If you’re a fan of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rush Limbaugh or (ironically) Barack Obama, this post is just for you!
(Trenton, NJ) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s recent 18-point re-election win has him riding high nationally. This annoys me because 1) his political values are antithetical to mine, 2) the guys’ more full of himself than ever and 3) Chris Christie’s impressive margin came because he rigged the election calendar to make his race as uncompetitive as possible (a $24,000,000 gambit which flopped in LimbaughNation.) So what’s a good ol’ South Jersey liberal to do? Why, attempt to sow the seeds of internecine GOP warfare, of course. That why I’m sprinkling a little (libertarian-scented) catnip out there for the ever-growing establishment-loathing tea partiers who populate today’s GOP. That’s what today’s column is all about.
And there’s a lot of catnip to throw down, especially when exploring Chris Christie’s (not-so-secret) big-government tendencies on guns, taxes and regulations.
The tea party’s already chomping at the bit to brand Chris Christie and moderate or worse. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul cited Federal Sandy assistance for the Governor’s reelection win: “his victory was in large form based on that he got a lot of federal money for his state,” Paul told CBS Radio. “Unlimited spending is sort of — you could call it moderate, or even liberal — to think there’s unlimited amount of money, even for good causes.”
That’s just Senator’s Paul’s take of course of course. But judging from the comments at the bottom of that last link, it’s a hypothesis that a lot of people in Tea Party Nation share.
Let’s start with the oft-professed bane of a modern-day tea partier’s existence: higher taxes.
Everyone in the Garden State knows our property taxes are off-the-charts crazy high. But folks in the other forty-nine might not realize thatNew Jersey residents pay the highest property taxes in the nation. By far. My personal experience as a homeowner is not atypical. My mortgage is roughly $1,200 a month for a modestly-sized 1950s-era ranch house in Cherry Hill. Now consider this: my property taxes are even more each month than my actual mortgage. That’s right ladies and gentlemen! In New Jersey, most people send more money to the NJ treasury than we put towards our house note.
Unbelievably, a $15,000 property tax bill is neither crass nor boastful. It’s actually sad and pathetic. And it’s typical for all New Jersey homeowners. Chris Christie will piss and moan that property taxes are everyone’s fault in but his own: local officials, the state legislature, his predecessors, etc. But the truth is, Chris Christie has governed New Jersey for four years, and each year our taxes have gone up. It’s math, baby. And if you’re a stickler for either math or taxes, it’s plain to see that Chris Christie’s stewardship of New Jersey’s property tax crises remains an abysmal, colossal failure. And if tax-happy bleeding-heart liberals are complaining, wait till the Tea Party purists in South Carolina and Texas catch wind.
Other taxes have New Jersey residents bent over a barrel, as well. Taxes in unexpected places, in fact.
In Chris Christie’s New Jersey we’ve created novel ways of taxing health-care. We’re one of only three states to tax health savings accounts (HSAs.) And with the advent of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, New Jersey is now in the business of taxing medicine, a first-in-the-nation-distinction that started on Chris Christie’s watch. So if you’re buying doctor-prescribed medical cannabis for a dying relative, be ready to shell out a 7% tariff. If the money for the medicine comes from your HSA, that’s another 9% tacked on for good measure. And while this sort of things might play okay in a center-left state like New Jersey, Chris Christie’s big-government, tax-happy policies are NOT gonna play well among the Club For Growth/Tea Party set. (By the way, taxes aren’t the only hurdle New Jersey’s medical marijuana program faces. Philly.com: “New Jersey is running the most limited medical marijuana program in the country. Gov. Christie personally went to the mat for several unique restrictions: the active ingredient, THC, must remain under 10 percent, dispensaries may only grow three strains of cannabis, and patients can only buy two ounces per month.”)
Chris Christie is large-and-in-charge when it suits him. But on the subject of the 2nd amendment, Chris Christie is just another political windsock.
According to the Political Guide, “While running for Assemblyman in 1995 Chris Christie put out a campaign flyer noting his support for the assault weapons ban. He called the support for repealing the ban dangerous, crazy, and radical.” Chris Christie even sent of this direct mailer attacking his (then)-GOP primary opponents for ostensibly being too cozy with the NRA. Like an overwhelming majority of Americans, I totally agree with Christie’s 1995 position to ban mlitary-style assault weapons. But let’s face it, the National Rifle Association (and their ilk) are gonna have a bona fide hissy when they learn of Christie’s second amendment flip-flop. Of course, now that he’s a big shot whose national ambitions could be checked at the GOP primary, Chris Christie has disavowed his former moderate positions. As if by magic, Chris Christie suddenly supposedly has no problems with semiautomatics.
My frenemies from Save Jersey were wondering the same thing:
“In Chris Christie’s defense, he would tell you that he’s evolved on positions like … gun rights since this mailer was produced 20 years ago (when he was only 30 years old). He recently vetoed many of the state legislature’s worst gun-grab legislation…. The million dollar question is whether angry purists and honest skeptics outnumber more forgiving/moderate voters in the early primary states by this time two years down the road.”
Don’t let Chris Christie’s convenient 2nd amendment about-face fool you. He’s good at telling you with you want to hear, but just like his record on taxes, facts beg to dinner. The sixteen-step guide to acquiring a legal firearm in New Jersey even has liberals like me scratching our heads. So you can imagine how the gun-owners in an Iowa GOP primary are gonna react, right? I chronicled my own quest to purchase a gun in New Jersey in these here pages. The process to was neither quick nor cheap nor painless:
The application for a NJ Firearms Purchaser ID Card is long, needlessly arbitrary and (ultimately) ineffective. Was I a felon? Do I currently have a drug or alcohol problem? No and no. Easy enough. Other queries, while logical, felt more invasive: have I ever struggled with drugs or alcohol in the past? Yes, I was in rehab a dozen years ago (a fact I must reveal or risk perjury.) Also, can I provide three references to vouch for my mental health and psychological stability? Um sure. What ‘s a few secrets between me and the Government? But seriously, why not ask my doctor? Wouldn’t that be a more sensible way to determine my mental fitness versus contacts I curate for you?
My Libertarian catnip experiment has proven useful. Not only did it allow some venting, I also spent an lavishly long time reading the anti-Christie comments on the articles cited in this piece. Beholding the unbridled vitriol punctuating these comment threads feels like therapy for this New Jersey liberal. Given the devastating landslide gubernatorial loss we (real) New Jersey Democrats just endured, it’s a cheap thrill I hope you won’t begrudge me.