At one point in his career as a fiscal conservative transforming into a tax and spend liberal, Jim Amann, the then the Speaker of the House now running for governor, speculated that Gov. Jodi Rell’s popularity was unsinkable because the public viewed her as everyone’s grandma. When the “grandma” body-slam failed in its effect, Amann, and other Democrats, took to calling Rell ‘Snow White,’ which was even less productive.
People who know Snow White, an evocation of Eve in the garden, like her because she is snowy and white and not at all like the queen disguised as a farmer’s wife who tempts her fatally with that poisonous but tasty apple.
Amann intended his remarks as withering criticism. The intimation was that in matters of economics, an arcane and highly manipulable science, Rell was somewhat dimwitted when compared to, say, the economic propaganda minister of the Democratic Party, the academic or party functionary with a degree in Early Marx we see regularly on our TV sets waving in our faces the latest “study” showing that Connecticut, relative to other states, is actually under taxed. Not for nothing did Disraeli say that there were three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Amann’s ham fisted attack didn’t work, and it is worth considering why.
Our grandmother’s view of economics is certainly more homespun and far less self interested than the propaganda minister’s.
Gramma says: “Work hard, save money, and if you get in debt, for Heaven’s sake stop spending money. Cut up your credit cards. You may have to get another job, or move to a state where business costs are lower and jobs are more plentiful.”
This sound advice does not accommodate the tax and spend proclivities of many leading Democrats. Grandma will always and ever be a great disappointment to them.
But we know, almost instinctively, that grandma is on to something. And we also know that advice good for the goose is also good for the gander. Municipalities and states would be well advised in hard times to save money. And during lean times, The state would be well advised to stop spending money and cut up its credit card. Bonding in Connecticut is the equivalent of a state credit card.
It is not academic stuffed shirts or statistical reports written by Disraeli’s “liars” or bewitching tales told by propaganda ministers – take a bite of this pretty apple please -- that have driven these lessons home to us. It is the lashes on our back as we move through the world that has taught us the truth.
Rell also has had her problem with Republicans, who now are in a fighting mood. Republicans generally are perfectly willing to accommodate themselves to their own Grandma’s superior wisdom. However, having been bitten in the past by other faux Republicans and faux conservative Republicans -- former Gov. Lowell Weicker, who gave us the income tax, violating an implicit promise he would do no such thing, and former Gov. John Rowland, who wrested the office from Weicker’s designated gubernatorial hitter, Eunice Groark, on a promise he would devote his efforts to repealing the income tax – stalwart Republicans are just a little leery of campaign feints and dodges, not to mention the compromises past Republican governors have made to accommodate unyielding legislative leaders.
Lately, Rell has sounded grandmotherly -- in the good sense – in her opposition. She has not hesitated to call Democrat budget makers out on their failure to present a timely budget. Democrats slammed the governor for short-sheeting the bottom line on her own budget, but this was no bar for them in presenting their own, which they steadfastly declined to do.
When Democrats finally did present a budget, days before the fiscal year was to end, it was all thorn and no rose, a laughable piece of legislation that will send remaining Connecticut businesses scurrying to other states.
The two parties, Rell and the Democratic mob of legislative leaders, have now entered private negotiations. Common wisdom has it that, having put away their rhetoric, all will emerge from the secret confab with a rescue plan acceptable to all. That plan, most political watchers imagine, will be something on the order of a fifty-fifty split: a fifty percent raise in taxes and a fifty percent cut in spending to accommodate a more than $8 billion deficit.
Rell, when last heard from, wanted a plan that would position the state favorably with respect to other states.
She should stick with her grandmotherly perceptions.