Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Governors Who Work

Progressive Connecticut is the Eden of the Obama era. Whatever President Barack Obama has or will propose in coming years, it can justly be said that Connecticut has been there, done that.

Does Washington have a Democrat controlled legislature? Been there, done that. Is the US treasury splashing around knee deep in debt? So are we. Does Washington believe that the nation does not have a spending problem, rather it has a revenue problem? That is and has been for decades the operative position of Connecticut Democrats in the legislature and their enablers in Connecticut ’s supportive media. Right on down the line, on nearly every important point in the Obama program, Connecticut has been tried in the fire. And we can report from Hell that few of the solutions to economic problems adopted by the Obama homunculi that populate our state legislature will work to enhance either our liberty or our prosperity.

It would be helpful if some champion of free enterprise in the state, perhaps our governor, took up this cause. Other governors have done so. The most recent state of the state address by a real activist Republican governor, Mark Sanford of South Carolina , includes these sentiments:

“We can't go on spending more than is coming in and be competitive.

“Sustainable spending matters because unsustainable spending means more private sector activity is crowded out of the economic mix in our state.

“It matters because it sets the stage for tax increases down the line that hurt individuals and businesses in their ability to compete in the global marketplace.

“It matters because it sets in motion a cycle of peaks and valleys in government spending that hurts the neediest of the needy in our state.

“To avoid each of these things it has been our contention that government shouldn't grow faster than the rate of growth of people's wallets and pocketbooks."

Given Connecticut ’s present economic plight, a deficit of $6 billion in a budget of $17 billion, these lines sound like a declaration of war on the present regime. And that is what Republicans should propose: a civil and polite war, but a war nonetheless, that will end with the overthrow of outmoded presumptions, the first of which is that Connecticut is suffering from diminished revenues. This state is suffering from an orgy of spending that began when Lowell Weicker of blessed memory muscled the legislature into accepting an income tax. We have lost control of the helm itself to what some have called the permanent government. Inertia is driving our ship. We do things in a certain way because we have always done them in a certain way, and we fear breaking the mold.

This fiscal year, Sanford presented to his legislature a budget containing a proposal for an optional flat tax of 3.65 percent paid for by an increase of 30 cents per pack in the cigarette tax, the elimination of sales tax holidays and a new landfill tipping fee. His long range ambition is to rid the state of all taxes but consumption taxes. His proposal is aimed, in his words, at “bettering South Carolina ’s competitive position when it comes to tax rates. The plan also recommends eliminating the state’s corporate income tax over a 10-year-time period, taking the rate from 5 percent to zero. The governor’s tax plan will move South Carolina ’s overall business climate ranking from 25th to 6th.”

Sanford does not like pork, except on pigs. And he is well known in South Carolina as a Republican who has fought with members of his own party and Democrats in the opposition party to resist Washington ’s pork filled Trojan Horses. The day after the Republican led House in South Carolina overrode 105 of the governor’s 106 budget vetoes, he brought live pigs into the House chambers as a protest against pork projects.

In the competition for jobs, as we move inexorably into the Obama era, is there any question which state will be attracting more business, allowing the state to increase its revenues without imposing undo hardships on its citizens – Connecticut or South Carolina ?
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