Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Christie Wins

Noted reckless driver Chris Christie won the New Jersey governorship last night in a tight race with incumbent Jon Corzine. Christie was helped by the dislike many people had for Governor Corzine and has perceived ineffectiveness in handling the state's budget problems despite the fact that the mess he inherited had been in the making for the previous decade.
Christie scares me. In addition to his egregious traffic violations - which he neatly avoided severe prosecution from - he is pro-life and a supporter of supply-side economics, hardly the Eastern establishment Republican type that previous New Jersey Republicans like Clifford Case and Tom Kean represented. His health care proposals, especially involving insurance reform, are barbaric, and he still has no definitive plan on how to help the state's municipalities lower property taxes (to be fair, neither did Corzine, but he was making some progress by slowing the rate of increase).
I'm afraid that Christie will create a bigger mess in Trenton than the one the previous Christie - Christine Todd Whitman - created when she cut taxes and program funding but raided state pension programs to keep the budget balanced and thus still let spending run amok. And for all of her posturing on the environment and her later stint as director of the Environmental Protection Agency, her environmental record was atrocious, in one case allowing Merill Lynch to built a huge office complex in a rural area outside Trenton rather than in the city, which would have saved land in the country and helped Trenton's tax base. Perhaps Chris Christie will be a delightful surprise like Arnold Schwarzenegger proved to be in California, but I'm not holding my breath.
Nor I am holding my breath on health care reform. President Obama wanted a reform bill on his desk by August, and later he allowed the possibility of signing it by December in time for Christmas, but now we'll be lucky to have health care reform by Martin Luther King Day. Harry Reid, the milquetoast Senate Democratic leader, admitted that Senate passage of a bill might have to wait until after the first of the new year. World peace, apparently, is the only thing that can't be done by 2010.
I'm one of those 47 million Americans who can't afford health insurance and who would benefit from a government-run optional plan, so I don't have to rely on employers for coverage. Right now, I'm possibly going to have to take a job with bad hours and possibly low pay - which has nothing to do with my career ambitions - because my mother is concerned that I won't have health insurance otherwise. This is exactly the kind of situation I thought I'd find myself in now if Obama had lost the 2008 election.
The Republicans in the House, meanwhile, have offered proposals for health care reform, and while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has dismissed the gesture as too little, too late, it's better late than never and I do find a little in the little proposals to support. I can and would support the Republican proposal for consumers being able to buy insurance across state lines and their initiative to lower premiums, but I cannot support their proposal to drop employer mandates and cap expansions on Medicaid.

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