The Best Governor in America: Chris Christie?
For a long time, I've been meaning to make a post on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, so here is my short introduction to Christie for all my fellow CAPians.
Here are a few articles on Christie:
New Jersey Governor Sets Tone for US
Christie Declares State of Emergency
In NJ School Cut Debates, Insults Overshadow Issues
Chris Christie Takes on the Situation
NJ Gov Chris Christie Admired
In a few paragraphs, what Christie has done is the unthinkable in American politics --- he has single-handedly forced the state of New Jersey to move towards eliminating its massive multi-billion deficit hole. The long-term plan is to (a) cut expenses, (b) balance the budget and eventually (c) lower taxes when it becomes feasible. His basic belief is that if New Jersey acts first, it will be ahead of the rest of nation and able to take advantage.
I'm not an anti-tax ideologue; realistically speaking, we have to pay some appropriate level of taxes for our system to function optimally. But our taxes have drifted too high and we receive too little in return for them. This is especially true in states like New York and New Jersey, where voters pay some of the highest taxes in the nation and don't seem to receive all that much in return. It's also true on the Federal level, where we have overspent on the military since the Reagan Administration and Social Security is one of the most wasteful and inefficient programs around. So I think Christie is absolutely doing the right thing here.
In order to accomplish his goals, Christie has taken on the overcompensated teachers' unions, which have demanded salary above-market salary increases and receive benefits unheard of in the private sector. I have nothing against teachers or public schools --- we need both for the good our of society, but we can't give teachers 4% - 5% salary increases when the rest of our nation is taking pay cuts and losing jobs. That's ridiculous and the end result is that middle income workers with private-sector jobs end up subsidizing their public sector counterparts.
This practice has dragged the state of New Jersey down economically and given it some of the highest tax rates in the nation (it was occurring before the crash in reality as public sector wages have been outpacing the private sector in NY and NJ, except at the high-end). It has also created a massive budgetary hole that needed to be fixed and Christie has done it, in spite of the fact that it clearly has hurt his poll numbers. But it's the right thing to do; even if it wasn't easy.
Politically, I consider myself somewhere between progressive and Libertarian, but more than anything, I like policymakers who are willing to aggressively take on tough problems with realistic solutions. Chris Christie fits the bill. He's one of the few American pols I can respect right now. And maybe (like one article suggests) he is the American version of David Cameron.
If the GOP moved more in the direction of Christie, I could probably support it. As is, I've never voted for a Republican in my life; I've mostly alternated between Libertarians, Greens, and the occasional Democrat.