According to Chris Christie, we've all been living in a fantasy.
The New Jersey governor and potential presidential candidate argued Tuesday that President Obama and the Washington D.C. “culture” created a deceiving landscape, and went so far as to call Obama the “worst economic president since Jimmy Carter."
Speaking from the early voting state of New Hampshire, Christie kept up his uber-confident demeanor. And despite a recent string of bad news (including sinking poll numbers and federal authorities recently bringing charges against three of his former allies) he laid out his vision to create economic growth in the United States.
And the Republican wants voters to know that if he runs for the nation's highest office in 2016 he'll do a better job than Obama.
The president, Christie said in his roughly hour-long speech at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester, has tried to give the impression to Americans that the past six years have been a great success "when wages are flat, full-time employment for the middle class is shrinking, and wealth is at all-time highs only for the privileged," adding that Obama's policies have only widened the gap between the rich and the poor.
To rectify this, the governor put forth a five-point proposal, which, among other things, called on simplifying the country’s tax code (including a cut in the top income tax rate), reducing federal regulations, and creating a more effective national energy strategy, which includes green-lighting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The “bottom line," said Christie, is that “the fed’s easy money policies and the president’s anti-growth policies have made the rich even richer and made our middle class work longer and harder for less pay and less promise for their future."
Christie’s specific proposals included decreasing the number of income tax brackets to no more than three rates from the existing six. He said the top rate should not surpass 28% (the top income tax rate is currently 39.6%) while the bottom rate should stay in the single digits (as opposed to the current 10%). He stressed his plan would mean lower rates for every American and that it would be revenue neutral.
“It should take 15 minutes to do your taxes—not days, weeks, or months,” the governor said.
Christie also called on reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, and eliminating the payroll tax for those above the age of 62 and for those younger than 21 years old. He will hold a town hall meeting in Pembroke in the evening.
Critics of the governor’s latest economic plan, including the Democratic National Committee, contend it’s unclear what the governor’s roadmap means for the middle class. It amounts to “prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations above all else,” said DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman.
Several Republican candidates have pitched their own tax reform plans. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have said they are in favor of a single tax rate that applies to everyone. Meanwhile, Rubio’s proposal has the top rate only down to 35% but focuses on a new credit for families with children in addition to eliminating taxes on capital gains, investments and dividends.
Christie’s speech today is one of several the governor plans to make as he considers running for president in 2016. Last month, also in New Hampshire, Christie delivered remarks in which he touched the third rail of American politics: entitlement reform. He proposed eventually reducing Social Security benefits for retired seniors who make more than $80,000 and getting rid of it completely for those raking in $200,000 or more. Christie—who is pitching himself as someone who is willing to tackle thorny but important issues -- also said he was in favor of raising the retirement age from 67 to 69.
Although his potential rivals have not been as specific as Christie, some, including former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida have said they agreed with raising the eligibility age. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, has called such ideas “disastrous.”
Christie has said he will make a decision on whether or not he’ll make a bid for the White House sometime this month or in June.