EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney isn’t overly concerned that Chris Christie is spending so much time in New Hampshire lately, but he is calling out the governor’s latest proposal.
Speaking in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Christie unveiled his national proposal to reform the Social Security system, which includes reducing payments for those making more than $80,000 a year while phasing out Social Security altogether for those bringing in more than $200,000.
Sweeney, D-West Deptford, noted that Christie has repeatedly vetoed bills in New Jersey that would have generated revenue by taxing those making more than $100,000 a year.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Sweeney told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.
“On a state level, there’s a certain policy that you talk about,” the senator added. “When you’re running for president, you look at it a different way.”
Sweeney said New Jersey is lagging behind financially, saying if it made moves like other states after the recession, “We’d have $3.3 billion more.”
As Christie travels outside the state, lawmakers in Trenton are getting down to budget talks.
“As he’s traveling — and I’ve said it before — we can communicate with each other, but we really need to focus on policy here,” Sweeney said.
The senate president added he’s not surprised by the governor’s travels.
“If anyone hasn’t known for the last several years that the governor is running for president, they haven’t been here in New Jersey,” he said.
Christie, however, has not declared his candidacy.
Christie’s speech Tuesday was his first major policy address of the 2016 season and offered more specifics than he’s typically offered on national issues. He proposed increasing the retirement age for Social Security to 69, beginning with gradual increases in 2022. He also proposed raising the early retirement age to 64 from 62. The Medicare eligibility age would be increased gradually to 67 by 2040.
He also proposed turning Medicaid into a block grant program to the states, which Republicans have long proposed and critics say could mean reduced benefits over time.
Christie portrayed himself as a no-nonsense Washington outsider who is “not afraid to tell you the truth as I see it, where you like it or not.”
“This is a conversation Washington politicians don’t have because they don’t believe that the American people have the appetite for hard truths,” he said. “Once again, they underestimate the people that they serve. Americans not only deserve fairness, they deserve the honesty of their leaders.”
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