Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rell-Moody, The Great Compromiser

“Rell,” screamed one headline in a Hartford paper, “Shifts Gears On Car Tax Proposal.”

Way back when everyone thought Governor Jodi Rell was a Republican, she proposed what some people would consider a distinctively Republican measure – an honest to God tax cut. Rell proposed to eliminate the car tax. Since that time, Rell has issued a white elephant of a proposal that, all will agree, is distinctively Democratic: a hike in the income tax to finance a pointless spending spree in the educational sector. That sector is devoted mostly to electing Democrats who will feed its voracious appetite.

Now Rell has shifted gears on her car tax proposal. “Shifting gears” is perhaps not quite the correct metaphor, because it does not capture the driving force (no pun intended) behind Rell’s habitual tendency to compromise Republican principles and deliver the legislative goodies to Democrats. That driving force is Lisa Moody who, when she was a political up-and-comer in Vernon, was disposed to make compromises that would win local Republicans friends and influence people.

Former Governor John Rowland did the same sort of thing. He was wafted into office on a promise to eliminate Lowell Weicker’s income tax. Once in office, he began to compromise. Before you could say “We need a convention center,” Rowland’s stiff resistance to an income tax was shoved to the back of the closet, and we were off on a spending spree. Republicans winced and winked at all this. After all, they were a minority; what could they do but compromise? They were the “firewall” that would prevent the general conflagration to come. Yes, indeed, they were.

And what would that conflagration look like? Well, budget spending would double and triple; through excessive bonding, state’s “credit card” would be maxed out; conservative Jeremiahs would rend the air with their imprecations; young college graduates – those ungrateful tax sponges – would, upon graduating, kick the dirt of Connecticut from their feet and move to Southern climes to find jobs in companies settling in states where taxes were less punishing and Republicans were true to their principles, firewall states like South Carolina.

Not to be too much of a Jeremiah, but the future is here; it is now.

Meeting that future is the Rell-Moody team, the great compromisers.

Here is the way “compromise” works in this the land of steady habits: 1) A Republican proposes a tax cut – not a tax rebate, mind you, but a genuine tax cut; 2) Democrats object that the tax cut will favor the plunderable rich folk who make Fairfield County glow like a bar of gold. The Republican does not say, “Look, a tax cut is a reversing of gears. The rich, who paid more in property taxes on their fleet of Mercedes going in, must necessarily retain more money when the tax is eliminated. That is a bi-product of the nature of the tax. If you buy a more costly car, you will pay a higher tax. When the tax is eliminated, you do not pay the higher tax, but neither will the poor or the struggling middle class pay the lower tax. It is not as if the state is giving more in tax money to the rich than it is to the poor. The state is simply not taking the money, either from the rich or the poor. Everyone will benefit from the elimination of the tax.” Not at all. The Republican compromises and; 3) good bye principle, good bye tax cut.

Rell-Moody now has decided to soften their tax cut through a device that makes the cut progressive: The tax cut will apply only to the first $30,000 of a car's fair market value.

Watching all this from the galleries, voters, scratching their heads and pulling their lobes, ask themselves, “What is the point in voting for the Republican who, like the Democrat, wants to despoil gold hoarding Fairfield malefactors of great wealth and then pluck the gold fillings from our mouths?”

The Democrats at least are principled: They operate on the principle that a whole loaf is twice better than a half loaf, and from Rell-Moody they want the whole loaf. But they are willing to consume it a bit at a time. Why be a pig?

Here is Rep. Chris Caruso, perhaps the Democrat’s most accomplished demagogue, denouncing a tax cut that will be, for all practical purposes, progressively applied: “It doesn't resolve the problem for urban dwellers and the middle class. People in Bridgeport don't drive Bentleys. They don't drive Porsches. They don't drive BMWs.”

Indeed, it only remains for some faux Republican to pop up and accuse Caruso of stealing from the mouths of the poor the bread that might be purchased by them through a tax cut on cars because the poor cannot afford Porches.

Given the defection from Republican principles, Connecticut has now become a one horse town. And the horse is being driven over a cliff by a half mad poisonous demagogue. Unfortunately, that ain’t just a metaphor.
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