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Age of Austerity

Old 05-13-10, 12:31 PM
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Age of Austerity

Didn't know if I should put this in the economy thread, CA budget crisis thread, or European crisis thread, so I started a new one.

http://thehill.com/opinion/columnist...ts-tone-for-us

N.J. gov. sets tone for US
By A.B. Stoddard - 05/12/10 05:45 PM ET

In a movie version of this important story of our time, the bold, undaunted officeholder would look much like the boyish, handsome David Cameron — Great Britain’s new Conservative prime minister — who called on his countrymen Tuesday to embrace an “age of austerity.”

But this is America. So the fearless leader willing to be honest with voters, to part with what cannot be paid for, is actually not dashing, nor is he eloquent. He is an overweight Bruce Springsteen devotee, a former prosecutor with a remaining trace of a Turnpike accent who is intent on rescuing New Jersey. If he succeeds, Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) could become a major political force in the years to come, whether he likes it or not.

As the United States watches a debt crisis in Greece like a fiscal oil spill, waiting to see where it will spread first and when it will make landfall on our shores, Christie is tackling the nation’s worst state deficit — $10.7 billion of a $29.3 billion budget. In doing so, Christie has become the politician so many Americans crave, one willing to lose his job. Indeed, Christie is doing something unheard of: governing as a Republican in a blue state, just as he campaigned, making good on promises, acting like his last election is behind him.

Upon taking office Christie declared a state of emergency, signing an executive order that froze spending, and then, in eight weeks, cutting $13 billion in spending. In March he presented to the Legislature his first budget, which cuts 9 percent of spending, including more than $800 million in education funding; seeks to privatize numerous government functions; projects 1,300 layoffs; and caps tax increases.

Teachers unions are incensed, fighting Christie’s proposal that — in order to avoid cuts to education — teachers accept a one-year wage freeze and contribute 1.5 percent to the generous-by-every-standard healthcare plans they now enjoy for free. New Jersey, which has the highest unemployment in the region and highest taxes in the country, lost 121,000 jobs in the private sector in 2009 while adding 11,300 new education jobs. During the last eight years, K-12 enrollment rose just 3 percent while education jobs increased more than 16 percent. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, during the recession that has cost many residents their homes and jobs and scaled back hours and pay for the employed, teachers’ salaries rose by nearly 5 percent, double the rate of inflation.

Christie is adamant about lowering taxes. After taxes were raised 115 times in the last eight years, he said the wealthy are tapped out. Property taxes rose nearly 70 percent in the last decade, and studies show top earners — the 1 percent of taxpayers paying 40 percent of income tax — are fleeing the Garden State.

The goal is not just to crawl out of crisis but ultimately to lead, said Christie in his budget address. “If we make the tough decisions now, we will be one year ahead of 80 percent of the states in the race to economic growth. If we fail to act, we will fall even further behind ... by going first, we can become first.”

Can Christie succeed? We will find out on June 30, when the Legislature must pass a budget . But no matter the political price, Christie is determined. “You just have to stand and grit your teeth and know your poll numbers are going to go down — and mine have — but you gotta grit through it because the alternative is unacceptable,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

The alternative is unacceptable — words a growing majority of Americans desperately want to hear from their elected officials.



This is basically what is needed across the country. And as much as we'd all like the govt to pay us nice cushy wages or give us a right to vacations or whatever else we'd want, it just isn't fiscally viable. It isn't a matter of policy, its a matter of math.
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Old 05-13-10, 12:35 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

But Christie doesn't shit where he eats, that's for sure. Why not take a $1 salary like your predecessor? Oh, because it's everyone ELSE in the government who is making too much money.

Christie Doubles 100K Workers On Staff

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has twice as many highly paid employees on his staff as Jon Corzine, according to the AP.

The AP says nearly twice as many people are making $100,000 or more in Christie's administration than were in Corzine's.

An analysis has found that while Christie has proposed laying off 1,300 state workers, he is spending nearly $2 million more on annual salaries than his predecessor.

Under Corzine, 17 people made $100,000 or more in 2009 compared to 34 making six figures so far under Christie -- including the governor himself, who makes $175,000.

Corzine's payroll was $7 million last year. Christie's is $8.9 million.

Earlier this month, Christie's office posted a list of his staff and their salaries. It does not include Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who also serves as the Secretary of State and makes $141,000.

The news comes as the budget battles between Christie and the teachers union are heating up.

The state teachers' union is angry about Christie's deep cuts to the state's education budget.

Christie says times are tough, and everyone in New Jersey needs to watch their spending.

"I just don't see how citizens should want to support a budget where their teachers have not wanted to be part of the shared sacrifice," Christie said last week.

There was no comment yet to the AP from the Christie camp about its salary analysis of his administration.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:00 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
But Christie doesn't shit where he eats, that's for sure. Why not take a $1 salary like your predecessor? Oh, because it's everyone ELSE in the government who is making too much money.
I don't know anything about Christie. Is he independently wealthy? If so, it would be a good PR move to take a $1 salary.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:06 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Looks like he was an attorney for a while before working for the govt so he may not be too rich. Either way, he should lead by example. This reminds me of the legislators in GA who refused to take furlow days insisting when they took the job they were promised a certain salary even though other state employees across the state had to take furlow days because of the budget crisis
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Old 05-13-10, 01:26 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
Looks like he was an attorney for a while before working for the govt so he may not be too rich. Either way, he should lead by example. This reminds me of the legislators in GA who refused to take furlow days insisting when they took the job they were promised a certain salary even though other state employees across the state had to take furlow days because of the budget crisis
Given his career path, he's probably rich, but not "I never have to work again" rich. That said, the guy is getting free room and board, transportation, etc.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:38 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
But Christie doesn't shit where he eats, that's for sure. Why not take a $1 salary like your predecessor? Oh, because it's everyone ELSE in the government who is making too much money.
Jon Corzine, Christie's predecessor, previously worked as an executive at Goldman Sachs and walked into the Governor's office very wealthy. Chris Christie was not an executive at Goldman Sachs or wealthy at all. It was a gesture by Corzine that normal people can't possibly afford to make. And so what if Christie has more $100,000+ salary workers? He's cutting far more money than that in government to the extent that even pointing it out and pretending like it's an issue is insane. Corzine took a $1 salary, had x amount of $100,000+ workers, and completely destroyed New Jersey finances with entitlements and incompetence. Christie takes a normal salary, has 2x amount of $100,000+ workers, and has slashed spending to a point where it can actually save the state. The thing that I hate about people like you is that you seem to prefer empty gestures to actual fixes (especially when the empty fixes are by the Dems and the actual fixes are by the Reps). To pretend that Christie taking a normal salary is somehow unreasonable is ludicrous. Look at the bottom line. If Christie is saving the state money overall (and by an extreme degree), then where do you see a problem?
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Old 05-13-10, 01:44 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by Senor Javi View Post
If Christie is saving the state money overall (and by an extreme degree), then where do you see a problem?
In a nutshell, if he's saving the state money overall by cutting things other people care about but that he doesn't while feathering his own nest (and the nests of his cronies), then that's a problem. I'm not saying that's what he's doing -- I don't know enough to say one way or the other -- but I think it's a legitimate question.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:26 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by Senor Javi View Post
Jon Corzine, Christie's predecessor, previously worked as an executive at Goldman Sachs and walked into the Governor's office very wealthy. Chris Christie was not an executive at Goldman Sachs or wealthy at all. It was a gesture by Corzine that normal people can't possibly afford to make. And so what if Christie has more $100,000+ salary workers? He's cutting far more money than that in government to the extent that even pointing it out and pretending like it's an issue is insane. Corzine took a $1 salary, had x amount of $100,000+ workers, and completely destroyed New Jersey finances with entitlements and incompetence. Christie takes a normal salary, has 2x amount of $100,000+ workers, and has slashed spending to a point where it can actually save the state. The thing that I hate about people like you is that you seem to prefer empty gestures to actual fixes (especially when the empty fixes are by the Dems and the actual fixes are by the Reps). To pretend that Christie taking a normal salary is somehow unreasonable is ludicrous. Look at the bottom line. If Christie is saving the state money overall (and by an extreme degree), then where do you see a problem?
Disregarding the arrogance in the bolded statement, let me make a few points. Are the "normal people" whom Christie is destoying their livelihood in more of a position to make this "gesture"? Christie is systematically destroying his own state's infrastructure for the short term gain of political opportunism. And his cronyism speaks volumes that everyone needs to tighten their belts except HIM (and he could use it) and his immediate staff. THOSE people actually CARE about the state and do hard work, right? Please.

Oh and let me add that I find it completely laughable that you put New Jersey's problems squarely on the back of a one-term Governor.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:29 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
In a nutshell, if he's saving the state money overall by cutting things other people care about but that he doesn't while feathering his own nest (and the nests of his cronies), then that's a problem. I'm not saying that's what he's doing -- I don't know enough to say one way or the other -- but I think it's a legitimate question.
Christie has it right on some points. The fact that the teacher's union pays NOTHING toward health insurance is incredulous. But cutting education spending to the bone (with cities like Camden) to hold as a carrot over the unions is childish.
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Old 05-14-10, 07:57 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity


I love this guy! Hopefully after he cleans up NJ he can come to California!

Link was killed.. Fixed.

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Old 05-14-10, 08:52 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Disregarding the arrogance in the bolded statement, let me make a few points. Are the "normal people" whom Christie is destoying their livelihood in more of a position to make this "gesture"?
I can only assume you mean the what appears to be very modest job cuts off of the government payroll. The article says the projections are 1300 out of God knows how many. Were there a bunch more that the article did not mention?

Did you see the part where it says New Jersey had the nation's worst state budget deficit?

Christie is systematically destroying his own state's infrastructure for the short term gain of political opportunism.
"Destroying his own state's infrastructure?" Nice rhetoric.

Did you see the part where it says New Jersey had the nation's worst state budget deficit? How does trying to fix it constitute "political opportunism?"

And his cronyism speaks volumes that everyone needs to tighten their belts except HIM...
He is being paid what the law says he is supposed to be paid. Somehow you consider it unjust that he choses not to forfeit his salary?

He also has one of the toughest jobs in the country by default, made even tougher by what he appears to be trying to accomplish. He has had to hire a lot of good people to help him with this undertaking I am sure. People like that cost money. Making over $100,000 in New Jersey is not that much money, sir.

...(and he could use it)...
Wow, yet another weight joke directed at Christie. Classy move.

THOSE people actually CARE about the state and do hard work, right? Please.
And what is your justification for this bitter sarcasm? If you are going to cast aspersions at he and his staff's motives, please back it up with credible facts.
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Old 05-14-10, 08:56 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by General Zod View Post


I love this guy! Hopefully after he cleans up NJ he can come to California!
OK, seriously, I do not live in Jersey nor have I ever heard this guy speak until just now. Political ideology aside, that guy is fucking awesome.
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Old 05-14-10, 09:25 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

the reason NJ is in the state it's in is because the people who live there made it like that. every little town is independent of the state and has it's own infrastructure and the state government has little power. most of the taxes are controlled at town level. if the state took over a lot of the services it would save a lot of money but nobody wants that.

same story in most of the NYC suburbs. people moved there during "white flight" and set things up so that the people in the next town over couldn't send their kids to the local schools. they gave the government workers some insane benefits and now that they are retiring the current working generation doesn't want to pay for it
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Old 05-14-10, 09:39 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
the reason NJ is in the state it's in is because the people who live there made it like that. every little town is independent of the state and has it's own infrastructure and the state government has little power. most of the taxes are controlled at town level.
If that is the cause, then why did the state budget have a 10+ billion dollar deficit? Or am I reading the article wrong?
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Old 05-14-10, 09:58 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

the money goes to trenton and then it comes right back to the towns. it's some crazy system. Corzine tried to centralize things but failed. these problems have been decades in the making. the NYC suburbs have been complaining about taxes since the late 1980's and the people always end up supporting tax increases.

the big difference between NYC and the burbs is that the local towns have most of the control. in NYC you can send your kids to any school you want as long as there is room. and the property taxes are 1/4 of the burbs. there are some nice areas here that look just like the suburbs but are within NYC borders which means less taxes
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Old 05-14-10, 10:00 PM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
But Christie doesn't shit where he eats, that's for sure. Why not take a $1 salary like your predecessor? Oh, because it's everyone ELSE in the government who is making too much money.
First off, why should he? Corzine is a billionaire and being the governer may be a fine hobby for him, but perhaps Christie needs the salary. I really see no example of unreasonable salaries listed in the article. Seems like the typical lefty response of your killing the little people and fattening the rich.

I really wish our governer would take the same approach. America cannot afford excesses anymore. And yes some education spending is excess. If it makes up the largest part of your budget obviously it will get hit.

This needs to be done on the Federal level. We need massive spending cuts.
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Old 05-15-10, 12:14 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
the money goes to trenton and then it comes right back to the towns. it's some crazy system. Corzine tried to centralize things but failed.
OK, thanks for the education on that.
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Old 05-15-10, 12:17 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by BKenn01 View Post
but perhaps Christie needs the salary.
The man's gotta eat!
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Old 05-15-10, 02:09 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
But Christie doesn't shit where he eats, that's for sure. Why not take a $1 salary like your predecessor? Oh, because it's everyone ELSE in the government who is making too much money.
Why don't you?

We have seen that we cannot raise taxes faster than our spending. The fact is that we need to cut spending because when spending increases by 40% during the same time that unemployment rises and incomes fall, you cannot sustain the spending. Someone has to say, "We can't afford to spend like we have, and we have to make some hard decisions and cut spending so that our children aren't crippled by our debt."

But instead we are concerned about $1.9 million dollars in the governor's payroll in a budget that is $10.7 billion in deficit? This is .00015% of the deficit, and this is the problem? This is symbolism over substance that you are bitching about.

So what is your answer? To bring the governor's payroll down to where Corzine's was and keep going the same direction that Corzine did? Great, now the deficit is only....$10.7 billion!!! Hasn't moved!!! Or do you argue that NJ just isn't paying enough in taxes? Please tell me that isn't your point given where they are nationally. So what is your solution? Or is this just a distraction over something that doesn't even register on any scale of measurement?
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Old 05-15-10, 02:46 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
But instead we are concerned about $1.9 million dollars in the governor's payroll in a budget that is $10.7 billion in deficit? This is .00015% of the deficit, and this is the problem? This is symbolism over substance that you are bitching about.
As someone recently said in another thread about balancing the budget:

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
That's always the line. A few hundred billion won't help. Imagine a person with incredible credit card debt saying to a finance person, "Well, you've told me to stop eating out 4 times a month...congratulations, I've saved $100. That won't do anything."

Well, I guess we should just keep spending since we are only saving a few hundred billion. No reason to even start towards fiscal responsibility. If we can't get it all back in 4 years, we should do nothing and see how that works. It's worked so far!!!
I do agree that hard choices need to be made when it comes to the federal and state budgets. Cutting the other guy's programs while keeping the ones you care about, all the while not raising taxes, does not count as making a hard choice.
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Old 05-15-10, 03:15 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
As someone recently said in another thread about balancing the budget:
There is also a difference in the type of spending. I have no idea what the actual differences in salaries make up the $1.9 million in Governor payroll, but it is obviously safe to assume that $.175 million of that is the Governor actually taking his salary. I'd rather know what the rest is before I decide what is worth spending and what wasn't.

I do agree that hard choices need to be made when it comes to the federal and state budgets. Cutting the other guy's programs while keeping the ones you care about, all the while not raising taxes, does not count as making a hard choice.
Because NJ hasn't tried raising taxes yet? Their taxes are crazy. You can't just continue to raise them forever, and that is where NJ is. At some point, you need to also retain people to your state.

In the same way as I spoke about the federal spending, we have tried higher taxes. We have not tried actually spending less. People will be more willing to pay higher taxes to help solve a problem once they see that actual cuts in spending are done as well. But instead, the answer from the left is always, "let's raise taxes first, and then we promise to cut spending later." Bush1 fell for that line as well. Why is it so difficult to actually have some spending cuts first FOR ONCE? How can anyone believe a politician is serious about reducing a deficit if all they ever do is raise taxes and raise spending (which NJ did).

I have even said that I would be more than willing to look at higher taxes federally if I actually saw spending cuts first, as a good faith effort that the feds actually wanted to reduce the deficit and debt. I don't want my kids to inherit all this debt. But I also no longer believe that we will reduce spending some mysterious date in the future, but the first step is to raise taxes. Again, we've tried that and done that many times. And the spending cuts never come. Why is it such blasphemy to actually cut spending? Do liberals think that the US cannot survive with less government employees than Greece has, and the only option is to get to the percentage they had? Seriously, what is the problem with spending less when it is something that is never tried, in favor of raising taxes and spending more?

Last edited by kvrdave; 05-15-10 at 03:18 AM.
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Old 05-15-10, 03:24 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

And I recognize that spending less could be bad for the economy in the short term. That is the tough choice that politicians can't seem to make. But the long term "bad" of spending more and more far outweighs the short term "economic loss" of not spending more than you bring in.

When your economy suffers because your government doesn't continue to grow far faster than the private sector, you have a problem that requires hard choices like getting government growth under control first.

I know. It is blasphemy to ever allow a government to spend less or not grow to the size proportional to Greece. We are certainly trying to do that. Do you really think that is a viable economical model? If we can't drill ourselves out of our oil problem, why can we tax ourselves out of our economic problem? There is only so much wealth, and you can't spend more than you can take in forever. And we are nearly spending what our GDP is (not revenue, but actual GDP!). Seriously, shouldn't you be able to think of some way to spend less? I know Obama can't, but can't you?
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Old 05-15-10, 10:46 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
In the same way as I spoke about the federal spending, we have tried higher taxes.
When have we tried higher federal taxes?
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Old 05-15-10, 11:04 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity



We've tried it for a long time
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Old 05-15-10, 11:20 AM
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Re: Age of Austerity

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post


We've tried it for a long time
Now plot that chart against the federal budget deficit, which is the problem we're trying to address.

For that matter, chart our taxes against those of our peer countries and see if we have high taxes.
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