The end of election season marks the beginning of recriminations. Very gradually – too gradually for some – Republicans have been making inroads on the Democrat dominated General Assembly. This year, Republicans picked up three seats in the Senate, equalizing the balance of power 18-18, although Democrat Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman will break any tie vote in the chamber, and eight seats in the House, leaving Democrats with a 79-72 majority. Democrats have over the last few elections lost significant numbers in the General Assembly, once an impregnable Democratic fortress.
Democrats seized the Governor’s office two terms back when Governor Malloy became the first Democratic Governor to hold office in Connecticut since former Governor William O’Neill, battered by Democrats and Republicans alike, decided not to run for re-election. Mr. O’Neill was followed by “Maverick” Governor Lowell Weicker, the income tax guy, who was followed by Governor John Rowland, who was followed by Governor Jodi Rell, who was followed by Mr. Malloy who, facing the inevitable budget deficit, raised taxes, while minority Republicans scowled and Democrats cheered. Happy times were here again.
Presently, Mr. Malloy’s approval rating is hovering around 24 percent, tax receipts are down following the two highest Democratic tax increases in Connecticut history, and businesses are either bidding the state goodbye or entering into crony capitalist deals with Mr. Malloy. So then, who is to blame for the state’s nosedive? It was inevitable, following the election to the Presidency of Republican Party nominee Donald Trump and the capture of the U.S. Congress by Republicans, that state Democrats should begin to look about for a handy scapegoat.
They have now found one in PAC donations to state Republicans. Connecticut small business organizations this year have given generous donations to members of the state party out of power, very likely because they view the state party in power as dangerous to their profit lines. Profits may be regarded by progressives as the spawn of the Devil, but in the real world they provide capitalization used for many purposes other than stuffing the bank accounts of redundantly wealthy CEOs. Believe it or not, budget expenditures such as the cost of energy, very high here in Connecticut, and the cost of labor, artificially hiked by Connecticut’s progressive Democrat dominated General Assembly, are drawn from profits. The more profit a company makes the greater the possibility that the company will be able to expand, create jobs, return more in tax revenue to the state and lift Connecticut from its decades old doldrums.
Way back in 2013, Jim Powell of Forbes Magazine asked in an economic review of Connecticut’s doldrums “How Did Rich Connecticut Morph Into One Of America's Worst Performing Economies?”
Mr. Powell pointed to “the complacency of old money, Connecticut policymakers came to believe they didn’t need to compete for investors and entrepreneurs,” a “ contracting economy,” out of control spending, massive tax hikes, “a temporary 20 percent surtax on top of its flat 7.5 percent corporate income tax,” a report by The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) that “70 percent of executives believe the value they receive for their tax dollars is extremely low considering the amount they pay in taxes,” and Mr. Malloy, who was given an F grade by the Cato institute for having created “a more hostile climate for business, but then [compensating] for the damage with tax incentives.”
It took the Malloy administration a few years to absorb Mr. Powell’s points, but eventually Mr. Malloy’s budget guru, Ben Barnes, saw the light and proclaimed that the state would have to get used to its unfailingly repetitive budget deficits. After having imposed on Connecticut the highest tax increase in state history, Mr. Malloy said ENOUGH! and put his foot down. No more tax increases, he said, before imposing on his state the second highest tax increase in Connecticut history. Attorney General George Jepsen properly declared inoperative Connecticut’s constitutional spending cap, instituted by Mr. Weicker to persuade doubtful Democrats to vote in favor of his income tax. The Democrat dominated General Assembly has yet to pass defining legislation that would make the cap operative once again.
Feeling the pinch of an unresponsive state government, some folk at CBIA decided this year they would contribute money towards electing Republicans. Those contributions would not have been made at all had Democrats not pursued policies that caused Connecticut to morph into one of the nation's worst performing economies.
Here is the lede graph of a story, “Connecticut Democrats blame losses on PACs, not policies,” written by Mark Pazniokas of CTMirror three days after state Democrats lost seats in the General Assembly: “Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, blames the rare loss of Democratic legislative seats in a presidential year on the targeted spending by business groups, not voter dissatisfaction with Hartford after two decades of Democratic control of the Connecticut General Assembly.”
Shouldn’t some Bible thumping Democrat recommend Jeremiah 5:21 to Mr. Looney? “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.” Mark Twain likely would advise finding an alternate route around Mr. Looney’s dead-end diagnosis: “Never argue with stupid people; they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”