Thursday, March 18, 2010

NJ Gov. Christie's Budget: Republican-Style "Shared Sacrifice"

Governor Christopher J. Christie of New Jersey (R), announcing sharp budget cuts in terms of state workers, education, health care and more, has stated, "the watchwords of this budget are shared sacrifice and fairness." Take a look at how he proposes to implement these ideals:

The battle to ensue is likely to shape up around the so-called millionaire’s tax, a one-year income-tax surcharge on people making more than $400,000 that Mr. Christie vowed not to renew. (Democrats allowed it to lapse in December.) If that surcharge were renewed, it would bring in close to $1 billion.

The state doesn't need the $1 billion to be accrued from millionaires. There are other sources of income:

...trimming the state’s earned-income tax credit to 20 percent of the federal benefit, from 25 percent.

Jon Shure, an expert on state finances at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning group in Washington, said he believed this would be the first time a state had reduced its earned-income tax credit.

“That’s the kind of decision that could be avoided by going for more on the revenue side,” he said. “You’re spreading the pain to the lowest-income working people in the state.”

More examples of how Christie is spreading the most pain to those who have the least:

[Christie proposes] imposing new $310 deductibles and doubling some drug co-payments for participants in a state prescription-drug plan for the elderly and disabled, cutting state-financed school breakfasts and rental assistance and trimming the state’s earned-income tax credit to 20 percent of the federal benefit, from 25 percent.

...He also wants to reduce by attrition the so-called senior freeze that caps property taxes for the elderly, by not admitting new homeowners into the program.

Christie's budget epitomizes the Republican concept of "shared sacrifice and fairness." Millionaires are treated gingerly. Those whose low income qualifies them for the earned-income tax credit, the elderly, the disabled, poor children–they're the ones called upon to sacrifice.

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