Still, opponents who label him a bully can point to his conduct last week, where he seemed to be just that in handling legislative Democrats’ response to his budget proposal.
In published reports, the governor dismissed the plan to include a one-year millionaire’s tax as playing fast and loose with the math — “a cute idea” they should “hope nobody smells.”
It’s hard for business owners to look at the ideas and achievements of Democratic legislators with any kind of sympathy. That same day, a package of bills designed to curb public employee benefits and rein in property taxes inspired these same lawmakers to engage in disapproving head-shaking intense enough to melt away those unsightly legislative jowls.
That package of bills, presented by Christie, was populated with the kind of stuff business owners have had in place for years — retirement at 65, not 62; a 401(k) plan, not a pension — and the corporate set is justifiably excited by the opportunity to see the state’s bills shrink, helping them become more competitive.
We’ve offered praise to the governor in this space before; now, allow us to offer a word of caution. Though Christie is one of the most polarizing figures to ever hold the keys to Drumthwacket, his defenestration of the old guard’s policy manual has made him a hero to business owners. He doesn’t need to stoop to insults to win the day for his agenda — and doing so often makes his rivals seem sympathetic. Defenders of the teachers union were hard to find, until Christie accused educators of turning students into “drug mules.” And comments like that have a much longer shelf life than any legislation Christie could hope to pass through the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Just ask Barack Obama about Sarah Palin, health care reform and pulling the plug on venerable old grandma.
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