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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 12/23/2010

Chris Christie's Pepsi problem, Part III

By Ezra Klein

Dave Weigel makes the case that though Gov. Chris Christie's personal popularity is dropping, his relentless communications strategy has been successful in making his preferred solutions much more popular than the available alternatives, and in making his chosen opponents much less popular than they'd need to be to mount an effective opposition strategy.

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

really Ezra, Part 3. Does he scare you that much or is it more the ideology that public sector unions and their unabated costs are the problem and Governors like Christie are the solution?

I guess the other option is to allow pension responsibilities grow until the point when they go bankrupt and pay pennies on the dollar as your Wonkbook article suggested individual cities will do. That's not responsible to the pensioneers to give them that false sense of security. Better to let them know the truth of their failing pensions so that they can better prepare for the shortfalls to come with subsidization by their own retirement plans.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 23, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr, if you think that public sector workers are living so high on the hog, why did you choose to become an insurance salesman?

*Better to let them know the truth of their failing pensions so that they can better prepare for the shortfalls to come with subsidization by their own retirement plans.*

Even better to, you know, *actually fund the pensions*, I think.

Posted by: constans | December 23, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

When I was a labor relations student, I took a class on negotation where i was taught to "call out" the other side's hardball tactics, i.e., if someone is just making a fuss to try to intimidate the other side, you point that out to neutralize the tactic.

Christie's plan to pander to the right and make himself look like a bold leader to everyone is so transparant, it's almost a joke.

Democrats need to "call him out." They need to say that Chris Christie is hacking school and transporation budgets and pushing the blame on New Jerseyans. He's pandering to Rush Limgaugh and Glenn Beck and trying to act like a tough guy. He's not a leader, he's a circus.

This shouldn't be too hard.

Posted by: phillycomment | December 23, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

*Democrats need to "call him out."*

If that's what we're relying on, then we're screwed!

Posted by: constans | December 23, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

constans,

actually I don't think they're living "high on the hog" as you put it. I never said that nor would I because well they're not. They are living much longer than actuarily they were expected to when the deal for their pensions was first made though and that's exponentially driving costs up.


Better yet that we get healthcare costs under control as they're skyrocketing in the public sector as badly or worse than the private sector because the level of benefit is too high.


And sure we can fund the pensions but you still can't tax more than 100% of a person's income.


I'll give you a liberal's dream. Say we didn't have the Bush tax cuts on the rich and saved that $70 billion (it was about $70 billion right or was that for 2 years.) Say we found a way to get through the bureaucratic MESS that is government and every single penny of that went towards all the deserving pensioneers. You do realize that's only a drop in the bucket of what's needed to make them whole and you're also taking away a good chunk of what will sustain growth for the next several years because we were told that the continuation of the Bush tax cuts would increase GDP by .5 to 1%. So you see my, er your conundrum right? Its coming out of one pocket of another so what difference does it matter which one it is and wouldn't you rather be honest to the pensioneer than to delude him or her with delusions of sustainable retirements?

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 23, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

The pensions cannot "actually be funded". The money isn't there and the kicker is that the unions know it. But the unions have made a tactical decision to get agreements that they know are unsustainable. The reason why is because an unsustainable promise is better than no promise at all. When push comes to shove and the promise is reneged on, the unions hope to get at least a few cents on the dollar by declaring that a promise is a promise. If the promise wasn't made in the first place, it would be zero cents on the dollar. And maybe a future miracle will happen such that governments will be able to pay in full.

Increased transparency would put a stop to future unsustainable promises because it would be apparent from the beginning to all stakeholders that such promises are not sustainable.

Posted by: bdell555 | December 23, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

phillycomment,

the thing about Christie (at least what I've seen) is that he's not attacking the poor defenseless teachers. He's attacking their unions. Same for the public sector workers. That's been his strategy and its worked (this poll that Ezra keeps bringing up notwithstanding). That being said its a little grandstanding on his part because he certainly didn't mention Christie at all when he was rising in the polls. Not surprised I guess.

And the problem with the argument that he's "hacking school budgets" is that he specifically targeted white upper middle class counties and districts with the largest cuts and many of the urban areas got little or no cuts so the whole "stick it to the poor middle class area" argument that will be next won't stick either.


He also didn't ask teachers to take a pay cut, he asked them for a freeze at a time when many in the private sector was taking a pay cut (if they even had a job or still do). Sorry not much sympathy there.

In our districts for example we didn't lose any teachers but we lost some busing (which means the parents (ie private sector) has to pick up the slack and we lost some afterschool programs or had to pay a small fee for our kids to participate in them. And most everyone did or is dealing with the busing issues during a recession because that's what most do in a recession, find a way to make do with what you have.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 23, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"Even better to, you know, *actually fund the pensions*, I think."

Then why didn't NJEA water carriers Florio, Whitman, McAshole, and Corzine do it?

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 23, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

krazen1211, well, Whitman didn't do it because she wanted to give you tax cuts.

Posted by: constans | December 23, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

If you want a reason to not bet against Christie, look at Rob Ford's campaign to become mayor of Toronto. Rob Ford is even more Christie than Christie, yet he won in a landslide to become mayor of Canada's largest, most diverse city.

Posted by: bdell555 | December 23, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"krazen1211, well, Whitman didn't do it because she wanted to give you tax cuts."

Actually, Whitman didn't do it because she misinvested pension funding money. But you got 3 more to go, I'm waiting.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 23, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

No, krazen, really: as a means of "balancing the budget" with the tax cuts that she promised in her campaign against Florio, she purposely raided the pension funds. And now Christie wants to blame teachers and public employees for what he doesn't want to pay for.

Posted by: constans | December 23, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"No, krazen, really: as a means of "balancing the budget" with the tax cuts that she promised in her campaign against Florio, she purposely raided the pension funds. And now Christie wants to blame teachers and public employees for what he doesn't want to pay for."

Of course not. Chris Christie didn't establish those obligations.

Please explain why Mcashole and Corzine didn't put a dime into the teacher pension funds in many of their years.

Of course, Mcashole and Corzine didn't balance the budget. They engaged in unconstitutional borrowing to pay for current obligations. I'm still waiting.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 23, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Also, please explain why Florio did this:

Gov. Jim Florio began the modern era of shortchanging the pension funds in 1992 with the Pension Revaluation Act, which allowed the state to switch from using the book value of pension assets, a more conservative approach, to a market-related value, and increased the assumed rate of return for investments from 7 percent to 8.75 percent.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 23, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

oh look at the timely update on the current NJ pension and healthcare obligations totaling over $120 BILLION.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/nj_pension_shortfall_grows_mor.html


As for Whitman I was never a huge fan of hers but she was certainly better than Florio and much better than McGreevey or THE WORST, Corzine. I mean seriously something's wrong with a state that allows you to be carrying on an affair with the head of union you're making deals with. I guess Jon's never heard of recusing himself but thank God he's gone now.

And good for Governor Christie for choosing to hold the $3.1 billion payment hostage until real reforms are approved.


Really in a recession like we had they were scheduled for a 9% increase? I'm sure Jon and Carla made that deal, well you know where.

Sure Christie did some things wrong (Race to the Top and not keeping the millionaire's tax in place) but he's done a heckuva lot more good than Corzine could have ever imagined. Just imagine how far behind we'd be if Jon had won. UGH.

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