This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.
Isn’t it comforting to have a Governor that acts like a petulant child whenever he doesn’t get his way? Whether it’s a reporter who asks a question that offends his sensibilities, or a teacher that challenges his education policies, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) seems at times more like a know-it-all fratboy on the boardwalk then he does a governor. Christie announced last week that if he doesn’t get the across-the-board income tax cuts he’s been crying about for the last year, he’s going to pick up his toys and go play elsewhere, threatening to veto any spending bill that makes it to his desk until Democrats give me what he wants.
It’s laughable that he’s railing against new spending, since just last week he proudly announced using half a billion dollars in borrowed money to build schools in a Keynesian, Barack Obama-like economic stimulus plan. If you’re keeping score at home, it’s the same type of borrowing without voter approval he railed against during his 2009 campaign for Governor.
It’s interesting to contrast Christie with the governor of one of New Jersey’s neighbors, Delaware’s Jack Markell (D). Markell announced last week it may be necessary to extend some temporary tax increases in order to strengthen Delaware’s budget, which like a lot of states remains hampered by the slow economy.
The tax increases include an increase in the corporate franchise tax, a reinstatement of Delaware’s estate tax and a slight increase in the income tax rate on wages above $60,000. They were all scheduled to expire in the next two budget years, but Markell’s spokesman says the decision will be based on “being able to craft a responsible budget based on the resources a non-partisan group makes clear we have available.”
Meanwhile, as revenues continue to come in under expectations in New Jersey, Christie has gone from pragmatism to whining, stomping his feet in and out of press briefings as he demands that he get his way. “I am tired of them lying to the public and that’s what they’re doing,” Christie said to a group of business owners and leaders in South Jersey. “Give the people their money back first before we spend another dime on some idea you have in Trenton,”
For the record, Democrats have supported Christie’s idea of cutting taxes, even thought it would be the least-effective method of injecting capital into New Jersey’s struggling economy. They just want to wait until January to see if Christie’s extremely rosy revenue projections are on target.
Unfortunately, Christie misunderstands economic thought the same way every other supply-side Republican does. Jobs just don’t hatch magically out of an egg laid by a rich job-creator. His tax cuts would give the average family back a whopping $8 a month, and aside from being able to afford a value meal at McDonalds, it won’t have much stimulative effect on New Jersey’s stagnant economy.
It’s middle-class consumers, the ones that are helped the least in Christie’s tax scheme, that create the demand for goods and services that go on to create jobs and put money in the pockets of rich business people.
Governor Markell understands this, which is why his temporary tax increases placed an extra burden on upper-income earners, allowing Delaware to balance its budget and cover expenses, and reinvest in economic growth that supports the middle class.
For Republicans, this type of economic policy is “class warfare,” and by their logic Markell raised taxes on the rich to punish them for their success. But that’s just politics, just like Christie’s tax cuts. There are low on economic benefit, yet remain high on the ideological checklist. The not-so-dirty secret is Christie needs the tax cuts passed in order to stamp his passport to the national ticket and be in the best rhetorical position to run for President in 2016. I just hope when ads run declaring his leadership and bipartisan approach to running the state, people don’t forget about his crying.
Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.