Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Was the Last Time You Heard a Politician Like This

Here is the full text of New Jersey governor Chris Christie's budget speech (via Coyote Blog). When was the last time you heard a politician man up and actually tell it like it is? This is it right here. I can't recall reading or hearing a speech this bold, frank and responsible in my lifetime. Maybe the national mood really is shifting.

Here's a great part where he addresses pension reform:
These bills must just mark the beginning, not the end, of our conversation and actions on pension and benefit reform. Because make no mistake about it, pensions and benefits are the major driver of our spending increases at all levels of government—state, county, municipal and school board. Also, don’t believe our citizens don’t know it and demand, finally, from their government real action and meaningful reform. The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word, which, coincidentally, is my nine year old son’s favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do—“unfair.”
Let’s tell our citizens the truth—today—right now—about what failing to do strong reforms costs them.
One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him?  $3.3 million in pension payments over his life and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits -- a total of $3.8m on a $120,000 investment.   Is that fair?
A retired teacher paid $62,000 towards her pension and nothing, yes nothing, for full family medical, dental and vision coverage over her entire career. What will we pay her?  $1.4 million in pension benefits and another $215,000 in health care benefit premiums over her lifetime. Is it “fair” for all of us and our children to have to pay for this excess?
The total unfunded pension and medical benefit costs are $90 billion. We would have to pay $7 billion per year to make them current. We don’t have that money—you know it and I know it. What has been done to our citizens by offering a pension system we cannot afford and health benefits that are 41% more expensive than the average fortune 500 company’s costs is the truly unfair part of this equation.
 He's talked the talk (like no one I've seen before), now I hope he can walk the walk.


  1. Yep, all he needs is to add an "and the American people know it" after the "you know it and I know it" and we've got another Bob Dole.

    Damn those greedy teachers! They're ruining it for everyone! Sure this example is of a person who worked for 30 years, retired and lived ANOTHER 30 years, surely an outlier for teachers, but I'm sure that whole 1.4 million is really exact for...all teachers. Because, frankly I know there's tons of teachers who retire early and live it up on that pension.

    Pensions and benefits are the reasons people go into teaching, and usually into the public sector, at least when I was in high school. Teachers have a very challenging, important job and get paid very little. The benefits, which this joker makes it sound like this teacher has stolen, where included with the job to keep teachers around.

    I'm annoyed that this guy is blaming a budget crisis on two employees who are far...FAR from the norm. If you don't want to pay out pensions, then pay more up front, because I'm not buying that there's an issue because of all the greedy teachers in the world. I know one, and he's only a little greedy, and a little poly.

  2. Good point--these are most likely cherry picked examples. In the context of the whole speech though he is most definitely not blaming the budget crisis on teachers.