New Jersey governor Chris Christie said today he believed President Obama was “missing an historic opportunity” “to do the big things” that will right the course of the country for the next generation.
“I look at what’s happening in Washington right now and I’m worried,” Christie told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, after an introduction from Henry Olsen that described him as “the most consequential governor of New Jersey in at least 100 years.” He said the president’s speech in Arizona had encouraged him that Obama had the momentum to deliver a State of the Union address that would tackle difficult issues. He even “feared as a Republican” that the president would use the speech to “cement reelection.”
“What I was looking for that night was for my president to stand up there and challenge me,” Christie said. Instead, Obama focused on “investments” (Christie used air quotes) like high-speed rail and electric cars, calling them “the big things” (a phrase, Christie noted, that he had used in his own State of the State speech two weeks prior).
“Ladies and gentlemen, that is the candy of American politics. That’s not the big things,” Christie said.
The big things, according to Christie, are entitlements: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He slammed the president for playing chicken with congressional Republicans on much-needed reforms, and challenged the notion that Social Security remains a “third rail” in American politics.