Christie: Obama has made inequality worse than ever

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A president gets credit or blame for practically anything that happens during his watch, so President Barack Obama can take responsibility for making America's rich richer, GOP presidential hopeful Chris Christie said Thursday.

"The guy who claims to care about income inequality has made income inequality worse than it's ever been in the country's history because he has played to the investor class to make rich people richer," the New Jersey governor said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

The United States has the ability to grow at 4 percent, well above current levels, but regulation is holding back the economy, he said.

"The government has squashed the ingenuity and the energy of the American people by the biggest regulatory scheme we've ever seen," he said.

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Christie claimed that the president's own Small Business Administration reported it costs $10,000 per employee for small businesses to comply with regulation.

The agency did say in a 2010 report that small businesses faced a $10,585 regulatory cost per employee. However, the administration said that figure was as of 2008, the last year of Republican President George W. Bush's two terms and just prior to Obama taking office the following January.

Asked whether he agrees with Donald Trump's plan to abolish a carried interest tax loophole that benefits hedge funds, Christie said he would get rid of all loopholes except the home mortgage interest deduction or charitable contribution deduction. That would bring the tax rate to 28 percent at the top and 8 percent at the bottom, he said.

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"The rich aren't going to like that because they're the ones who benefit from all these loopholes and these deductions," he said.

"You know why people hate the IRS and don't want to pay their taxes? Because they think the tax system is rigged for the rich. And you know why they think that? Because it is. It's rigged for the rich."

As governor, Christie said he had worked with Democratic lawmakers to control the state's budget; spend $2.5 billion less per day than under the previous administration; and reform tenure, pension and benefits systems.

"It can be done, and you can reach across aisle and make accommodations, but they need to know you’re strong and what you'll compromise on and what you won't," he said.

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New Jersey has also seen its credit rating cut nine times during Christie's administration, and the state now has the second-lowest rating, after Illinois.

A majority of New Jersey residents are also unhappy with his economic record, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released this month. Just over 60 percent of residents from New Jersey disapprove of his handling of the economy, his plans for pension reform, and his efforts on taxes.

His overall approval rating stood at 37 percent in the state, and 61 percent of New Jersey Republicans had a favorable impression of him.

In a national poll released last week by CNN and ORC International, Christie placed 11th in a packed GOP primary race with 3 percent of the support among Republican voters. If he fails to inch up in the polls, he will be left out of the next GOP primary debate on CNN on Sept. 16.

Christie was one of 10 candidates that earned spots in Fox News' prime-time debate earlier this month.