New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fears America may soon become a "paternalistic entitlement society" where people sit on the couch, waiting for their next government check.

Christie made the remarks Tuesday during a daylong conference on tax policy in New York. The event was hosted by former President George W. Bush and attended by sever prominent Republicans, including Henry Kissinger and some current GOP governors from around the nation.

Christie focused mostly on New Jersey budget issues during his 30-minute speech. But he also touched on national policy, saying this is the least optimistic period he's ever seen because government is telling Americans to "stop dreaming."

Democratic leaders in New Jersey criticized the remarks, saying Christie was catering to his conservative audience at the expense of working-class New Jerseyans.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)