-mail inviting Republicans to the convention, saying in part, "The New Jersey Comeback is well under way but now it's time for the American Comeback to begin."
Well, if their "American Comeback" is anything like the comeback New Jersey has experienced, count me out.
The Christie administration wants to make the case that New Jersey has experienced job growth in nine out of the last 11 months, and points to the fact that unemployment rose in 44 states in July. The problem is this line of reasoning sounds like the talking points coming out of the Obama Administration these days, and we all know what Christie has said about them:
"And I think if the president's made a mistake here, it's this laid-back kind of approach where he's waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Some people say it's a political strategy. No matter what it is, it's not effective in solving problems."
What I found most interesting out of all the post-economic report spin was the administration's explanation of July's horrendous jobs numbers. According to Charles Steindel, the chief economist for the state Treasury Department, who told reporters, "The national economy has been sluggish, and, realistically, we can't be exempt."
You mean that Republicans, who pledged their number one priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president, are harming GOP governors like Christie by their unwillingness to compromise to enact economic policies to get the country moving? Say it ain't so!
Despite the fact that July revenues were 5.5 percent below what Christie budgeted, and the state faces a shortfall of at least $200 million for the previous fiscal year, Christie still thinks tax cuts that will reduce state revenues by mor than $1 billion a year are the best way to fix the state's struggling economy.
Let's also not forget the budget is set to explode in coming years because of both parties' weakness in leadership in putting off full pension payments and continuing to borrow to fund transportation projects.
In a way, this keynote address isn't just about Christie bragging about everything he has or hasn' accomplished. It's also a cry for help from a governor who has ideologically painted himself into a budget corner with no way out other than to escape onto the national stage.
So when you watch him speak this week, don't think of him as a knight in shining armor, but rather a damsel in distress looking to be rescued.