Friday, May 03, 2013

Republicans Shown The Door Again

A newspaper reports that Republican leaders John McKinney and Larry Cafero, both of whom have professed interest in running for governor, are once again being shut out of budget negotiations by Governor Dannel Malloy.

This is getting to be a habit.

During Mr. Malloy’s first budget -- By the way, has Mr. Malloy’s budget EVER been in balance? – the governor unceremoniously showed the door to Republicans.

Mr. Malloy brought Republicans back to the table on two occasions: during a special session, when Mr. Malloy needed some help balancing his chronically out of balance budget, and during negotiations on a gun restriction bill following the mass murders in Sandy Hook.

On both occasions, Mr. Malloy and accommodating Republicans were praised by left of center commentators in the media for their show of bipartisanship. Here in Connecticut, it was said, bipartisanship was much in the air, and it was hinted that the U.S. Congress, deep in the mire of partisan deadlock, certainly could take a lesson from a state in which both parties came together to settle a budget deficit and pass the most restrictive gun regulations in the nation.

Republican players both times were happy to play. Now, as the General Assembly begins to tinker with Mr. Malloy’s second budget, Republicans once again find themselves sent to Coventry.

The exile of Republicans to Coventry, where they will be expected to bide their time in prayer and holy silence, does not bode well for the state. It means that Mr. Malloy and his confederates – most importantly state unions, who made out like proverbial bandits the last time Republicans were frozen out of budget negotiations – will be unobstructed in shaping their second biennial budget.

The shape of Mr. Malloy’s second budget may be deduced from his first. On that occasion, it should be recalled, Democratic leaders in the General Assembly pre-approved Mr. Malloy’s budget prior to his negotiations with SEBAC, an organization of unions authorized to negotiate contracts with the state. One commentator wrote that leaders in the Democratic dominated General Assembly conferred upon the governor plenipotentiary powers to negotiate contracts that would impact the budget nine years out.

The negotiations were messy but profitable in the end for unions. The “savings” in Mr. Malloy’s first budget were amorphous, the tax increases painful. Progressive Democrats were tolerably satisfied with Mr. Malloy’s first budget. The tax increases, job investment money removed from the private sector and delivered to government coffers, gave crony capitalist progressives enough funds to “invest” in enterprises that in the future would pay out dividends, in the form of votes and political contributions, to Democrats.  Frozen out of the process, Republicans were free to assail a budget that had no Republican fingerprints on it.

A fairly comprehensive review of Mr. Malloy’s second budget by CTMirror is riven with doubts and fears. One always snaps to when one happens upon a budget review entitled “Promises, Gimmicks and a Historic Shortfall.”

After imposing on the state the largest tax increase in its history, Mr. Malloy made a firm vow to forego further tax increases.

“With a gap of $1.2 billion projected for the fiscal year that starts in July,” CTMirror advises, “Malloy not only is seeking more sacrifices, but he's also turning to taxes and some of the gimmicks he swore off of two years ago.”

The gimmicks include an extension of expiring tax increases on businesses and power plants, a reduction of tax credits for working poor families, funding cuts to colleges and universities at a time when higher education continues to increase tuition and fees, deep cuts both to hospitals and health coverage for thousands of low-income adults, a raid on the transportation fund and, that old standby, borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to pay ongoing bills -- all this from an administration that boosted taxes considerably while it publically scorned prior administrations for resorting to discreditable methods in balancing budgets.

It does not help at all that the national economy continues to founder under the ministrations of Barack Obama, the most progressive president in modern history. Had Mr. Obama concentrated during his first term in office on rebuilding the shattered mortgage market, the American economy would have surged forward. But instead, Mr. Obama grasped for a national health care brass ring first proposed in the 1912 national election by the father of the modern progressive movement, Teddy Roosevelt. Obamacare, payment for which has now come due, is but a baby step on the road to nationalized health care. Should anyone care to preview the final product, a Veteran Administration hospital is on view in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.  

In a high tax, over regulated, foundering economy, tax receipts simply dry up. Investments in the private economy also dry up as investors, hampered by excessive regulation and punishing taxes, hoard their dollars waiting for relief from a redistributionist minded government.

The late Maggie Thatcher, Prime Minister of Britain, use to say that “the problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.” The government of Connecticut – yet a far cry from the socialist utopia envisioned by Eugene Debs, the Socialist candidate for president in 1912– is running out of the money its governor hopes to be able to “invest” in crony capitalist enterprises that mollify the state’s clamorous left of center interests.

It’s a problem.
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