NBC's Gregory Grills Christie: How Are Republicans 'Culpable' in Washington 'Paralysis'?
Worried that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was being too critical of President Obama on Sunday's Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory attempted to steer the discussion toward bashing Republicans: "Where have Republicans been culpable for the paralysis in Washington? You've spoken about the President....what role do Republicans play?"
Christie hit back, placing the burden for compromise back on Obama: "...my point to Republicans has been to you've got to force those conversations. Now if the President's not interested in having them, and if he's not interested in developing those relationships, then there's little the Republicans can do."
Now compare Gregory's question about GOP culpability with this question about the President's upcoming State of the Union address: "What do you think the President could say that would surprise Republicans and galvanize Republicans to try to work with him on something substantial, even though it's an election year?"
So while Republicans are the cause of government "paralysis" in Gregory's mind, the NBC host is wondering how Obama will get them to cooperate.
Turning to Christie's governing of New Jersey, Gregory demanded to know how the Governor could "afford" to cut taxes in the state: "...remember the, the, the federal state tunnel project which you were opposed to, you said, 'Look, we're broke in New Jersey.' And now you're calling for a 10 percent cut in income tax, would cost the state $300 million a year over three years. Why can you afford that?"
Here is a transcript of the January 22 exchange:
DAVID GREGORY: I want to ask you about the State of the Union and also about New Jersey. First, with the State of the Union, what do you think the President could say that would surprise Republicans and galvanize Republicans to try to work with him on something substantial, even though it's an election year?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: He could finally embrace Simpson-Bowles. He asked for it, he put it on the shelf for purely political reasons, he showed political cowardice by doing it, and an absolute fear of confronting the big issues in our country. And I think if he came out on Tuesday and said, "You know what, I was wrong to put Simpson-Bowles on the shelf. I should take it off the shelf, I'm going to send it to the Congress and I want to have a vigorous debate and discussion about really tackling debt and deficit in our country in an honest and forthright way, the way Senator Simpson and Mr. Bowles suggested." It's not that I agree with every part of Simpson-Bowles, David, but it is a realistic plan that merits consideration and discussion. He never did it. That would surprise the nation if he did it, and I think it would show great leadership if the President was willing to do it.
GREGORY: Where have Republicans been culpable for the paralysis in Washington? You've spoken about the President. What about...
CHRISTIE: I've spoken about both, David.
GREGORY: ...what, what role do Republicans play?
CHRISTIE: Listen, you know, and I've said this before. I, I think that, that people are spending too much time talking at each other and not talking with each other. Look at New Jersey. Now in New Jersey I have a Democratic legislature. They say some of the most unspeakable things about me publicly. On the other hand, though, I do not take that personally. I still bring them in the room. We sit down, we talk and we resolve things because we're put in these jobs to accomplish things, not just to posture and pose. And so my point to Republicans has been to you've got to force those conversations. Now if the President's not interested in having them, and if he's not interested in developing those relationships, then there's little the Republicans can do. But to the extent that we've contributed to not having those relationships happen, then there's a culpability there.
GREGORY: You talked about the State of the State and how you see New, New Jersey in the future. One of the things we've talked about at this table before, remember the, the, the federal state tunnel project which you were opposed to, you said, "Look, we're broke in New Jersey." And now you're calling for a 10 percent cut in income tax, would cost the state $300 million a year over three years. Why can you afford that?
CHRISTIE: Well, because first of all the tunnel project was going to cost us an additional 8 billion, David, so we still don't have that money to do it. It was a bad plan. And what we see is happening now is the federal government, New York, New Jersey, are working together to come up with another plan that will be more equitably shared by all the parties, not 75 percent of, 70 percent of the cost being on New Jersey.
But the reason we need to cut taxes is think about what I inherited, David. I came in, we had $13 billion in deficits. We had had 115 tax and fee increases in the eight years before I became governor. We were ranked in 50th tax climate in the country and the worst business environment in America. In two years, we've balanced those budgets and brought ourselves to balance without any tax increases through very difficult, aggressive cuts. And now what I'm saying is it's time for the people to get some of their money back. Done reasonably, 10 percent cut phased in over three years, so you could do it reasonably and not bust the budget.
Think about this, David, in New Jersey, the people of New Jersey are going to know for the next three years every year their taxes are going to go down. If I had told you that when I came here the first time, you would have told me I was nuts. But we did it because of hard work and sticking to our principles and working together with Democrats. I think we're going to be able to do it again.
- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.