Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has built a national reputation as a straight talker who will answer tough questions. But a close look at his public statements over the past year shows that some do not stand up to scrutiny. Here are a selection of statements, and an examination of their truthfulness.
ON PUBLIC-SECTOR UNIONS AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING:
STATEMENT “They go around the collective bargaining when they don’t get what they want, everything that they want, and they go to the Legislature to do it, and use their political power and their money to be able to buy the Legislature to get what they want — and governors, too, in the past.”
February interview with The New York Times
EXPLANATION Mr. Christie’s aides said he was referring to more than a dozen laws that the unions had requested: all were pension changes, the most recent in 2003. Under New Jersey law, pension changes can be made only by the Legislature, and in the years his aides said the governor had been referring to, pensions were not addressed at the bargaining table (this provision was changed in 2007). “I don’t know of any instance where the unions circumvented collective bargaining and just got what they wanted legislatively,” said Jeffrey H. Keefe, associate professor in Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations. In recent years, he said, “it’s been the reverse, where they forced things on the unions legislatively,” like raising the retirement age and cutting benefits for new workers.Read the whole thing. While I'm thrilled to see the Times take this on, I'm bothered that it strikes me as rare to find this kind of journalism. If our media doesn't hold the powerful to account, who will?
Here's my personal favorite:
ON SCHOOL BUDGETS:
STATEMENT Last year, on several occasions, Mr. Christie called for school employees to accept a one-year wage freeze and a voluntary health care deduction, saying such concessions would save the state $750 million to $800 million, eliminating the need for layoffs or cuts in academic programs.
EXPLANATION The State Office of Legislative Services and school administrators around New Jersey said the concessions would not make up the entire budget gap, and in the few dozen districts where employees agreed to concessions, there were still cuts.Actually, the OLS said (p.25-26) the concessions wouldn't have even covered one-quarter of the gap caused by Christie's school aid cuts. And every teacher who had their contract up for renewal took the health care deduction: since contracts are on a three-year cycle, that deduction will soon apply to all teachers.
Christie is a classic BS artist. He doesn't care about the truth; he only cares about the spin.