The New York Times Endorsement
This middle-class squeeze has raised concerns among experts who warn that the state is heading toward a tipping point: Residents, stretched thin to live here, are putting their future financial health on the line. And wages aren't rising fast enough to help them get ahead.These problems are caused by the high cost of government in New Jersey and yet The New York Times endorses Jon Corzine for Governor:
Taken together, the high taxes, soaring home prices and comparatively stagnant wages paint a gloomy picture. College graduates might not make enough money to buy their first home in their home state. Residents who bought a home using unconventional financing could struggle to keep up with their mortgage payments five or 10 years from now. And baby boomers who want a smaller home that is easier to maintain might consider moving out of state - even if it means being farther away from their children and grandchildren.
Given the mounting problems in New Jersey, one can only marvel that anyone of intelligence wants to be governor. Property taxes are among the highest in the country. The state budget faces huge deficits and growing pension woes. The school system is in perpetual trouble. And there is more political sludge and scandal than there are toxic sites.
The Times seems to understand the issues facing the state, but fails to mention it is the Democrats currently controlling the Governor's seat and both houses of New Jersey's legislature that have proven incapable of solving these problems and have made matters worse through their profligate spending. So why endorse Corzine:
In Washington, Mr. Corzine has shown the strength of his core progressive beliefs in the face of political challenge. Voters will demand the same courage at home. New Jersey deserves nothing less. We endorse Senator Corzine for governor.
It is those core "progressive" beliefs that have led to higher taxes and the squeezing of the middle class in New Jersey. So why does the Times endorse Corzine over Forrester:
Mr. Corzine has shown himself to be a force for America's better instincts in Washington over the last five years. He had the foresight to oppose the war in Iraq. He has worked to fend off Republican attacks on Social Security and voted against President Bush's reckless tax cuts.
The only point mentioned germane to the governing of New Jersey is Corzine's record on tax issues and as the Times reminds us, Corzine voted against tax cuts. The very tax cuts that have helped the state's taxpayers and have kept New Jersey's economy growing according to New Jersey's Council of Economic Advisors (appointed by the Governor, a Democrat.)
Why not Forrester according to the Times:
Mr. Forrester is a very successful businessman whose main company manages employee health benefit plans. He advertises himself as a moderate Republican in the manner of former Govs. Thomas Kean and Christie Whitman, but those credentials are thin on many telling issues. As one example, the cleanup of polluted sites could easily cost the polluter less and the taxpayer more under Mr. Forrester. And his reasons for opposing the state's embryonic stem cell research seem intentionally ambiguous. Mr. Forrester will only offer the argument that adult cells are more promising than embyronic cells.
How the Times arrives at the notion Forrester would stick taxpayers with the tab for cleaning up polluted sites is a mystery, they offer no examples. And because Forrester doesn’t believe New Jersey should spend taxpayer dollars on state owned businesses in stem cell research or other ventures, he’s a risk to taxpayers? Talk about "thin" reasons, for opposing a candidate.
As to the high property taxes, huge state budget deficits, growing pension woes, school spending out of control and political scandals, well the Times doesn’t explain why Corzine would be best in dealing with these issues. They don’t because they can’t. Jon Corzine has offered a $80 increase in property tax rebates for the average family and has a laundry list of new spending programs including a $5 billion tab for adding 750,000 people to the state’s healthcare rolls.
In terms of bucking the special interests that will be essential in getting the state's finances under control, well, even the Times recognizes Corzine is not the man for that:
Mr. Corzine, who has outspent his opponent to date, has insisted that his riches offer independence from special interests. So far, the money seems to have been more useful in buying the support of local power brokers than in empowering him to stand up to them.
So if you're looking for higher taxes and a Governor beholden to the special interests, the Times assures you that Corzine's your man. If you are looking for a Governor who is not beholden to special interests and has plans to cut state spending and meaningful property tax reductions, then the obvious choice to Doug Forrester.
Curiously, the New York Times did not endorse Corzine for the Senate in 2000. They were right the first time.