Politics Is Stupid: NJ Trains Edition

As Atrios points out, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's looming decision to spike the new train tunnel from New Jersey to NYC under the Hudson River is so obviously bad policy that it does not even merit much discussion.(Here is an explanation if you need one.)

But politics is stupid. Even Chris Christie knows it would be stupid policy to kill the tunnel project, which gives New Jersey billions of dollars of FEDERAL money already and will give it billions more to come in the future. (Not to mention the jobs, economic growth that would be spurred, improvement of New Jersey as a business destination, etc.) From New Jersey's perspective, this is as big a no brainer as you can get. But New Jersey's highway funds are in a serious shortfall right now. Like most states, New Jersey funds it highways with tolls and a gas tax. But raising the gas tax apparently is a third rail in New Jersey, which has not raised the gas tax in 21 years (which amounts effectively to a huge cut in the gas tax):

[Zoe] Baldwin suggested that instead, Christie look at raising the state’s gas tax, which is the third-lowest in the country and hasn’t budged for 21 years. “We’ve raised all kinds of other fees and taxes, she said, but the gas tax and other transportation fees have been untouchable.” That’s led to a years-long crisis in transportation funding for the state.

Christie knows all this. He's not stupid. But some Democrat will be running against Christie in the next election and would no doubt run ads decrying 'the largest tax increase in New Jersey history!' Politics is stupid.

Speaking for me only

< DWTS: Wrong Outcome | Why We Are Condemned To A Lost Economic Decade >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I dunno (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 09:07:56 AM EST
    It will be no small thing to attribute transit delays to Christie's misplaced priorities (e.g. tax breaks for millionares).

    But you're right that Christie is smart, which means he's dangerous.

    The larger (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 09:22:30 AM EST
    issue here to me is the narrative that no one can ever raise taxes even if it leads to progress or a good result. So he didn't raise taxes BUT someone could take him on the fact that he made traffic worse etc. by his poor decisions. A smart pol could attack him for the tunnel issue still.

    But where would all the NYers go (none / 0) (#2)
    by CST on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 09:18:04 AM EST
    for cheap gas?

    Seriously though, I know there are a lot of people here who hate the idea of a gas tax.  But NJ does have obscenely cheap gas prices.  And frankly, the state is kind of the definition of suburban sprawl (in the east at least), aka "stupid" growth.

    I don't know... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 10:39:05 AM EST
    if I'd call 2.40 and up a gallon Crazy Eddie insane cheap CST...but better than NY.

    Raising the gas tax would hurt NJ station owners nearest NY...you got us, it's something we always keep in mind:)..."if you're going to NJ, make sure you're near E".  They're getting more NY cigarette business now too because of their more working class friendly taxes on gas and cigs.  This is good for the NJ economy, at the expense of NY.

    NJ might be better served by raising revenue via taxes in other areas...so as to mainatin their retail energy pricing competitive advantage over NY.  Where to raise taxes is a good question because they are one of the highest taxed states in the nation already.

    Point being there are unintended real consequences to raising any tax...choose carefully.  I don't think "we haven't raised it in awhile" by itself is sound reasoning.


    they could raise the gas tax (none / 0) (#5)
    by CST on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 11:21:43 AM EST
    significantly and still be cheaper than NY.

    Though... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 11:39:10 AM EST
    nobody from NY is gonna cross the river to save a nickel a gallon...the cost savings has to be worth the time and gas/tolls it takes to get there.

    Tax Burden By State (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 11:50:25 AM EST
    Tax Burden By State

    New Jersey residents paid 11.8%, topping the charts.

    kdog, how was PV?