Although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's 2016 run for president is still just a rumor, he's still got his finger on the pulse of what's going in Washington, D.C., these days.
With Capitol Hill in a constant state of gridlock and stalemate, governing by crisis has become the norm. However, Christie, who won re-election earlier this month, said there are things he would like to see changed right now in Washington, which he said is run by “absolutists” in both parties.
Christie spoke to a room full of business leaders Monday evening as he talked about political leadership in America at the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council, a two-day conference for 100 of the country's chief executives. The event was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in DC. “Both parties have equal blame in what’s going on here.”
Partisan bickering has kept lawmakers at loggerheads on important government issues, including passing a formal budget and immigration reform. These partisan logjams have caused the public to give Congress a record low 9 percent job approval rating.
However, Christie boasted of his success with cutting business taxes and passing pension reform with a Democratic legislature, which, the Republican governor said, is all about building relationships.
“It’s a vacuum in relationships,” Christie said of Washington, D.C. “The fact of the matter is nobody in this city talks to each other anymore, or if they do, they don’t speak to each other civilly. They don’t develop relationships. They don’t develop any sense of trust between each other and then they expect when … problems come up -- big, difficult, contentious problems -- that they’re going to be able to get into a room and fix it.”
The inability of Democrats and Republicans to trust each other, along with the distrust between congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama last month, led to the first government shutdown in 17 years. The funding lapse lasted for approximately two weeks.
The Republican governor said Obama is first to be blamed for Washington’s discord.
“If you’re the executive, you’re the person in charge of making that happen,” he said. “If I wait for the leaders in the state legislature to come to me and build consensus I’m going to be waiting forever. They are legislators. They’re elected not to lead. That’s it.
“Members of Congress, members of a state legislature, they don’t have a responsibility to lead and they always have an excuse, if you let them,” Christie added. “The executive is the person that’s held responsible. The president has not developed the relationships necessary on a personal level with both sides of the isle to be able to bring people to the White House and be a consensus builder.”