Chris Christie’s Straight Talk Is Often Inaccurate

Richard Pérez-Peña of The New York Times has this crazy idea that for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to qualify as a bold truth-teller the things he says should actually be true:

New Jersey’s public-sector unions routinely pressure the State Legislature to give them what they fail to win in contract talks. Most government workers pay nothing for health insurance. Concessions by school employees would have prevented any cuts in school programs last year. Statements like those are at the core of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign to cut state spending by getting tougher on unions. They are not, however, accurate.

In fact, on the occasions when the Legislature granted the unions new benefits, it was for pensions, which were not subject to collective bargaining — and it has not happened in eight years. In reality, state employees have paid 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health insurance since 2007, in addition to co-payments and deductibles, and since last spring, many local government workers, including teachers, do as well. The few dozen school districts where employees agreed to concessions last year still saw layoffs and cuts in academic programs.

Pérez-Peña could learn a lot about journalism from Dana Milbank, who recognizes that the truth of Governor Christie’s claims is irrelevant to assessing his status as a speaker of hard truths.