July 3, 2010

THE UNOBAMA:

Christie took early control on budget (Cynthia Burton, 7/03/10, Philadelphia Inquirer)

He began laying the groundwork for the austere budget months ago, and has been using high-profile venues to become the loudest voice in the room in the debate over it.

By the time the Legislature signed off on a state spending plan at 2 a.m. Tuesday, the governor was already scheduled to appear on two cable news networks to tell his version of the story Wednesday morning, according to a 1:21 a.m. Tuesday e-mail from his press secretary.

His quest was to restore what he called "fiscal sanity." Along the way, he cut local aid, skipped a $3 billion pension payment, raised transit fares, and cut back economic-development grants and property-tax rebates.

"We passed a budget that cuts $11 billion from our state's budget, balances it without any new tax increases on the people of the state of New Jersey," he told Joe Kernen on CNBC.

On MSNBC, he told Joe Scarborough: "It's a pretty big accomplishment by everybody who was involved in it, because $11 billion cut out of a budget is pretty significant."

The message was repeated later in the day when Christie signed the budget at the Summit Engine Company in South River. He had been telegraphing the message since taking office in January: Deep cuts to match an $11 billion deficit. No new taxes. Pain for all.

For those having trouble keeping up with his version of events, he issued a handy timetable on Wednesday starting with his inauguration and listing his view of his accomplishments, including vetoing minutes of public authorities, asking for a teacher salary freeze to "protect New Jersey schoolchildren," and getting Super Bowl 2014 to be played in New Jersey.

Each of these events and proclamations reveals a politician who attacks policy like a game of chess, nimbly using cool intellect and well-trained instinct to control the battlefield.

"One of the things past governors have failed to do, particularly Gov. Corzine, was to control the agenda through the media. And the reality is that because of Christie's effective use of the media in shaping public opinion, he got the budget he wanted from a Democratic Legislature," said Montclair State University political scientist Brigid Harrison. "He used the media and he shaped public opinion in such a way that the Democrats felt their hands were truly tied."

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 3, 2010 7:03 AM
  
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