Ah, yes, let's hear it for dedication to high principles. That's the image that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has cultivated with actions such as refusing to give into the teachers unions, rejecting higher taxes for millionaires and polishing his frugality cred by refusing to go ahead with the under-the-Hudson rail project.
No vacuuming up government subsidies and money from other tax-payer programs while railing about welfare the way Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller does. No bad-mouthing the stimulus and then gobbling up the dollars and taking credit for its benefits to their states the way Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, soon-to-be former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and soon-to-be former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have all done. The way Alabama Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander have done. The way South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, Ohio Reps. Pat Tiberi and Jean Schmidt, Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk, Georgia Reps. Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey, Washington Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dave Reichert, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, California Reps. Elton Gallegly and Dan Lungren, Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao and Florida Rep. Bill Young have all done.
That, by the way, isn't the whole list.
But not Gov. Christie. He's so far avoided being caught behaving like one of those spit on the cake and eat it too kind of Republicans.
Until now. It turns out that Christie is as pampered a passenger on the stimulus hypocrisy train as all the rest of these Republicans. Christie has vigorously opposed the Obama administration's stimulus package, but, like fellow Republican naysayers across the country, he's taking the money anyway.
New Jersey is set to issue $1.4 billion in Transportation Trust Fund Authority bonds Oct. 13 and 14, about a week after James Simpson, the state’s transport commissioner, said the infrastructure account is “broke” and suspended 100 projects because of a lack of cash. The sale, a combination of tax-free refinancing securities and federally taxable Build America Bonds scheduled to mature in December 2027, will raise about $900 million for the trust fund.
So what's the big deal? The Build America Bonds program is part of the stimulus package. The Feds, that is, we taxpayers, cover 35 percent of the interest on the bonds. It's a good deal, and the program has been one of the stimulus package's brightest spots.
As Pat Garafolo at the Wonk Room points out, this isn't the first time that Christie has used the bond program. It's the smart thing to do, the right thing to do, good for New Jersey and its citizens. But when you're a Republican, taking advantage of the program doesn't mean changing your tune on in public speeches to the faithful. And Christie, apparently tuning up for the 2012 presidential race, certainly doesn't want to do anything to alienate the tea partiers who now put him above Sarah Palin as their darling for that contest.