A week ago, the president of the New Jersey Senate, Democrat Stephen Sweeney, stuck his neck out to help Republican Governor Chris Christie pass a union-busting bill, leading to accusations that Democratic Party power brokers were selling out their constituents. By the end of the week, though, he was feeling so betrayed and angry that, as described by Current TV’s Keith Olbermann, he “unleashed thirteen epithets at the conservative darling, only twelve of which we can even mention fully here.”
On June 29, Christie signed a bill that stripped state employees of collective bargaining rights while forcing them to pay between $1142 and $6058 more per year for their pensions and health benefits. According to the NJ Spotlight, “Christie handed the first pen he used to sign the bill to Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), whom he praised for his bipartisanship and ‘political courage’ for joining with the GOP to pass legislation that two-thirds of his own Democratic Party members in the legislature virulently opposed.”
The veneer of bipartisanship was swept away two days later, however, when Christie “took an axe” to the state budget, using a line item veto to eliminate every proposal championed by the Democrats, ranging from a proposed tax on millionaires to funding for education, health care for the poor, and the state’s most financially troubled cities.
Sweeney was furious, especially since the governor had repeatedly promised to discuss the budget with him beforehand. “This is all about him being a bully and a punk,” he told Tom Moran of The Star-Ledger in an interview Friday. “I wanted to punch him in his head.”
According to Moran, Sweeney believes many of Christie’s cuts are vindictive in nature, “designed to punish Democrats, and anyone else who dared to defy him.”
“He mowed down a series of Democratic add-ons,” Moran writes, “including $45 million in tax credits for the working poor, $9 million in health care for the working poor, $8 million for women’s health care, another $8 million in AIDS funding and $9 million in mental-health services. But the governor added $150 million in school aid for the suburbs, including the wealthiest towns in the state. That is enough to restore all the cuts just listed.”
“You know who he reminds me of?” Sweeney says. “Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, the mean old bastard who screws everybody. … I’m just so angry that he hurt people like this to prove a point. He is a cruel man.”
“He’s a rotten prick,” Sweeney added, just to make his point completely clear.
Watch this video from Current’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, broadcast July 4, 2011.