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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Christie File

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to officially announce his presidential candidacy this morning, joining an already crowded field vying for the Republican nomination. Christie has enjoyed high national visibility for years due to speculation about a run for the presidency and his recent stint as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and so many of his comments have come across our radar.

Most recently, we pointed out that Christie repeatedly, and wrongly, has said that U.S. corporations are taxed twice on income earned abroad, claiming in a June 10 speech that IRS officials “don’t recognize the tax you paid to a foreign country.” It’s true that the U.S. is “one of the few countries in the world,” as Christie put it, that subjects foreign earnings to both U.S. and host-country income taxes. But the IRS provides a foreign tax credit to prevent double taxation.

In May, Christie wrongly claimed that “we’ve had a huge shift from full-time work to part-time work” under President Obama. We noted that there was a “huge shift” in the percentage of all employees who work part-time — but the shift began under George W. Bush, coinciding with the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Since then, the part-timer ratio has been trending downward. In April, it was within one-tenth of 1 percentage point of where it was when Obama first took office. In fact, under Obama nearly half the effects of the recession on part-time work have been reversed.

In April, Christie said that if he were president, he would crack down on marijuana sales and use in Washington and Colorado, which in 2012 were the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Christie said that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and contributed to “an enormous addiction problem in this country.” Though there are correlations between marijuana use and other drugs, there is no conclusive evidence that one actually causes the other.

Speaking at a Republican summit that same month, Christie spun two economic claims. He said it was “outrageous” that there have been “some months” during the Obama administration “where more people have gone on to Social Security Disability than have gotten a job.” But that’s true of every administration since 1986, which is as far back as disability data are available online. He also said New Jersey went “an entire decade without job growth,” from 2000 to 2009, before he became governor. But New Jersey gained 130,700 jobs from January 2000 to January 2008 before the Great Recession wiped out those gains. The U.S. overall also had a net loss of 1.3 million jobs during that 10-year span.

We also spotted several exaggerations in Christie’s State of the State address in January. Among them:

  • Christie boasted that New Jersey’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.7 percent when he took office to 6.4 percent (as of November). But New Jersey was doing slightly better than the national average when he took office, and it was doing slightly worse when he made the speech.
  • The governor touted the creation of 150,000 private sector jobs. But New Jersey’s rate of private sector job growth was less than half the national average; in fact New Jersey ranked 49th out of 50 states in private sector job growth.
  • Christie crowed about New Jersey being “No. 4 in per capita income.” The state is actually third in per capita personal income, exactly where it was the year before Christie took office. It ranked second for more than two decades before that.
  • Christie said that state property taxes “increased more than 70 percent” in the 10 years prior to him becoming governor, and that they’ve increased by “less than 2 percent” in each of the last four years. That ignores the impact state rebates have played in lowering the property tax burden before he was governor, and the impact of the rebate cuts he implemented as governor.
  • Christie made the misleading claim that “taxes were raised 115 times in the eight years before 2010,” the year he took office. But that list includes fees, not just taxes, and the governor himself proposed 23 fee hikes in the 2015 budget.

There’s more in our full file on Christie. We’ll continue to follow Christie and all of the other presidential candidates.

— Robert Farley