By Matt Rooney
This Phil Murphy vs. George Norcross battle has a lot of layers, Save Jerseyans.
The EDA/tax credit angle, the internal North vs. South and “progressive” vs. machine angle, the newcomer vs. established order angle, an ideological divergence over socialism vs. socialism lite, etc. All very interesting if you’re a student of political science (or simply enjoy watching Netflix-quality political drama/combat with high stakes).
Something that’s getting less attention? And by less, I mean no attention at all?
Probably because most of the New Jersey press corps and political class falls into one camp or the other?
For all the progressive/woke/social justice warrior BS we hear from New Jersey Democrats these days, their party’s power structure is remarkably simple and boils down to two mega rich white guys (Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and Norcross, a labor leader turned insurance industry titan) battling over the Garden State’s Iron Throne.
Power, money, tax credits, crony capitalism, special legislation… even loyalty oaths.
I’m a capitalist. Provided you succeed in life honestly? More power to you.
My issue here is one of intellectual integrity. The public sector unions are powerful, you bet, but the NJEA couldn’t touch Steve Sweeney (the Senate President and the Norcross-led machine’s top elected asset) in the 2017 election. Diversity gets a lot of lip service from the Left in this state, but New Jersey’s most powerful Democrat decision-makers (Murphy, Sweeney, Norcross, Assembly Speaker Coughlin) are all older white dudes. We hear a lot about the “working class” from Trenton, but each and every policy and budget are designed to put the screws to taxpayers in favor of keeping these rich guys and their power structures chugging right along.
What I’m saying is that Democrats’ lofty rhetoric doesn’t match their reality. On either side of this fight. New Jersey’s true form of government is a blend of socialism and oligarchy (with a sprinkle of kleptocracy for good measure).
They may disagree with one another on tax credits and a small handful of other issues, but Leftist economic policies supported by both sides of the Murphy-Norcross divide haven’t helped the Middle Class in this state. New Jersey’s women, minority communities, and millennials are being left out of the economic BOOM sweeping the rest of the country as a direct result of the aforementioned bad decision and sometimes self-serving business decisions of the Democrat power elite which has dominated the legislature (and therefore Trenton) for almost two full decades.
Helping the Middle Class = lowering property taxes. None of these guys are talking about that. Ever wonder why?
Tax credits are a way AROUND fixing our state’s poisonous tax/business climate while also helping entrenched power elites stay entrenched. At best? A bandage on cancer. At worst? A perpetuation the behavior plaguing our state economy and our body politic. Certain Democrat power centers like Camden or Hudson counties benefit a bit in the short term because helping those businesses SERVES the interests of those city states’ leadership, but the rest of the state (which subsidizes these credits by picking up the slack, with tax dollars) continue to hemorrhage.
The golden goose is on life support as a result.
White, black, young, old, upwardly mobile or desperately poor… doesn’t matter. Here’s my challenge to you: take a ride on an NJ Transit train. Try to start a small business. Poll your 30-something year old friends still living at home (we have more of them than any other state). What’s you’ll invariably discover: the only people who can still AFFORD the American Dream in this state, and don’t need to move to survive, are… the mega rich. The narrow political and business interests of the few folks at the top of the pyramid which MOST of these policy moves are designed to serve.
Like I said: rhetoric ≠ reality.
The New Jersey Democrats aren’t who they want you to think they are. Open a newspaper this week for all of the proof you need.
MATT ROONEY is a practicing New Jersey attorney, regular panelist on ‘Chasing News’ with Bill Spadea, and the founder and blogger-in-chief of Save Jersey.