Sunday, February 9, 2014

Star-Ledger Says Christie Endorsement "Regrettable," But Bashes Buono for Supporting Unions

You may remember the NJ Star-Ledger's bizarre endorsement of Chris Christie from last fall. The Star-Ledger editorial board said that Chris Christie was the most overrated governor in the country, that he had few real accomplishments, and that he had and would continue to push policies that are destructive to the environment and the working and middle-class. And then they endorsed him...because Barbara Buono supported teachers' unions and other public sector unions.

Well, in the wake of the never-ending drip of scandals coming out of Trenton, Tom Moran of the Star-Ledger editorial board has decided that the endorsement of Christie was "regrettable."

Here is Moran's defense of the Christie endorsement:
Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

Even before this scandal train got rolling, this endorsement was a close call and a split vote among the editorial board. We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing. We criticized him for trashing the working poor, for his tea party approach to the environment, for his opposition to gay marriage and a livable minimum wage. And so on.

But there is more to it. Christie has made good progress on education with a focus on struggling cities, especially Newark and Camden. His pension and health reforms helped contain public costs that were spiraling out of control.
There we go, the roots of the endorsement lie in Christie's advocacy of corporate school deform and his war against public sector unions. 
As David Sirota recently noted in Salon, Christie claimed that pension cuts were necessary because the state had no money...and then doled out generous tax breaks to the NFL in advance of the Superbowl. And he's been doling out the goodies to corporate friends for much of his governorship.
Now, let's see what Moran has to say about Buono:
And let’s not forget his opponent, Sen. Barbara Buono. She was not up to the job of being governor — even in the view of many Democrats. She got the party’s nomination because more credible candidates, including Cory Booker, backed out in the face of Christie’s strength.

And on education, the most important issue for any governor, Buono ran well to the left of President Obama. She embraced the state’s regressive teachers’ union and its relentless efforts to protect bad teachers and stunt the growth of even the best charter schools.
To the left of Obama on education! Quelle horreur! 
On education, Buno supported reinstating NJ's equitable funding formula, championed collective bargaining rights, opposed basing teacher evaluations on standardized testing scores, and criticized charter schools and vouchers for sapping away important funds from public schools. THIS HERESY CANNOT STAND.

The Star-Ledger's endorsement reminds me of how many major Democratic donors, particularly those affiliated with Rahm Emanuel, flocked to Chris Christie. Let's look at their reasoning.
"While I do not agree with his stance on every issue, he is one of the best political leaders I have talked to in a long time," said Ken Rosen, a UC-Berkeley professor who cut a $3,800 check to Christie after chatting with him at two events. "He is willing to take on tough issues such as pension reform, education reform, mental-health issues, even if his views are not politically correct."
Corporate education deform and pension cuts are the policies of the bipartisan donor class. The case of Illinois's Democratic Party illustrates this well. 

The donors behind the Democratic Party might care about social issues and even the environment (in a vague sort of way), but they'll vote their wallet when they know it's truly at risk. Challenging the neoliberal consensus is verboten.

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