But his track record on throwing good money after bad is hardly perfect. Christie is tossing $200 million of Garden State tax dough at a long-stinking shopper-tainment project once called "Xanadu" and now renamed the "American Dream" (because it's every developer's dream to get the state to pay most of the freight for private building). From an account by the Manhattan Institute's Nicole Gelinas:
Christie stood with the mall's new developers and promised that "it's finally going to move forward." The governor offered $200 million in new support to the project, which has a new name — American Dream — and a not-so-dreamy new price tag: $3.7 billion.
Christie's support is inconsistent with his values. The Republican governor should understand that there's no place for public money in a mall, even one with indoor ski slopes.
If Xanadu's new owners and lenders thought that American Dream's prospects were stellar, they'd fund the thing themselves.
Of course, if they knew anything about literature or movies, they would never have named the damn thing Xanadu, as that guarantees its failure (forget Olivia Newton John's bomb flick for a moment; even in Coleridge's "vision"-poem "Kubla Khan," the place is a symbol of an unattainable goal that drives the dreamer to distraction). The project and most of the public subsidies started under Christie's predecessor, Jim McGreevy, whose administration unraveled when he made his own misstep in poetry by hiring and then allegedly harassing Israeli poet Golan Cipel as New Jersey's security czar.
But Christie is not blameless, as Gelina underscores:
It's likely that Christie's financial folks will design the subsidy as debt backed by future tax revenues. Many states, including New Jersey, have argued that this type of subsidy is better than cash because the future taxes wouldn't exist without state support.
But giving away future tax revenues is no better than giving away today's. Voters wouldn't like it if Christie took $200 million out of this year's budget to give to real-estate developers. Structured tax-supported financing is the same thing, in disguise, and pushes bigger deficits onto future governors' watches.
Picking and choosing particular projects doesn't "create" future tax revenues anyway.
Read Gelinas' whole piece here. It underscores the sad reality that even those who seem to know that We Are So Out of Money at every level of government can always find a few more nickels to rub together for well-connected pals.
And now, without further ado, Xanadu, which killed a thousand careers (rightly):