Chris Christie on Budget Cuts and Electability

Chris Christie on Budget Cuts and Electability

Chris Christie on Budget Cuts and Electability

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 17 2011 11:14 AM

Chris Christie on Budget Cuts and Electability

Chris Christie's speech at AEI yesterday was a compelling little sidebar to the scene in Wisconsin, where a governor working on the Christie model is getting a harsh and immediate confrontation with public sector unions. I'm always struck by how much Christie goes meta and talks about his own popularity -- something Republicans have been paying a lot of attention to. Here's the bluntest that Christie got:

I said to those firefighters you may hate me now but 15 years from now when you have a pension to collect because of what I did you'll be looking for my address on the internet so you can send me a thank you note.

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But he also got more specific about his own polling than pols usually get, in public.

I was elected with 49% of the vote, in a three way race in November of 2009. The first Republican elected to statewide office in 12 years in New Jersey, but not with a majority. 49% of the vote and when I started to say we were going to cut k-12 education funding by more than a billion dollars, we're going to cut municipal aid by more than half a billion dollars, we're going to cut every program that we can find in government and balance without raising taxes. I had everybody telling me, Governor you can't do it. Your approval ratings will go in the toilet. People love these programs... And what's happened? After 13 months of fighting and arguing and pushing and impatience, my approval rating's at 54%. No disaster, in fact, more popular today than the day I was elected and that's in a state that is as Democratic as any state in America for a Republican governor.

But if you really want to see eye-popping numbers, look across the river. At the person who was recently characterized as my soul mate -- I wonder how he feels about that! Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a poll that just came out 2 days ago, his job approval is at 77%, 77%. And all he's talked about is cutting spending, not raising taxes, addressing entitlement programs, Medicaid, pensions, taking on public sector unions, capping superintendent pay, the hard things. The things that people tell you will lead to political ruin, they don't.

Thus why Republicans are confident they can cut everything, and Democrats are underestimating them.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.