The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board set out the terms of the budget deal New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) struck with Democrats in Trenton: “While the compromise with Democrats scales back Mr. Christie’s original proposal, it’s still a large step in the right direction. The deal would raise the retirement age for new workers to 65 from 62, and increase pension contributions to 7.5% from 5.5% for state workers and to 10% from 8.5% for public safety officers. The legislation would also suspend annual cost of living adjustments until the fund reaches a more healthy status. This provision alone could reduce retirees’ pension value by 30% over the next decade.” Then on the health-care side: “The average worker earning $60,000 would pay 27% of his premium while one earning more than $95,000 would pay 35%, which is roughly on par with what private sector employees pay. This change would be phased in over four years and reduce the state’s health costs by $300 million. Unions are especially furious because they’ll have to pay more if they want a more expensive plan, and because their costs will now be tied to health-care inflation, but this is the reality faced by most Americans.”
This is New Jersey. No tax hikes. No end to collective bargaining. Just unflinching resolve by the governor and a responsible leader of the state senate.
By gosh, if Democrats in Trenton can forgo tax hikes and pass real entitlement cuts, can’t they do it in D.C.? The key ingredient missing in D.C., of course, is executive leadership. President Obama has ducked, delegated and demagogued. It is up to Senate and House leaders to forge a deal. And then to complete the task, the voters in 2012 will need to elect a president with the same fortitude and courage as Christie. Maybe Christie himself.