Christie Slams Fellow NJ GOP Leader over "Jobless" Remarks

By Brian Thompson
|  Thursday, Dec 16, 2010  |  Updated 6:45 PM EDT
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Christie Slams Fellow NJ GOP Leader over "Jobless" Remarks

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Governor Chris Christie

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You know you are in some political trouble when your state's governor, who belongs to the same party, says he thinks you were "wrong."

That is what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said of Assembly Minority Leader and fellow Republican Alex DeCroce.

Earlier this week, DeCroce told executives at a NJ Business and Industry Association forum that the jobless can draw up to $550 a week for 52 weeks and added "That's close to 27 thousand dollars a year or 30 thousand dollars a year, a lot of people figure why go to work."

It is not what unemployed workers told NBC New York outside the state's One Stop jobless center in Hackensack.

"It's nothing to live on 400 a week," Joseph Laido, 46, a lab technician from Lyndhurst said.

"I'd rather work cuz sitting at home, there's nothing to do, it drives you crazy all day," added James Bartos, 41, an unemployed mason.

In addition to saying "I think he was wrong," Gov. Christie also used the term "ill advised" in describing the Minority Leader's remarks.  "He obviously thinks he was wrong cuz he apologized for them," Christie said.

But DeCroce's apology also came with harsh words for Democratic leaders of the Senate and Assembly, who asked whom he was referring to when he said "benefits too, too good for these people."

The Star Ledger reported DeCroce accused Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver of "introducing the race card" when she asked about the "these people" remark.

Oliver is African American, but is reported saying she was simply asking who were the jobless people who would rather stay home than work.

By Thursday, DeCroce was declining any more interviews, while Governor Christie was pleading "Can we please stop the food fight already?"

And a leading South Jersey Democrat, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald(D-Camden) added "It's childish for us to be name calling when there are children out there who are scared and hungry and parents trying to find employment."

This whole debate is over the state's depleted Unemployment Insurance Fund, which faces a potentially large tax hike for businesses because so many people are out of work.

Last Spring, Governor Christie proposed a cut of $50 a week in benefits in order to avoid a tax hike then, though a compromise was eventually reached with legislators to avoid that.

Now, he has a task force working on solutions to avoid a tax hike next summer.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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