Gov Christie: Level the playing field with education and hard work

Last week, I traveled to Newton, Iowa, to tell New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that I am going to be caucusing for America’s children. In response to my question about closing the opportunity gap so that every child can achieve the American dream, Governor Christie responded with three proposals: reforming the current tax system, reducing federal regulation, and increasing transparency in college and university spending.

Advocating for a simpler tax system, Christie suggested that the current system is “rigged for the rich” and that too many loopholes and special deductions encourages “games” and not growth. He argued for keeping two deductions: the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction as well as the Charitable Deduction, to “encourage people to move away from government… and really try to help fund the charities that they believe are doing the best work in their communities and in their state.” Reforming the tax system will lower rates and make the process simpler, which Christie indicated “would be great for our economy because you can keep more of your own money and not have to worry about playing games with the tax code.”

Additionally, Christie wants to reduce federal regulation that costs businesses “$10,000 per employee.” He believes the cost of compliance prevents them from hiring people and paying good salaries and benefits that can support families. Christie said that as Governor of New Jersey he has removed one-third of business-related regulations that are causing economic slow-downs and present a barrier to opportunities for kids.

Christie expressed that his last proposal, education, is more complicated but important. More specifically, he wants to ensure that colleges and universities are more transparent in the billing process. “We need to make them start to detail what they are spending money on, because I think it would be embarrassing.” If students and parents aren’t satisfied with the way their money is being spent, Christie wants them to have the option to unbundle their bills and “pick the things you want to pay for.” If colleges do not comply, they will not get to participate in the federal student loan or student grant programs. Christie also proposed offering national service opportunities to allow young people to work for credit to put towards student loans. In his eyes, “all these things help to create an opportunity for society in terms of substance.”

In response to an audience question about making college free, Christie remarked that “nothing is free” and that he wants “an America where the government gets out of the way and you get to decide.”

Ultimately, Governor Christie observed that “life isn’t always fair, but work helps to make it fair.” As president, he would promote the value of work in our society. “You can level the playing field with two things in this world: education and hard work.” The challenge, he believes, is to “make them available to people and make them real.”

I will continue to ask the presidential candidates how they plan to close the opportunity gap and make their proposals real for all of America’s children. As a non-partisan organization, we simply include the answers and do not editorialize.