Monday, October 05, 2009

Why Corzine Is Creeping Closer To Christie In the Polls

Jennifer Rubin wonders why Jon Corzine is creeping up on Chris Christie in the polls. There's a real simple reason. Money. The incumbent governor, Democrat Jon Corzine, is spending three times as much money on retaining his job as Republican Chris Christie is spending to win the job.

Corzine is likely going to put up $35 million of his own money to hold the job, and that's not counting the millions that the Democrats are funneling into the state so that this bellweather state can help lead Democrats into 2010. That's because Corzine eschewed public financing.

Christie is accepting public financing, which limits how much money he can spend to $11 million. The various Republican PACs can spend more on his behalf, but it will have to make up a significant gap because Corzine can spend so much personally.

That's why you see so many Corzine attack ads; they're effective even if they're blatantly and fundamentally dishonest because it can smear Christie in a way that Christie can't respond to every attack. Corzine can't use his Wall Street resume to bolster his policy credentials because the state's economy is such a mess and because of his ties to Goldman Sachs.

Corzine was originally elected because voters saw him as a solution to the state's financial woes. The problem is that four years later and the state's budget situation is in even worse shape; the state's economy and business climate is among the worst in the nation, unemployment is at historic highs and the state's tax burden is among the worst in the nation.

Now, with the economy in the crapper, Corzine is busy attacking Christie and Christie can't focus on the one issue that is paramount to voters; the state of the economy. Money may trump policy yet in New Jersey, despite the fact that Corzine's policy has been an unmitigated disaster for New Jersey.

Will there be a backlash from the fact that so many counties in New Jersey rank prominently among the highest property taxed in the nation? After all, Gov. Corzine claimed that he provided property tax relief in the form of an increase to the state sales and use tax. One year after imposing the sales tax hike, he cut the property tax relief program significantly, all while property taxes continued rising. His original budget proposal in 2009 was to eliminate the property tax relief program altogether, but the outcry over that forced him to reconsider and limit the relief program.

Corzine did nothing to reduce the property tax burden; he simply attempted to shift the tax burden and resulted in higher taxes all around without any measurable effect. Taxpayers pay more, and get less in return. Throw in the governor's statements calling on municipalities to reduce pension payments in fulfillment of their obligations, and you've got a ticking time bomb that is waiting to go off.

The only way to get the situation under control is to seriously cut state spending, not just around the fringes. That means making serious cuts to programs that are cash cows for the entrenched interests. But only then will the state be put on a fiscally responsible path.

No comments: