The Star Ledger Editorial Board, i.e., Tom Moran, argued yesterday that Governor Chris Christie should compromise with Assembly Speaker Sheila "Let's Play The Race Card" Oliver and Senate President Steve Sweeney by accepting a "temporary" millionaires income tax surcharge of half the amount that Governor Corzine imposed last year.
Moran argues that if Christie doesn't compromise he is risking a shut down of the government, as if that would be a bad thing, and worse, his is risking his entire reform agenda including additional pension reform, civil service reform and the governor's proposed 2.5% property tax hard cap. Moran wrote that real structural reform is within reach, if only Christie would compromise on this one itty bitty tax that only affects millionaires.
Christie's budget is already a compromise. He campaigned on the promise to reduce taxes in order to make New Jersey more competitive with other states and in order to stimulate the economy and create badly needed jobs.
Given that fiscal mess that Christie inherited, a $2 billion deficit in the current budget and a $11 billion deficit in next years budget, Christie has put off tax cuts. On the campaign trail he said that spending had to be controlled first, then he would cut taxes.
Christie knows that the kind of change New Jersey requires can only be accomplished gradually. If he surrenders on the issue of the millionaires tax, even if only for half, New Jersey's economic recovery will be set back further and the tax cuts he will propose in future years' budgets will be tougher to get.
Sweeney and Race Card Oliver know this. They are using Moran to negotiate through the press and to try to get public support through class warfare and racial angst. Shame on the three of them.
Contrary to Moran's argument that real structural reform is within reach if only Christie would compromise, such surrender would assure that the Christie administration would be the second term of the Corzine administration. Corzine came into office fully committed to reforming New Jersey, but he couldn't tame the legislative beast.
Christie must tame that beast and defeat the status quo, regardless of Oliver's racial demagoguery or Sweeney's line in the sand.
I'm rooting for Oliver and Sweeney to force a showdown and close the government by refusing to submit a budget that Christie could alter with the line item veto. I hope they have the fortitude to play chicken with Christie, because he won't blink. Then after the government is shut down for a month or two we will have saved a ton of money and found out what we can really do without. Shutting the government down could advance fiscal sanity by two years.
Unfortunatley, I doubt that will happen. The sand they are drawing a line in is also the foundation of their committmemt to reform and fiscal sanity....very weak and nothing to build on.