The difference between Chris Christie and Scott Walker

First, the fiscal crisis in New Jersey is a magnitude worse than it is in Wisconsin. According to the Center for Budget and Policy priorities, New Jersey is projecting a deficit in this coming fiscal year of $10.5 billion, or 37.4 percent of the overall budget. Wisconsin projects a deficit of $1.8 billion, or 12.8 percent of the budget.

That’s not exactly spare change, but neither is it the kind of calamity that Mr. Christie is facing. And it should be noted that Mr. Walker pushed through a slate of corporate tax cuts immediately after taking office, which added more than $100 million to the shortfall over two years and did little to strengthen his argument that the state’s budget problem was dire…

Finally, Mr. Christie has been relentless in taking his case to the public square, holding at least 30 town hall meetings so far to explain his position and answer his critics. Mr. Walker, on the other hand, has been in office for all of two months and seems to be operating on the idea that he won a convincing mandate in the November election and can therefore do what he wants. And maybe he’s right, except that lots of candidates win in political wave years without earning much of a mandate for any specific agenda.

What this means, when you put it all together, is that Mr. Walker is taking the case against public unions to a greater extreme in Wisconsin than Mr. Christie is in New Jersey, based on a far less compelling case and without having really argued that case in any sustained way to the public.