Monday, February 28, 2011

Malloy’s Reality

The salient points of an interview with Governor Dannel Malloy in Politico, “Malloy talks of new reality of labor," are here quoted as fully as possible:

“Malloy assumed $1 billion in concessions from public employees for each of the next two years in his budget, but he also proposes a broad-based tax increase and $800 million in line-item cuts.”
The operative word in that sentence is “assumed.” It should be noted in passing that the tax increases in Malloy’s budget are a reality, while his spending cuts are an “assumption.” Malloy’s whole budget package, it should also be noted, is subject to revision by the Democratic controlled legislature.

The members of public employee unions and the union’s support staff in the Democratic controlled legislature, Mr. Malloy supposed in his interview with Politico, are “not happy at all since I’m a Democrat and I’m not supposed to be doing those kinds of things.”

Republican Governor Jodi Rell is becoming a stock character in Mr. Malloy’s justification narrative: “He faulted the previous governor, Republican Jodi Rell, for using up the rainy day money, borrowing a lot of money to cover operating expenses and not using generally accepted accounting practices.”

All true. But Mr. Malloy seldom mentions that Mrs. Rell was negotiating with a Democratic legislature so numerous that it could easily override her veto, which sapped her negotiating posture. Mrs. Rell continually caved in to Democratic caucus demands, when she was not making fatal strategic errors. Strategically, she was simply outmaneuvered at important points in her mock battle with Democrats.

At the end of protracted taffy pull with the legislature on her last budget, Mrs. Rell finally decided to veto the whole budget and then line item out the more objectionable progressive demands of the Democratic legislature. The legislature had reconfigured the budget so as to satisfy clamorous union demands that the income tax should be made more progressive. Alas, the governor was unaware that she could not use her line item veto on a budget she had not first signed. The sad news was brought to her by then Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has since become the first "stolen valor" U.S. Senator in Connecticut to be appointed to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Game – Democrats!

“I’m not going to play any games,” Mr. Malloy told Politico.

“The Constitution State has long been blue, but Malloy is the first Democratic governor in 20 years. Republicans, and an independent, have traditionally been elected as checks on the liberal state legislature.

“’Our version of GOP governors…were moderate, not intending to do anything,” he [Mr. Malloy] said. “And now they have a check against the Democratic legislature that actually has a plan.”
Actually, most of the ideas put forth in Republican proposed budgets were loftily spurned by the Democratic controlled state legislature. In the numbers game, Republicans simply did not have the feet on the ground in the legislature to push through their measures.

“’There is a reality that a Democratic Party in opposition is different than a Democratic Party who is pulling the levers,’ he added. ‘Unfortunately people who aren’t in opposition sometimes don’t account for how their words are sounding to the people who are receiving them. So, I think Democrats sounded a lot more radical in Connecticut than perhaps, at least in Senate, they actually are. So now we have a different set of realities that play out.’”
Mr. Malloy’s grip on reality is infirm. He is seriously underestimating the liberal potency of the Democratic caucus in his own state. Liberal Democrats in Connecticut have been driving the state left ever since they conspired with Lowell Weicker – a virulently anti-Republican, liberal, Independent governor -- to impose an income tax on the state.

Would Mr. Malloy characterize as “moderate” a Democratic controlled legislature that, towards the end of Gov. Jodi Rell’s administration, was successful – finally! – in making the relatively “flat” Weicker income tax more progressive by adding to it more progressive rates?

Would Mr. Malloy describe the demands of unions in Connecticut, cringingly acceded to by union stalwarts in the Democratic legislature, as “moderate?”

Unfortunately, the political habits in Connecticut, the land of steady bad habits, have for more than twenty tears been tending in a liberal-progressive direction, partly because the resistance – so called Republican gubernatorial “firewalls” – has been so feeble, and it is passing strange that a man who had been Democratic Mayor of Stamford for fourteen years should have failed to notice the drift.
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