Why? Not because it’s some sort of national Republican conspiracy, Chris Christie explained on the Today show this morning. Christie points out that newly-elected Democratic governors like Jerry Brown in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York are having to face the reality of enormous budget shortfalls created by ridiculous pension obligations and spineless politicians who couldn’t say no to unions when it counted. Christie misses an opportunity to explain why confronting public-sector costs has become mainly (but not exclusively) a GOP effort, however. The reason why Republicans have been more aggressive in dealing with the problem is because more Republicans got elected to lead the states in 2010, both as executives and in control of legislatures, by voters who finally realize that their states are teetering on the abyss of bankruptcy and failure:
The NBC interviewer tries to pass off the pension bomb as a problem created by Wall Street and the economic collapse, but Christie deflates that argument rather quickly. When state pensions start paying six figures to former workers, in many cases in systems completely financed by taxpayers rather than the workers themselves, the problem didn’t just start in 2008.
The No. 4 House Republican in Congress Tuesday shot down Gov. Quinn’s trial balloon of possibly seeking federal help to ease the state’s crushing $86 billion pension shortfall.
Quinn floated the idea in the fine print of his 2012 budget proposal last week, but U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) began laughing Tuesday when asked about the chances of a federal pension bailout for Illinois and other states with retirement systems that are financially underwater.
“There is no appetite in the House for a federal guarantee for a state pension obligation. None. It’s a non-starter,” said Roskam, the U.S. House’s chief deputy whip and highest-ranking Republican in Illinois’ congressional delegation.
“Given the types of choices Congress is under right now and the budget-cutting pressure that moved $100 billion in cuts, there’s no way this House will take on any more obligations, particularly bailing states out of decisions they’ve made,” the Wheaton Republican told the Sun-Times.
That’s one reason why voters entrusted a record number of state-legislature seats to the GOP in 2010. Republicans campaigned on the necessity of confronting these hard economic choices, while Democrats like Pat Quinn want nothing but more federal bailouts to avoid the responsibility of fiscal prioritization.
By the way, be sure to watch the Christie interview to its conclusion. After the obligatory discussion of presidential aspirations, in which Christie shoots down the rumor that he was forming a federal PAC to test the waters, the interviewer tries to get Christie to disclose how much weight he’s lost in his efforts to trim down. He refuses to give specifics, but says he’s a lot like … New Jersey. Stick around through the 4:30 mark to find out how.