Throwdown in Trenton: What Leadership Looks Like

Posted: Aug 02, 2010 9:41 AM
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is taking on the state's entrenched special interests, shrinking government and fixing the budget hole -- all without raising taxes. He's doing in his state what the tea party movement is demanding of the federal government.

In the August issue of Townhall Magazine, contributing editor Meredith Jessup reports on the impact Chris Christie is having not only in New Jersey but also on American politics. Below is an excerpt from her feature, "Throwdown in Trenton."

After years of aimless wandering through the post-Reagan desert, the search for a conservative political leader may finally be over.

A young Republican from New Jersey is spreading the gospel of small government, fi scal restraint and responsible governing. Many elder politicos of Washington may dismiss his preaching as heresy; but the young governor’s words have enthralled many voters looking for real change and a restoration of common sense in government.

More than his words, Gov. Chris Christie’s actions during his short tenure in offi ce to date are making a real difference, both in lifting the state of New Jersey out from underneath its overwhelming debt and in reigniting Ronald Reagan’s brand of small-government conservatism.

It’s fitting that at age 18 in 1980, Christie cast his first vote for Ronald Reagan. With his zeal for smaller government, Christie has prompted comparisons with Ronald Reagan. But in the end, Christie insists his personal character and governing style are his own: Reagan-esque, “with a Jersey edge.”

The road to the New Jersey governorship was an uphill trek for Christie. [...] Since Christie’s historic victory, the glaring national media spotlight has largely faded. But a close look at the Republican’s efforts since taking the oath of offi ce in January reveals that this conservative’s star continues to burn brightly.

On Day 1 in office, Christie inherited the nation’s worst state budget defi cit—$10.9 billion on a budget of $29.3 billion. Over the last decade, New Jersey’s municipal spending had increased 69 percent, while property taxes had spiked by 70 percent.

In his first weeks in office, Gov. Christie put the brakes on New Jersey’s runaway deficit spending. He announced spending freezes on hemorrhaging public programs and signed an executive order declaring a statewide “fiscal emergency.”

Before a special joint session of the New Jersey legislature, Christie announced his planned fiscal solutions for closing the budget gap. Citing both his duties as governor and his “moral obligation” to future generations, he candidly told state lawmakers he would undertake “bold action” to balance the state’s budget. He pledged to:

• “cut government spending and end public union excesses we can no longer afford”;

• “reform government to cost less and operate better”; and

• “restore some sense of balance to the obligations we take on—so that in the future they are both sensible and sustainable.”

He promised to “forge a new course” to bring state spending in line with revenues, and like leaders before him, Christie promised to hammer out a fiscal plan that “lays the groundwork for a better tomorrow.” But unlike Democratic politicians of the state’s past, Christie understood that securing tomorrow meant tightening the belt today.

Read the full, in-depth report in the August issue of Townhall Magazine. Order today.