By Matt Rooney | Cross-Posted at The Save Jersey Blog
How many times have we heard the old refrain?
Around the water cooler or while stranded at your cousin's birthday party: "Com'on! They're all the same! There's no difference between Democrats and Republicans! It doesn't matter which you crooked party you vote for!"
Too often your cranky Aunt Sue is right, Save Jerseyans. That's why bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake doesn't win elections. Americans don't care if their leaders get along; if they truly preferred harmony and accord in the public arena, then "reality" television shows like MTV's Jersey Shore wouldn't be ratings blockbusters. Voters tell pollsters they like peace, want it, need it, and so on. No one wants other people to think they're turned on by conflict! It's not polite or proper, right? But rest assured that what the fickle masses are really craving is a compelling contrast between the major parties.
In yesterday's 'State of the State' address, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) took one gigantic step towards securing his own reelection by providing such a contrast.
The centerpiece of the Governor's 2012 plan is an across-the-board 10% income tax cut at a time when other populous states are hiking their rates rates.
God knows this is welcome news. The Garden State's tax burden is among the worst in the nation and income taxes rates are no exception, ranging from 1.4% for residents earning only $20,000 annually all the way up to 8.97% for residents bringing home $500,000 or more by year's end. Visit the treasury department to see where you fall. According to the Tax Foundation, "New Jersey's 2008 state-level individual income tax collections were $1,457 per person, which ranked 6th highest nationally."
The Governor's plan will consequently reap significant benefits for every single New Jersey taxpayer. That includes the single working mother on your block and the successful business owner down the street, both of whom would see tangible relief in a bad ecomony. Compare this approach with that of a major economic competitor, New York State, where Andrew Cuomo is raising taxes from 150-to-200% on New Yorkers earning less than $100,000 while those earning over $1 million are slated for a tax cut. How can New York businesses recruit with that kind of a tax structure as an impediment?
New Jersey Democrats aren't any more original than their Empire State counterparts. Less so, if we're being honest. They're already attacking Christie's plan for providing too little relief to low income residents. I look forward to fat cat Democrat legislators like Senate President Sweeney trying to convince young families that a few extra hundred dollars come tax time is chump change not worth keeping! And the Sweeney-Oliver proposal for 2012 is more astounding evidence of advanced tone-deafness: a massive 17% increase to the cost of doing business in New Jersey. If this plan wins out, businessmen trying to choose between Manhattan and Hoboken for a new expansion will continue to opt for Pennsylvania or North Carolina instead... or perhaps even the murky bottom of the Hudson River? Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if the treasury department responded by hiring professional divers.
I only hope that the Christie cut makes it to the surface. Whether he can get his 10% tax cut past a solidly-Democrat state legislature is an open question, even for a man famous for inter-party miracles. It's helpful that Americans are rapidly tiring of the Democrat Party's cynical class warfare tactics. My fellow New Jerseyans are no exceptions. Sadly, redistricting virtually guaranteed Democrat legislative dominance for another decade by shielding incumbents from popular sentiment in embarrassingly gerrymandered districts. Bottom line: we may be treading water for awhile until real tax reform is won.
But the Governor's proposal is hardly a fruitless endeavor even in the short term. By setting forth a bold tax reform proposal, Chris Christie is giving New Jersey voters a clear rationale to return him to Trenton next November. Taxpayers will face down an unambiguous choice in the polling booth: whether to (1) reelect a principled incumbent Governor who believes in New Jersey's ability to generate prosperity, or (2) roll the dice on a Democrat challenger who believes in Trenton's ability to spend your money better than you.
I'm confident we'll make the right decision in two year's time, just as I'm confident that growing hosts of politicians around the country will rely on Governor Christie's courageous example in the months and years ahead. More than any other Republican leader out there today, Chris Christie continues to provide the substantive contrast we need to win the battle for America's future. God bless him for it.
Matt Rooney is a New Jersey attorney, conservative activist and the founder & Blogger-in-Chief of New Jersey’s #1 conservative blog, Save Jersey. You can learn more about Matt and the Christie Revolution by visiting today!