RUSH: I want to get on to this speech that Chris Christie gave in New Jersey. I have the text of this speech. We have just a couple sound bites from it, but it is strikingly good. Let me play the sound bites first just as a tease here, and I’ll read the excerpts of the speech myself. This was addressing the state legislature, and he says in this bite that the budget in New Jersey is in a shambles.
CHRISTIE: New Jersey is in a state of financial crisis. Our state’s budget has been left in a shambles and requires immediate action to achieve balance. … [S]ales tax revenue is not up 5%, it is down 5.5 %; and corporate business tax revenue is not flat, it is down 8%. Is there any wonder why we are in such big trouble? Any question why the people don’t trust their government anymore and demanded change? Today, we must make a pact with each other to end this reckless conduct with the people’s government.
RUSH: Right on, right on, right on! You gotta remember now this is a speech being given in New Jersey — in New Jersey where, by the way, the Senator there, the 86-year-old lout, Frank Lautenberg, fell in his condo. I’ll tell you, these Democrats are dropping like flies one way or the other. They’ll do anything to stay away from Harry Reid, apparently. There’s a rumor out there that Barbara Mikulski, who is 73, is not going to seek reelection. Some people are saying that that’s ’cause she’s gonna lose. Jim Geraghty at National Review says (summarized), ‘She’s not going to lose. She doesn’t have any prayer of losing. She may just be tired. She broke her ankle and it’s a long recovery. She’s not feeling well and is still in a lot of pain.’ So it’s anybody’s guess, but there is a rumor out there that she’s going to retire and not seek reelection. We don’t know. We don’t know. But the Democrats are dropping like flies everywhere you look out there for one reason or another. Here’s more Chris Christie.
CHRISTIE: Today, we come to terms with the fact that we cannot spend money on everything we want. Our constitution requires a balanced budget. Our commitment requires us to begin the next fiscal year with a prudent opening balance. Our conscience and our common sense require us to fix the problem in a way that does not raise taxes on the most overtaxed citizens in America.
RUSH: That’s New Jersey governor Chris Christie — and you gotta remember, now, the audience is the Democrats. They still have the legislature in New Jersey. I have the full text of his speech. Let me read you some additional excerpts. This is how it began. ‘It’s difficult to describe the extent to which New Jersey is a Democratic machine stately.’ Oh, I’m sorry. Wait just a second. Just a second here. Nope, that’s not it. That’s somebody describing it. Here’s the speech. ‘Mr. President, Madame Speaker, members of the Senate and Assembly, fellow citizens of New Jersey. Twenty three days ago, I was honored to take the oath of office as your governor and promised you and the people of New Jersey a new direction. The old ways of doing business have not served the people well, I said, and I asked for your help in bringing about change.
‘Today, I have called you together because it is time to take the first major — and urgent — step in delivering the change we promised, in the critically important area of the state budget. New Jersey is in a state of financial crisis. Our state’s budget has been left in a shambles and requires immediate action to achieve balance. For the current fiscal year 2010, which has only four-and-one-half months left to go, the budget we have inherited has a $2 billion gap,’ and remember, now, these guys cannot print money at the states like Obama can. They’re stuck. ‘The budget passed less than eight months ago, in June of last year, contained all of the same worn out tricks of the trade that have become common place in Trenton, that have driven our citizens to anger and frustration and our wonderful state to the edge of bankruptcy. What do I mean exactly?
‘This year’s budget projected 5.1 % growth in sales tax revenue and flat growth in corporate business tax revenues. In June of 2009, was there anyone in New Jersey — other than in the department of Treasury — who actually believed any revenues would grow in 2009-2010? With spiraling unemployment heading over 10%, with a financial system in crisis and with consumers petrified to spend, only Trenton treasury officials could certify that kind of growth. In fact, sales tax revenue is not up 5%, it is down 5.5 %; and corporate business tax revenue is not flat, it is down 8%. Any wonder why we are in such big trouble? … The facts are that revenues are coming in $1.2 billion below what was projected last year, and over $800 million in additional spending was done by the previous administration on their way out the door. …
‘I take no joy in having to make these decisions. I know these judgments will affect fellow New Jerseyans and will hurt. This is not a happy moment. However, what choices do we have left? The defenders of the status quo will start chattering as soon as I leave this chamber. They’ll say, ‘The problems are not that bad. Listen to me. I can spare you the pain and sacrifice.’ We know this is simply not true. New Jersey has been steaming toward financial disaster for years due to that kind of attitude. The people elected us to end the talk and to act decisively. Today is the day for the complaining to end and for statesmanship to begin. Today, I am taking action to cut state spending to balance the budget this year. This is the immediate action I am taking: This morning, I signed an executive order freezing the necessary state spending to balance our budget.
‘We will freeze the spending of unspent technical balances across a wide array of state programs. This includes everything from unspent funds to upgrade energy systems in state facilities to those aimed at assisting local governments in their consolidation plans. Not everything is painless. Some projects will be delayed or terminated, some services will be reduced. But in total, we can reduce spending by over $550 million this year by lapsing these unspent balances — by not spending these funds and applying them now towards our multi-billion dollar budget gap.’ He goes on to specify which programs are going to be cut, and he says this: ‘By far the biggest category of spending we will need to cut, however, is that for programs which actually have merit, and in most cases make sense, but which we simply cannot afford at this time.
‘Like any family, and like forty two other states with constitutionally required balanced budgets, we must live within our means. New Jersey does not have a revenue problem — we already have higher taxes than any other state in the union. We have gone down the road of ever higher taxes to pay for Trenton’s addiction to spending. What has it given us? 10.1 percent unemployment, a dormant economy and a failure of hope for growth in our future. Higher taxes is the road to ruin. We must, and we will, shrink our government. That means making some tough choices. It means tightening our belts. It means making do with the resources we have. And it means charting the course to reform now so that our spending will be more effective in the future. So today I am implementing over a billion dollars in reductions and reforms to programs that we simply cannot afford in the current economic environment and in our current fiscal state.
‘For example,’ said Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, ‘the state cannot continue to subsidize New Jersey Transit to the extent it does. So I am cutting that subsidy. New Jersey Transit will have to improve the efficiency of its operations, revisit its rich union contracts, end the patronage hiring that has typified its past, and may also have to consider service reductions or fare increases. But the system needs to be made more efficient and effective.’ Folks, this is a slap across the cheek of any union official that has anything to do with four wheels and an engine in the state of New Jersey. ‘The state cannot this year spend another $100 million contributing to a pension system that is desperately in need of reform. I am encouraged by the bi-partisan bills filed in the Senate this week to begin pension and benefit reform. …
‘The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word, which, coincidentally, is my nine-year-old son’s favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do — ‘unfair.’ Let’s tell our citizens the truth — today, right now — about what failing to do strong reforms costs them. One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him?’ and I had this yesterday ‘$3.3 million in pension payments over his life and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits — a total of $3.8m on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair? A retired teacher paid $62,000 towards her pension and nothing — yes, nothing — for full family medical, dental and vision coverage over her entire career.
‘What will we pay her? $1.4 million in pension benefits and another $215,000 in health care benefit premiums over her lifetime. Is it ‘fair’ for all of us and our children to have to pay for this excess? The total unfunded pension and medical benefit costs [in New Jersey] are $90 billion. We would have to pay…’ Hello, public employee unions! The day of reckoning has arrived for you in New Jersey. This is not going to be pretty, folks. This is not going to be pretty. ‘We would have to pay $7 billion per year to make them current. We don’t have that money — you know it and I know it. What has been done to our citizens by offering a pension system we cannot afford and health benefits that are 41% more expensive than the average fortune 500 company’s costs is the truly unfair part of this equation. … Suburban districts will sacrifice. Urban districts will sacrifice. Rural districts will sacrifice. Some, both inside and outside this chamber, will urge you to retreat to the corner and protect your own piece of turf. Our state is in crisis. Our people are hurting.
‘Now is the time when we all must resist the traditional, selfish call to protect your own turf at the cost of our state. It is time to leave the corner, join the sacrifice, come to the center of the room and be part of the solution. I urge all of us to come to the center of the room voluntarily, to stand up to the special interests, to fix our broken state — together. … In total, I am cutting spending in 375 different state programs, from every corner of state government. I doubt that many will be popular. I will use my executive authority to implement them now, because I must. … I am not happy, but I am not afraid to make these decisions, either. It is what the people sent me here to do.’ It goes on. It prints out to ten pages. I’m not going to read you the whole thing. We’ll link to it at RushLimbaugh.com. But there is a story here from NJ.com, the Star-Ledger. The Newark Star-Ledger: ‘With Governor Christie targeting benefits, some New Jersey public workers consider retirement.’ I’ll have the details when we come back.
RUSH: From the Newark Star-Ledger statehouse bureau staff, this headline: ‘With Governor Christie targeting benefits, some New Jersey public workers consider retirement.’ The New Jersey Police Benevolent Association says in this piece, ‘You’re going to see a mass exodus,’ that mayors and state politicians, many of them Democrats know that ‘this can’t continue.’ It says that in the story. ‘No one in this economy is going to bolt over contributing one-and-a-half percent to their health care,’ says a Democrat. So he’s serious and everybody in New Jersey understands he’s serious. Apparently a decent number of people understand how serious the situation is and they realize, ‘Okay, we had our chance, we milked the golden goose for all it’s worth, we got ours, okay, okay,’ now they’re going to come in and straighten it all out. This is happening in I can’t tell you how many states. ”There is a lot of fear,’ said Hetty Rosenstein, state director at the Communications Workers of America, which represents 55,000 public employees. ‘They don’t feel confident that their work will be respected and protected.’
‘Even though employees might leave … mayors and state leaders say they agree with Christie’s contention that they need to remake a pension system too generous for the state budget to handle. … Mayors say the proposed pension changes are not enough to prompt a mass exit. ‘There’s nobody that’s going to run out the door for 1.5 percent of their pension,’ said Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, a Democrat. ‘It’s smoke and mirrors. It does absolutely nothing.’ … Timothy Fleming, who retired from the Hunterdon County Department of Corrections after just over 25 years, said pension and health benefits are a primary reason people work for the government. ‘We weren’t going to be making a tremendous amount of money,’ he said. ‘A lot of people go into public service if you know you’re going to get good benefits.”
What if the money’s not there? The money isn’t there. It’s the promise of all these benefits that kept people voting for Democrats all of these years, that kept them in power. It’s what’s happening in Washington right now. The only difference is that Washington can print money, the states can’t. They can print money, they can do all kinds of stuff to paper over this and delay however damaging it is the inevitable. But this guy, Chris Christie, he knows, by the way, everybody in this state knows this is what he was elected to do. When a Republican gets elected in New Jersey to run and a conservative Republican, I’m not talking about a moderate RINO like Christie Todd Whitman, I’m talking a guy like this, you know the people of the state know it’s serious. And even the beneficiaries of all this largesse, according to this Newark Star-Ledger story, understand the fun times are over and they’re going to be making a mad dash to get out of there as quickly as they can.
RUSH: Yeah, I bet the Chris Christie speech, folks — I just have a simple question. Has there ever been a generation of Americans with public pensions and benefits like today’s? No. Nowhere even close. The current city, state, federal retirees are probably the first and possibly the last generation to have such generous pensions and lavish health care benefits. It simply is unsustainable. If you’re a state worker in New Jersey and you contribute $124 grand over the course of your job and you retire at 49, by the way, and over the course of your job life or you quit at 49, you’ve had deductions from your paycheck totaling $124 grand and you get $3.3 million for the rest of your life in pension benefits, another half million dollars in health care benefits. Now, that’s one person. That’s multiplied by I don’t know how many in New Jersey. This is unsustainable, simply unsustainable.
I read an interesting piece the other day. It was in American Spectator by sometime substitute host here Walter Williams, and Walter Williams said that he once spoke to Jesse Helms about crop subsidizes. He said, (paraphrasing) ‘Senator Helms, you’re a big free market conservative, how in the world can you justify crop subsidizes?’ for North Carolina tobacco growers and so forth. And Walter Williams wrote that Jesse Helms looked at him and said, ‘How do you think I’ll ever get re-elected here to do the rest of my good work if I don’t support crop subsidizes?’ The point being, that when you really get down to brass tacks on all this spending, Walter Williams’ point was, it’s our fault, it’s the American people’s fault for wanting it. I forget who it was, I ought to remember this, one of the founders: (paraphrasing) ‘When the public figures out that they can vote themselves money, the end of the country is not far away,’ and basically that’s what happened.
Now, I can only speak for myself personally, and I’m doing this only to contrast myself with other forms of thinking, not to say I’m better, although I am, than other people in this way, but that’s not why I’m saying this. Sorry, folks, sometimes I just can’t help it, the truth is the truth. Now, I said this to you many times. I’m embarrassed to be obligated to anybody. The whole concept that somebody else is going to pay for me is repulsive to me. I’ve had bouts in my life where that’s been necessary, I’ve been broke twice, and I had to ask for help from my parents, and I hated it, I hated it, and so did they ’cause they really didn’t have it. But I vowed that one of my career objectives was going to be that if I ever wanted something, and more importantly, needed something, I’m providing it for myself and for everybody in my family. I don’t want to be obligated to one person, and I don’t want to run the risk that something’s coming to me 10 or 15 years down the road that’s not under my control and I’m going to wait around for it, whether it’s paying for my own health care or whatever it is, not going into debt, I don’t owe anybody anything other than the monthly — this is just me.
The only reason I’m saying this, and folks, for the vast majority of the my life I never made more than $40,000 a year, for the vast majority of my life, never made more than 40 grand. And even then I’ve had this constitutional objection to being dependent on other people. (interruption) Just a moment. I’m being interrupted here by the program observer. No man is an island? Snerdley is trying to confuse the issue. What are you really saying, Mr. Snerdley, when you say, Rush — and isn’t it Mr. Limbaugh in this circumstance, by the way? — no man is an island? What are you saying? Are you saying I’m lying to people? What are you saying? Hmm. Hmm. Determination to be so independent — (interruption) well, now, that’s interesting. Snerdley says that this desire that I have to be totally independent runs counter to everything we’re taught. Not counter to what I was taught. My brother and I growing up, we were never, ever told that somebody else should have to support us or that we should have a claim on what somebody else has produced. Walter Williams talking to Jesse Helms is right.
It’s hard to trace the beginning of this, and when you put a big pot of money someplace and you have elected officials in charge of spending it, you can imagine what’s going to happen. It’s very seductive to be taken in. They tell you you’re entitled to it ’cause it’s yours, it was yours first and it’s just been taxed from you and now it’s coming back to you. I understand all that. I understand how seductive it is, this is me personally. I understand, folks, do not misunderstand me, I know I’m in a very small minority here, and I know that many of you are thinking, ‘Rush, you’re outta touch here. Of course you’re not dependent on anybody.’ Look, I had to work to get here. It was an objective, for crying out loud and I have to sit here and get criticized for achieving it, by my own staff, overrated and on some days problematic. But what kind of mind-set is it, this sense of entitlement? I could no more live with myself if I found out that all I had to do was have $124 grand deducted from my aggregate pay over the course of 30 years and in return I get $3.3 million, not because of anything I’ve done? It’s just me. Sorry. I couldn’t live with it.
I understand the need for money, believe me, I understand the importance of it. Dawn, am I digging a hole here? You think I’m digging a hole? Dawn says 99.9% of Americans would sign up for the job where you have $124 grand deducted and you get $3.3 million when you retire at age 49. Money for nothing. Well, if that’s true — and I don’t believe it’s true because if it were true, Dawn, Obama wouldn’t be in any trouble because all he’s doing is giving away money. I think instinctively people understand this can’t be supported, this kind of deficit, $1.6 trillion, for what purpose? What good is coming from it? Where are the jobs? Where is any economic growth? Where is any new creativity? Where is any new innovation? Where are Americans leading the world in manufacturing or inventing new stuff? Where is it? All this money is going to people who are basically sponges.
RUSH: There were two people that I’ve been able to find so far who made the comment about when the public finds out it can vote itself money the country is finished. Ben Franklin: ‘When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.’ But Alexis de Tocqueville went further: ‘A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.’ We’ve already busted through the envelope on that. We’re over 200 years. But those are the two guys.
RUSH: We’re going to go to Reno, Nevada, Kevin, hello, and welcome to the program. You get to talk for two minutes without me saying a word.
CALLER: Oh, that’s going to be tough. (laughing) Maha Rushie, 20-plus-year-listener and second-time caller. My pleasure. I’m a retired city worker here in Reno, and Nevada is a right-to-work state, so I want to comment a little bit on getting government benefits after not paying anything in. I worked for 28 years, and if I remained retired for 28 years, God willing, I will have made just a little over $2 million, but that again was my investment.
RUSH: Now, wait. Let me ask you a question about this. Is the two million total or is it two million in retirement only?
CALLER: It will be two million in retirement only. There is also a health benefit there. And I’m being blatantly honest with you. It’s a good retirement.
RUSH: Well, yeah.
CALLER: We self-contributed to this, there were no unions involved. When the money came out of the paychecks that of course was salary that we did not receive so we’re getting it back on the end and certainly we’re getting it back in spades. There’s no argument about that. But the reason that PERS has grown so financially well here in the state is it was very well invested in the stock market —
RUSH: Now, wait, let’s define. PERS is the Public Employees’ Retirement System.
CALLER: Yes, I’m sorry, Public Employees’ Retirement System.
RUSH: In California they got two of these, they got Public Employees’ Retirement System and a public teachers retirement system.
CALLER: Okay, this is not it. I work for the police department here.
CALLER: I believe the teachers, I have a couple sisters that were retired teachers, I believe that was generated by the unions —
CALLER: — and paid out by the unions. We were not a union shop at all. But, anyway, the money that we contributed that was deducted from our paychecks at the time we were receiving it was invested in stocks, bonds, that sort of thing, and it was very wisely invested to the point where Nevada PERS, Public Employees’ Retirement System, has about a $20 billion investment right now.
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait, wait. But is it running a surplus or a deficit?
CALLER: It’s running a surplus right now.
RUSH: That’s one of the few.
CALLER: Not as much of a surplus as it was a few years ago, but of course the politicians here now, we’ve got a guy running for governor here that says, ‘Hey let’s look at that money.’
RUSH: Hey, the Reverend Jackson’s been looking at that money for 20 years in every state there is.
CALLER: Yeah, that’s going to be a fight, we’re going to fight that tooth and nail. Oh, by the way, I forgot, I wrote these notes on my hand, I’m also a Rush to Excellence veteran, when you came to Reno several years ago. That’s the last note I have on my hand.
RUSH: (laughing) Well, then you probably remember early on in this program’s history that I had to ban callers from Reno.
CALLER: I remember that. (laughing.)
RUSH: For a while.
CALLER: We weren’t happy with that. We’re definitely in the conservative part of the state, we’re in the Northern part of Nevada, we’re not —
RUSH: Well, we had a genuinely stupid caller one day that just really rubbed me the wrong way, so I said I’m not going to put up with this, so just banned Nevada callers, Reno callers a little while.
CALLER: You didn’t take a call from Harry Reid, did you? (laughing)
RUSH: (laughing) No, not knowingly.
CALLER: Anyway that’s my only point is the money that I’m reaping, and again it is quite a benefit, is money that we contributed.
RUSH: All right, but how much did you contribute, if you want say.
CALLER: You know, I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t $2 million. I know that. I’m reaping the benefits of some very good investments by the handlers of the retirement system.
RUSH: Okay. So what it sounds like to me here that your PERS system basically took money from your paycheck and invested it for you.
RUSH: And the pool grew, the investments were done wisely and the pension fund is such that your share of it when you retire is going to be equal to whatever you’ve said, the $2 million.
RUSH: And that it’s paid for, and it’s covered, and if it had not been invested wisely or if that pension fund had been raided, which New Jersey, they’re $90 billion, they don’t have the money in the pension package.
CALLER: That’s terrible. No, we’re not in that boat at all.
RUSH: They have raided it and raided it, just like they’ve raided the future in all kinds of states to pay for current salaries, spending, whatever it is the politicians want to spend to secure their power and so forth. But you’re a right-to-work state, you’re not union. This was the deal when you accepted the job as a cop. Did you know you were going to get $2 million when you retired?
CALLER: When I hired on I couldn’t spell PERS, you know, I was a 19-year-old kid when I walked into the police department, and everything just contributed and added up and, again, we’re very thankful for it. But I don’t want to — I agree with you 99.9% of the time, but our system here is we are not dependent on the government. We’re not dependent on the unions. So maybe we’re in the minority, I don’t know.
RUSH: Well, I definitely think you are if your pension plan is still showing a surplus and nobody’s gotten their mitts on it.
CALLER: Well, they want to, though, the politicians coming up for this next election are looking at that big nest egg there —
RUSH: Yeah, and I’ll tell you what, I want you to be prepared for how they’re going to go after your money. They’re going to say it’s just not fair that police officer Kevin here gets $2 million when he retires, when so many people can’t even afford the dime slot at the Bellagio.
CALLER: (laughing) If there are dime slots anymore.
RUSH: That’s right, yeah, shouldn’t have said the Bellagio, the dime slot at Planet Hollywood, whatever. That’s the way they’re going to come after your money.
CALLER: Okay. Well, we’ll keep our eyes open for that.
RUSH: All right. Keep us informed. That’s Kevin from Reno.
This is John in Diller, Nebraska, great to have you on the Rush Limbaugh program. Hi.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. I’m glad to talk to you. My wife and I have been watching, listening to you since the Clintons were in office and you were on TV.
RUSH: Thank you, sir. Appreciate that.
CALLER: I just had a quick question for you.
CALLER: The governor of New Jersey’s talking about cutting union jobs. What about the white-collar jobs? Is he going to cut into them as much as —
RUSH: Oh, yeah, he’s cutting everybody. There are 357 programs that are going to be cut. In fact, some of the union people are getting out. They’re gonna take their retirement now. They don’t want to wait around and see all this stuff depleted. Yeah, everybody is going to get cut. Everybody that’s on a government paycheck one way or the other is going to have some kind of a cut somewhere.
CALLER: Oh, okay. Well, that’s good to know. Thank you, sir.
RUSH: All right. Now — (laughing) — see, I know what was going on there. I know what’s going on there, blue-collar versus white-collar. Folks, the point here, look, I don’t want to get into this class envy business, I don’t want to pit people against each other here because that’s not how this is going to get fixed, but I’d have to say right here that the vast majority of the unemployment in this country is going to be white-collar private sector people or even blue-collar private sector people who are not members of unions. That’s where most of the unemployment is. By definition we know what the stimulus money was for, it was to make sure that the states were able to continue to pay the cops, the firemen, whatever, the redundant payments that people were getting in the state. They always claim that the cops and the firemen will be the first to go, the teachers, as a means of scaring the citizenry into not supporting budget cuts, but there’s so much fraud and there’s so much theft and there’s so much abuse in all of these state budgets, city budgets, little town budgets, village budgets, and they always scare you by saying the teachers are going to go, then the cops are going to go, and then the firemen are going to go, then your house is going to burn down, then you’re gonna get robbed and maybe killed, and it’s all because you demanded a budget cut. ‘No, no, I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to get robbed. Please don’t cut!’ That’s how they hook you.
But the vast majority of people that are unemployed now are going to be joined soon by state and city union employees because the slush money has run out and these states have done nothing — Chris Christie, the state’s Reagan huge, huge deficit, tax receipts are down everywhere because unemployment is up. There are simply fewer people paying taxes, corporate and private. This is not complicated. This is economics 101. And after a while, when this round of stimulus spending expires, you’re going to see a bloodbath out there. I’ve been predicting this for three to four months now at various states, I’m talking about state employees, union or otherwise. Everybody’s looking at Greece and the pigs, which is what they’re calling the four countries over there causing real stress on the euro and the European Union. And BusinessInsider.com says, ‘Well, okay, what really got Greece into problems? What caused it?’ And the speculation here is that it was the Olympics that broke the bank in Greece. Government deficits rose every year after 1999, and they spent money they didn’t have in order to put on the Olympics. That’s what they say, that’s the latest excuse. That’s maybe a factor but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the total picture.