Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, is rapidly becoming the most popular Republican in America (with Wisconsin's Scott Walker right behind him). Here are excerpts from Christie's budget address:
All across the country, Democratic and Republican governors are grappling with inherited budget deficits, skyrocketing pension and benefit costs, and state government cultures which embrace the status quo — no matter how destructive. They are just now coming to terms with the gravity of the situation we understood and responded to last year.
Today, they are standing up and saying just as I did last March, “the problems we have hidden for decades are evident for all to see. The day of reckoning has arrived.”
In New York, a Democratic governor has proposed dramatic reforms to Medicaid, because that program left on autopilot will lead both state and federal governments straight into a crash.
In California, a new Democratic governor has proposed to cut the number and pay of all state employees.
And in Wisconsin and Ohio, they have decided there can no longer be two classes of citizens: one that receives rich health and pension benefits, and all the rest who are left to pay for them.
Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter. We are all facing the same problems. These problems are bigger than either political party. The promises of the past are too expensive, and the prospects of the future are too important to stay on the old, failed course.
Across the country, we have come to a moment — the moment for real change and the return to fiscal discipline, which will create real jobs for all New Jerseyans who need them.
Some thought the change might come from the federal government. But that hasn’t been the case. It is spending more than ever. The change is coming from the states, and the charge is being led by New Jersey.
Across the Hudson River, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget also cuts the actual dollars spent by the state — for the first time in 14 years. Why? The reason Governor Cuomo gave is simple. He said, “New York is at a crossroads, and we must seize this opportunity, make hard choices, and set our state on a new path toward prosperity.” The challenge, the change, and even the choice of words are similar to where New Jersey was one year ago.
In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder has framed the issue the same way. He said, “This is our opportunity to say let’s stop living in the past and start looking toward the future. Many of us are going to have to sacrifice in the short term, but by making these sacrifices, we can all win together in the long term.”
Michigan is taking the road to fiscal discipline paved by New Jersey.
And even in California, Governor Jerry Brown proposed to cut take- home pay for state employees by 8 to 10%, because, in his words, “we have no choice,” and for years, California has had “gimmicks.” Now, he said, California must “return … to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth.”
Sound familiar? These ideas are not red or blue; they are the black and white of truth.That last line is a grace note that represents an attitude that could win a big majority, including Republicans, Independents, and Reagan Democrats who are fed up with the status quo.