By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
“No, I’m not concerned that the federal government is cutting one penny out of a dollar of federal spending. No, I’m not concerned about it.” That was Gov. Chris Christie on Day 4 of federal sequestration.
Asked by a reporter if he’s concerned about it, he said it’s only a cut of $42 billion between now and October.
“Forty-two billion in a $3.6 trillion budget. We’ve done much harder things in New Jersey in much shorter periods of time,” Christie said.
His comments came on a visit to a federally qualified health center in Jersey City.
Metropolitan Family Health serves the uninsured and under-insured and gets an increase in Christie’s new budget plan.
“Thank you, governor for the $50 million that was appropriated for the FQHCs,” Metropolitan Family Health Center President Joan Dublin said.
“Since I’ve become governor, funding for these centers has risen by $10 million because I want to make sure that our health centers can serve the residents who need them and that no one needs to be turned away,” Christie said.
He rejected Democratic criticism that he has cut spending on women’s health.
“My view is that the funding of planned parenthood clinics, in addition to the funding of federally qualified health clinics where women can get exactly the same treatment and more, was duplicative spending. That’s still my view of it,” said Christie.
But it was the sequester that drew his disdain. They should get real, he said. They should cut smarter. They should include entitlement spending.
The effect on New Jersey?
“I don’t think we’re gonna see much effect of the sequester in New Jersey at all. I think unfortunately the president has overplayed this in a major way. And I think you see them starting back it back now a little bit. Planes aren’t gonna be falling out of the sky,” Christie said.
He was asked, will they fix it?
“I don’t understand why they haven’t fixed it already. It seems to me it should be pretty easy to fix. Real leadership would get this fixed. Get everybody in the room and you fix it. And you don’t let them leave until you fix it. That’s what real leadership is, not calling a meeting two hours before the thing’s gonna hit to have a photo op in the driveway at the White House. That’s not real leadership. Fix it!” Christie said.
More and more Christie is sounding like a man with one eye on Washington politics. His comments today on sequestration and President Barack Obama’s failure to avoid it suggest he’s playing on a broader canvas than he once did as governor.