For Chris Christie’s political opponents, there are few bigger frustrations than the degree to which blatant lies have served as the engine of his agenda. Of course in our modern political climate, it almost sounds silly and hyperbolic to go after someone because they lie – politicians and partisans call one other liars all the time. But it’s exactly this ingraining of the “liar” meme into the public consciousness on which Christie relies. He knows that if the crowd enjoys the show, they’ll tune out the details.
But facts are facts, and it would be cool if people cared about them more. So here is a quick primer on just a few of Governor Christie’s more breathtaking lies – a short and incomplete list that begs the question: Why there hasn’t the mainstream media called Christie to task for the laundry list of serious questions surrounding his trustworthiness – especially since one of his big sticking points is that he is such a truth-teller?
Lie: Christie is a Trenton outsider. In his recent speech to AEI, he even said: “You know, I never worked in Trenton before I became Governor.”
Truth: Christie was a registered Statehouse lobbyist who advocated on legislation relation to health care, public utilities, banking, and – of course – education.
Why lie?: To look like an outsider. A maverick. A guy who has nothing to do with New Jersey machine politics. Which, of course, he does. Big time.
Lie: Christie faced down Democratic legislators’ threats to shut down government. The press gobbled up his quip about cracking open a beer and watching the Mets if Democrats shut down government over the millionaire’s tax. The conservative media thought this was hilarious.
Truth: Democratic legislators never threatened to shut down government. In this case, Christie is bragging about something that never even happened.
Why: To look tough.
Lie: Social Security benefits must be cut and the retirement age raised. “You’re going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security,” he said. “Whoa-ho! I just said it, and I’m still standing here. I did not vaporize into the carpeting, and I said it.”
“Closing the projected actuarial gap in Social Security requires some combination of more immigration, higher taxes, and lower benefits. Relative to higher taxes, lower benefits tend to be preferred by richer people. And of all the different ways to reduce benefits, raising the retirement age is the one that does the most to punish the poor and demands the least sacrifice from the rich.”
FAIR then highlights a solution proposed former Social Security trustee Robert Reich:
“…raising the cap on income subject to the Social Security tax, which in 1983 was designed to hit 90 percent of income. It no longer does that, because rich people have gotten substantially richer. Reich writes:
‘If we want to go back to 90 percent, the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000. Presto. Social Security’s long-term (beyond 26 years from now) problem would be solved. So there’s no reason even to consider reducing Social Security benefits or raising the age of eligibility. The logical response to the increasing concentration of income at the top is simply to raise the ceiling.”
Why: Look like the guy who says what everybody’s thinking. He just throws it out there, man. Even if it’s wildly inaccurate and intellectually irresponsible.
Lie: Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver never called for an appointment to discuss the “toolkit.” This is actually one of those double-lies, because Christie himself accused Oliver of lying.
Truth: Published media confirm that multiple electronic communications were sent to Christie’s office by Oliver’s office in an attempt to talk about the “toolkit.” Democratic State Party Chairman even called on Christie to apologize. He never did.
Why: This one’s just a case of the old Christie charm.
Lie: Newark schools have a per-pupil cost of $24,000 per year.
Truth: Former Newark schools superintendent cites figures that show that cost to be $16,900.
Why: Because Christie needs the Newark schools to look as bad as possible in order for his education reform agenda to work. It’s a critical component of his strategy.
Lie: Schundlergate. Either he was lying or Schundler was.
Truth: The $400 Million failure rests squarely on the shoulders of the Christie administration, and even his supporters know it. Plus, Schundler doesn’t have a record of duplicity or deceptiveness – just bad policy. I wrote about this previously here, here and here.
Why: To save face. And more, of course.
Lie: He talked to Steve Sweeney from Florida during the blizzard.
Truth: He didn’t, and admitted to mis-speaking. Yet, it quacks like a duck.
Why: He was tired, or he can’t help himself. One or the other.
Lie: In Christie’s own words: “The notion that I would eliminate, change, or alter your pension is not only a lie, but cannot be further from the truth.” – from Christie’s open letter to fire fighters, circulated during his campaign. Similar letters and statements were offered to teachers and police officers.
Truth: I think we all know how that one is going.
Why: To get elected.
Lie: Said he would fund the pension system.
Truth: He skipped last year’s payment.
Why: Because he never intended on making the payment.
Lie: Said he wouldn’t cut property tax rebates.
Truth: He cut property tax rebates.
Why: Gotta fund those casino and Catholic school bailouts.