The Party of Fiscal Irresponsibility

Trump and Christie

Two stories on the front page of the South Jersey section of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer (yes, I read and support dead tree journalism) epitomize what’s wrong with the Republican Party today.

The GOP preaches the mantra of fiscal responsibility, but in fact are the most irresponsible handlers of our money.

First, there’s the story about how Governor Christie and Senator Booker are lobbying the federal government for funds to improve rail service under the Hudson River. How convenient for our governor to forget that one of his first acts in office was to cancel a project, which if he had not done so, would be nearing completion now – and at a much lower cost. Back then, Christie said the project would be too expensive, but the non-partisan federal Government Accounting Office said Christie lied about the cost. (Actually, the official report used the term “overstated”, but a lie by any other name…)

What Republicans (and some Democrats) fail to acknowledge is that the capital cost of such projects is just one factor in the equation. How much money and opportunity cost has been lost by New Jersey residents dealing with stuck trains, uncertain schedules, and added pollution due to increased motor vehicle traffic? It’s good that Christie has done a U-turn on this project, but it’s seven years too late. By all accounts, at least one billion dollars of our money has been squandered and will never be recovered.

The other story in today’s paper has to do with Mr. Trump’s cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and how they will affect the quality of water at the New Jersey shore. Funding for testing of ocean water for harmful bacteria will be cut, saving about as much money as two of Trump’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago mansion. Yet, outbreaks of illness among tourists will devastate the shore economy and result in increased costs for health care. (Maybe the latter is overstated since Trump is also cutting health care for average Americans).

“Pay me now or pay me later” is a truism that is not part of the GOP’s approach. We are among the lowest taxed people in the industrialized world. But if Trump and Christie have their way, our first-world status may be a thing of the past.

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