This edition of Back Channels serves up good reasons to closely watch the New Jersey Governor primary race:
Clearly, there's a disagreement on this point and others, but both Christie and Lonegan are arguing from right of center on how to best cut taxes to spur economic growth. The GOP primary winner is going to be a conservative. The question then becomes, in the Age of Obama, is such a distinction the kiss of death?
Not necessarily. Christie has consistently led the increasingly unpopular Corzine in head-to-head polls. The lead is troubling enough, the New York Times reports, that the Democratic Governors Association plans to help Corzine, who gave the group $100,000 in 2007. The group will run ads designed to boost Lonegan, who is seen as the weaker general-election candidate.
So Lonegan isn't the only one feeling threatened by Christie's conservative message.
With good reason. Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, suggests that New Jersey has all the ingredients of what could be "the beginnings of a blue-state tax rebellion." Enormous debt. An inability to cut spending. Budget holes that even federal stimulus money can't fill. And an expectation that "the rich" can be taxed enough to make up the difference.
But here's the rub. Most of those considered "rich" aren't living off trust funds. They are often struggling two-income households. One earner might now be out of work. Savings have been depleted. What was once affordable - a hefty mortgage and private school or college tuitions - is now a burden. They supported the president and might want to help in a time of crisis. But President Obama isn't the only one who wants to raise their taxes. Corzine does, too. And that's before the bills come due for all the new spending on education, health care, and the environment. Before the shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare have been addressed. "The rich" will be hit up again and again, but even they can't pay for it all.
"If Democrats expand their definition of rich they will create problems for themselves," Franc says. "This will first show up in the blue states, because that's where the money is."
New Jersey and Pennsylvania elections are shaping up to be the defining elections for the GOP and conservatism. It is clear the change people voted for in November is not panning out. The question arises, do the voters continue down this road of out of control spending or chose better options in the coming election cycles?