Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) is a “moderate” the same way Moe from the Three Stooges was an academic: only in comparison to the other Stooges.
While his amicable embrace of President Obama during Hurricane Sandy and willingness to actually sign a bill related to firearms will give his 2016 GOP primary opponents fodder for attack ads, the governor doesn’t have to inflate his severely conservative credentials.
Christie is the Scott Walker (R-WI) of New Jersey, one of the bluest states in the union. His agenda is nearly indistinguishable from that of Wisconsin’s controversial governor, with a nearly identical dismal performance when it comes to job creation.
“From the time he took office at the beginning of 2010 to March of this year, the state’s performance on the measures tracked by Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States puts it 45th among the states,” Bloomberg‘s Christopher Flavelle reports. Wisconsin is ranked 43rd on the same scale. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently rates Wisconsin 33rd in job creation. New Jersey is 38th.
The real difference between Walker and Christie isn’t their beliefs or their below-average success at creating jobs. The difference is Christie knows how to pose as a moderate. Walker’s dominant appeal is as an ideologue. Christie’s strength is he’s is a politician.
But today’s Republican Party loves ideologues and is suspicious of those like Christie who just want to win.
After being shunned by CPAC and being branded the “King of Bacon” by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), New Jersey’s governor has embarked on an apology tour that began with him endorsing the Koch-loving Republican nominee to replace Frank Lautenberg in the U.S. Senate, Steve Lonegan — who will be trounced by Democrat Cory Booker so hard that Christie wasted millions of taxpayer dollars to make sure he wouldn’t be on the same ballot as Newark’s mayor. Next Christie will meet with some of the party’s biggest funders in the Hamptons.
Here’s five reasons why any questions they have about his loyalty to the conservative agenda can be answered by simply pointing to his record.
Photo: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr.com
War On Unions
“Unions are the problem,” Christie said at a town hall earlier this year. And that’s been the subtext of much of what he’s done since he took office. He’s taken pride in calling his state teachers’ union “thugs” and celebrated his battles with public sector workers by posting them on his You Tube channel.
One of his biggest “accomplishments” as governor was to pair cuts with a suspension of collective bargaining for public sector workers.
Like Walker, he was able to crush resistance to his policies and take what he wanted from workers. And like Walker, the result was downtrodden public servants and a weak economy.
As he’s cut public spending, Christie has continually proposed Bush-like tax cuts that would mostly benefit the rich, even though New Jersey’s rich already enjoy a lower tax burden than the state’s working-class families.
He’s done this, even though his tax cut would create a deficit.
The governor also cut $1 billion from education to help pay for $2.3 billion in tax breaks for businesses, more than doubling in one swoop the amount of breaks corporations had received in a decade.
On a federal level, Christie supports the Ryan budget.
“It calls for a reduction in taxes that, if implemented, would likely give a disproportionate share of benefits to the wealthy,” The New Republic‘s Jonathan Cohn explains. “It calls for radically reducing discretionary spending, so that it is less than 4 percent of gross domestic product by 2050. And it calls for transforming Medicare into a voucher system.”
Photo: Meme from the AFL-CIO’s Facebook page
Like Scott Walker, Chris Christie immediately made news by canceling a large infrastructure project that would have brought jobs to his state and eventually relieved traffic and pollution.
The governor’s explanation for rejecting the federal funds turned out to be dubious and flawed. The New York Times‘ Kate Zernike explains:
The report by the Government Accountability Office, to be released this week, found that while Mr. Christie said that state transportation officials had revised cost estimates for the tunnel to at least $11 billion and potentially more than $14 billion, the range of estimates had in fact remained unchanged in the two years before he announced in 2010 that he was shutting down the project. And state transportation officials, the report says, had said the cost would be no more than $10 billion.
Mr. Christie also misstated New Jersey’s share of the costs: he said the state would pay 70 percent of the project; the report found that New Jersey was paying 14.4 percent. And while the governor said that an agreement with the federal government would require the state to pay all cost overruns, the report found that there was no final agreement, and that the federal government had made several offers to share those costs.
Christie’s true goal was to keep the funds the state had allocated for the project in order to prevent an increase on the gasoline tax that would have broken a promise. He also got to publicly reject the president, which is how you get ahead in the Republican Party.
Photo: Michael Hicks via Flickr.com
When people compare a potential Christie candidacy to “Rudy” Giuliani’s 2008 effort, they forget that Christie is avidly anti-choice — the first anti-abortion-rights candidate ever to be elected governor of New Jersey.
As governor, Christie has joined Scott Walker and Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) in an effort to starve Planned Parenthood, the organization that provides basic reproductive health care to millions of women.
Christie demanded $7.5 million in cuts to women’s health care, resulting in clinics treating 33,000 fewer patients in a year, explaining that the money was needed to balance the budget. Democrats have given him several chances to restore the cuts but he’s refused, citing costs.
Of course, spending $12 million on a special election so he wouldn’t be on the same ballot as Booker was no big deal to the cost-cutting governor.
Singlehandedly Stopping Same-Sex Marriage
Same-sex couples in New Jersey know there’s only one reason they can’t enjoy the benefits of marriage: Chris Christie.
Not only has he vetoed a bill legalizing equal marriage, he’s vowed to veto any future bill that lands on his desk and called the Supreme Court’s decision to throw out Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act “inappropriate” and “insulting.”
Christie feigns moderation when he says that marriage should be on the ballot. What’s more cynical than believing that a person’s rights should be up for a vote?
When you’re a far-right Republican who has to win in a blue state, these are the kinds of things you end up saying.
And on this issue, Christie is to the right of David Koch.
Despite this, the governor has the Koch mark of approval.
“Five months ago we met in my New York City office and spoke, just the two of us, for about two hours on his objectives and successes in correcting many of the most serious problems of the New Jersey state government,” David Koch said, at a secret Koch brothers conference in 2011. “At the end of our conversation, I said to myself, ‘I’m really impressed and inspired by this man. He is my kind of guy.'”