The Club for Growth, an organization promoting lower taxes, entitlement reform and other conservative economic causes, has released a white paper warning that Republicans should be wary of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s fiscal record.
Christie has described himself in recent interviews as a “conservative Republican” whose moderate image is unwarranted.
“The only part that impression [is built on] is that I’m from New Jersey,” Christie said in a Fox News interview Tuesday night. But according to Club for Growth, there are substantial other justifiable reasons for Christie’s moderate reputation.
“There are some signs that Christie would govern in a pro-growth way if elected president, but there are enough warning signs in Christie’s record to give fiscal conservatives pause,” the paper says. In a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation, Club for Growth Vice President for Government Affairs Andy Roth lamented that the “high hopes” conservatives had for Christie had been “tempered” by what turned out to be a mixed record.
In particular, the paper warns that Christie shows crony capitalist tendencies, as “Christie’s support for free markets seems to go out the window when it comes to big business.” It cited his $200 million “Grow New Jersey” tax credit plan, which enabled stunts such as Subaru receiving $18 million in tax breaks for simply moving its headquarters from one New Jersey city to another. Overall, Christie is criticized for handing out $2.1 billion in business tax incentives from 2010 to 2013, a big increase over the $1.5 billion given out by New Jersey in the entire preceding decade.
Christie also comes under fire for:
-Letting New Jersey’s budget to grow over 12 percent during his tenure
-Signing on to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion
-Imposing a one-year fracking moratorium on the state, and expressing a dislike of oil drilling off the Atlantic coast
-Underfunding the state’s pensions by almost $15 bilion, leading to a major downgrade in the state’s credit rating
-Pledging over $260 million in tax incentives for an Atlantic City casino that ultimately closed without turning a profit
-Backing a tax on electronic cigarettes, and supporting a $1.50 hike on bridge tolls between New York and New Jersey
-Subsidizing an $86 million practice facility for the Philadelpha 76ers basketball team
-Granting eminent domain powers to Rutgers University
The paper acknowledges that Christie has several conservative accomplishments as well, such as forcing teachers to contribute more towards their pensions, allowing the state’s “Millionaire’s Tax” on high earners to sunset, and eliminating special tax credits for film and TV production.
The paper also gives Christie some credit for having to work with a very liberal legislature, which it says provided major “headwinds” that made it difficult for Christie to reform taxes or pensions.
TheDCNF reached out to Christie’s campaign for a response, but did not yet receive a reply by time of publication.
The white paper is one of six the Club for Growth has released so far evaluating declared Republican presidential candidates. Christie’s assessment rated him more positively than former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who the Club criticized for an “exceptionally weak” pro-growth record; but it also places him behind Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
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