WASHINGTON -- No more public workers -- please!
That was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's alarmed reaction to President Obama's push to send states another dose of stimulus money to hire teachers, firefighters and police.
"Please don't send me any more money to hire more public employees. Please don't," implored Christie yesterday in a speech at the Brookings Institute, a liberal Washington think tank.
"I've got plenty as it is, and I don't need any more, and they're expensive!" said the brash governor, who won a hard-fought showdown with teachers unions over benefits and pensions.
Temporary federal aid to hire permanent state and local workers, he argued, only leads to huge budget shortfalls or layoffs when the stimulus money runs out.
"I have the highest property taxes in America to begin with," said Christie. "Where's this money going to come from to pay these folks afterwards?"
Obama offered up the second stimulus as part of his re-election campaign. He promised that it would reboot the stalled recovery by growing the public sector, which he insists is doing worse than the private sector.
Christie's address to a national audience easily could have been a stump speech in the presidential race, as he described how his "New Jersey approach" should be a blueprint to end gridlock in Washington.
It only fueled speculation that Christie is a top candidate to become Republican challenger Mitt Romney's running mate.
Christie suggested that Jersey's state Senate Democrats were blocking a tax-cut deal to complicate his potential speaking date at the Republican National Convention next month in Tampa, Fla.
"A speech I've not been invited to give," he said coyly.
Christie surely looked more like a VP candidate in the button-down Washington setting than he did last week holding an ice-cream cone and shouting down a heckler on a Jersey Shore boardwalk.
"If the president and the Congress want to spend money on something that will create jobs, then spend money on infrastructure, which builds private-sector jobs," he said yesterday.
Christie also said he would wait until next year — after the presidential election — to decide whether his state would adopt the ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid.
The US Supreme Court ruled that the Obama administration cannot withhold all Medicaid payments to states to force participation in the expansion, as the law originally prescribed.
"I'm really glad that a majority of the Supreme Court still supports the proposition . . . that extortion is still illegal in the country, even when it's done by the president of the United States," the governor said.
Republished with permission of The New York Post.