Warps Bruce’s latest song by continuing to take care of the 1 percent...while aiming a wrecking ball at N.J.’s middle-class
BY JOSHUA HENNE
(NEW JERSEY) – With Governor Chris Christie set to deliver his annual Budget Address this afternoon, it’s obvious the self-professed Springsteen fanatic has severely misinterpreted the message behind Bruce’s latest song “We Take Care of Our Own.”
Christie clearly takes this title to literal heart in taking care of his own friends – namely, corporate influences, the politically-connected and the One Percent. Apparently Governor Christie spends more time tapping his toes to Max Weinberg’s beat and Steve Van Zandt’s neat guitar riffs than actually listening to Springsteen’s lyrics.
While Christie pays lip service to “shared sacrifice,” his priorities and policies consistently favor those at the very top of the economic scale. The governor pledges tight finances when it comes to short-shrifting New Jersey’s middle-class and working families. Yet, he miraculously finds funds in the budget couch cushions when it comes to taking care of his own and filling their pockets.
At the same time that special interests and the super-wealthy are reaping rewards, Christie has consistently delivered mean-spirited budget cuts and vetoes that hurt the middle-class and working families. In 2010, with the stroke of a pen, the governor maliciously eliminated a $7.4 million women’s health budget line that helped fund clinical breast exams and pap tests. Christie’s 2012 budget cut $55 million to higher education scholarships for low-income students and another $10 million in legal services for the poor. Last year’s budget also slashed $149 million to New Jersey’s struggling cities.
Christie has consistently showered the super-wealthy and corporate interests with hand-outs, bail-outs, tax subsidies and rule-changes. For example, right now, the Christie administration is attempting to allow corporations an end-run around long-standing environmental laws. Essentially, this sop to the bank vaults of Christie’s corporate friends would weaken over 100 necessary protection guidelines and poison New Jersey’s land, air and water.
Moreover, Christie is working on a dream if he thinks we can cut income taxes by more than $1 billion over the next three years while continuing to fund school aid and meet all of New Jersey’s other budgetary obligations. Even worse, his proposed cuts will not really help middle-class families in any meaningful way. A family earning $50,000 would save only $80.50. Those earning $100,000 would get back just $275. Yet, millionaires would receive a whopping $7,265. Once, again, Christie is taking care of his own.
While Christie’s “Jersey Comeback” sound bite might play well to D.C. beltway crowds and fawning right-wing rallies, the real story at home doesn’t match the rhetoric. Month in and month out, New Jersey continues to lag the rest of the nation when it comes to jobs. Property taxes continue to skyrocket, while residents receive diminished services. Tolls, bus fares and train tickets are all up. Commercial property foreclosures spiked 10 percent over the last year alone. And late mortgage payments jumped from 7.43 percent to 8.32 percent from 2011’s third to fourth quarter.
We all know that the governor is a self-professed Springsteen fan who has attended a boatload of E Street Band concerts. But obviously Christie only listens to the melodies, because he is missing the true meaning behind the words. In crafting a budget, a real leader should internalize Bruce Springsteen’s long-held mantra: "Nobody Wins Unless Everybody Wins." Instead, Christie has consistently aimed a wrecking ball straight at the heart of New Jersey’s middle-class.
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