How Chris Christie Did His Homework

Matt Bai:

Like a stand-up comedian working out-of-the-way clubs, Chris Christie travels the townships and boroughs of New Jersey , places like Hackettstown and Raritan and Scotch Plains, sharpening his riffs about the state’s public employees, whom he largely blames for plunging New Jersey into a fiscal death spiral. In one well-worn routine, for instance, the governor reminds his audiences that, until he passed a recent law that changed the system, most teachers in the state didn’t pay a dime for their health care coverage, the cost of which was borne by taxpayers.
And so, Christie goes on, forced to cut more than $1 billion in local aid in order to balance the budget, he asked the teachers not only to accept a pay freeze for a year but also to begin contributing 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health care. The dominant teachers’ union in the state responded by spending millions of dollars in television and radio ads to attack him.
“The argument you heard most vociferously from the teachers’ union,” Christie says, “was that this was the greatest assault on public education in the history of New Jersey.” Here the fleshy governor lumbers a few steps toward the audience and lowers his voice for effect. “Now, do you really think that your child is now stressed out and unable to learn because they know that their poor teacher has to pay 1½ percent of their salary for their health care benefits? Have any of your children come home — any of them — and said, ‘Mom.’ ” Pause. ” ‘Dad.’ ” Another pause. ” ‘Please. Stop the madness.’ “

2 thoughts on “How Chris Christie Did His Homework”

  1. “My politics are union politics,” Sweeney, the Senate president, assured me when I visited him in his State House office. He reminded me that he is not only the state’s top elected Democrat, but also a union ironworker. And yet, he said, “what I think that public-sector employees have to do is look at what’s going on around them, look at all the pain around them, and understand that no one hates them, but they want them to sacrifice like everyone else. It’s that simple.”
    So, in WI labor unions did this with their backs against the wall – so why aren’t all sides working on solutions?

  2. Read Wisconsin Budget Coverage Suffers from Bad Reporting, Tax Journalist Writes – http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/wisconsin-budget-coverage-suffers-from-bad-reporting-tax-journalist-writes-20110225
    From the article:
    “Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers,” Johnston writes. “Because the ‘contributions’ consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan.”
    Again, our governor is not talking about budget issues. Get the national ideology out of the discussion of the issues. BTW, I believe the WI Retirement System is funded and sound at this time.

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