Jersey Boys: Christie and Springsteen

Jeffery Goldberg’s account in The Atlantic of the Springsteen concert he attended with Governor Chris Christie and his entourage at The Rock is a must read for friends and foe of Christie.  Mitt Romney’s vetters and the DGA will be reading it.  You might as well.

Hat tip to our friends at InTheLobby.

Christie is having a Town Hall meeting in Brick on Tuesday the 26th, four days before the State’s budget is due or the government shuts down, except for the State Police and the Casino Control Commission.

Bruce is invited but probably won’t show.  You are invited too!

The meeting is at the Lake Riveria Middle School, 171 Beaverson Road, Brick.   It starts and 3PM.  Doors open at 2:15.  RSVP here is you are going.

Posted: June 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Blame Hoover

By Jim Morford, cross posted at InTheLobby

When I was a youngster and things weren’t going well in the economy, the Democrats would always claim, “It’s Hoover’s fault.”  Republicans, on the other hand, blamed Democrats for “getting us into war” citing Wilson, Roosevelt (FDR) and Truman.

Today, things have changed. Democrats blame Bush for both the economy and for getting us into war.

But who really should bear the responsibility, if not the blame, for the problems facing our country today? To be sure, there is enough blame to be shared by both political parties for landing us in the deeply troubled economy that haunts us today. Politicians of all stripes and at all levels of government have, through fiscal irresponsibility, over taxed and over spent the public’s money. Truly, the blame can reach beyond politicians to include skillful labor unions who have negotiated benefits beyond the ability of governments and private sector employers to pay for them. Additionally, an apathetic public – perhaps the greatest cause of all our woes – has allowed corrupt politicians, avaricious businesses and organized labor to loot the public coffers.

Since the days of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, our country has been on a Fabian path to statisim. Some are surprised that the Obama Administration has accelerated the pace.

In his most recent book, The Next Decade, geopolitical analyst and founder of Stratfor George Friedman presents a provocative and insightful look into the next decade. It’s a book well worth reading, as he sees a time of massive change and what the US will need to do to survive.

Before we jump headlong into speculation about the next decade, let’s take a look at the recent past to get some idea of whose policies and actions have put us where we find ourselves today.

From 1949 until 1995, the Democratic Party held majority control of the House of Representatives, thereby acting as a restraint on one-party dominance when Republicans sometimes had majorities in the US Senate and/or the White House. The philosophy of bigger and bigger government, embraced to greater and lesser degrees by both political parties, has dominated the country since the 1930s.

It was the relatively short period from 2003 to 2007 that the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Even during the “conservative” presidency of Ronald Reagan, at least one house of Congress remained in the control of the Democratic Party and government continued to grow.

The current and dramatic shift in political dominance in Washington did not just take place on January 20, 2009 when President Obama was sworn into office. The shift actually began on January 3, 2007 when the Democrats recaptured control of the US Senate. At that time, the Dow closed at over 12,600; unemployment stood at 4.6% and the economy under George W. Bush set a record of 52 consecutive months of job growth.

It was on January 3, 2007 that Barney Frank (D) became Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd (D) took over the Senate Banking Committee. 15 months later a meltdown occurred in the banking and financial services sector of our economy, notwithstanding President Bush’s urging repeatedly that serious reform was needed.

One of the most important responsibilities that a member of Congress has is to enact an annual budget for the federal government. However, the US Senate under the leadership of Harry Reid (D) has failed to pass a budget since 2009. The House, under Republican control since 2011, has twice passed budgets and sent them to the Senate, which for purely partisan reasons has failed to enact a budget bill. Unfortunately, Majority Leader Reid and his Democratic colleagues believe that partisanship  is their primary responsibility, rather than fiscal stewardship and sound public policy.

The Federal budget cycle is governed mainly by six laws. Probably the most important of them is The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 that governs the basic practices of federal budgeting and spending. Because of partisan irresponsibility in refusing to enact a budget and to avoid government shutdowns, Congress gets along by enacting continuing resolutions. Doing so fails the test of fiscal responsibility. However, public apathy (cited above) allows negligent politicians to get away with it.

President George W. Bush was no fiscal conservative or effective small government advocate. During his eight years in office, he increased the federal budget by 104% and the national debt grew by $3.3 trillion.

The Obama Administration has accelerated the pace of spending and debt to unsustainable levels. Today, the national debt stands at over $15 trillion. The debt is dismissed by some as just money we owe ourselves, but the interest on that debt has to be paid out of tax revenues, or borrowed and added to the debt. That interest so far in 2012 is nearly $4 trillion. There are those politicians who see increasing taxes as the only answer to any problem. Others contend that the problem is not that government has too little in revenue, but that it is spending far too much.

Whether it is the fault of Republicans, Democrats or both, it is a useless exercise to simply blame. Rather, we must reverse course and get our fiscal house in order if we are to survive as a nation that resembles anything we have known up until now.

There are solutions, but no easy solutions. Our apathetic and dependant population “served” by corrupt and power-grasping politicians may result in our becoming more like Greece than the affluent land of opportunity we once were.   

In a 2011 interview conducted by economist Donald Luskin, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan observed that he sees the United States as having crossed the threshold, a point of no return, at which we’ve taken on too great a government debt, and at the same time made too great a commitment to government control of the economy. Luskin wrote, “He told us that we won’t recognize America 20 years from now, and that we won’t like what we see.”

Jim  Morford is former Associate  Director of Government Relations for the NJ Education Association, former VP and chief lobbyist for the NJ Chamber of Commerce, former President of the NJ Food Council and is Executive Director Emeritus of the NJ Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED). He is a partner in the Trenton-based consulting firm of Morford-Drulis Associates, LLC. The opinions expressed in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any clients or associates. 

Posted: April 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Economy, Statism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Good reading

Why Do They Want to Pick on Ann Romney?

Karin McQuillan, a retired psychotherapist and author who served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, writes at American Thinker that Hillary Rosen’s recent rant that Ann Romey never worked a day he her life is part of the Obama political strategy rooted in the politics of envy.  Worse, she says the strategy is deeply rooted in Obama’s psyche as a result of his upbringing.

I guess that’s a theory that one would expect from a psychotherapist.  McQuillan makes a fascinating case.


Closer to home, our friends at InTheLobby have a hilarious account of how Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni turned the table on U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg during the senator’s hearing this week over the fairness of toll increases and patronage at PA.

Turns out that Lautenberg as a former commissioner of the PA he had a free EZ pass for decades and didn’t pay tolls from 1978 through 2006 when the PA stopped issuing free EZ passes to cronies.

Regarding patronage, a former Lautenberg campaign staffer joined PA in 2002, and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s son is an intern at PA now.

West Virginia U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller came to Lautenberg’s defense.  New Jersey Democrats have been silent, just as they were during Lautenberg’s dust up with State Senate President Steve Sweeney and George Norcross over the Rutgers-Rowan merger earlier this month.

The InTheLobby piece quotes The Asbury Park Press and The Star Ledger.

Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics, 2012 U.S. Senate Race, 2013 Gubernatorial Politics, 2014 U.S. Senate race | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Corzine Moving to New York

He should check is couch for the missing $1.2 Billion when he packs

The New York Post and Bloomberg are reporting that former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has put is Hoboken penthouse condo of the market because he’s living in his wife’s apartment in New York City.

Hat tip to InTheLobby and Bob Ingle.

Posted: January 31st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Jon Corzine, MF Global | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Situation May Not Be As Bad As It Seems

Are taxpayers subsidizing MTV’s Jersey Shore?

That’s what some of my friends are saying. 

I usually agree with InTheLobby and Declan O’Scanlon, but in the case of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority granting a $420,000 tax credit to MTV for the 2009 production of Jersey Shore, I’m not so sure.

I’m not fan of the show.  I never watched it.  The promotions and buzz about it are enough for me to know that I’d rather see a Law and Order re-run.   Yet, there is no denying that the show has generated quite a bit of economic activity.  That’s what tax credits are supposed to do.

Tax credits are not subsidies in the sense that the government is writing a check.  They are promised tax reductions given to induce investment that will, hopefully, generate economic activity and more overall tax revenue than the amount of the credit.   Since Governor Christie has taken office, New Jersey has granted much larger tax credits to spur investment in Atlantic City and the Meadowlands.

Is the Jersey Shore tax credit a good deal for New Jersey?  I don’t know.  The Treasury Department would have to calculate the increased tax revenue that resulted from the show.   It would take $6,000,000 in increased sales of hair gel, contraceptives and alcohol to generate $420,000 in sales tax to “break even” on the tax credit.  I don’t buy hair gel or contraceptives.  I don’t watch the show, so it hasn’t driven me to drink more.  We’d have to rely on Treasury data to judge if increase sales taxes paid for the tax credit.

But we’d also have to include increased income taxes in the analysis.  How much do Snooki, the Situation and the rest of the cast pay to New Jersey in income taxes? What about the rest of the crew?  What about the increased income, and taxes for Seaside Heights businesses and their employees?

Is MTV paying any taxes to New Jersey as a result of the show at all?  If they hadn’t produced the show, they certainly would not have paid any taxes.  If the tax credit induced them to produce the show, that is what it was designed to do.

“I can’t believe we are paying for fake tanning for ‘Snooki’ and ‘The Situation’, and I am not even sure $420,000 covers that,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “This is a great investment for the taxpayers, as if they can make a show called ‘Jersey Shore’ anywhere else.”

Declan obviously doesn’t watch the show either.  They can make a show called ‘Jersey Shore’ in Italy.

Boardwalk Empire, the HBO hit series about the history of Atlantic City is not shot in New Jersey.  The beach scenes are shot in Coney Island, New York.

The Jersey Shore tax credit made headlines because State Senator Joe Vitale and the Italian American ONE Voice Coalition’s moral sensibilities are offended by how Italian Americans are depicted on the show.  They called for Governor Christie to veto the tax credit.  Christie doesn’t have the authority to veto the tax credit.  Vitale should have known that.  He probably did know that and just wanted to get his name in the papers.  What he did instead was generate more free publicity for the show he says offends him.

Vitale and ONE VOICE might have better luck in the courts. Earlier this week the Appeals Court set public moral sensibilities as a standard for what is legal in New Jersey.  If Vitale can convince a judge that the public’s moral sensibilities are offended by Jersey Shore, maybe he can get the show shut down, or get it moved, along with all the economic activity it is generating, to Italy or New York.

Posted: September 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Economy, Jersey Shore | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

The Redistricting Shuffle

InTheLobby has a terrific piece about state legislative and congressional  redistricting.

Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Redistricting | Tags: , | Comments Off on The Redistricting Shuffle