Corzine, Like Clinton, Only With More Time to Turn It Around

By: Michael M. Shapiro

With fewer than two weeks before the Texas and Ohio primaries, Hillary Clinton does not have much time to turn around her sagging campaign.  With polls showing that her unfavorable ratings are continuing to climb and her approval ratings are in a slow but steady decline, the Senator from New York has to mastermind a miracle, and quickly.  Across the Hudson, Governor Corzine faces similar polling numbers, but time is on his side.  Unfortunately, the Governor must also transform himself but has not shown adeptness at doing so.

This past week, the Quinnipiac poll showed the Governor with a 37% job approval rating and a whopping 52% disapproval.  In addition, 51% of the voters polled said he did not deserve re-election and his approval among members of his own party is only at 53%.  With continued wrangling over an unpopular toll hike still ahead, the Governor will see his support continue to dwindle in the weeks ahead.  However, all is not lost and the Governor does have time to regroup.

First, he needs to make steep cuts to help balance the State budget without raising taxes.  State workers’ jobs, however, are not the place to start.  Governor Corzine should begin to trim the fat regarding political appointees in his Administration and throughout the State government.  These jobs, awarded to cronies and contributors, bring with them huge (for the public sector) salaries with commensurate benefits and little accountability.  Boards and commissions in the State are replete with such appointees, some of whom are paid handsomely.  In addition, the Governor must become more stringent with unions and insist on concessions including reasonable but mandatory contributions to medical care and pensions for all future State workers and all current New Jersey employees who have worked fewer than ten years for the State government. Without dealing with these large entitlements, the State budget will continue to rise as health care and pension costs drain our economic strength.  Rather than terminate workers, early retirement plans should first be explored.  The toll hike plan should be seriously revamped so that it targets only roads on New Jersey’s borders with other states and only for modest increases, with all monies raised dedicated to reducing the State’s debt.

In addition to budget issues, it may be suggested that the Governor take the lead in reforming government ethics by acting upon the Party Democracy Act, “Pay to Play” reform, closing lobbying loopholes, and campaign finance reform. These actions would help to make government more transparent and accountable while taking away a potent issue from the Republicans in the gubernatorial election.

Should the Governor not step up to the plate and deliver regarding fiscal and ethics reform, his political life may come to an end sooner than he would like it to.

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence, New Jersey.  He currently serves as the Editor of The Alternative Press, http://www.thealternativepress.com  Contact Mike at mike@shaptalk.com

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