Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Tax Day Rally

At about the same time that Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo had declared his state “functionally bankrupt" and warned public-employee unions not to expect any pay hikes over the next three years, Governor Dannel Malloy showed up in New York at the annual gathering of the Regional Plan Association -- a research and planning advocacy group focused on New Jersey, New York and Connecticut – to lament the want of investment in infrastructure.

Mr. Malloy, whose approach to state deficits is the obverse of Mr. Cuomo’s, chastised "governor after governor, legislature after legislature," for their short-sided indifference to infrastructure needs and confessed he was “more than happy, even as I decry what's happening in our nation, to put in my bid to get any dollars Florida or New Jersey or any other state wants to send back to Washington."

On the same day Mr. Malloy was dilating on “Malloy’s Way” in New York, some 750 concerned citizens in Connecticut were gathered at the state capitol in Hartford to protest Malloy’s Way. Within shouting distance of the governor’s office, the ebullient crowd was crying out “Nuts!” to the governor’s plan to raise taxes. The governors of Connecticut’s sister states in New York and New Jersey had balanced their blood red budgets without resorting to tax increases, and there is little doubt that most members of the crowd would have preferred the no tax way of balancing a Connecticut state budget $4 billion in the red. One of the signs brandished by a Tax Day participant read “No child left a dime.”

Republicans in the General Assembly have assembled a no-tax budget. In the past, Republican alternative budgets had been routinely ignored by a Democratic dominated legislature working hand in glove with Republican governors Rell and Rowland athwart the interests of their own party; and, of course, former governor and Maverick Republican Lowell Weicker, the father of the state’s income tax, a riotous license to spend, was famous for sticking red hot irons in the eyes of Republican conservative obstructionists.

Near the end of the rally, Republican leader Larry Cafero emerged from democracy’s mausoleum to announce that the CEOs of several of Connecticut’s too-big-to-fail companies – Aetna, United Technology, etc. – had jointly sent to Mr. Malloy a letter praising his tax increase budget plan. The near suicidal affection of Big Business for command economies caused some in the crowd to call for boycotts. Mr. Cafero urged Tax Day protestors not to surrender their liberties to Connecticut industrial- legislative complex.

It certainly could not have come as a shocking surprise to those conservatives who spoke to the crowd, such as newly elected Senators Joe Markley and Len Suzio, to find Big Business in flagrante delicto, their drawers hanging about their ankles, with uber-regulators in Connecticut’s General Assembly. Despite all the high octane caterwauling from putative liberals, Big Business is not unfriendly to regulations or high taxes, preferably paid by someone else, both artfully manipulated by CEOs and their well paid lobbyists with a view to driving smaller competitors from the market.

The speakers at the rally who held out the most promise for those who would like to see Connecticut restored to its former luster as a business powerhouse were Tom Scott, best known for engineering the axe-the-tax rally of blessed memory that drew a teeming crowd of 40,000 to the Capitol in 1991, and Jack Fowler, the publisher of National Review, even now, after the departure of the late Bill Buckley, the premier conservative magazine in the country.

Mark Pazniokas of CTMirror, not your usual stay at home journalist and well known among scriveners as an accomplished digger and a smart dresser, noted the launching of the Roger Sherman Liberty Center, “a think-tank/candidate school that will attempt to transform complaining into campaigning,” in a report  that included a good deal of on the scene interaction with people in the crowd.

In an eye-opening report, the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants, a group tied to no ideology, recently traced the contours of Connecticut’s economic ditch, concluding that the state is not going broke – it IS broke. It is doubtful that the Democratic dominated legislature will be spurred by the report to significant ameliorative action. Mr. Scott and Mr. Fowler think they can mount an effective opposition to the state’s death spiral. To do so would requires message, money, organization, and grueling political work, in combination with the laudable zeal on display among conservative realists at the May 15th rally, an event covered in full by the indispensable Ameriborn News.
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