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An incoming President Donald Trump this morning extended congratulations to the New Jersey Legislature for not affirming Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget, which contained a millionaire’s tax.
“Congratulations to legislators in New Jersey for not passing taxes that would have driven large numbers of high end taxpayers out of the state,” Trump tweeted. “Many were planning to leave, & will now be staying. New York & others should start changing their thought process on taxes, fast!”
The legislature is run by machine Democrats, including Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney, who together are locked in an ongoing political fight with progressive Democratic Governor Phil Murphy.
At various junctures of the budget battle, which ended yesterday on the last day of the month when
Murphy signed the legislature’s $38.7 billion budget rather than force a government shutdown, the governor and his rivals each attempted to paint the other as the more Trump-friendly side of the divide.
Murphy repeatedly pointed out that Trump’s tax policies and SALT deduction freeze punished New Jersey’s middle class, which could benefit from a state millionaire’s tax in the name of tax fairness.
For his part, Sweeney as recently as yesterday likened what he cited as Murphy’s detachment from reality as Trump-like.
But in the end, if there was a battle to lump one side in the 40% NJ-approval rated Trump basket far from the interests of the other, the governor appears to have won (even as he lost the budget fight).
Trump himself furnished the evidence with his a.m. endzone dance, extolling a Democratic legislature ultimately controlled by his friend (and fierce Murphy foe) South Jersey Democratic Party Power Broker George Norcross III.
Analilia Mejia, the former head of Working Families NJ and now the political director of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, tweeted in response to the president’s comment, “Way to go NJ ‘Democrats’. You’re actions are crappy enough to warrant praise from the Donald himself. Ughhhhh.”
The current director of NJ Working Families also had something to say about Trump’s tweet.
So did Sweeney, who eschewed the POTUS bearhug with a tweet of his own:
@realdonaldtrump, what you missed is our budget is both fiscally responsible and fair to working people, caring for those most in need – things you have failed to do. Budgets should not serve to punish the poor, the middle class, the rich or anyone.”
Murphy’s response to Trump can be seen here.