Thursday, November 04, 2010

Après Rell

The estimate of the state of the state elections by Paul Bass, a writer for The New Haven Independent, is fairly accurate:

“Connecticut went true blue—bluer than ever. Malloy will have become the first Democrat to win the governor’s office since 1986. Democrat Richard Blumenthal captured an open U.S. Senate seat the party had seemed until only recently in danger of losing. And all five of the state’s U.S. House seats went to Democrats again—even though the 4th and 5th District appeared at times heading to turn red. Democrats also swept the under ticket constitutional offices.”

Departing Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz has called the gubernatorial election in favor of Dan Malloy. Two days after the election, the Associated Press, citing an 8,424 vote lead by Foley with all but 1.5 percent of precincts counted, withdrew its call of Malloy as the winner. Later in the day, the AP announced that it had missed figure in New Haven. Republicans may contest Bysiewicz’s finding in court. For someone who had been found by Connecticut’s Supreme Court to have lacked the requisite court experience to serve as attorney general, Bysiewicz certainly has been spending an inordinate amount of time on the wrong side of the bar.

Nationally, Republicans appear to have swept the boards: They won back the U.S. House of Representatives and a number of prime gubernatorial offices, but not in truer than blue Connecticut. No fewer than 19 legislative bodies switched from Democrat to Republican. Democrats have lost key chairmanships in the U.S. Congress; among the fallen is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. When Connecticut’s lock step Democratic representatives return home to the Beltway in the new session, they will find it remodeled. Republicans also picked up some seats in the U.S. Senate.

Some commentators, though not yet here in truer than blue Connecticut, are asserting that the national change – not the sort of “change” President Barack Obama approves – is a stunning repudiation of the president’s agenda. After a display of partisanship unmatched in recent times during which Democrats passed on a party line vote a massive health care bill and a smothering Dodd-Frank regulatory apparatus, it is expected that leading Democrats in the congress, their status and power much diminished, will begin in the new session to call for non-partisanship as a means to consolidate their questionable programs. Sen. Richard Blumenthal will be among them and Connecticut’s senior Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, repudiated by his own party, has given subtle hints that he may be willing to caucus with Republicans.

Change is in the air, but not here in truer than blue Connecticut, the status quo state.

A governor Malloy likely will have the same problem with the legislature as departing Gov. Jodi Rell, disappointing the state’s many left of center editorialists who supported Malloy on the assumption that birds of a feather would be able to negotiate together. Connecticut’s union owned representative, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, and his confederate in the senate President Pro Tem Don Williams, both of whom were returned to office with large pluralities, will offer Malloy temporary spending cuts in return for permanent hikes in income tax rates on the state’s quarter-millionaires, anyone earning $250,00 per year. And if Malloy refuses to tag along, Donovan-Williams will soon let him know who the General Assembly belongs to.

But it will be worse than that. Those who have for years uninterruptedly voted in favor of the one party state Connecticut has now become will see a shift in taxing authority from municipalities, which control spending through referendums, to the state, where there are no referendums and no restraints on spending. This shift will be sold to the easily deluded among us as a “reduce the property tax” measure, while the coming tax rate increase on quarter-millionaires will offer a permanent bar to any small business considering moving to Connecticut or expanding instate.

The General Assembly’s inattention to permanent long term spending cuts will also serve as an order to quit the state for any business that can easily move its operations elsewhere. Pratt&Whitney -- despite senator-elect Richard Blumenthal’s strenuous efforts as attorney general to imprison the company instate through litigation -- is getting ready to bolt, and others will follow. If a Gov. Malloy attempts to pass through the legislature long term spending cuts, he will be met with a stiff resistance by Dovovan and Williams. Reproving editorials in Connecticut’s left of center media calling upon union owned leaders in the General Assembly to see reason and negotiate with Malloy will fall on deaf ears. It will take the Democratic dominated legislature about a year to make a Rell of Malloy, disappointing the many left of center editorialists who supported him on the assumption that a Democratic legislature would be more likely to negotiate with a governor of the same party. But at least they will get a rail line out of the new governor, enabling unemployed workers in Springfield to travel on a costly improved line to New Haven, an entrepreneurial dessert from which jobs and quarter-millionaires have fled to seek better prospects in states like North Carolina, where Pratt&Whitney’s competitor, Boeing, is in the process of breaking ground for a new aircraft manufacturing plant. Boeing is moving operations from Washington State where, it said, labor costs and unrest were unsettling.

At the end point, the curtain falls. It’s over.

Fini.
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