Feature:Opinion

Fat governor, skinny budget

Patrick Gleason Director of State Affairs, Americans for Tax Reform

Eugene Robinson had a much-discussed column in Friday’s Washington Post arguing that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not fit for the Oval Office because he is, well, not fit. Robinson suggests Christie’s girth is a hindrance on his ability to lead, chiding:

“Christie is just 49 and has four young children; politics aside, I’m sure he wants to be around to share the milestones in their lives. He prides himself on bullheaded determination and speaks often about the need for officials to display leadership. Well, Gov. Christie, lead thyself.”

Robinson’s column comes on the heels of a similar piece by Bloomberg’s Michael Kinsley proclaiming that Christie’s weight indicates a lack of self-discipline. A couple of points: 1) the professional left must really be scared of Christie if they are resorting to such juvenile and irrelevant attacks; and 2) If the best Obama supporters can come up with against Chris Christie is “bu bu but, he’s fat,” then White House staff should begin circulating their resumes if Christie enters the race, because that argument didn’t work for former Democratic Governor Jon Corzine, who ran campaign ads in 2009 not so subtly drawing attention to Christie’s weight.

The fact is, when it comes to discipline amongst politicians, voters are more interested in fiscal discipline — and in that regard Gov. Christie’s record stands in stark contrast to that of President Obama.

When Chris Christie was elected in 2009, he was confronted with a massive budget deficit as a result of both the recession and years of profligacy under Jon Corzine. Christie responded by putting expenditures in line with revenues and making necessary spending cuts. And we’re talking about real cuts, not the kind of cuts that the White House bemoans, which are nothing more than modest downward adjustments in increased spending. The first budget Christie signed into law cut spending by five percent from the previous year.

The FY 2012 budget signed into law by Christie this summer was $900 million less than what legislative Democrats wanted. Christie also vetoed job-killing tax hikes on small businesses while increasing state education funding by $850 million. What’s more, Christie stayed true to his campaign promise to fix the state’s broken and unsustainable public employee compensation structure, enacting reforms that will save the state $130 billion over the next 30 years. The Washington Post’s Robinson feigns concern over Christie’s health and Bloomberg’s Kinsley questions Christie’s ability to lead, yet it is due to Christie’s political courage and leadership that New Jersey’s long-term fiscal health is improving.

Contrast this with Obama, who, like Christie, came into office after years of overspending by his predecessor. Rather than begin to rectify the spending problem in Washington, as Christie did and continues to do in Trenton, President Obama doubled down on George W. Bush’s overspending, increasing annual federal spending by 31 percent — from $2.9 trillion in FY 2008 to $3.8 trillion in 2011.

Robinson’s attack on Christie’s physique is pathetic, juvenile and desperate. This is even evident to his comrades in the left-of-center commentariat, with his Washington Post colleague Ezra Klein pointing out that it was irrelevant and inaccurate and MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski reacting with a simple, “Seriously?”

The fact is that when it comes to the 2012 elections and what voters care about, it is the baseline and not the waistline that matters most.

Patrick Gleason is Director of State Affairs for Americans for Tax Reform.