Mona Charen’s recent column on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is well worth a read:
At a New Jersey town meeting, Gov. Chris Christie, the newest YouTube star for the limited government set, was reproached by an unhappy teacher. The governor, facing a budget shortfall of $11 billion, has proposed, among other economies, a one-year salary freeze for New Jersey teachers. Her voice raised in anger (that’s a normal speaking voice in my home state), Rita Wilson protested that she should be paid $83,000, the only reasonable compensation in light of her “education and experience.” Christie’s reply got an ovation: “Well, you know what? Then you don’t have to do it.”
Meet the newest conservative hero: The Trenton Truth-Teller!
That exchange with the teacher, along with other greatest hits available on YouTube of the blunt yet friendly governor’s first five months, highlight a political opportunity for Republicans.
First, the problem: How can smaller-government Republicans win elections when more and more Americans are receiving government benefits while fewer and fewer are paying taxes? In 2010, 47 percent of Americans paid no income taxes at all. Among those who do pay taxes, most pay comparatively little. Both parties have agreed to make the tax code more steeply progressive in the past two decades, to the point where the top 20 percent of earners, those with incomes above $100,000, pay 70 percent of all taxes. Accordingly, the tax issue has lost some of its political purchase.
But as Christie is demonstrating, voters are open to a new fairness argument.
Read the rest here.