Friday, July 01, 2011

Nancy DiNardo’s History Lesson

"The Democrats,” new Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said after he had been installed by party central, “have created a record like no other I've seen since the enactment of the income tax in 1991. Our job is to highlight the contrasts between the Republican Party, which is the party of the private sector, the party of growth and opportunity, contrasted with the Democratic Party, the party of government unions, oppressive taxation and absolutely no job growth in Connecticut over nearly a generation."

Republicans, Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo responded, were attempting to shift responsibility for the state's fiscal mess: "Let's just ignore the fact that we've had a Republican governor for 20 years. Clearly, the voters of Connecticut are not fooled by the Republican rhetoric. The Republican Party has tried to cater to extreme interest groups and is out of step with the residents of Connecticut.”

Mr. Labriola did not answer that it was refreshing to hear Ms. DiNardo admit – if only indirectly and perhaps for the first time in her long tenure as Democratic Party chairwoman – that Democrats, a majority in the General Assembly for more years than Mr. Labriola could remember, were at all responsible for the current mess. Most non-partisans, both in state and nationally, would agree with the timeworn adage that governors propose while legislatures dispose.

Two Republican governors, beginning with Governor John Rowland’s tenure in 1995, have sent budgets to the General Assembly, which then adjusted the budgets according to their lights and sought approval from the governor, who either vetoed the budgets or signed them. That is the way budgets always have been passed in Connecticut.

Additionally, Ms. DiNardo perhaps misspoke when she said “… we’ve had a Republican governor for 20 years,” a span of time that would include as a “Republican” former Governor Lowell Weicker, the father of the state’s income tax. Mr. Weicker ran for governor as an Independent, governed the state as an Independent, as an Independent installed the state’s income tax, with invaluable help from Democratic legislators, and was not, as he himself pointed out in his auto-biography, “Maverick,” comfortable with his own party, a unease shared by most Republicans.

Mr. Weicker, who discounted in his campaign an income tax as a solution to the state’s debt crisis, defeated the Republican candidate, John Rowland, who garnered 37 percent of the vote to Mr. Weicker’s 40 percent; the Democratic candidate for governor, Bruce Morrison, received 21 percent, which indicates that Mr. Weicker received a large amount of his support from Ms. DiNardo’s party.


But all this is ancient history, and revisionists will always quarrel with the solid facts of history. Governor Dannel Malloy’s election is much more recent. His failed budget proposal is more recent still.

There are no Republican fingerprints on the wholly Democratic budget that recently came to grief after it had been rejected by state union workers. And the Republican Party in Connecticut has never been in the grip of “extreme interest groups.” Indeed, some argue that the old Connecticut GOP, the party that has over the years excited such amiability in left of center Democrats such as Ms. DiNardo and others, did not survive because it simply surrendered its character to Democrats.

Mr. Labriola brushed up against the point when he began to draw distinctions between Republicans and Democrats in his remarks: Democrats are “the party of government unions, oppressive taxation and absolutely no job growth in Connecticut over nearly a generation,” while Republicans are “the party of the private sector, the party of growth and opportunity.”

Those few lines went down Ms. DiNardo’s throat like a porcupine with its quills extended – because they actually mean something. She then did what revolutionary leftists usually do when their revolutionary programs, once put in to play, begin to sink the ship: She accused those bailing out the water of “extremism,” a favorite ploy of New York Senator Charles Schumer, who was caught in what he thought was a private phone call to leading Democrats explaining that he always attempts to cripple the opposition by labeling Republican solutions “extreme.”

Those few lines went down Ms. DiNardo’s throat like a porcupine with its quills extended – because they actually mean something. She then did what revolutionary leftists usually do when their revolutionary programs, once put in to play, begin to sink the ship: She accused those bailing out the water of “extremism,” a favorite ploy of New York Senator Charles Schumer, who was caught in what he thought was a private phone call to leading Democrats explaining that he always attempts to cripple the opposition by labeling Republican solutions “extreme.”

Nationally, Democrats, under the leadership of President Barack Obama and political strategists such as Mr. Schumer, declined to approve their budget, produced by a veto-proof majority in the U.S. Congress. At home in Connecticut, Mr. Malloy’s budget has been shot down in flames by state union workers, not minority Republicans in the General Assembly who were shut out of budget negotiations by Mr. Malloy, Democratic leaders in the General Assembly and union negotiators.

Crippled and stumbling into the long Fourth of July weekend, left of center Democrats, moderate Republicans and Independents in the state picked up their papers on July 1 and were met with the astounding news that the Democratic dominated General Assembly, surrendering its constitutional budget making roll in this the constitution state, had given Mr. Malloy extraordinary rescission powers to bring into balance a budget approved by the legislature weeks before it was torpedoed by state union workers. Mr. Malloy’s most modest savings proposal, a plan to eliminate union longevity payments, was rejected by union bought leaders in the General Assembly such as House Speaker Chris Donovan.

No, said Mr. Donovan, “We’re not going to bring it up here today.”

These extreme measures are not likely to be noted by Ms. DiNardo. Why should “the party of government unions, oppressive taxation and absolutely no job growth in Connecticut over nearly a generation,” seldom rebuffed by voters, be expected to surrender their thus far extreme revolutionary ways?
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