When then-Governor Elect Chris Christie started talking about the increases in “fees” and cuts in services, property tax rebates and earned income credits for the lower and middle income families, while calling for tax cuts for the super rich and corporations, we here called it “class warfare” – and some in the corporate media even followed along.
When his budget plans were released; still without any tax increase for the super rich but more cuts to services and tax, oops, “fee” increases to everyone else – it was obvious that Christie is looking to recreate the failed supply side/”trickle down” economic theories that failed so many working middle and lower income families when it was implemented under Reagan.
But in addition to trying to recreate the supply side disaster in NJ, Christie is going one further – by taking the failed policies of his mentors George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney by privatizing NJ services:
New Jersey would close its centralized car inspection lanes and motorists would pay for their own emissions tests under a sweeping set of recommendations set to be released by the Christie administration today.
State parks, psychiatric hospitals and even Turnpike toll booths could also be run by private operators, according to the 57-page report on privatization obtained by The Star-Ledger. Preschool classrooms would no longer be built at public expense, state employees would pay for parking and private vendors would dish out food, deliver health care and run education programs behind prison walls.
Of course, there are a number of issues here – for starters, when Christie first put the panel together, it was chaired by Washington lobbyist and former Rep. Dick Zimmer, and did not include any representatives from public employee unions. In fact, we don’t have to look far into the past to remember how much of a disaster it was when then-Governor Whitman tried privatizing auto inspections.
But it goes further than that.
This is the model of Government that Cheney and Rumsfeld implemented during their reign of terror over the past decade. Politically connected cronies would get no bid contracts (which we all know that Christie was fond of as well). Under this model, there was rampant waste and fraud – look at the billions that went missing in Iraq, the “privatized” military problems with Blackwater, the scads of billions that went to Halliburton and KBR for substandard service. Look at “No Crony Left Behind”, which pumped tens of millions of dollars into George W. Bush’s brother for his “educational program” that was sold in Florida (by edict of Bush’s other brother, Jeb) and in Texas.
Privatization doesn’t lead to lower costs. It may lead to less government employees, but it leads to waste, fraud and substandard services – all while pumping the same or more money to friends and cronies.
This is what Chris Christie is trying to ram down NJ’s throat – failed supply side economic theories and failed waste and fraud filled privatization and corporatization of essential services.