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Imagine Christie's Budget Crisis on a National Scale

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Cross-posted from Truthdig


The most troubling aspect of 2016 presidential candidate Chris Christie's refusal this week to make necessary contributions to his state's pension system was not the budget maneuver itself -- it was that almost none of the debate surrounding the move contextualized what it was really about.

Christie depicted the maneuver as a matter of financial necessity, as if he had no other choice but to effectively use New Jersey retirees' money to balance the state's books. With New Jersey under threat of another credit downgrade, Christie was certainly dinged a bit by the political press for not better managing his state's budget. However, lost in the noise about whether or not the governor is a true fiscal conservative was any discussion of the two choices his administration has made -- choices that are at the root of the budget crisis.

The first choice was Christie's decision to spend enormous amounts of New Jersey taxpayer money on lavish subsidies to corporations. As the New York Times reported two years ago, "Christie has approved a record $1.57 billion in state tax breaks for dozens of New Jersey's largest companies." As if that largesse wasn't enough, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that in 2013, Christie signed legislation that "lifts limits on how much the state can give out in economic incentives to corporations and developers."

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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)
 

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