Christie Was Determined to Kill Tunnel

Josh BarroAbout a year ago, I wrote, Josh Barro Phenomenon. It was a response to his article, How Republicans Made Both Parties Stupid On Fixing Infrastructure. In it he provided an apologia for Chris Christie’s decision to kill the new Hudson River tunnel. His argument was that Christie was only against it because it was larded with pork. I countered saying that this is always what people claim. No one ever admits that they are doing this kind of thing because they want to use the money on their own crony capitalism.

Chris ChristieBarro hit back, tweeting to me that what I had written was the stupidest thing he had read all day, and he had read some really stupid things. I was honored that he read me. I was not at that time used to such people reading the site. But as I noted in an update, “I don’t see his problem. He is providing cover for the same conservative politicians that he claims to want to reform.” Even at the time, I thought it was clear that Barro wasn’t fully processing my argument because of his rage at me. (Admittedly, I was not very nice. I wrote, “Josh Barro is a middling writer who uses most of his intellect to make conservative ideas sound palatable.”

Let me quote from the article, where I don’t think I could have been more clear:

Barro tries to sound very Serious by arguing that the project is “overly expensive.” But that is always always always the reasoning for a politician to kill a project. No one ever says, “I’m killing this very popular tunnel because I hate public transit.” (Christie has no problem spending money on expanding the New Jersey Turnpike.) Instead, politicians say, “I’d love to support this very popular tunnel, but I just can’t because it is too expensive.” Or whatever. So all Barro’s “reasonable” arguments about wasteful spending just allow people like Christie political cover when they make entirely ideological decisions.

So who was right? Did Barro nail it when it when he claimed that Christie was the Good Conservative just looking after the money of the people? As it turns out, no. Charlie Pierce brought my attention to the fact that the Department of Transportation was working behind the scenes to get Christie to go along—offering him “concession after concession.” And none of it mattered, because Christie never intended to allow the tunnel to be built. Martin Robins, the original director of the project even said that Christie had no intention to do it. He would always come up with a reason to justify not doing it—just like I said.

But what did Christie want to spend the New Jersey people’s money on? Pierce explained:

Instead, in 2012, Christie shoveled $260 million in tax breaks into the construction of the Revel Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City…

Revel filed for bankruptcy 10 months later. Not only that, but the casino economy, which Big Chicken prefers to things like building rail tunnels and so on, is pretty much imploding…

So, to sum up, Big Chicken’s tenure as governor is marked most conspicuously by his involvement with casinos. He finagled pension money into the Wall Street casino, and lost a bundle. He plowed tax breaks into the actual casinos, and lost a bundle. Quite frankly, it’s hard to believe that he isn’t walking down the Boardwalk wearing a barrel at this point.

But I’m sure that Barro has not lost faith. I’ve noted before that he seems to have man-crush on Christie. And if he was naive enough last year to claim that Christie had good reasons for being against the tunnel, I’m sure he’ll have good reasons this year to apologize for Christie. It is probably like John Roberts’ idea of corruption. We need a three camera set up recording Christie saying, “I hate public transit so I’m going to kill this tunnel no matter what. Plus, I want to use the money to give my friends tax cuts and building contracts.” With that, plus Christie publicly admitting that the video is real, maybe Josh Barro would admit that Christie isn’t the Good Conservative that Barro so desperately believes must exist. Somewhere.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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