NJ Economics: “Eyes Wide Open” not “blinders”

The two recent Christie vetoes of Family Planning and “Homebuyer tax credits for newly built homes, beyond reflecting disdain for women and middle class home purchasers, are signs of a financial lack of vision and a reckless disregard for the need to stimulate a floundering NJ economy.  In the case of Family Planning for every dollar NJ invests the feds will contribute nine dollars – money that will help hold on to jobs and circulate throughout our state. In the case of home sales, NJ continues in a slump, drastically impacting construction and related industries, with no hope for recovery until there is an improvement in the housing market.  

The outlook for our state economy remains dire. The Department of Labor reported jobless claims in NJ rose this week the most in any state. At a Federal Reserve regional press conference Fed economists said, “Recently, economic activity in New York State, New York City and Puerto Rico appeared to be recovering, while activity in New Jersey remained essentially flat.” The Star Ledger reported Friday, “Bank economists said a slow jobs recovery and a shrinking manufacturing sector mean the Garden State, which entered the recession six months before the rest of the nation in June 2007, could also be one of the last to emerge.”

The conservative philosophy of “cut, cut, and cut” does not work in a depressed economy as we learned during the Great Depression.  A more progressive vision is needed, one which seeks to keep people employed, strengthen an anemic housing market, reduce fees, taxes, and expenses on those least able to afford them, provide loans and incentives to small business, and as suggested in a Federal Reserve article, temporarily raise income taxes on high-income households. Without this broader vision not only do more people suffer unnecessarily, but state revenue continues to decline and undesirable unemployment-related expenses increase, resulting in an ongoing vicious cycle and a stagnating economy.  

The legislature in the Family Planning and Homebuyer Tax Credit bills has addressed needs which are both socially/medically relevant and economically necessary. In confronting a governor with blinders, the legislature with eyes wide open should continue to promote progressive solutions.

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