Four years ago as part of a reform of public pensions in New Jersey Governor Chris Chritie pledged to make the predetermined contributions into the pension system. That didn’t quite work out.
On Tuesday he made another pledge.
According to a northjersey.com story:
Three years ago, Governor Christie dismissed the idea of signing a pledge that he would never raise taxes. He insisted that his own record of vetoing income and corporate tax hikes spoke for itself.
“I made a pledge to the people of the state not to,” Christie said in Asbury Park that August. “I don’t need to make a pledge to anybody else.”
Presidential candidate Christie had a change of heart Wednesday, signing the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge for the American People” promising that he would oppose and veto any tax increase if he is elected president.
And the Americans for Tax Reform folks were bragging:
“Governor Chris Christie has vetoed more tax hikes than any other Governor in modern American history,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “And he made those vetoes stick. Without the Christie governorship, New Jersey would be somewhere between Detroit and Greece.”
New Jersey does happen to be geographically directly between Detroit and Greece but the problems these three bankrupt entities face have little to do with taxes and everything to do with debt which at one time (earlier this week) seemed like a Christie priority as well. Not any more:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie caused a stir back in April when he unveiled his plan for reducing the long-term debt through cuts and reforms of Social Security, Medicare and other fast growing entitlement programs.
He predicted that his proposals would reduce the growth of entitlement spending by $1 trillion over the next decade. The reaction was mixed, from high praise from budget watchdog groups to condemnation by seniors’ advocacy organizations. Yet few could dispute that the tough-talking governor had laid down a serious marker for future discussion if he managed to win the GOP presidential nomination.
“While other politicians are running away from the issue, Christie is running towards it, and not only starting a straightforward discussion about the need to reform entitlements, but also offering real specifics,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said at the time.
MacGuineas and other deficit hawks are less sanguine today about Christie’s seriousness in containing the $18.3 trillion national debt. That’s because earlier this week he became the ninth GOP presidential candidate to sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose any tax increase while in office.
Christie’s action was good politics if not necessarily responsible public policy. Lawmakers and politicians for years have been hounded by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, to agree to the tax policy straightjacket or face retribution at the polls.
“Governor Christie understands that government should be reformed so that it takes and spends less of the taxpayers’ money,” Norquist said in a statement. “He will oppose tax increases that paper over and continue the failures of the past.”
If elected, it will be mathematically impossible for President Christie* to both honor his pledge and pay off that staggering debt. However, what is possible is for him to either go back on his word, repudiate those obligations, or some combination (which is the road he has tried to take in New Jersey).
I know. I gagged a little too in writing those two words.