First of all, let's get something straight: this state could most certainly afford to keep its promises. New Jersey is not a high-spending state when judged against the total economy. The state gives up billions every year by refusing to do things like taxing corporate dividends. In one of his first acts in office, Christie gave millionaires a big tax break (he can spin it all he wants, but it's the truth). So let's cut the crap about "we can't afford it"; we most certainly can.Dellossa, a teacher at Palisades Park High School, where the town hall was held, asked Christie why he had gone back on a campaign promise not to cut teacher benefits.She spoke specifically of one provision of his public employee benefits overhaul that hit close to home: The 20-year cut off for public workers to maintain their free health benefits for life."I'm a teacher here for 19 years, 11 months," she said. "So when I started this career, this is the course that I took. So now when I'm reaching the end of my career, I didn't plan to pay for these benefits. I want to ask you how you think that's fair when you originally said they would remain untouched.""Well, we couldn't afford it," Christie said, adding that "for years, people had made benefit deals we can't afford."Christie said that no matter what cut-off date had been chosen, there was bound to be those who missed the exemption by a thin margin."But I can't let my sympathy for you — which is genuine — affect my public policy positions," he said.
Second, this country spends twice what we should per person on health care compared to other countries that have better outcomes. And the reason why is that politicians like Chris Christie refuse to stand up to the health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies and all the other robber barons who are holding the nation's health hostage for insane profits. Christie expects teachers and other public workers to continue to fund a system that is wildly expensive without doing a thing to hold down costs.
Third, what kind of world are we living in where a man's word doesn't matter anymore as long as he has enough power? Look at the top of this blog: during his campaign, Christie said, "I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor." If he knew he couldn't keep that promise, he never should have made it. If he didn't know, he was completely unqualified to run for governor - everyone has known the retirement system in New Jersey has been in trouble for a long time.
I feel for this woman, but this is just a bothersome to someone with only ten or five or two years in the profession. It's even a broken promise to undergrads who are working on their teaching degrees. We all came into the profession with certain expectations that could still be met if this state and this country had real leadership. But it doesn't; now we're expected to pay the price for our leaders' mendacity and pusillanimity.
What's worse is that all young people who are considering careers in public service now know the promises of the government are meaningless. Who's going to consider becoming a cop or a teacher if the promises made to you can be rescinded on the whim of a coward who happens to get himself elected?
Governor, being a leader does not require simply turning to a group of middle-class workers who expect promises to be fulfilled and saying, "Tough s#!&." It means following through on your word. If you can't do that, get out of public service and go back to corporate lobbying, which thrives on exactly that sort of ethos.