Wisniewski, Pascrell rip Christie’s EITC strategy

The head of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee called Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to reduce the state’s Earned Income

The head of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee called Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to reduce the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit “cruel,” and referred to his more recent plan to tie the program to his tax relief proposal as an immoral “bargaining chip.”

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Assemblyman John Wisniewski, (D-19), Sayreville, chairman of the state committee, and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, (D-N.J.), hosted a teleconference Tuesday to highlight what they called the “Republican assault” on the working poor. The state and federal lawmakers accused Christie and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney of turning their backs on the EITC, which they said President Ronald Reagan praised as “the best anti-poverty … and the best job-creation measure to come out of Congress.”

“Gov. Christie’s line item veto was cruel, it was unreasonable, but typical,” Wisniewski said.

“Essentially the governor has made providing tax relief for the working poor a bargaining chip,” he said.

Christie vetoed the Democrat-controlled Legislature’s EITC proposal in June. The governor, who had pledged to restore the program during his February budget address, said in his veto message that he supported the plan, however, his support was contingent on the inclusion of a tax cut.

Democrats had proposed restoring the EITC to 25 percent of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit amount.  The budget had allocated $50 million for that purpose.  Christie had favored restoring the credit over a two-year period.

“I support the concept of this bill and indeed proposed an increase in the EITC as part of my February 2012 proposal for a balanced budget,” Christie said in his veto message in June.  “That budget proposal, which was not acted upon by the legislative majority, would have also delivered to all taxpayers in the state the tax relief they deserve.”

Flipping the script a short time after vetoing the proposal, Christie conditionally vetoed the Legislature’s millionaire’s tax legislation and substituted language for a tax relief proposal – which included a restoration of the EITC.

The governor has since been hammering Democrats during his beach town hall meetings, urging New Jersey residents to tell their lawmakers to “get the hell of the beach” and vote on the governor’s tax relief proposal.

Democrats accused the governor of essentially holding the EITC hostage during Tuesday’s teleconference, saying Christie is hurting middle-class families by putting politics ahead of good policy, Wisniewski said.

“He wants to provide a tax cut by borrowing money because the state of New Jersey doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to provide a tax cut,” he said.

The state chairman also took aim at the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, saying it’s clear by looking at Romney’s policies that “he’d (not only) raise taxes on the working poor, but on the middle class as well.”

Pascrell was quick to point out that the discussion was not about class warfare, rather it’s about preserving the middle class, he said.

“This is not a fight against those who are well off, God bless them – that’s what makes American stronger,” Pascrell said. “But what makes America weaker is if we continue to shrink the middle class.”

Wisniewski, Pascrell rip Christie’s EITC strategy