The days of Christie as ‘Superman’ are long gone

Thinking back to 2008, I remember I was excited to find out that then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie had decided to run against Jon Corzine in the state’s gubernatorial race.

This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

Thinking back to 2008, I remember I was excited to find out that then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie had decided to run against Jon Corzine in the state’s gubernatorial race. After all, Corzine had been a largely inept governor that did nothing to fix the structural problems the state faced, and Christie was the corruption-busting tough talker willing to go to battle with everyone. I even used to draw Christie wearing a Superman outfit!

Man, those days are long gone

Fast forward to today. Despite shrinking revenues, borrowing money to fund transportation projects and underfunding everything from education to pensions, Gov. Christie is still pushing a tax cut that will end up benefiting the wealthy and costing the state $1.3 billion a year.

Why is he doing this?

To help the struggling middle class, who would benefit a measly $80 a year?

No, he’s doing it for Tampa. The national stage is calling, and the GOP needs a new hero next month for its convention.

It seems Christie has made his decision where his true interest lies. He may be chosen to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, and he may not. But like Sarah Palin, he’s given up on being the governor of his state during his first term in favor of a shot in the national limelight — he just hasn’t formally announced it yet.

How else can you explain a nonsensical tax cut that only appeals to the small herd of Grover Norquist-led out-of-staters looking for the next coming of Ronald Reagan? Beyond New Jersey’s borders, Christie has all the mojo — he cuts public jobs, takes on the greedy unions and isn’t afraid to bad-mouth fellow politicians.

But hopefully, all New Jerseyans can now recognize what Christie really is — a fraud. Other than pension reforms that will truly help the state, Christie is no-more a reformer than Barack Obama, who rode into office on a magical unicorn promising to change the way Washington does business.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some facts.

Revenues

New Jersey’s budget shortfall is growing by the month. According to David Rosen, a budget analyst at the Office of Legislative Service, the state could finish the 2012 fiscal year as much as $788 million in the hole, $100 million more than what was predicted less than two weeks ago.

Looking ahead to 2013, things seem even bleaker. Rosen told lawmakers last month the state could end up with a $1.3 billion deficit by July 2013 if they approved Christie’s proposed budget.

In order to balance things, Christie is turning to one-shot gimmicks to make it appear everything is hunky dory, including swapping cash from a clean-energy fund and a federal mortgage foreclosure settlement and putting it towards the general budget. He even plans to borrow an extra $260 million to fund transportation projects, something he’s chastised Corzine for and bragged about avoiding as recently as last year.

Property Taxes

Who could have imagined the property tax situation could get even worse in this state under Christie? Well, they have. With property tax credits and rebates included, the average New Jersey homeowner pays 20 percent more in property taxes compared to the last year of the Corzine administration, according to the Department of Community Affairs.

Christie sharply reduced property tax rebates when he took office. Rebates that used to top $1,000 in each of Corzine’s final three years in office, offsetting more than 14 percent of the average property tax bill, covered just three percent of their cost last year. And that’s with a spending cap in place intended to ease the property tax burden.

Unemployment

New figures released last week show New Jersey ranked 47th out of all the 50 states in terms of growth. 47th. Out of 50. Sounds like that “Jersey Comeback” Christie has been touting ran back home to the conservative ad agency where it was born.

Even worse, New Jersey was the only state economy in the Mideast region — which includes Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. — that shrank, causing the state’s unemployment rate to remain a full percentage point above the national average. 

This brings me back to Corzine. Upon the closing of his inaugural address, Corzine looked at the crowd and said “I ask you — the citizens of New Jersey, hold me accountable.”

It’s time we do the same for Christie.

Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.

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