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Quote Of The Day: "Subtlety Is Not Going To Win This Fight"

As Jay noted below, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is catching a lot of heat for going after the primary source of the state's fiscal woes: bloated public employee salaries and benefits, most of which are protected by public employee unions that wield vast power in the state legislature. George Will gave a shout out to Christie today in the Washington Post.

There are 700,000 more Democrats than Republicans in New Jersey, but in November Christie flattened the Democratic incumbent, Jon Corzine. Christie is built like a burly baseball catcher, and since his inauguration just 13 weeks ago, he has earned the name of the local minor-league team -- the Trenton Thunder.

He inherited a $2.2 billion deficit, and next year's projected deficit of $10.7 billion is, relative to the state's $29.3 billion budget, the nation's worst. Democrats, with the verbal tic -- "Tax the rich!" -- that passes for progressive thinking, demanded that he reinstate the "millionaire's tax," which hit "millionaires" earning $400,000 until it expired Dec. 31. Instead, Christie noted that between 2004 and 2008 there was a net outflow of $70 billion in wealth as "the rich," including small businesses, fled. And he said previous administrations had "raised taxes 115 times in the last eight years alone."

When will liberals learn that wealth (aka "capital") is very portable and that taxing the rich really only accomplishes one result with stunning efficiency: the rich move. It's called tax avoidance, a concept that is totally alien to the public employee union mindset. Will drives home that point with this analysis:

Government employees' health benefits are, he says, "41 percent more expensive" than those of the average Fortune 500 company. Without changes in current law, "spending will have increased 322 percent in 20 years -- over 16 percent a year." There is, he says, a connection between the state's being No. 1 in total tax burden and being No. 1 in the proportion of college students who, after graduating, leave the state.

Partly to pay for teachers' benefits -- most contribute nothing to pay for their health insurance -- property taxes have increased 70 percent in 10 years, to an average annual cost to homeowners of $7,281. Christie proposes a 2.5 percent cap on annual increases.

The Tea Party movement has been all over this issue from its beginning but Governor Christie may be the first big league politician to actually wrestle the problem to the ground. Think about that data for a moment. Government employees in New Jersey enjoy health benefit plans that are 41% more expensive than Fortune 500 private sector plans. Why do public sector employees that create no wealth whatsoever enjoy such riches in excess of a private sector that pays all of the taxes from their own wealth creation? What the Tea Party movement advanced in general last Spring is being brought home by Christie in a manner that makes it personal. And therein is the substance of a winning campaign strategy if only some conservative/libertarian will show the courage to push a policy on a national level that surprisingly is being birthed in New Jersey. Conservatives would be wise to heed Christie's most prescient comment that "subtlety is not going to win this fight,"


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Comments (6)

"Government employees in Ne... (Below threshold)

"Government employees in New Jersey enjoy health benefit plans that are 41% more expensive than Fortune 500 private sector plans."

Exactly. And that's why we are going to see one heck of a fight over Obama's proposed taxes on so-called "Cadillac health care plans." Truth is, a substantial portion of Cadillac plans belong to unionized public sector workers. That's a dirty secret that union bosses and their Democrat cronies don't want the rest of us to know.

The unions won't give up any of their free goodies without a huge fight. And if they succeed in exempting themselves from the Cadillac health tax, it will only be a Pyrrhic victory at best, because there will be a LOT of seriously pissed off private sector employees.

The public employee benefit... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

The public employee benefits cannot be sustained, period - especially the pension plans are already finding themselves insolvent, and the worst is yet to come.

The bills for decades of liberal government policies are only now beginning to come due, even as we take on massive new debt obligations for socializing medicine.

Subtlety hasn't worked in the past for the slow-burning fuses which are only now getting close to explosion, Social Security and Medicare, and won't work now. But the reality cannot be avoided, no matter how the subject is raised. Not any more.

"Truth is, a substantial... (Below threshold)

"Truth is, a substantial portion of Cadillac plans belong to unionized public sector workers."

And THAT is why union bosses (particularly the SEIU boss) had quiet meetings with Obama or had a prominent seat at the behind-closed-door meetings during the entire healthcare debate - to get an exemption from the "Cadillac tax". But a lot of people either didn't care, knew and hoped it would remain quiet, or didn't know at all.

I wonder when the left will... (Below threshold)

I wonder when the left will pass a law making it ILLEGAL to move all of your wealth from a particular state if it exceeds X dollars? A 40-50% tax would be due. Naturally this would NOT apply to politicians, democrats, members of the media, union reps or other leftists.

HughS:Wh... (Below threshold)


Why do public sector employees that create no wealth whatsoever enjoy such riches in excess of a private sector that pays all of the taxes from their own wealth creation?

That's simple - public sector unions.

In a private sector, there's a dynamic that exists between unions and management that cannot exist (i.e. isn't possible) in the public sector.

In the private sector, the requests of the union are mitigated by the fact that if the union's request are too much then the business isn't viable and would go bankrupt - resulting in the union members being out of work.

In the public sector, the union's demands are only mitigated by the politicians' willingness to make promises for which some later generation will have to pay (unfunded liabilities - remember the term, as a taxpayer you'll be hearing it a lot in the coming months / years as the promises starts coming due).

The result is either significantly higher taxes or defaulting on the lavish promises made by the politicians.

For those interested in the... (Below threshold)

For those interested in the details of the destruction that public sector unions are wrecking on the state body politic, I suggest you frequently visit the blog of Mike "Mish" Shedlock at globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com. He will provide you with all the gory details concerning CA, IL, NJ, NV, MI and other states and municipalities. Until the public sector unions are tamed or, preferably, destroyed, state finances cannot be balanced.






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