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What tax cuts in NJ??

I followed a link from Eschaton to this Media Matters post on Governor Christie boo-hooing about how taxes in NJ aren’t covering state pension plans:

So, in the mid-1990s, Christine Whitman raided New Jersey’s pension fund to pay for tax cuts. Critics warned that doing so would cause massive problems for the state’s budget — and nailed the timing of those problems with remarkable accuracy. And now, the media is full of stories suggesting New Jersey’s pension system is the cause of the state’s budget shortfall — without mentioning Whitman’s role in causing it to happen. (The Washington Post, which reported on Whitman’s role at the time and which frequently reports on current pension/budget issues, last mentioned Whitman’s diversion of funds from the pension system on December 20, 2005.)

Take another look at that comment from Bill O’Reilly:

Many states cannot pay health and pension benefits because the tax revenue is not nearly enough to cover expenses.

You’ve probably seen dozens of statements like that lately. It should be clear by now — though it isn’t from most news reports — just how disingenuous this is, at least as far as New Jersey is concerned. Let’s review: A Republican governor of New Jersey reduced payments to the state pension system so she could cut taxes. Critics warned doing so would cause significant budget shortfalls in 2010. 2010 rolled around, and — surprise! — so did budget shortfalls. And now those shortfalls are used by New Jersey’s current Republican governor (along with many in the media) to justify cutting pensions (while again cutting taxes.)

Basically, conservatives have staged an end-run around having a public debate over cutting pensions in order to pay for tax cuts. Rather than making the argument that tax cuts are more important than pensions, they just went ahead and cut taxes, raiding the pension system in the process, then waited 15 years for predictable — and predicted — deficits, which they now point to as evidence that the pension system is unsustainably generous. And they’ve done it with the help of countless news organizations that fall for this shell game.

Wait a minute, wait a minute.  There were tax cuts in NJ??  How come I never heard about it?  Since around 2003, my property tax bill went up by about 40% and has stayed stubbornly stuck between ridiculous and outrageous.  The mortgage on this modest little townhouse would be pretty reasonable if it weren’t for the damn property tax that weighs it down.  Then there’s the association fee that is supposed to cover everything that the township doesn’t cover because my development is considered to have “private roads”.  How conveeeeenient.  So, I pay sky-high property taxes (my mother gets dizzy when I tell her how much) AND I still have to pay for snow removal and trash hauling and, and, and.

So, where has the money been going?  After all, this is the densest state in the union (in more ways than one) and there are a lot of people here paying through the nose to live with the abysmal traffic, shortage of public transportation, high ticket prices on NJTransit, long lines for everything and irritable neighbors.

Oh, yes, I forgot.  Governor Christie is going to bail out the developers of a white elephant mall in the Meadowlands called Xanadu.  Like NJ needs another mall.

Teachers or developers?  Pensions or public assistance for the rich?

We know the answer to this.

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3 Responses

  1. When pensions are subject to political whim, they’re not sustainable. I guess the same thing is true about taxes.

    It makes me wonder about the sustainability of even a theoretical Medicare for Everyone.

    With so many crazies in charge, we’re in trouble.

  2. This is happeing everywhere. We see it hitting the fan in NJ [my native state] but it’s a duplicate of what’s happening in Greece, Ireland, Portugal et al. The baiiouts help the banks, the developers and all those who looted the system to begin with. Ordinary citizens are left holding the bag, and then told they’re greedy. And oh yes, the remedy is austerity [another way of saying ‘we got you sucker’].

    I watched a vid on Ireland a couple weeks ago. Those ghost subdivisions and building misadventures here look pretty similar to what you’ll find on the Emerald Isle. And the sad tidbit is that the “Immigration Wake,’ a tradition that started during the Great Famine, has been revitalized as people leave Ireland to escape crushing debt and the threat of debtor’s prison.

    Of course, the question is: where do you go when the philosophy of Too Big to Fail has swept the globe? This is the age of the Baron Robbers gone wild.

    I have dear friends and family working and living in New Jersey now [many work in the public sector–schools, state and county positions, etc] They all want to get out. But where to go, where to go?

    We’re all caught in an impossible loop. Or is that the drain beneath our feet?

  3. Ain’t gonna be nothin but crazies in charge either.

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