Formal endorsements may not mean very much in the modern political theater, which tends to rely on political hype produced by paid assassins, Twitter feeds and political Facebook sites, but this one might prove to be the exception that proves the rule.
Reticent former Governor Jodi Rell has fulsomely endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley.
“For far too long,” Mrs. Rell wrote, “Connecticut has been under one-party rule — not the balanced two-party system our founders intended. Governor Malloy, with the support of the Democrat-controlled legislature, enacted the largest tax increase in Connecticut history — a tax increase that has acted like a brake on the economy.
“The overall impact of Governor Malloy’s policies is that jobs and people are leaving the state at far too high a rate. Many people can’t find work and many who have jobs can no longer afford to live in Connecticut.”
Five years into a national recovery, Mrs. Rell noted, laggard Connecticut has restored a little more than half the jobs lost during a prolonged recession. “There are many reasons for this,”’ she wrote, “but one is certainly the policies and leadership of Gov. Dannel Malloy.”
It’s difficult to argue with the point. Even Mr. Malloy would agree that taxes depress private economic growth, which is why Mr. Malloy has provided some tax relief, in the form of governmental reprieves, to select Connecticut companies. Only a few months ago, Mr. Malloy provided tax relief to United Technologies, a multi-billion dollar international company, to prevent the relocation of UTC’s home office to other states where regulations and taxes are less punishing than those of “Still Revolutionary” Connecticut. For a sizable reduction in Connecticut’s tax bite, UTC said its home office would remain in Connecticut for a few years, and even before the ink was dried on the Malloy UTC gentleman’s agreement, some cynics in Connecticut likely supposed that UTC had no plans to remove its headquarters from the state in any case. As a general rule, the multi-year business plans of mega-companies such as UTC are not changed at the whim of governors – or even presidents.
On the matter of taxes, Connecticut has, within the space of four governors, endured two revolutions: an income tax imposed against the will of most voters in the state, and a Malloy tax boost, the largest in Connecticut’s history. Mrs. Rell, who fancied herself while in office as a firewall preventing large tax increases, fully understands, as did the two Democratic governors preceding her, Governors Ella Grasso and Bill O’Neill, that tax increases lead ineluctably to spending increases. The corollary proposition – that spending increases lead, at least in Connecticut, to tax increases – is no less true, as witness the many tax increases that followed the spending spree made possible by the Weicker income tax.
There is always a price to be paid in hard cold cash for the overheated rhetoric and the wild and improbable programs of what Henry Mencken used to call, with a snarl on his lips, “World Saviors” such as Mr. Malloy and Mr. Obama, two peas in the progressive pod. The knock on Mrs. Rell was that she was no Malloy, an energetic governor bent on re-inventing Connecticut.
There may come a time, after Mr. Malloy has finished re-inventing us, when people in the state, harried and overtaxed, long for the placid days of Mrs. Rell. Mr. Mencken, very sparing in his praise of presidents, once said of President Cal Coolidge, “We suffer most, not when the White House is a peaceful dormitory, but when it is a jitney Mars Hill, with a tin pot Paul bawling from the roof. Counting out Harding as a cipher only, Dr. Coolidge was preceded by one World Saver and followed by two more. What enlighten American, having to choose between any of them, would hesitate for an instant? There were no thrills when he reigned, but neither were there any headaches. He had no ideas, and he was not a nuisance.”
The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Mr. Foley and Mr. Malloy in a dead heat. Joe Visconti, in the race as an independent, appears to be drawing equally from Republicans and Democrats. Mr. Foley maintains a slight edge among unaffiliated voters. If the Q poll totals hold through November 4, Mr. Malloy likely will be reelected, after which, as was the case with Mr. Obama’s reinstallation, Mr. Malloy will be free to be Mr. Malloy – which will mean: Normalcy will be kept at bay, and Connecticut will be treated to more fanciful ideas, more overheated rhetoric and more headaches.