When I read this piece yesterday, I thought, wow, here’s a guy who’s flying around in kazillionaires’ private jets, sitting in private boxes at high-profile sporting events and making ten times the median income in New Jersey (one of the wealthiest states) — and he’s poor mouthing? Seriously, dude? This is not going to endear him to the voters! Maybe if he listens to the video, it will start to sink in. Via the Daily Beast:
“I don’t consider myself a wealthy man,” Chris Christie said Friday in New Hampshire. That would be the same Chris Christie who, according to his tax returns, made $698,838 in 2013—$160,054 of which he earned as governor of New Jersey, and $475,854 of which came from his wife, Mary Pat Christie, who works at a New York investment bank.Christie isn’t rich if you’re comparing him to his friends and donors, and he certainly may not feel rich in New Jersey, where his own policies have made living more expensive. But it turns out that feeling just makes Christie exactly like many other technically rich people: not very self-aware.
Mind you, this is just reported income. Nudge nudge, wink wink!
Christie’s income is nearly 10 times New Jersey’s median, which in 2013 was $71,692; and well over $539,000, the amount necessary to qualify as one of the top 1% of earners there.So why does Christie feel so poor?
He offered his own explanation on Friday: “Listen, wealth is defined in a whole bunch of different ways, and in the end, Mary Pat and I have worked really hard, we’ve done well over the course of our lives—um, but, you know, we have four children to raise and a lot of things to do, so, no, I don’t, I don’t consider myself and I don’t think most people think of me that way.”
Perhaps Christie doesn’t feel rich because compared to his friends and the lifestyle he enjoys in their company, he’s not.The economic class with the greatest income inequality is the upper class, because it encompasses everyone earning $250,000 or more. Were Christie to look around, he might feel very poor indeed. He has flown on private planes provided by Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets, Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and Republican donor, and Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. And he has been the guest of King Abdullah of Jordan—“a friend,” an aide told The New York Times—who put him and his family up for a weekend in a hotel with rooms costing $30,000 a night.
Chris Christie is someone who only really enjoys OPM (Other People’s Money). When he was in office, he was, in fact, the spendingest U.S. Attorney around. When he traveled, he ordered a lot of room service, and he was frequently accompanied by the colleague everyone assumed was his girlfriend (who has since shuffled through a series of well-paid, government-related jobs). And he only stayed in five-star hotels! No government per-diem rates for him, no sir. (The way he accomplished this was to put off making reservations until the very last minute and claim the top-ranked hotels were the only ones available. Oh yeah, this is the guy we want in the White House.)
And when he was a lobbyist for Bernie Madoff’s Wall Street trade association, why, you just betcha he had an American Express gold card. Imagine the fine dining OPM paid for!
Not to mention, he (someone without a lick of prosecutorial experience) managed to bundle together a large enough contribution to the Bush campaign that Karl Rove slid him into the U.S. attorney’s slot.
Everyone is a “friend,” because that’s his way around the strict (but obviously not strict enough) New Jersey ethics laws. All those nice hotel rooms, all that room service, all that living high on someone else’s hog. What a life.
The day we’ll know Chris Christie truly is a rich man is the day he finally starts paying his own way.