It’s New Jersey governor/GOP darling Chris Christie’s moment tonight when he gives the keynote speech at the GOP convention in Tampa.
If you’re not as familiar with Christie as I, and other Jerseyans have become over the past few years, here are five reasons to listen to what he says with a very big pinch — a fistful — of salt.
1. New Jersey Has the 4th Highest Unemployment Rate in the US
By way of comparison as Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times, New Jersey’s joblessness rate is “now significantly higher than the unemployment rate in long-suffering Michigan, which has had a true comeback thanks to the G.O.P.-opposed auto bailout.”
2. He Taketh and He Giveth Where He Wisheth
In October of 2010, Christie put an abrupt halt to a project to build another rail tunnel to link New Jersey to Manhattan, thereby depriving the state’s weary commuters of a much-needed upgrade to our aging, creaking rail system. (Delays of every sort are rife, to the point that some refer to NJ Transit as “NJ Stranded.”) Thanks to Christie, New Jersey was handed a nice big ($271 million) bill from the federal government to pay back the funds for the cancelled tunnel, providing our governor with another opportunity to offer up blustery pronouncements to prove Who’s Tough.
Meanwhile, Christie has put state funds into a megamall in the Meadowlands — as if we need another mall in New Jersey — and a casino in Atlantic City.
3. Christie As Just a Regular Guy? Give Me A Break
Christie became New Jersey’s governor in January of 2010 after a campaign that emphasized he was a “regular guy” who understood what it’s like to be an ordinary Jerseyan.
But Christie is strictly a 1 percent-er, who has called for tax cuts that offer few benefits to the middle class and plenty to millionaires.
4. Things Are Not So Good In New Jersey
I don’t know how else to put it. Christie’s theatrics and bullying rhetoric have gotten him far; I guess people like to see a Jersey guy (and one who is, like one-third of adults in the US, overweight) talking the talk.
The city of Camden in southern New Jersey, across from Philadelphia, routinely ranks on the list of the ten most dangerous in the US. Camden is so cash-strapped that it is cutting its police department. Instead, the troubled city will be under the jurisdiction of a new, non-union division of the Camden County Police.
At an event at Rutgers-Camden University, Christie declared that this change is sure to “provide a huge increase in the number of police officers on the streets….. I’m willing to put my name on the line for this concept.”
I bet he is. Need we be reminded that Christie has absolutely no love for unions, especially the one in New Jersey for those he dubbed “welfare queens“?
5. There Never Was No Jersey Comeback
Christie has been touting the “Jersey comeback” to show that, under the leadership of a Republican government, the good times have returned to the Garden State.
But the state’s revenue figures to continue to lag. After the announcement of the state’s 9.8 unemployment rate, Democrats were swift to decry the “Jersey comeback” mantra that Christie had even emblazoned on banners at ceremonial events earlier this year.
Said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), “It’s clear that Christie’s 30-second slogans. like the ‘Jersey Comeback,’ are not putting food on the table.”
Nonetheless, you can be sure that, tonight in Tampa, Christie will deliver one heck of a speech with the bombast turned up to high. A guy deserves his moment, you know what I mean?
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