After a speech in which Anne Romney tried to humanize her husband and convince America that she knew what women of all socioeconomic backgrounds live with every day, it was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s turn to give the keynote address. The governor many New Jerseyans have branded a bully framed his speech around the greatest lesson his mom ever taught him – that there will be times in life when you have to choose “being loved or being respected” in other words making the big tough decisions instead of the popular ain’t easy but somebody has got to do it.
Then Christie went on to pat himself on the back for “making the bold decisions that had to be made” like to balance New Jersey’s $11 bio deficit when he came into office in 2010. He did not mention that those tough decisions included deep cuts to education and tuition aid for college students, and reductions to pensions and benefits for public workers while raising employees’ contributions. Indeed, the “bold” decisions Christie spoke of involved a war against New Jersey public school teachers’ and other public-sector unions – putting the pressure on to slash the union members’ health and retirement benefits. Those “bold” efforts resulted in New Jersey lawmakers in 2011 approving a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory. Christie also squashed the Democrats’ plans to restore money for social services and other programs. He nixed a bill to pump $7.5 million into clinics for women, refused to return $66 million in energy tax revenue to cities, and vetoed a proposal to bolster tax credits for the working poor after slashing them in 2010.
Refusing to even consider raising taxes on millionaires that the Democrats proposed, Christie instead approved a record $1.57 billion in state tax breaks for dozens of New Jersey’s largest companies after they pledged to add jobs. Panasonic received $102.4 million in tax credits to move its headquarters nine miles within New Jersey. Prudential Insurance obtained $250.8 million to move a few blocks to a new tower in Newark. Even after the promised jobs didn’t materialize, the Christie administration has merely reduced, not withdrawn, the subsidies – mortgaging the state’s future by forgiving so much tax revenue for the next 10 to 15 years.
Despite Christie’s so-called “bold” moves, New Jersey has recovered only 20% of the 261,000 jobs lost during the recession, compared with 80% in New York City. Despite Christie’s so-called “bold” moves, New Jersey has a 9.8% unemployment and rising property taxes compared to the nation that has an 8.3% unemployment rate, down from a peak 10% during the first nine months of the President’s term. But Christie is a GOP star? Christie has managed to reduce New Jersey’s credit rating to the third from last, and New Jersey’s jobless rate is fifth worst in the nation with some of the highest property taxes.
If there is a real star it is the man in the White House who saved this economy from falling off a fiscal cliff after his predecessor walked away from the two unpaid for wars, unpaid for tax cuts and an expensive unpaid for prescription drug program, got Bin Laden, put into place affordable healthcare for all Americans, has supported women’s rights from fair pay to her right to choose, and wants to level the social and economic playing field to give every American a fair shake. The real star will be appearing at the Democratic National Convention next week.