New York Times hits Christie (Election Day must be near?)

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Based on the number of negative stories the New York Times has been running about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of late, Election Day must be drawing nigh (the positive stories about Republicans are rare — and tend to come after the votes have been cast.)

Having apparently decided that now is the time to strangle the “New Jersey miracle” in the crib, the latest piece accuses Christie of budget gimmickry.

Turning a failed state around is never easy, but the Times fails to fully appreciate the mess Christie inherited — a mess which included the highest property taxes in the nation and over a hundred billion dollars in pension and health benefits liabilities.

Speaking of gimmickry, Gov. Corzine, Christie’s predecessor, used all of $1.3 billion in federal stimulus aid, with no plan to replace that revenue in the 2010 budget (the year Christie won).

If the state’s spending levels are still a challenge, much of that is attributable to Christie’s decision to honor promises made by past New Jersey leaders. According to a source close to the governor, “Of this year’s $1.2 billion increase in the budget, more than 50 percent was attributable to increased pension payments to put the system on a path of solvency and security.”

Should Christie have said, “Let them eat cake?”

Christie inherited a very difficult position, and deserves credit for instituting reforms that will benefit the state for years to come. New Jersey didn’t get into a mess over night, and not even Christie can get them out of it over night.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time the Times has riled Team Christie by running anecdotal or cherry-picked stories. Just the other day, Christie’s spokesman complained to the Times’ ombudsman about reporter and columnist Michael Powell’s coverage of the governor.

Powell responded indignantly, telling the ombudsman “I think that objectivity is a farce — something that makes no intellectual sense whatsoever.”

Give him credit for being honest about that, at least.

Matt K. Lewis