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Governor Christie: Beware The Person Who Will Do Anything To Get Re-Elected

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Published on Jul 9, 2012

Governor Christie Answers Questions At The Brookings Institution
Washington, D.C. July 9, 2012
(Transcript Below)


"It was a really difficult time to become governor. But you are right that that type of crisis presents opportunities because everyone knows that we have limited choices now. All the gimmicks have been played. All the games have been played in New Jersey. I mean we had bonded our tobacco money. We had borrowed for ongoing spending. I mean every trick in the book that could be played extended down from 20 years to 30 years to balloon payments from...you know I mean just every game. So now there are no games left in the playbook to use. So you had to actually make difficult choices. The sustainability of those is I think, the possibility of the sustainability, is embodied in that right direction number I told you. Like what the special interested will attempt to do when you make those tough choices to say, this is the end of the world as we know it. He's throwing grandma off the cliff. Your children are not going to be able to learn. You will not be able to get into a hospital. The roads will be caving in. the bridges will be collapsing. And there's commercials for all this, 30 second ads, for all this stuff. What they've seen in New Jersey now over the last two and a half years is, the sun's still coming up every morning. Their kids are still going to school. Test scores are still pretty good in a lot of the school districts. Our roads could be better but they're not awful. Our bridges are being repaired. We're doing the things that government essentially needs to do and we're doing it with less employees than we've done it with since 2001. We've amended the pension and benefit program and you know, no one is visibly suffering from that. Would people like to have more money? Sure they would. But I can't justify any longer to the union carpenter who has been out of work for two years and is trying to keep his house, his property taxes continue to go up because I'm continuing to pay for five percent raises for teachers. I can't justify it anymore and guess what, neither can the union carpenter. And so the divide you see in our country, in one respect, is the divide between the private sector union movement and the public sector union movement. And the private sector union movement which is dependent upon a vibrant private sector economy to put their people back to work, during a down time like this, they're saying to themselves well how can people survive and how come when our pensions go down, we have to put more money in but the public sector workers don't. How come when my healthcare costs go up, I have to put more money in but the public sector workers don't pay anything. I mean this is an issue of fundamental fairness. And so I think what you're seeing is the sustainability of these changes lie in their common sense and fairness. That doesn't mean they're not hard and it doesn't mean they're not painful, because they are. But they're also fair and they make sense. And so people are willing to accept that in the context of shared sacrifice. And so in New Jersey we have an extraordinarily progressive income tax code where the top one percent in New Jersey pays 41 percent of the income tax. So it's not like, well people are saying well jeez you know people are getting away with something. When the top one percent pays 41 percent of your income tax, there's shared sacrifice there too. So we're trying to spread that across the entire spectrum. I think that's where you get sustainability. The last piece to getting sustainability is the last piece I talked about and used the example of my mom. You have to talk honestly to people about it. You can't say to them, don't worry this isn't going to hurt it will be fine. You have to look at them and say this is going to sting. It's going to hurt. We're all going to hurt. We're going to hurt together. But in the end, we're going to have a better day at the end of it. I don't know exactly how long it's going to take, two years, three years, four years but it's going to get there. And I think that's the other thing that sustains it, is a candor with people where you're not trying to protect your own rear end all the time in elected office. We have too many elected officials who are obsessed with reelection. And that they're willing to do anything to keep their job. That's not the kind of person you want in an executive position or any position for that matter but certainly in an executive position right now given the challenges that our country faces. Beware of the person who will do anything to get reelected because that means they'll do anything to get reelected. And it won't matter, it won't matter what the long term is..."

(cont.)

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