Republican Convention 2012

Chris Christie's Hard Truths

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The big theme of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's GOP convention speech last night was that politicians should be straight with people. And he pitched Mitt Romney's candidacy on the promise that he "will tell us the hard truths." 

I find Christie's no-nonsense style of engagement appealing in certain ways, but aggressive public appearances don't always correlate with actual truth telling.

As Bloomberg's Josh Barro points out, when it comes to his legislative accomplishments, Christie hasn't exactly told the hard truths himself:

But a hard truth Christie absolutely will not tell is that every one of his budgets has been unbalanced by more than $2.5 billion. When Christie said tonight he has signed "three balanced budgets," he wasn't telling a hard truth—he was using bad accounting to hide a hard truth.

Each year, Christie has achieved "on paper" budget balance by making inadequate payments into the state's pension fund, effectively borrowing from the fund. Christie has touted this year's $1.03 billion pension fund payment as the largest in the state's history. Too bad the state's pension actuaries told him to deposit $3.74 billion.

And Christie said tonight that his pension reforms will save the state $132 billion over 30 years. But those savings are backloaded. Pension costs will continue to rise over the coming years and squeeze out funding for public services. Even after reform, the hard truth is that New Jersey still has a defined-benefit pension system that is unaffordable and exposes taxpayers to excessive investment risk.

Nor has Romney. To the contrary, Romney has pointedly avoided hard truths about the budget, about Medicare, defense spending, and taxes. He's made a slew of policy promises that don't add up and almost certainly never will.

Might that change if he becomes president? As Barro points out, Christie didn't say that Romney has already told us hard truths, but that he will — at some yet to be determined point in the future. So is the big, bold promise of the GOP, as delivered by Christie: Not that the presidential nominee will tell you the hard truth now, but that eventually they'll get around to it. 

NEXT: GOP Pushes to Become Seen as Medicare's Savior Despite Fiscal Destructiveness, Unfairness of Program

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  1. Alt text: “Seriously, I wish this mic was a corn dog.”

    1. “Low carb, dude, low carb!”

  2. Christie’s just a thin-skinned authoritarian. I don’t really get the love for him.

  3. Not that the presidential nominee will tell you the hard truth now, but that eventually they’ll get around to it.

    Telling people the hard truth is no way to get elected, son.

  4. In fairness to Christie, there’s no way in hell he’d ever be able to get a fiscally prudent budget passed in NJ. Obviously, there’s no way to know whether he would if he could.

    1. This is true – NJ is a deep blue state, dominated by public sector unions.

    2. On the drive home yesterday I heard Jerry Doyle singing Christie’s praises as the guy who cut NJ state spending and balanced the budget. Supposedly the state’s finances were so bad that it was a few months away from defaulting in the payroll, and he managed to fix the budget by cutting spending instead of increasing “revenue”. But that’s just me repeating what some talking head said on the radio.

      1. He vetoed some crap Gary Johnson style, and got some Dems to compromise Reagan style. Like ChrisO said, we have a deep blue legislature dominated by urban Democrats. Christie is probably the best we can do (much better than Whitman even) – doesn’t mean I want him to be on a national ticket.

  5. So Christie is balancing the budget by fucking state employees’ pension funds? This is supposed to be a bad thing why?

    1. Raiding the pension to offset the deficit is SOP around here. Christie actually funding a third of it is probably some kind of record.

  6. Declining to fund public employee pensions is, in fact, an acceptable way to balance the budget.

  7. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Mitt Romney to tell the truth.

    1. Might as well also wait for Obama to tell the truth, while you’re at it.

  8. Excellent investigative journalism there, Peter. Oh, wait…

  9. It’s kinda creepy to see writers at reason defending public sector union workers bloated pensions(the very thing that’s feuling the deficits), but it’s election season and the leftward march has begun, so I can understand.

    Can’t wait for the next round of ‘I’m gonna vote for Obama libertarianism’ to hit.

  10. It’s kinda creepy to see writers at reason defending public sector union workers bloated pensions

    Yeah, that’s exactly how I read it.

    Oh, wait- no it isn’t.

    Maybe it has to do with fatso’s bogus claim to have “balanced” the budget when he just swept the parts he didn’t like under the rug.

  11. The big theme of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s GOP convention speech last night was that politicians should be straight with people.

    Or at least ACT straight, since Republican voters tend to punish Teh Ghayness.

  12. Each year, Christie has achieved “on paper” budget balance by making inadequate payments into the state’s pension fund, effectively borrowing from the fund.

    No, Christie actually did balance the budget, and he did so by underpaying pensions for unionized government workers.

    I would think this would be a GOOD thing. Hell, I would loudly applaud running a huge budget surplus by raiding all the funds from that fund and then refunding all that money to the taxpayers from whom that money was coerced.

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