Saturday, October 14, 2006

No Big Deal: DeStefano's Big Ideas

John DeStefano, mayor of New Haven, is said to be the “Big Idea” candidate. The corollary to that proposition is that his opponent, Gov. Jodi Rell, is the caretaker candidate, a nice lady but somewhat derelict in the matter of ideas.

The kind of people who admire DeStefano think big all the time. Every minute of the day, and twice on Tuesdays, a Big Idea slices into their brains, causing them to shout “Eureka!” If one could take a can opener to their foreheads, one would find any number of Big Ideas squiggling around in their brain pans. Dan Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, was rejected in a Democrat primary because DeStefano’s ideas were bigger and more adventuresome than Malloy’s. Every time Malloy, in hot debate with DeStefano, popped out with a Big Idea, he was trumped by DeStefano, who shouted from the primary podium, “Mine’s bigger than yours!”

DeStefano’s most gargantuan idea touches on property tax reform. It is said, by the Big Idea people, that the little people in Connecticut’s teeming municipalities are suffering from high property taxes. Democrats running for state-wide office hate high property taxes. Not only Republicans, but Democrats too, feel the burden of taxes. And when they talk in such fervent tones about how the people in Connecticut are suffering under an insupportable load of property taxes, one could almost imagine that they have swallowed a diminutive anti-Ronny Reagan while eating their corn flakes in the morning; one can almost hear from the depths of their throats this little manikin’s strangled cry -- “Spending is not the problem; spending is the solution to the problem.”

Now, here is DeStefano’s Biggest of his Big Ideas: 1) Property taxes are too high; 2) Property taxes must be reduced; 3) The state is contributing to municipalities less than half of the property tax bill; 4) We should increase this amount, most of which is spent by municipalities on unionized wages, to 50% -- thus reducing the amount of taxes paid by hard pressed property owners.

DeStefano’s second Big Idea is this: So long as Connecticut is rich in plunderable millionaires, it simply does not matter how much the state spends on programs – whether effective or not, whether necessary or not – because, owing to the blessings of a progressive income tax, we can always get the money from “those who do not pay their fair share,” loosely defined as anyone we wish to plunder.

Since such people represent but a tiny portion of the voting public, we can be certain that the majority will always vote for politicians like myself who promise to shower upon the multitudes state favors that are, so to speak, “free” – thanks to the millionaires. This means, we need never reduce spending.

Happy days are here again.

If copyright laws applied to podium speeches, DeStefano probably could be sued for suggesting that his Big Ideas originated with him. The progressive income tax, new to Connecticut since it was introduced to us by multi-millionaire Lamont supporter former Governor Lowell Weicker, goes way, way back. Stalin made good use of confiscatory taxes when he despoiled the kulaks of Ukraine in order to press the country to his bosom. Campaign demagoguery employing the progressive income tax was perfected here in the United States by the inimitable Huey Long – but even Long thought that those who consume state services should pay for them, which is why he taunted those who thought government services were “free” with this line: “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me. Tax the guy behind the tree.”

Rell might consider using Long’s line in her next debate with DeStefano.

Or how about this: As the second debate concludes, Rell hands out to everyone in the audience a “free lunch” ticket, courtesy of DeStefano and whichever millionaire he chooses to pick up the tab. George Soros or Hugo Chavez might be easy touches.

Why should Big Ideas be limited only to Huey Long Democrats?

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