Corzine Makes His Choice and It’s Not For New Jersey Taxpayers
Where does Jon Corzine stand on federal spending, income tax policy and the deficit? A review of his recent actions in the Senate and his statements to the press may help us to identify his positions. All quotations cited in this post have been made by Senator Corzine since February 1, 2005.
As part of his prebuttal to President Bush’s State of the Union, Senator Corzine said:
“… the President has a responsibility to offer a real road map for deficit reduction which does not place the burden on New Jersey’s working families.”
Reducing the federal deficit can only occur if taxes received by the federal government are increasingly greater than federal spending. How can this be achieved? One way is to grow the economy in order to raise taxpayer income that in turn increases tax revenue to the government. Another is to cut federal spending below present levels and of course the government can raise taxes. A combination of increases in tax revenues and spending cuts will also do the trick.
How would Senator Corzine achieve a reduction in the federal deficit? The Senator never proposes a road map, but perhaps we can infer from his Senate record and press releases his position. Criticizing the President’s budget proposal Corzine said:
The President’s priorities are skewed and are wrong for New Jersey, as it became clear that the President’s spending proposal would have significant and negative impacts on delivering services at the local and state level.
New Jersey priorities simply are not met in this budget and, as such, I will fight to protect our state’s priorities and values as deliberations on the budget unfold.”
Corzine in the same press release goes on to cite a number of examples of cuts proposed in the Bush budget that he believes would negatively impact New Jersey:
“President Bush’s budget also denies 32,822 kids in New Jersey a safe place to go after school by cutting New Jersey's funding for after school programs by $24 million.”
New Jersey residents stand to lose $45 million just from the Community Development Block Grant, cut. In effect, President Bush has proposed a property tax increase of at least $45 million on the people of New Jersey with this cut. (New Jersey received $113 million last year under the CDBG program).
Senator Corzine doesn’t provide alternatives to these or other proposed budget cuts. Significant cuts in the federal budget do not appear to have a major role in a Corzine deficit reduction plan. As a great man once said, “a litany of complaints is not a plan.”
In recent weeks Senator Corzine has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills that would increase federal spending. The spending measure he announced today caught our attention.
New Jersey Democrats Sen. Jon Corzine and Rep. Frank Pallone introduced bills Thursday to establish a global tsunami warning system and called for long-term assistance and relief for victims of December's catastrophe in South Asia.
The bills would earmark $38 million in the next fiscal year for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to expand the early warning system now in place in the Pacific Ocean to include the coastlines along the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Mediterranean and European waterways. After the system is in place, the bills would provide $32 million annually to maintain it.
Expanding the U.S. early warning system is a worthy and charitable goal, especially in light of the recent tsunami devastation in south Asia. But why is it the sole responsibility the United States to pick up the tab? Certainly the cost of a project that benefits the entire population of the earth could be shared. Is spending on this project a priority of the United States?
Is this global project more important to Jon Corzine than the $24 million for after school programs the Senator complained would be lost under the President’s proposed budget? Would Corzine rather spend $38 million to expand the warning system and $32 million a year to maintain it, than fund Community Development Block Grants for New Jersey? Is Corzine proposing a property tax increase of at least $38 million on the people of New Jersey with his spending proposal?
We think Senator Corzine would say that he is not suggesting one program take precedence over the other and he is not proposing a property tax increase. More than likely he would answer by saying, we can and we should pay for all these important programs. However, doesn’t opposing budget cuts and calling for increased spending place the Senator in somewhat of a dilemma? How it is possible to oppose budget cuts, increase spending and bring about deficit reduction without placing the burden on New Jersey’s taxpayers?
This leads us to question Senator Corzine’s sincerity in his call for federal deficit reduction or his seriousness about not wishing to place the burden on New Jersey taxpayers. Perhaps he isn’t genuinely concerned with either objective. We do know from his voting record that he opposes income tax cuts and that he favors rolling back the income tax cuts of the President's first term. Corzine has made it quite clear, with a choice between budgets cuts and tax increases, he’d opt for tax increases.
Denouncing the President’s budget proposal Senator Corzine said:
“And, while the President is fighting to extend tax cuts to those who need them the least, this budget is cutting programs designed to give a hand up to those who need the help the most.”
What happened to Senator Corzine’s cry for not burdening the taxpayers of New Jersey? Whose side is Jon Corzine on – certainly not the taxpayers of the Garden State? New Jersey has the lowest federal spending-to-tax ratio of any state at 57¢. That means for every dollar of income tax we send to the federal government, the citizen’s of New Jersey receive 57¢ in return, the worst return in the nation. This is not a new phenomenon, high cost of living states like New Jersey have been on the losing side of federal tax and spend policy for decades.
Clearly, federal income tax cuts are most beneficial to states that are net losers - those that receive less than a dollar back from Washington for every income tax dollar sent to the IRS. And New Jersey taxpayers, the biggest losers in the country, have more to gain from federal income tax cuts than taxpayers from any other state.
So much for not wanting to burden New Jersey taxpayers. A Senator that truly represented the interests of the state would be calling for greater income tax cuts and less federal spending. But that’s not Jon Corzine’s opinion – he’s already told us what he believes. “The President is fighting to extend tax cuts to those who need them the least.” Apparently Senator Corzine believes the people of New Jersey need federal tax cuts the least, the facts prove otherwise. Thank God New Jersey has a friend in the Whitehouse.