Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) has become quite the conservative darling for refusing to raise taxes (even on millionaires) and slashing social services, while simultaneously proposing new tax cuts for the well-off. But Christie has also taken a stand against some of the economic recovery policies implemented by the Obama administration, particularly the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e. the stimulus package).
“If they’re going to put strings on that money, then they’re going to tie your hands and make you expand programs, and not be able to have the freedom of choice that people elected you for, then you shouldn’t take the money,” Christie told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I think that it certainly helped states like New Jersey and others to not have to confront the difficult choices that we’re now having to confront. But it really just put it off,” he added at a National Governors Association meeting. “My view on it is, what it did was, at least from a personal perspective, push off the problem from the Corzine administration to the Christie administration.”
However, with his state’s Transportation Trust Fund running dry, Christie is taking full advantage of the Recovery Act to get suspended infrastructure projects back underway:
New Jersey is set to issue $1.4 billion in Transportation Trust Fund Authority bonds Oct. 13 and 14, about a week after James Simpson, the state’s transport commissioner, said the infrastructure account is “broke” and suspended 100 projects because of a lack of cash. The sale, a combination of tax-free refinancing securities and federally taxable Build America Bonds scheduled to mature in December 2027, will raise about $900 million for the trust fund.
The Build America Bonds program was created as part of the stimulus package, and entails having the federal government pay 35 percent of the interest on the bonds. As The American Prospect’s Tim Fernholz explained, Build America Bonds “is one of the most successful programs of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, spurring productive investment, job creation, and creating a more progressive and democratic method of local finance.”
This isn’t the first time that Christie has taken advantage of the Build America Bonds program, as New Jersey made a $500 million bond offering in April to finance school construction. At the time, Christie said “the sale of these bonds is a fiscally responsible way to continue to address the school-construction needs of New Jersey’s public schools.”
Christie is doing the right thing by taking advantage of the bond program to keep transportation projects funded. But he’s doing it while traipsing around the country criticizing the very bill that made those projects possible.