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Is Chris Christie’s Tax Cut Demand Political Genius? [AUDIO]

Gov. Chris Christie continues to demand a tax cut and now he says the Democrat-controlled legislature has no reason not to enact the cut. Christie is offering lawmakers a “circuit breaker” that allows them to repeal the tax cut if they believe the state cannot afford it.

Governor Chris Christie
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

One political expert thinks giving legislators that choice is really giving them no choice at all and that’s a stroke of political genius.

“This is a great way for the governor to keep his hands clean by saying he signed a tax cut, but has nothing to do with the decision about whether to do it year-to-year,” said Monmouth University political science professor and poll director Patrick Murray. “That means that it’s the legislature’s fault if there’s not a tax cut in a particular year so there’s no way that legislative leaders are going to vote for that.”

Giving the circuit breaker option is really a roundabout way of Christie saying he’s giving lawmakers the ability to be fiscally prudent said Murray, but the tax cut would probably be permanent if it is enacted.

For well over a year, Democrats have been blocking a tax cut because they say the state does not have the money to support it. What’s the difference between saying we don’t have the money now or saying we don’t have the money later? There is a big difference according to Murray.

“There’s a lot of difference in terms of how the voters will react between not giving them a tax cut versus taking one away that they already have,” explained Murray. “Right now the Democrats are on pretty safe ground with voters when they say they can’t put a tax cut in now because our financial situation is not stable enough and our polling indicates that the public does buy that argument.”

Maybe the fact that Christie wants a big win has something to do with his renewed, full-court press for a tax cut.

“With a win he can go into the 2016 presidential process as the only Republican who can win a blue state by a landslide,” said Murray. “I think that’s why he resurrected this in the hopes that he could back the Democrats into a corner, but even if he loses this battle that he can get at least enough undecided voters over to his side that he can keep that margin (of victory) in the 25-point range.”

The tax cut Christie is proposing would provide:

  • The 10 percent credit capped at $10,000 of property taxes paid.
  • A refundable gross income tax credit for homeowners with $400,000 or less of taxable income, which would lead to an average savings of $775 per household.
  • A phase-in over four taxable years.
  • An increase in the “renter’s credit” from $50 to $100 for tax year 2013, rising to $200 by tax year 2015.

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