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To Critics, Left & Right, Christie's Silence on Ins. Exchange Says a Lot

The governor's reticence on saying where he stands with Obamacare health insurance exchange legislation in NJ may mean he's positioning himself for a shot at a national VP slot.


Thursday is the day that a bill that would establish an Obamacare-mandated 'health insurance exchange' will become law in New Jersey if does nothing to stop it.

Since the bill was passed by both houses in March, the governor hasn't committed himself, one way or another, about what he intends to do: either veto the bill and stop it dead in its tracks, a move that would appeal to conservatives; or endorse the bill and sign it, an action that would hearten liberals who approve of President Barack Obama's health care plan. 

If Christie does nothing - neither vetoing the bill nor signing it into law - the bill becomes law by default on Thursday and a health insurance exchange would be established in New Jersey.

A spokesman for Christie's office yesterday said that the governor is still mulling over his options.

Running for Veep?

Ironically, critics on both sides of the aisle seem to have arrived at the same conclusion on Christie's reticence. They think it's nothing more than a political ploy for a second run as governor, or for Christie to win a vice presidental spot on Gov. Mitt Romney's Republican presidential ticket, a job to which he isn't adverse.

They think he's trying to avoid committing himself one way or another on NJ's first manifestation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - the official name of the bill that created Obamacare - so that he can better position himself politically, either in New Jersey or nationally.

"The governor clearly has national aspirations and is playing a very cute game about whether he wants to be vice president or run for another term [as governor of NJ]," said Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-19), who represents in the legislature, and is a frequent critic of Christie.

Christie is "refraining from signing the bill so that he can maintain his conservative credentials nationally and avoid the issue in New Jersey," Wisniewski said bluntly.

On the other side of the political spectrum is Mike Proto, the communications director for the NJ chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative advocacy group that has levied much conservative criticism at Christie. Proto's boss is Steve Lonegan, the conservative activist who lost to Christie for the Republican nomination for governor in 2009. 

"Christie has pretty much acquiesced to Obamacare down the line," Proto said. He's accused the governor of never having done anything to "take a principled stand against Obamacare", including joining a lawsuit with Florida and other states to stop the health care plan from being imposed on the states.

The governor is 'submissive'

"Romney has a reason to repudicate Obamacare at this stage," Proto said, referring to the Massachusetts health care plan, one Romney instituted when he was governor, and for which he's taken grief from Obama, who has pointed to it as a model for Obamacare.

"It's proving to be a problem for Romney. Christie has been submissive and has pretty much accepted [Obamacare]." 

As far as Proto is concerned, there is no other option for Christie but to veto the bill, something the governor has not mentioned.

"There is no other acceptable action," he said.

The governor said he wouldn't raise taxes, and Proto said the language in the state's health exchange bill will lay fines on insurance companies that don't comply with the exchanges. That, he said, will be a cost passed along to health care consumers - "another tax that will cause health insurance rates to go up."

'Just another politician'

Wisniewski said he's waiting to watch how Christie will "bob and weave" to avoid being pinned on the fate of the NJ insurance exchange bill, whether it becomes law by default without the governor's signature.

"He tries to portray himself as a no-nonsense straightforward leader. The reality is being proven on this issue because he's refusing to say where he clearly stands.

"The governor will be masterful at spinning his explanation, like, 'this is something the legislature did without me.' He'll try and cast himself as being noble and enlightened. He's trying to have it both ways," Wisniewski said.

Christie, Wisniewski said, is only proving "he is just another politician."

Barbara Sagarese Gonzalez May 09, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I hear crickets .......nothing from my "republican" friends.

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