As if New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) didn’t have enough troubles with his ongoing scandals, his state finances are nearly as embarrassing. Because the governor was completely wrong – and he bullied those who were right – New Jersey has seen its debt downgraded five times since Christie took office five years ago.
Add Christie’s troubles with job creation and a growing state budget deficit, and we’re left with a governor who clearly can’t pivot from his many controversies to his governing record.
Pushed for an explanation for his state’s financial problems, Christie has an answer: the buck stops somewhere else.
“What we’re being told initially is that this is the effect of the change in the law at the end of 2012 by the Obama administration and the Congress to increase tax rates on upper-level individuals,” Christie said.
The Republican governor was warned that his budget math didn’t add up; he ignored the warnings; and Christie still wants to blame the president.
And he’s not the only one. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) pushed through tax cuts his state couldn’t afford, leading to a bond-rating downgrade, and creating “a hole in the state’s finances without noticeable economic growth.” Guess what happened next.
“What we are seeing today is the effect of tax increases implemented by the Obama administration that resulted in lower income tax payments and a depressed business environment,” Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement. “The failed economic policies of the Obama administration are affecting states throughout the nation.”
Look, I can appreciate why governors like Christie and Brownback are scrambling for an excuse. Both made irresponsible decisions, both were wrong, and both are facing downgrades and budget shortfalls they didn’t expect.
But blaming President Obama for their state finances doesn’t make any sense. For one thing, by the Christie/Brownback logic, every state should be facing similar problems right now, which simply isn’t the case.
For another, if the president’s tax policies were causing larger shortfalls, why is the federal budget deficit shrinking so quickly?
In GOP circles, Obama must be an easy scapegoat. When conditions in their states are great, Republican governors want the credit. When conditions fall short, Republican governors want the White House to take the blame.
But in the Christie/Brownback, it’s lazy and it’s demonstrably wrong.