Thursday, January 01, 2009

Angels Among Us: Salvational Politics Comes to Connecticut

With the promise of heavenly manna about to shower upon the great state of Connecticut from Washington DC, angels among us – Gov. Jodi Rell, US Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, and US Reps. John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, and the state's littlest angels Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy -- gathered together to make themselves ready to receive these benefits.

We don’t know yet how much federal money -- that would be money taxed from Connecticut citizens and partially returned to the state by the administration of soon to be President Barack Obama -- will be approved for “shovel ready” infrastructure projects, but no matter; Connecticut’s US congressional delegation met at the governor’s residence in war torn Hartford recently to celebrate the occasion.

The press was on hand.

The embattled Sen. Joe Lieberman, a prodigal Democrat recently received back into the fold, said he expects the new Democrat dominated Congress for Change to have the stimulus package on president-elect Barack Obama’s desk before the end of his first week in office.

The embattled Dodd, who has yet to release information concerning a sweetheart deal consummated with the assistance of Angelo Mozilo, formerly of Countrywide, looked almost presidential, concern lying like a soft veil over his tanned features, white hair shinning like a lit bonfire, a good Democrat, always ready to lend a hand.

When Governor Rell met with Obama at the last governor’s conference, a bit unusual for the politically shy Rell, she said the governors told Obama they sure could use some help with Medicaid reimbursements. The President for Change assured the governors that there might be some money in the pipeline for this. According to one report, Larson said his office “has been has been working with Obama’s transition team on this and strongly suspects ‘Medicaid reimbursement’ will be uppermost in the recovery package.”

"I could not ask for more support," Rell said. "Partisanship never entered into our discussion."

Rell commanded local officials to send her a list of “shovel ready” projects. Every politician in the United States, it would appear, is making a list and checking it twice. The deadline for submittals, Rell said, was 4 p.m. on December 30.

Like Bangledesh, Connecticut has now become a beggar state, dependent on the kindness of strangers.

Not all states have been reduced by their profligate spending to beggary. South Carolina’s enterprising governor is still trying to devise ways to eliminate – that’s right, eliminate – the state’s property taxes. Mark Sanford is a big believer in use taxes. Connnecticut used to rely heavily on use taxes, but that was in the long ago before Lowell Weicker and his agents in the state legislature foisted an income tax on the semi-resistant legislature. Many of the same angels who now want to save the state from penury, still plying their wares in the legislature, argued at the time that the state’s principle use tax, the sales tax, was notoriously unreliable as a revenue producer. The income tax, they said, would provide a more stable revenue stream. The $6 billion of red ink in Connecticut’s upcoming budget is unimpeachable evidence that they were wrong.

In fact, Connecticut’s mind set has been wrong for decades. According to the prevailing mindset, the state never had a spending problem – ever. It always had, in the pithy verbiage of Michele Jacklin, commentator in chief for the Hartford Courant before she left the paper and hitched up with the gubernatorial campaign of Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, “a revenue problem.”

That mindset is still very much with us, so locked into the very genes of state legislators that the tax hikers now seem prepared to partially settle Connecticut’s revenue problem by imposing a tax on IPods. In the meantime, citizens of Connecticut are suffering their own revenue problems, and they cannot tax their neighbors to settle them. The angels who plan to save them might possibly eliminate the suggested revenue enhancer as politically suicidal; who knows, miracles do sometimes happen.
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