- - Sunday, January 21, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Democrats are highly selective in their condemnation of the “1 percenters.” They’re all for 1 percenters like New Jersey’s new governor, Phil Murphy. He vows to steer the state sharply to the left.

When Mr. Murphy, who spent $20 million of his own nine-figure fortune on his campaign, was sworn in Tuesday, his media acolytes breathlessly wrote that his inaugural made New Jersey the eighth state to make a Democratic “trifecta.” In only seven other states do Democrats hold the governorship and both houses of the legislature.

Mr. Murphy’s promise to return to a discredited past should be a warning to other states tempted to return to that unhappy place. If the new governor succeeds in making New Jersey a petri dish for the loopy social experiments on the radical left’s to-do list, he could well become the second Jon Corzine, the governor who served only one term before New Jersey sent him packing in 2009, replaced by Chris Christie, whom Mr. Murphy succeeds.

Like Mr. Corzine, Mr. Murphy was a onetime Goldman Sachs executive worth gazillions in the estimate of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel when President Obama appointed him to be the U.S. ambassador to Germany a decade ago. New Jersey soon learned that money is no substitute for brains.

The New Jersey trifecta means the Republican minority in Trenton will need every parliamentary maneuver it can find to thwart as much as it can of Mr. Murphy’s hyper-left agenda. His to-do list ranges from a $15 an hour minimum wage, rising taxes only on millionaires (for now), enabling same-day voter registration-and-voting that would invite election fraud, imposing new restrictions on gun ownership, restoring cuts in state funding for the abortion mills of Planned Parenthood, and mandating generous sick leave in private employment. He wants to make New Jersey a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants. New Jersey, he said, would reclaim its reputation as the place of “big ideas.”

“We will be bold,” he said, “but we will be responsible and realistic. And in doing so we will send a loud and clear message that our days of muddling through from crisis to crisis are over — we will charge forward with bold ideas.” What that means in practice, however, is that New Jersey would merely muddle from new crisis to new crisis in a vain attempt to make old ideas work.

Because the word “sanctuary” doesn’t poll well in focus groups, Mr. Murphy has sanitized his intentions by calling them merely “welcoming,” as if he’s talking about using a better roast of coffee at the “welcome stations” for tourists at the state line. He wants to create an Office of Immigrant Defensive Protection that would provide legal and other assistance to those jumping the line to get into the United States.

In his final State of the State address, Mr. Christie cautioned his successor against returning to the failed policies of the past, which produced an enormous budget deficit, high property taxes and rising unemployment, and tens of billions of dollars in unfunded public pension liabilities.

From early indications, however, Mr. Murphy seems unlikely to heed Mr. Christie’s commonsensical advice. If there was any doubt as to Mr. Murphy’s commitment to his radical-left agenda, he cites promises in his campaign last summer. “Somebody said to me at one point, ‘Hey, how come you haven’t moved to the middle since you won the primary?’ I said, ‘Let me tell you the secret, I believed what I said in the primary.’”

Republicans in the state Senate must learn anew the use of the filibuster after eight years of relying on Mr. Christie’s veto pen as if it were a sword against the left-wing excesses of the Democrats, who now hold a supermajority in the lower house. On his final days as governor, Mr. Christie used his “pocket veto” to kill 50 bills by leaving them to expire unsigned. The only alternative is to stand aside to enable Mr. Murphy and the Democrats to have their way, and count on the mischievous work of their hands to come back to haunt them in 2021.

“If Phil Murphy and other Democratic governors embrace the toxic model of an anti-business, tax-and-spend agenda,” a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association told The Washington Post, “their states will soon serve as a lesson in fiscal failure and Republicans will continue to dominate control in the states.” New Jersey will learn that a petri dish is a lousy place to live.


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