Christie: Collective bargaining rights not a given

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Sunday that while he supported "fair and reasonable" collective bargaining rights for public service employees in New Jersey, those rights "didn't come down from tablets at the top of a mountain" - and that individual states needed to make their own determinations on the issue.

As protesters in Wisconsin embark on their 13th day of demonstrations against Republican Governor Scott Walker's plan to end the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public service employees, Christie, in an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," expressed his faith that Walker was acting in the best interest of his state.

"I know Scott Walker. I like him. I trust him," Christie told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "I think he's doing what's in the best interest of Wisconsin this same way I'll do what's best for New Jersey."

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Christie, who last year became the first Republican elected to statewide office in New Jersey since 1997, has during his tenure been vocal about taking on public-sector unions, calling for drastic cuts to their pension and health care benefits as a means by which to gain control over the state's troubled economy.

While unveiling his New Jersey budget proposal last Tuesday, Christie pushed for major cuts in Medicaid and reductions in the pensions and benefits of public workers, while promoting nearly $200 million in tax cuts for businesses and wealthy individuals.

But the outspoken governor has stopped short of calling for an end to collective bargaining rights in New Jersey.

"What I believe in is true, adversarial collective bargaining," he said on "Face the Nation." "What I've said in New Jersey is, as long as it's fair and reasonable collective bargaining."

He added, however, that he did not believe collective bargaining rights for public employees were a given.

"Listen, all these rights are legislatively created," he said. "They didn't come down from tablets at the top of a mountain. So political things change and go back and forth. Every state is going to make their own determination on that."

"Every state is different," Christie added. "I'm not going to micromanage Wisconsin from Trenton, New Jersey."

The controversial governor - and rising GOP star - reiterated his position that raising taxes will not necessarily provide relief to the nation's economic woes.

"Let's take New Jersey, for instance," Christie told Schieffer. "We raised taxes and fees 115 times in the last eight years. And we still have one of the worst budget problems in America. And so I think unless you deal with the underlying structural expense problems - and we've been dealing with them in New Jersey - no amount of taxation will keep up with the amount of spending increase that we have.

"We're going to do things that make sense but we're not going to continue the spending spree," he continued. "We're not going back to raising more and more taxes. The people in New Jersey have had enough of that."

Christie also advocated raising the retirement age for Social Security, and argued that Americans deserved a "frank, adult conversation about" the futures of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

"Unless we go about tackling those three issues, all the rest of the things that the president is talking about and others on Capitol Hill are talking about are minor league issues," he said. "If you don't deal with those three, those three are going to eat up everything else. We have to start dealing with it."

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