Monday, June 03, 2013

Democratic Arrogance And The Budget


Having raised taxes during his first term by $1.5 billion, the largest tax increase in state history, Governor Dannel Malloy is now poised to sign a biennial budget the bottom line of which is either $36.6 billion or $44 billion, according to CTMirror. Over two years,” CTMirror reports, “the new budget would spend $44 billion, based on the current method for reporting Medicaid spending,” a true figure of expenses now hidden behind an iron mask of gimmickry.

Democrats in the General Assembly – Republicans by design were excluded in the construction of both Mr. Malloy’s budgets – this year engaged in the most costly gimmick in state history, moving upwards of $6 billion in Medicaid costs outside the state’s constitutional cap, a sleigh of hand that makes a fiction of both the cap and the constitutional voice of all the citizens in Connecticut, whatever their political affiliation.

Medicare costs for the next fiscal year amount to about $5.3 billion, part of which, about $3 billion, is offset by federal aid. The federal government -- now in arrears by about $17 trillion, a debt that has been increasing on an average of $2.77 billion per day since September 30, 2012 -- partially finances Medicaid for the first two years of Obamacare, after which the states assume payment for both the program and Medicaid liabilities, which will be considerable.

The constitutional cap was a legislative placebo offered by the administration of former Governor Lowell Weicker that enabled Mr. Weicker to harness a few votes in the General Assembly to pass his 1991 income tax – after Mr. Weicker had publically sworn in his gubernatorial campaign that instituting an income tax while the state was facing a deficit of a little over $1 billion would be like “pouring gas in a fire.” The ploy worked, the income tax was passed and, in the course of the following two decades, the bottom line of Connecticut’s budget more than tripled – that’s TRIPLED. Connecticut’s last pre-income tax budget was $7.5 billion; the current Malloy budget is $18.6 billion in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $19 billion the next fiscal year.

In 2013, we may conclude positively and without any ambiguity 1) that spending follows in the rut of taxation so that increased taxation ALWAYS is followed by commensurate increases in spending, 2) the word “constitutional” is an term of art among Connecticut progressives in the legislature and the state house, and 3) Connecticut is now – like some of its corruption clogged, mismanaged cities – a one party state.

The two most important characteristics of progressivism are its disdain for limits and its blind faith in the omni-competence of government. Joined to a unitary state, the heady combination is both intoxicating and corrosive to liberties. Not only is the Malloy administration the most expensive in state history, it is also the most aggressively progressive.  

Democrats in Connecticut completed their absolute control of state government the day after Dannel Malloy was sworn in as Governor, and the problem with absolute power, Lord Acton reminds us, is that it corrupts absolutely. “Great men,” Lord Acton averred, “are almost always bad men.”

The limitless power now enjoyed by Democrats in Connecticut would make a saint stray in the direction of arrogance, and none of the members of the state’s General Assembly are saints. If men were saints, government itself would be unnecessary; so said James Madison, widely regarded as the father of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights, both of which set limits to governmental power.

Madison’s full quote, found in the Federalist Papers, should be swallowed whole unparsed:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

One of the auxiliary precautions that people supposed would prevent the state’s General Assembly from spending at will was the constitutional budget cap – RIP, June 1, 2013.

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