Governor Dannel Malloy has been chosen by his gubernatorial peers to head the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) as Chairman in 2016. Did they choose wisely?
Though he claims – as most governors would -- that he has no national ambitions, Mr. Malloy’s slip, so to speak, is showing. Even as governor of the state, large ambitions course through his veins. He is very comfortable appearing on national programs with a pencil in hand that he gleefully sticks in the eye of one promising Republican politician after another. Governor of New Jersey Chris Christy is a favorite target, and recently Mr. Malloy has been throwing porcupine quills in the direction of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Mr. Malloy appears to enjoy the rough and tumble of politics, though his own skin is painfully thin.
To the extent that the Democratic Governors Association needs a battler who can bully others from the bully pulpit, they may have their man. Of course, as soon as one attaches oneself to national institutions, one surrenders one’s independence. As DGA leader, Mr. Malloy will be under orders from both the nominal head of the Democratic Party, President Barrack Obama, and the gubernatorial cats he will be expected to herd. Mr. Obama goes his own way nearly all the time – as has become glaringly apparent in his foundering foreign policy -- and the DGA is, well, a herd of ambitious cats.
Republicans in Connecticut already are beginning to write off Mr. ,Malloy as an absentee governor, rather as if he could not chew gum and walk at the same time. In order to play political ball proficiently, you have to keep your eye on the ball. It’s more difficult to do this in state games if you are off the field playing in national games.
This year, Mr. Malloy sent to the state Democratic dominated General Assembly a budget bill that clearly – if we are to take seriously the calculations of Comptroller Kevin Lembo, among others – was NOT in balance. Mr. Malloy is constitutionally obligated to present to the General Assembly a balanced budget bill. He shrugged off his own mounting deficit by pointing out that the General Assembly always tinkers with the budget: That governors propose but legislatures dispose of budgets is true enough. However, Mr. Malloy is no Mr. Obama, who orchestrated a singular feat: Never once during his entire first term did Mr. Obama present a budget, balanced or otherwise, to the US Congress. Here in Connecticut, we take our Constitutional obligations seriously. We are, after all, the Constitution State. Connecticut is still called in some quarters “The Provision State,” because traditionally the state has provided the US Government with guns, ammo and munitions from its rich stock of gun makers – less rich now that the Governor of the Provision State has decided to make war on state gun manufacturers. Once you have become a national figure, news outlets less cordial than in-state news operations begin to take notice. Gloves come off, and one can no longer depend upon the kindness of a left of center hometown media.
Mr. Malloy already has said he would not favor further gun restrictions in Connecticut. Some of Mr. Malloy’s assertions may be taken with a ton of salt. The Governor is a lawyer – indeed a former prosecutor – given, as is the case with most lawyers, to parsing words. Mr. Malloy has NOT said he would veto additional gun restrictions. Mr. Malloy repeatedly swore during his reelection campaign not to impose on his state taxes above those he had levied during his first term, already a broken promise. But he has NOT said he would veto a more progressive tax scale that might drive stock and financial companies out of his state into the more welcoming arms of less tax hungry governors such as, to choose but one example among many, Mr. Jindal of Louisiana. Mr. Malloy has said only: Let’s see what the General Assembly does – with his out of balance budget.
Leading progressives who control the legislative machinery in the General Assembly may raise taxes to cover Mr. Malloy’s budget holes and assure future budget surpluses, without which Mr. Malloy could not pass tax dollars to retain in his state crony capitalist tax grabbing companies proficient in political bribery. On what reasonable grounds could Mr. Malloy object to legislative-ordered tax increases? Mr. Malloy, the Moll Flanders of tax increasers, is himself the author of the largest tax increase in state history, driven to measures he’d rather avoid, he claims, by the profligacy of other Republican governors. Mr. Malloy has consistently pointed to the three governors preceding him, none of them Democrats, as having driven him to increase taxes. But as Mr. Malloy now acknowledges, it is the General Assembly that adjusts and affirms budgets, and the last time Republicans controlled both chambers of the General Assembly was in 1974 when Mr. Malloy was just graduating from High School.
At that point, the governorship – not to mention the chairmanship of the NGA – was for Mr. Malloy not even a consummation devoutly to be wished.