If this is a preview of a 2016 Republican presidential primary fight between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, I'm reserving front row seats, because this prizefight is shaping up to be a doozy.
Monday night on Fox News, Paul slapped Christie for unflattering comments he made about libertarians. “I think it’s not very smart,” said Paul before laying into Christie for all the federal relief aid he requested in the wake of Superstorm Sandy:
“If he cared about protecting this country maybe he wouldn’t be in this gimme, gimme, gimme all the money you have in Washington or don’t have, and he’d be a little more fiscally responsive and know that the way we defend our country, the way we have enough money for national defense, is by being frugal and not by saying gimme, gimme gimme all the time,”
Except, despite his many other faults, Christie is smart. At least, smart enough to slam Paul to the mat with, you know, actual facts. Indeed, when asked about Paul's comments at a press conference yesterday, Christie went where few Republicans dare to go—telling the truth about who funds what in this country:
“I find it interesting that Senator Paul is accusing us of having a gimme, gimme, gimme attitude toward federal spending when in fact New Jersey is a donor state, we get 61 cents back on every dollar we send to Washington,” Christie said. “And interestingly Kentucky gets $1.51 on every dollar they sent to Washington.”
“So if Senator Paul wants to start looking at where he is going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he should start looking at cutting the pork barrel spending he brings home to Kentucky at a $1.51 on every dollar and not look at New Jersey where we get 61 cents for every dollar,”
That's right. At $1.51 in spending back for every dollar it sends to DC, Kentucky is to the nation what Yakima and many other rural counties are to the state of Washington. And at only $0.61 back for every dollar it contributes in federal taxes, that pretty much makes New Jersey the equivalent of King County.
That's the way it works in the US, where at the national, state, and local level, urban (predominantly Democratic) taxpayers financially carry their rural (predominantly Republican) neighbors. Indeed, it's reasonable to argue that rural American life as we know it today simply would not be possible without the substantial and steady subsidy coming from urban taxpayers. It's redistribution of wealth, pure and simple.
If only some Republicans in Washington State would speak as honestly about this as Christie, perhaps we could finally have an honest discussion about our state's inadequate and absurdly regressive tax structure.