Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Chris Christie is back, and Matt Bai is feeling a thrill go up his leg at the governor's braveness and boldness and courage and guts:
... if you’re Christie, and you find yourself ready at a moment when the voters seem less ready to have you, where do you go to get your groove back? How do you re-establish yourself among Republican primary voters as the serious-minded reformer who seemed, for a time anyway, to tower above the rest of the prospective Republican field?

The answer is: You go back to what you do best, and maybe better than anyone else.

And so Tuesday in New Hampshire, Christie will reignite a crucial but divisive debate in American politics, unveiling a surprisingly detailed plan to remake the entitlement programs that account for more than half of federal spending now (and growing). As he did in New Jersey during those first, heady years of his governorship, Christie is taking on a longer-term problem that candidates in either party have historically tried to ignore, mainly because it entails nothing but bad news and thankless choices.

... Christie’s gambit on entitlements is about more than the policy. It’s also about reintroducing him to primary voters as the only guy out there who is willing to tell you, in blunt terms, what you need to hear about the realities of government, whether it makes for fun conversation or not.
So which specifical vegetables -- or cat food -- is Christie trying to get us to eat?
On Medicare ... Christie will propose gradually raising the retirement age to 69 (it’s currently inching toward 67) and expanding existing “means testing”...

Christie’s boldest idea, and the one certain to be most provocative, has to do with Social Security, where he is delving into a problem that most Democrats won’t acknowledge and most Republicans ... don’t want to touch.

Currently, Social Security has none of the means testing done in Medicare; in other words, you get back more than you paid in, regardless of how much money you might still be earning. Christie would change this, so that seniors earning $80,000 and up would begin to see their benefits shaved on a sliding scale....

Christie would also raise the normal retirement age for Social Security -- quickly, by actuarial standards -- to 69 (it’s currently headed for 67) and the early-retirement age from 62 to 64. And he would eliminate payroll taxes entirely for workers after they turn 62, as an incentive to keep them in the workforce (and because they’ve already paid their share of Social Security).
(Yeah, because what could be better for a country in the midst of a youth unemployment crisis than forcing old people to stay in the workforce longer?)
The one very sensible cost-saving measure that Christie doesn’t include in his plan, notably, is the progressive idea to lift the “cap” on payroll taxes, so that the top percent of American earners pay more than a fraction of their wages into the system.
What?! One of the hedge-fund community's favorite pols doesn't want to raise taxes on the rich? Why, I'm shocked.

Can Christie sell this brave, bold idea? Bai sure thinks so:
... what Christie knows about himself, in his better moments, is that he remains the best pure communicator in Republican politics today, and maybe in American politics, period. Say what you will about the man and his temperament, bury him in a mountain of negative polls if you want, but when you put him in a room with actual voters and give him an argument he believes in, he’ll take his chances every time.

This is why Christie is willing not only to run against the popular perception, and to take his time about doing it, but also to run on a policy platform that’s sure to meet with demagoguery. “I don’t think there’s any candidate who’s spent more time on their feet talking to real people than I have,” Christie said.

And so he’ll take what he calls his “Tell It Like It Is” tour to two town halls in New Hampshire this week, in the warm-up act for a presidential campaign that none of us should regard too lightly. Chris Christie is ready, and it’s almost time to perform.
I think Bai needed a cigarette after that.

Bai asks Christie about running for president, and he's coy, saying he won't decide for a couple of months. I hope he doesn't chicken out, because there's nothing I want more for ideas like this than to see them presented by a guy who's as unpopular across the political spectrum as Christie is now. It's hard to imagine a worse messenger -- and it's hard to imagine a worse target market for this message than the old, entitled Republican voter base.

So please proceed, governor.



How true.


Phil Perspective said...

It's good to see Bai hasn't changed his stripes. Christie has spent the most time talking to regular people? Doesn't Bai meaning yelling at regular people?

Victor said...

Bai may or may not need a cigarette, but I definitely need to shower after than tongue-bath he gave to Christie.

Same old Bia...

Yastreblyansky said...

Never mind, Pataki is in!!!!

Yastreblyansky said...

bury him in a mountain of negative polls if you want

Ain't no mountain high enough.