Saturday, June 13, 2015

Surprise!


The Malloy-Sharkey-Looney budget was hammered out behind closed doors by the three gentlemen just before Governor Dannel Malloy was to begin a European trip, ostensibly to convince businesses in Europe to transfer some of their operations to tax-plagued Connecticut.

Paris and Germany were on the itinerary. Paris is lovely this time of year. Many moons ago, when  François Hollande was installed as President, the famous French actor Gérard Depardieu turned in his passport and moved to a small Belgian village about 24 miles from France, leaving behind as he went his malison on M. Hollande, the first socialist President since François Mitterrand left office in 1995.  The richest man in the country, Bernard Arnault, the CEO and chief shareholder of the luxury behemoth LVMH, had earlier moved to Belgium to escape the confiscatory tax Mr. Hollande levied on France’s One-Percenters.


M. Depardieu said, “I am leaving because you consider that success, creation, talent, anything different, must be punished.” Upon his leave-taking, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, dumped on M. Depardieu, calling him “a pathetic loser.” When M. Arnault kicked the dust of France from his feet, the left wing Libération expressed its contempt for the rich in a headline on its front page: “Get lost, you rich b------.”

The san culottes in Connecticut are less raw. When General Electric (GE) intimated it might move some operations out of Connecticut in response to a predatory budget, a handful of unionists assembled to protest the effrontery. There were no banner headlines in Connecticut newspapers inviting GE to get lost. Following the lead of both Democratic leaders in Connecticut’s Democratic dominated General Assembly, as well as the governor, protesting unionists declared that GE paid no state taxes anyway; therefore its move from Connecticut could not have been related to successive tax hikes initiated by Mr. Malloy. Mr. Malloy’s last two tax increases were the highest and the second highest in state history. Some increasingly cynical overtaxed residents suppose Mr. Malloy is aiming for a trifecta.

The notion that GE pays no taxes is a self-evident absurdity exploded years ago by FactCheck. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, running for the U.S. Congress against then Senator Scott Brown, deployed the notion winningly in her campaign; it was rooted in the false claim that GE received a tax refund of $3.2 billion in 2010. And, in any case, GE is not the only large company in Connecticut wriggling on the state’s tax hooks or indicating it may move elsewhere.


The Malloy budget submitted to the General Assembly was not, as his false campaign hype had it, in balance and unburdened by new revenue increases. When the Malloy budget was deposited at the doors of Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey and President Pro Tem of the Senate Martin Looney, it was as expected refashioned along progressive lines. In a backroom agreement involving Connecticut’s new triumvirate, a budget emerged that maintained the character imposed on it by an uber-progressive Democrat dominated General Assembly aligned with a union-friendly governor. Republicans were not permitted to put their fingerprints on the Malloy-Sharkey-Looney masterpiece, an oversight some Connecticut newspapers belatedly say was regrettable.

In fact, Malloy’s ambition is to destroy the Republican Party through a process of atrophication. Limbs not used lose their force, and the same is true of political parties. This is one of the reasons why Malloy did not involve Republicans in fashioning any of his major budgets. In the one party state, magnanimity is unnecessary and power sharing is both counterproductive and inefficient. However, there is a dark side to undemocratic rule: The tyrant in whom all power has been invested does not have the luxury of blaming consequent problems on his neutered opponents. If Connecticut’s triumvirate, the governor and the two principal shakers and movers in the General Assembly have fashioned a budget that bears no Republican fingerprints, they then own all the consequences flowing from their budget. Just as ideas have consequences, so do budgets.

As usual Chris Powell of the Journal Inquirer hit the nail directly on the head. The title of his column is refreshingly prophetic: “Caught lying, at least Weicker didn't weasel” .We can expect more weaseling in the future.

Recent adjustments made to the budget are slight – the triumvirate’s budget creates possibilities for new and more taxes, and the most recent revisions only hit the pause button on many destructive progressive measures -- and do not disturb the thrust of the Malloy-Sharkey-Looney kabuki theatre piece. If there is a single reporter left in Connecticut who falls for the latest political hype – that the final fatal budget product is a material improvement of the preceding fatal budget products, all concocted by the same progressive triumvirate -- that reporter should first be awarded a prize for advanced credulity and then set to writing sycophantic  editorials.
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