Gov. Chris Christie’s state of the state address once again demonstrated why he is one of the best politicians New Jersey has ever seen.
In 45 minutes, he boosted his bona fides as a fiscal conservative, promising a 10 percent tax cut for everybody, while at the same time honing his image as a numbers guy with a heart.
He once again cited the tragedy of children trapped in failing schools and implored the lawmakers to offer those kids and their parents some hope of a quality education.
He pledged to deal with urban crime that forces families to live in fear and he displayed understanding and compassion for those who have succumbed to drugs. He wants them to get a second chance through mandatory rehabilitation rather than mandatory jail time.
If George Bush hadn’t sullied the notion of compassionate conservatism that’s what you might call Christie’s agenda.
Even those who don’t like the guy would have a hard time finding fault with some of those proposals.
Of course Christie being Christie, there’s a political angel in all this. He held high the banner of universal tax cuts and it’s one he’ll carry into his 2013 re-election campaign that began with his speech.
The Democrats - as I suspect he anticipated – immediately found fault with his tax cut plan. Their carping came down to this: the rich get too much.
Christie’s plan, they protested, puts wads of dollars into the pockets of the already rich and pennies into the purses of the average worker.
That may be true but the message that comes out of that is the Democrats are opposed to tax cuts.
Christie will run with that, telling town hall audiences from Newton to Sea Isle City that the Democrats don’t want to cut taxpayers a break and he does.
Democrats will try to explain they’re not opposed to tax cuts but think his proposal is unfair. Once again he’s favoring his well-healed buddies. And, by the way, they’ll say any cuts will come from school aid and that means a hit to education quality. But before they’re finished explaining all that, the governor will have voters convinced that the Democrats aren’t on their side.
The irony in all this is that the tax cuts Christie mentioned in his speech won’t do much for the majority of New Jersey households.
Look at the numbers. Somebody earning $40,000 a year will realize a savings of about $80. That means he or she will see about $1.83 extra per week. Even somebody making $75,000 a year will see a $293 drop in taxes. What’s that amount to? A whopping $5.63 more a week.