As Gov. Christie welcomed Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai to the Statehouse on Wednesday, it was obvious that the governor was serving his own political interests rather than those of the New Jersey workers he was elected to represent.
Why else would he veto Buy American bills guaranteed to put New Jerseyans back to work while entertaining one of our most inequitable trade partners? Why would he allow manufacturing jobs to stagnate when the Legislature presented a bipartisan fix sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assemblyman Joseph Egan? Why would he bow to the wishes of Canada’s general consul, who testified his opposition to the bills in Trenton while his own country imposes similar trade restrictions on foreign governments like ours?
The impact of Gov. Christie’s Buy American vetoes on New Jersey workers and their families became alarmingly apparent with the U.S. Commerce Department’s release of annual trade data, which shows New Jersey’s trade deficit rising dramatically. Last year, the state sold $36.8 billion abroad, but bought $126.3 billion. Country-to-country breakdowns are not yet available for last year, but in 2013 New Jersey exported $1.6 billion in goods and services to its leading trade “partner,” China, while importing $16.8 billion. New Jersey businesses sold nearly $6.8 billion worth of goods to Canada, but bought $9 billion.
“How many more New Jersey workers have to lose their jobs,” asked Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, which represents one million workers and their families. “In a state where there are 64,000 fewer manufacturing jobs than in 2001, it is inexcusable for this governor to turn his back on American manufacturers and American workers by squandering this jobs opportunity here at home.”