What will Republican Governor Chris Christie do? Look at past behavior!
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
(To be published in Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic County on November 11, 2009. www.shorenewstoday.com.)
“Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance”. Lou Adler, business recruiter and author of “The One Question Interview” (2004)?
Last week, we elected Republican Chris Christie as Governor. Will he cut the high taxes, spending, and political manipulation of the economy that are are bankrupting our state? Let’s look at the past behavior of Republicans.
In 1966, New Jersey had the best schools and highest economic growth in the nation. That was because we had frugal government, no state debt, no sales tax, no income tax, no lottery, no gambling, no riparian rip-offs, and business tax rates that were a fraction of what they are today. But in 1966, Democrat Governor Richard Hughes brought Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” to New Jersey. He pushed through our first sales tax (3%) to pay for it.
Three years later, New Jersey voters ousted the “tax and spend” Democrats. We voted for Republican Richard Nixon as President in 1968, and Republican William Cahill as Governor in 1969. Nixon stopped backing the dollar with gold. Cahill gave us a “budget crisis” that he “fixed” by with a whopping 67% sales tax hike (from 3% to 5%). Cahill was ousted by Republican voters in the 1973 primary. Democrat Brendan Byrne became Governor with full Democrat control of the legislature. In 1976, they celebrated our nation’s bicentennial by giving New Jersey its first income tax. It was a 2.5% flat tax on almost all income levels, very similar to the one proposed by Steve Lonegan last June. Atlantic County’s Steve Perskie, a leading Democrat in the Assembly promised that this new income tax would guarantee low property taxes.
But the new state taxes did the opposite. The new unions for cops, firemen, teachers and other government employees demanded big chunks of that money in the form of bigger salaries, pensions, and benefits. These unions then raised their dues, and poured that money into politics. This turned our public servants into our masters. Government taxing, borrowing, and spending has been out of control ever since.
In 1981, Republican President Ronald Reagan cut taxes and voters trusted Republicans to do the same thing in New Jersey. But Republican Governor Tom Kean and the new Republican controlled legislature made Democrats look stingy. Republicans raised income tax rates for the “rich” (folks making more than $50,000) to 3.5%. And Governor Tom Kean, Sr. set up dozens of “independent” agencies and authorities to borrow billions of dollars without voter approval as required by our Constitution. By targeting tax hikes and borrowing money, Republicans in the 1980’s taught millions of New Jersey voters that they could enjoy the benefits of big government spending without paying higher taxes. Some other sucker would pay. This made Republican Tom Kean a popular governor. Republican Tom Kean was also the first New Jersey politician to use government tourist promotion dollars to promote himself. (NJ & You-Perfect Together.) Republicans thought that targeted taxes, borrowing gimmicks, and using public money to promote themselves were brilliant ideas-until the Democrats Florio, McGreevey, Cody, and Corzine did the same things – only much bigger and better.
New Jersey was broke when the Reagan boom ended in 1988. The Republicans were again booted out, and Democrat Jim Florio became Governor. Florio chose not to cut spending. Instead, as soon as he took office in 1989, he added a bunch of new taxes and doubled the income tax on those “rich” folks earning more than $50,000. The rate went from Kean’s 3.5% to 7%. New Jersey voters went nuts, and put Republicans back in control of the Legislature in 1991. Immediately after those elections, the Democrats proposed a total repeal of the Florio tax hikes. But the REPUBLICANS voted to keep the Florio tax rates! Nobody talks much about that dirty little secret.
Republican Christie Whitman defeated Democrat Florio in 1993. She and the Republicans promised lower taxes, term limits, initiative and referendum, etc. They lied! Whitman only cut the 7% tax on over $50K incomes to 6.7%. But she reduced the 2.5% tax rate on lower incomes to 1.7%, even though that rate had never been increased by Florio! She played Bernie Madoff games with the pension funds, increased state spending, and brought state debt to $17 billion.
Will new Republican Governor Chris Christie cut taxes, spending, and big government political manipulation of our economy? Not if past behavior is the best predictor of future performance!
For information visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussion groups are held 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield. Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT 92.1 FM heard throughout South Jersey every Saturday from 8AM to 9AM.