April’s income tax revenues from the state’s wealthiest residents are far less than expected, and the overall shortfall for the current fiscal year is $800 million below the Christie administration’s projections.
From a first hand perspective, I lived through Pharmageddon from 2007-2013 when lab after lab shut down, transferring a tiny fraction of the workforce to Cambridge, MA and leaving tens of thousands of highly skilled, well paid STEM professionals to rot in the vast suburban jungle between New York City and Philadelphia. (Don’t believe me, you congressional lurkers out there? Go look up the NJDOL stats for those years. When you’re done cringing in horror at the waste of human and tax resources, you can tell those Pharma lobbyists to f^&* off the next time they whine that they just can’t find good help anymore and need to import from Asia.)
Of course, it wasn’t all Christie’s fault. He wasn’t elected until 2009 (no, I didn’t vote for him. I voted for Chris Daggett). By then, the merry axmen in the executive suites were already hacking away at families and careers with abandon. Living in New Jersey ain’t cheap and it gets damn near impossible when you lose your $100K salary to be replaced by a measly $2000/month in unemployment. Someone besides me should see the link between the hemorrhaging of highly paid jobs and NJ’s fiscal problems.
Just think of all the tax revenue that was lost when Christie couldn’t be bothered to stop the carnage. That’s tens of thousands of well paid jobs, *poof!*, gone in a flash. Deval Patrick didn’t seem to have trouble attracting that (vastly reduced) pool of jobs, did he? By the way, did those biotechs in Cambridge who promised to hire in order to get tax breaks actually hire all the people they said they would? And why didn’t Christie try to make a deal with the pharmas to keep them in the state? Was he just too busy putting his political adversaries in thumb screws? Was he having too much fun killing infrastructure projects and slashing the NJ Transit budget in order to give hard earned NJ tax dollars to developers of a white elephant in the Meadowlands?
Anyway, Paul Krugman should stop wondering about why people are so enamored with Christie. Well, some of us weren’t but then we weren’t taken in by Obama either and for roughly the same reasons. Both politicians coasted to victory by playing on the emotions of the electorate. In Christie’s case, he says what he thinks everyone is thinking. Or at least he’s not afraid to verbally abuse the defenseless. He gives his supporters status by picking on someone down the totem pole, separating them from their fellow citizens. In Obama’s case, he was all about appealing to the aspirations of the insecure. He called them “the creative class”, gave them status and separated them from their natural allies. He made some vulnerable democrats feel all warm and gooey. Yes, we can.
So, what can we learn from Christie and Obama? My guess is that when it comes to politics, it’s best to be a cold blooded voter and ask very directly and persistently, “What have you done for ME lately?” And when those pols start going for the emotional jugular to tell them to talk to the hand and walk away.