Will Chris Christie Borrow a Page from Obama's Reelection Playbook?

Agenda-Setting Financial Insight.
Nov. 5 2012 12:35 PM

Will Chris Christie Borrow a Page from Obama's Re-Election Playbook?

Barack Obama and Chris Christie discuss Hurricane Sandy's impact on New Jersey. The Republican governor may soon be borrowing a page from the Democratic president's election playbook.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

Chris Christie’s budding bromance with Barack Obama may grow even stronger. New Jersey’s Republican governor, who praised the president as they surveyed superstorm devastation together last week, faces a Sandy-related revenue hit that will make it hard to balance the budget, as mandated by the state constitution. That could leave Christie stealing a page from Obama’s election playbook. 

Recent history may provide a guide for the Garden State. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita contributed to a 42 percent decline in Louisiana’s tax receipts in third-quarter 2005. Considering, for example, the direct impact on Atlantic City, a gambling and convention hub, New Jersey could easily experience something similar. 


That would equate to some $3 billion of lost revenue, assuming the state generates an equal amount each quarter. Federal funds, insurance payouts and rebuilding efforts would help mitigate such losses. Louisiana’s tax receipts rebounded by a third in the following quarter. The delay could be tricky, however, especially when clean-up costs hit the $32 billion budget much faster. 

New Jersey already has an income problem. Despite its small budget surplus, revenue is running 16 percent below pre-crisis levels, according to the Pew Center on the States. Even before the hurricane, inflows were falling short of Christie’s optimistic projections for the fiscal year ending in June. That means the governor could need to make some unpleasant choices in 2013, an election year. 

Christie has already slashed from previous years’ budgets, including unpopular choices like after-school programs and services for low-income residents. If the lost revenue can’t be recaptured, not only will Christie have to explain his failure to cut taxes further, but he’ll need to convince voters to accept stingier services or pay more in a state that already has the second-highest burden in the country. 

That gives the governor a chance to show how to orchestrate the sort of compromise he has found lacking under Obama. And yet Christie also may need to take some cues from his new bestie. Throughout the president’s re-election campaign, he leaned on the argument that he was dealt a terrible hand. Christie, who also may have aspirations to higher office, will know soon enough if the strategy works.

Agnes T. Crane is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist, based in New York, where she covers capital markets and Latin America. She joined from Dow Jones Newswires, where she was an award-winning journalist who led a team of reporters covering the credit crisis.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?