Saturday, August 04, 2012

Malloy the Progressive


According to Public Policy Polling, Governor Dannel Malloy “continues to be one of the most unpopular Governors in the country in our polling.”

Mr. Malloy’s approval-disapproval spread likely astonished most political actors in the state, with the possible exception of the phlegmatic Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor chief flack catcher, whose response to a reputable, non-partisan poll showing the governor with an approval rating of a slender 33 percent and a disapproval rating of 51 percent was a barely suppressed yawn.

“We generally don’t comment on polls,” said Mr. Occhiogrosso, “because what’s there to say? Polls come and go, numbers go up and down. The governor always tries to do what he thinks is in the best interests of the people of Connecticut, irrespective of the political consequences.”

Politicians also come and go, and their comings and goings are sometimes intimately connected with sliding approval ratings.

On previous occasions, Mr. Malloy has said that he is uninterested in popularity contests. His principle business lies in re-inventing Connecticut; in this ambition, he has patterned his political program after that of President Barack Obama, who has been during his first term in office busily re-inventing America.

Actually, it may be the other way around. It is always difficult in these circumstances to determine precisely which came first, the chicken or the egg. In his second campaign for the presidency, Mr. Obama –slipping in the polls, but not quite as precipitously as Mr. Malloy – has begun to chatter about millionaires paying their “fair share”; in Mr. Obama’s view, a millionaire is anyone who earns by the sweat of his brow more than $250,000 per year, well short of a million. With the Damoclean sword of a $15 trillion deficit hanging over their heads, most non-millionaire taxpayers in the country are beginning to brace themselves for a massive tax increase. Mr. Malloy, it will be recalled, is the father of the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, compared to which his spending cuts have been indeterminate and modest.

The similarities between Mr. Obama and Mr. Malloy are telling. Both are young, and it is said that Mr. Obama has some Irish blood rolling his veins.

Both are ardent travelers. According to a recent story, Mr. Malloy will be on his way to China sometime in September, there to explore the possibility of persuading his equivalent in China’s fascist government to invest in Connecticut. The Chinese already are heavily invested in the foundering U.S. economy. Mr. Malloy possibly has more miles on his pedometer than any other Connecticut governor and has shown himself to be – the views of Jonathan Pelto notwithstanding – a faithful progressive.

Support for unions was one of the identifying characteristics of the 1912 presidential campaign involving trust buster and former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, a convert to progressive causes, Republican President Howard Taft, a golfer whose real political ambitions would later be fulfilled when he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Democratic candidate and dilettante progressive Woodrow Wilson, and socialist candidate Eugene Debs, the real progressive deal. In the coming 2012 election, the United States will be reprising its 1912 counterpart, which some political scientists consider one of the most defining elections in U.S. History. The 1912 election, in which progressivism made its first and most lasting impression on American politics, introduced into the political mainstream the central tenants of a progressive program that reached its zenith during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt.

Mr. Roosevelt favored the unionization of private industry but drew a line in the sand concerning the unionization of government workers. Willing to help union workers obtain more of the profits they helped generate in the private sector, Mr. Roosevelt said “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government,” because government workers do not generate profits; they negotiate for more tax money. A union strike against taxpayers, Mr. Roosevelt said, would be “unthinkable and intolerable.”

In Connecticut, government workers have become the pampered pets of politicians like Mr. Malloy and Speaker of the State House of Representatives Chris Dovovan, both of whom were quite willing to exclude from budget deliberations Republican leaders who had not yet bowed their necks to union demands. Indeed, the Democratic dominated General Assembly pre-approved a budget that later was substantially changed by Mr. Malloy negotiating in concert with the very same union bargainers Mr. Roosevelt thought should never have a claim on public money.

Ah well, it is the nature of progressivism to progress. Accordingly, Connecticut has witnessed in recent days it’s governor andattorney general marching in a picket line in support of union workers against nursing home administrators, sounding for all the world like Mr. Debs accusing greedy administrators of the Pullman Company of buying the favors of politicians. Not one commentator has yet accused SEBAC of purchasing the favors of Mr. Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen through donations and in-kind contributions to their campaigns, the nightmare that haunted Mr. Roosevelt’s otherwise placid nights.
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