Sunday, October 20, 2013

Star-Ledger Calls Christie "Overrated" and "Fraudulent"---and Then Endorses Him?

Do you remember the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Mitt Romney last year because he, the DMR said, would be able to end partisan gridlock, etc., etc.? It was surreal in its distance from facts.
And remember when David Frum endorsed Mitt Romney because Frum wanted a carbon tax?
I think I've found a new addition to the list of nonsensical endorsements: the Star-Ledger's endorsement of Chris Christie for re-election.
So let's hear what the Star-Ledger had to say about Christie.
That his record is mediocre and untested, if one can even be so kind:
The surprise is that his achievements have been only modest. He signed an important reform to contain pension and health costs, but it was mostly done before he arrived. He signed a useful tenure reform last year, but it is a weak version that still protects bad teachers with seniority. His reorganization of the higher education system is promising, but untested.

Balance that against his measurable failures, and you have to conclude he is much better at politics than he is at governing.
That he is "hostile to low-income families" and environmentally destructive:
The property tax burden has grown sharply on his watch. He is hostile to low-income families, raising their tax burden and sabotaging efforts to build affordable housing. He’s been a catastrophe on the environment, draining $1 billion from clean energy funds and calling a cease-fire in the state’s fight against climate change.
That he's a fiscal fraud:
The governor’s claim to have fixed the state’s budget is fraudulent. New Jersey’s credit rating has dropped during his term, reflecting Wall Street’s judgment that he has dug the hole even deeper. He has no plan to finance transit projects and open space purchases now that he has nearly drained the dedicated funds he inherited from Gov. Jon Corzine.
That he's an egomaniac:
His ego is entertaining, but it’s done damage as well. By removing two qualified justices from the Supreme Court without good cause, he threatened the independence of judges at all levels, and provoked a partisan stalemate that has left two vacant seats on the high court. This was a power grab gone wrong.
That his record on Sandy recovery is mixed, even troubling:
The public gives him top marks for his handling of Sandy, but the record is mixed. Why would his administration park NJ Transit trains in a low-lying area where they flooded, causing $120 million in damage? Why did the federal government have to strong-arm the state to include more relief for renters and Spanish-speakers than Christie had proposed? And why should anyone believe taxpayers got the best price on refuse removal when the governor awarded a no-bid contract through a political friend?
That he's overrated:
Our own view is that Christie is overrated. His spin is way ahead of his substance.
But then they endorse him!

Why?  The Star-Ledger calls Barbara Buono a "deeply flawed" candidate. Let's look at the reasons they give.

(1) That she supports the teachers union and opposes privatization schemes and corporate reforms backed by Christie, the neoliberal Democratic establishment, and the bipartisan donor class

(2) That she supports public workers

(3) That she doesn't like doing "back-room deals" and has a bad relationship with Jersey's corrupt Democratic political bosses like George Norcross

(4) That universal pre-K and increased aid to public colleges will cost money

(5) That she hasn't named a single spending cut beyond the traditional promise to attack “fraud and abuse" (which, as the same article just mentioned, are rampant under Christie!)

The Star-Ledger then criticizes the corrupt Democratic establishment for failing to support her and praises her progressive record and proposals:
Its major players were scared to challenge Christie, and only Buono showed the conviction to stand up to him. If anyone should be ashamed in the wake of the crushing defeat the polls predict, it is the lethargic and compromised party establishment, not the lone woman who took up the challenge.
Buono has long been a sturdy voice for progressive causes. She was a key player in establishing paid family leave, protections against bullying and revamping the school aid formula.

As governor, she would allow gay couples to marry, raise the minimum wage and stop the baseless attacks on the courts. She would raise taxes on incomes greater than $1 million, and restore at least some of the property tax rebates that Christie cut. She would also restore funding for Planned Parenthood, and sign strong gun legislation. On each of those issues, we are with her.
The Star-Ledger then offers more reservations about Chris Christie: The fact that Christie refused to meet with the Star-Ledger editorial board:
He has refused to speak with The Star-Ledger editorial board for four years, the first governor in either party to do so.
That they fear he will move far to the right because of higher ambitions, heighten his war with public unions, orchestrate more power grabs, and continue his hostility to low-income families:
The endorsement of Christie comes with the hope that Democrats hold control of the Legislature to contain his conservative instincts. It is especially important that Democrats hold the Senate to block him from remaking the Supreme Court in his image, a move that would doom urban schools and affordable housing efforts.

Christie has said little about his plans for a second term. Our fear is that he could veer rightward to impress Republican base voters in the 2016 primaries, by reviving his plan to cut income taxes for the rich, by escalating his campaign to strong-arm the Supreme Court, or by picking a fresh fight with the unions.
One has to wonder whether the owners of the Star-Ledger demanded that its editorial board endorse Christie, destroying any editorial independence that may have existed.

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