Christie’s reckless tax cut and the Democratic minority

The Star Ledger is out with their most recent “blame both sides” for New Jersey’s economic mess editorial. It is a powerful piece that attacks Governor Christie’s tax-cut for “magical thinking,” and it argues that “the “New Jersey Comeback” the governor keeps talking about is pure fiction.”

But when the editorial tries to balance these criticisms of the Governor by blaming Democrats for lacking the “guts to tell the truth,” it misses the mark. Democrats are not by any means the blameless victims of Governor Christie’s policies; rather, the Democrats in the legislature are the minority party. That’s right, the Democrats in the legislature are the minority party and this needs to be reflected in our public discourse.

Leading up to last year’s legislative elections, when polled, voters consistently said that one of their main priorities in electing a Democratic majority in the legislature was to off-set the Governor. New Jersey voters were rightly afraid of an “Imperial Governor” and they sought to use their vote to reinforce a checks-and-balances system. Despite the Democratic Party “officially” holding on to their legislative “majority,” voters in New Jersey unwittingly ended up with a Republican controlled legislature. By colluding with Sweeney, Norcross and Co., Christie managed to achieve politically what he could not achieve at the ballot box: a submissive legislature that is unwilling to stop his reckless and politically motivated agenda.

We are therefore stuck with another blow to the economic health of our state in the form of this new tax cut. By any measure, it is a reckless move by a Governor positioning himself nationally and preparing himself for a potential reelection campaign. It is another poor attempt at trickle down economics, a “dogma that won’t die no matter how many times it fails to deliver.” While the richest few might reap the rewards of the tax cut, the middle class in New Jersey will look back on it in a few years and say, “The rich enjoyed the excesses of the present at the expense of our children’s future.”

I am not an ideological purist. I believe that “moderates” should have a warm place in the Democratic Party; but Sweeney and Co. are not making political concessions based on their principles or their political beliefs. Nor are they making concessions based on logic or a well reasoned argument by the Governor. As exemplified in the tax cut, they are making cold and calculated decisions to allow Governor Christie to rule the state imperially. In the process they and their political boss/benefactor reap the rewards of complicity.

The Ledger was right to blame us Democrats. We have showed a lack of guts. Not only on the tax cut, but in not taking a stronger and more vocal stand against the members of our own party that have relegated us to the minority position in New Jersey. This is what we need the Ledger and others to understand: the current political discourse is a farce. The Democrats in the legislature are in the minority, and they are currently powerless to check our Imperial Governor.

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