Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rennie's Trojan Horse

Kevin Rennie a Hartford Courant moderate Republican highly praises the prospective Republican Party chairman, Rob Simmons, in his most recent column.

"Simmons would be a high-profile chairman who could command attention and is conversant on important issues. In addition, Simmons is not afraid to take the fight to the Democrats…

"Simmons has already met with the new chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, the political organization of House Republicans. He talked about the "investment" the party needs to make in moderate Republicans in the Northeast and Midwest. The party can be shrilly conservative and stay in the minority, or it can stop emphasizing losing social issues and have a shot at winning the seats it needs. "If you regularly present a right-wing agenda, you isolate moderates…"

“At the distance of 13 months before the presidential caucuses begin, Simmons thinks 2008 could be a good year for Connecticut Republicans. Two popular Republicans, John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani, are already very popular in Connecticut. He thinks outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney might also have some appeal here. His animated talk about the presidential race, which is already upon us, is more evidence that Simmons does not intend to hang up his cleats.”


This is tendentious and self serving analysis bordering on the criminal.

The Connecticut Republican Party has been neither shrill nor conservative; it has been an accomodationist party--and it has gotten nowhere.

Rennie would be hard put to identify one “conservative” program put forward by the Republican Party in Connecticut during the last two decades; still less could he point to shrill Republican Party office holders. There are none.

Rennie is nudging Simmons towards positions advocated by the paper for which he writes, the Hartford Courant--hardly a shrill, conservative voice.

Those positions would include, of course, “property tax reform” and “anti-sprawl” measures that would plunge a dagger into the heart of Connecticut’s ailing economy.

One reason the economy is ailing is that there are too few “shrill” Republicans in the legislature opposing Democrat programs. Virtually all Republican legislators, a dwindling cohort, are moderates who have been co-opted by the Democrat Party. But then, Rennie is used to co-option, as are most other liberals who write for the Courant--which is not part of the solution to what ails the Republican Party, but rather its principal cause.

The old Greek warning applies here: Beware of Trojans bearing gifts. Perhaps someone could persuade the Courant’s cartoonist to draw a picture showing a Trojan horse labeled “Sprawl” entering the Republican Party bastion, a fortified castle labled “Moderateville.”

Pictures are always worth a thousand words.

23 comments:

bluecoat said...

The CBIA was part and parcel to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Proerty Tax and Smart Growth report that was pu out under Chairman DeStefano. The head of the CBIA - a Republican and an executive of long time home grown in CT manufacturer (i.e. wasn't bribed to come to CT with tax incentives), Bilco Doors, backed DeStefano, too. It's about thinking out of the box and not in a straight line. And admittedly, the Democrats have bastardized the findings of the Commission to suit their own agenda.

Don Pesci said...

Bluecoat

I appreciate your comments. You always have something intelligent to say. But the CBIA is a business lobby, and business lobbyists seek to advance their own interests through government organs, just like everyone else. My comments assaulted the notion that conservatives were somehow responsible for the mess that we call Connecticut. But conservatives have not written legislation in Connecticut; moderates have. And the organs of government here have been controlled by Democrats and Republican moderates, not conservatives. So, it seems to me reasonable to conclude that, what ever the state’s problems might be, conservatives bear no legislative responsibility for them. That is what I sought to say in this and other remarks; if I’ve fallen short of the point, it’s probably my fault. As for the CBIA, you should be forewarned that business interests, as represented by that organization, and conservative interests do not ALWAYS coincide, even though conservatives and business organizations usually are found strolling through the gardens of politics hand in hand.

bluecoat said...

Pesci: I know all that but sprawl really is a problem that drives the cost of living up - and I live in the 'burbs. The biggest business interest is the builders along with the building trades who are trying to turn CT into a city by buildiding higher and higher to the sky while getting closer and closer all the time - but we don't have a city infrastructure in place. Those who live and do business here already bearing the brunt of the price for all the infrastructure additions whether they be state roads or utility additions that are later driven by the building. It's absolutley nuts and the government needs to step in - and without getting into a tratise here when stepping in they can do it wiaht less government. When it comes to development CT shoots then aims and then gets ready - it's nuts; there is no planning and when we are this close together there needs to be an orderly plan and a policy that everybody follows.

Don Pesci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bluecoat said...

CT is big enough - or small enough - to do this without creating another layer of bureacracy. It is absolutley absurd that Rell eants another DOT Deputy to focus on this. Romney actually made inroads in MA on this issue where home rule is just as fierce as CT. I actually would like to see the three planning agencies and the orgs they advise for Fairfield County consolidated to One grouop. Get some management geek to draw an organization chart of who does what in CT with regard to so-called planning and you'll see it's 1)goofy and 2) therefor ripe for consolidation not another layer or sideshow.

Don Pesci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bluecoat said...

WE (the government) allowed the cities to be polluted at various manufacturing sites and there have been all kinds of government constraints that deterrred developers form rehabbing them - not to mention the nonsense that goes on at DECD. Anyway, the brownfieldls leg passed last session should help reverse that course. The amount (per cent increase) of land covered over by hard surface in CT in the last ten years has far outpaced the population and job growth becuase of the exodus to the 'burbs by busineeses, It's a little more complex that that but Romney's CZAR who oversaw DOT, DEP and DECD all in one began to deal with the complexities of the issue.

Don Pesci said...

Bluecoat

Sorry, I wanted to add a comment and so deleted the last comment, to which you have already responded. This is it:

All that may be true; still, there is the question of implementation. You can only control what you call "sprawl" -- more about which in a moment -- by establishing something like a regional government. South Carolina, where my brother lives, has such an arrangement. The question then arises: Is this new governmental appendage to be an add-on bureaucracy or a replacement bureaucracy? That is the question that those who have been talking up the dangers of “sprawl” refuse to discuss. I’d go for a regional government that would REPLACE town government. Regional governments are more efficient and less costly. What I don’t want is more government of a kind that can’t even teach urban students to read and figure. It seems to me that those who talk cavalierly about “sprawl” without mentioning these points are quite simply not serious about solving the problems you allude to. And I will resist them with my last breath – because the one thing this state dos not need is more costly and inefficient government. The Harford Courant and Kevin Rennie want regional government solutions without a regional government. And it won’t work.


One more word about “sprawl.” The move by businesses from cities to suburbs has been caused in part by he cost of doing business – social and economic – in urban areas. We are also losing businesses to other states that have managed to control costs or where, because of low starting salaries and lower property prices, business costs are reduced. In some cases – not all cases – the proponents of anti-sprawl measures simply are towing up a lifeline now that there are aboard ship: I’m aboard, who cares about anyone else? That attitude is abhorrent to me. People ought to be given a chance at the future – which necessarily means more and better jobs. You don’t produce jobs by placing unreasonable restrictions on job growth in a competitive market. There are primitive villages in the world that do not have problems with “sprawl,” but the quality of life in such places leaves something to be desired

bluecoat said...

One more comment on the cost to doing business in CT's urban areas. The cities have lots of non-taxable property that serves the surrounding 'burbs like hospitals and trash plants. CT's tax system does put them at a tax revenue disadvantage - and I am not discounting the fact that cities do waste money, etc. Governing mag compares tax polices among the states - you may wish to take a look. I am not an expert but we can't stay where we are on this stuff and just have the 'burbs fight it out with the 'urbs..

Don Pesci said...

Bluecoat

Good luck to you on persuading politicians whose livelihood depends on an ever growing state bureaucracy to consolidate anything. I would simply insist – and I hope you would also – that no moves towards fighting “sprawl” take place without commensurate savings somewhere in the system; you cannot do this without REPLACING forms and systems. One of the reasons magnet schools – some of which are more successful than public schools – are not more plentiful is because the efficient schools have not REPLACED inefficient (I am being kind in using the word) schools.

bluecoat said...

I agree with your post at 1:33; I happen to think that "sprawl" adds to the cost of government and the cost of living in CT - that's why I beleive it needs to be addressed. However, I don't expect much to happen on this. In fact if anything does, I expect Rell and the Democrats to do something like Malloy did in Stamford that will make things worse.

Same things true on healthcare costs - a real problem for everybody that I beleive needs a business model type solution. But I don't expect anything to get done there either - except maybe "universal healthcare" which is just a Trojan Horse too..same thing with Rell's universal pre-K!!!!

Don Pesci said...

Bluecoat

On non-taxable property in cities: hospitals, etc. Better to have a non-taxable hospital than no hospital at all – which is what you will get once you begin to tax hospitals. The principle is: Whatever you tax tends to disappear which, come to think of it, is why Connecticut is losing businesses to South Carolina. South Carolina just reduced tax rates for persons earning low salaries, and they have further reduced business costs. This raises the table in Connecticut and lowers it in South Carolina, and a ping pong ball placed on the high point of an incline flows to the lowest point. Businesses do the same. Why don’t WE think like this? We use to, when we were a competitive state. Once again, I appreciate everything you are saying.

Don Pesci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don Pesci said...

We agree on universal pre-K. Costly, stupid and less efficient than mommies and daddies. The rule in Connecticut appears to be, at least in the urban pedagogical wasteland, more of a bad thing is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

it's not about taxing hospitals eventhough I think they should all be for-profit. It's that hospitals and their employess demand lots of municipal services where they are located while the hospitals serve the areas outside the municipalities that do not have to support them. This is emeliorated by PILOT to some extent but not enough.

Don Pesci said...

Anon

I take your point. But the charges levied by hospitals – and paid by those outside the municipalities in which they are located – should be sufficient enough to cover costs. The elephant in the room you haven’t mentioned, which drives up costs and has caused some doctors to abandon their professions, are the threat of law suits. When Dodd proposed doing something about tort reform, he was creamed by the lawyers.

Anonymous said...

You are talking in circles. Municipal services are not hospital services but I guess you just had to bring in the GOP anti- trial lawyer schtik. Dodd successfully filibustered the ridiculous proposal by Frist and the AMA to cap damages on medical malpractice lawsuits. Rove told the GOP to make the trial lawyers their enemy and the AMA their firend.

Don Pesci said...

Anon

I don’t think there is a debate on the question: Do law suits and the threat of lawsuit drive up medical costs? They do. What to do about it is another question. Have you talked to any doctors about their insurance premiums lately? Hospitals and doctors are struggling with this problem: Regulations and suits are costly; these costs are extra-medial; how do you recover extra-medical costs from clients, sick people, who cannot afford the additional costs? Refusing to answer these questions will not make them go away.

Anonymous said...

Name one recent professional liability lawsuit against a doctor or hospital in CT that doesn't have merit?

Don Pesci said...

annon

It’s true that Dodd did not support the medical liability reform measure you mention. In his floor speech, Dodd attributed rising medical costs to “fluctuations in the stock market” and market cycles.

This is what he said: “But if neither the number nor amount of malpractice awards can explain rising premiums, then what is the explanation? According to several analyses, the increase in premiums does in fact correlate with fluctuations in the stock market and interest rates. One recent study showed that premiums very closely track insurers’ economic cycle.

“During good economic times, insurers slash premiums in order to attract as much business as possible. This is because every new policy brings in additional “float” – money to invest in a booming market. However, when the market turns, and investment returns are weak, as has happened in the last few years, insurers raise their rates or, in some cases, leave the market altogether. When this happens, the result is often a crisis in the availability and affordability of insurance.”

He also said: “Small businesses, large businesses, and individuals alike are staggering under the weight of ever-increasing health care costs. Year after year, these costs are increasing by percentages that far outpace overall economic growth. The cost of employer-sponsored health care coverage increased by nine percent in 2005, after growing by eleven percent in 2004 and fourteen percent in 2003. The average annual premium for a family of four is now nearly $11,000 – and this does not even include out-of-pocket expenses for items such as medicines and deductibles for visiting the doctor or hospital.”

Apparently, the cycle has been on an upward tic for a long time.

I’m not sure I’m willing to accept Dodd’s explaination as definitive. He is counting only the measurable additional costs of jury awards made in cases that had been prosecuted. How do you measure the cost added to medical care by the fear of lawsuits: tests that may not be necessary, additional insurance that may not be necessary? But Dodd does make some very good points.

All this takes us very far from my original point, which is this: Bluecoat made the point that hospital in urban settings absorb a great deal of municipal taxes that are paid by city dwellers. Agreed. But the price of recovering those costs in taxes from the hospitals are likely to result in fewer hospitals. The addition in taxes may not be worth the price. The additional, unrelated point, I made was this: Hospitals collect their costs from the wider community, while also providing other advantages to the community in which they are sited. Ordinarily businesses tuck costs into the price of their product. A point has been reached where medical providers are finding it less possible to recover their costs from their clients, and those costs have been driven upward in part by lawyers and regulators. Nothing astonishing there. There’s no politics here. Just an amiable discussion.

Anonymous said...

anon is bluecoat; I am having trouble posting at your site as bluecoat for the last two days for some reason so I stopped trying.

As for fear of unwarranted lawsuits in CT, 1)there may be a fear in other states but there should be none in CT because they are few and far between because of our med/mal laws and 2)no doctor has ever had to pay more than the mandated state coverage - i.e. no bankruptcy, etc., and 3) doing "defensive medicine" or ordering stuff that is not standard of clinical care has never prevented a lawsuit - what prevents a lawsuit is not being negligent.

Costs for healthcare are out of control but the truth is doctors control 80% of the spending when you get right down to it. Great article on the front page of NYT that touvhes on the issue of doing unnecessary things just becasue they are available and nobody is watching.

I also expect that when you get right down to it, CT has too many hositals just like New York State. I know we have more docs/capita that any other state and an exteremely powerful and well funded medical lobby as a result. The doc say their members are leaving and that's true but more docs are entering CT than leaving. Doctors lie when it suits them. I have written exttensively about this over at CLP and obviuosly I haven't changed your mind or you haven't seen my posts so I thought I'd try one more time.

Make no mistake about it all those health insurance mandates in CT that the GOP laments about were supported by the medical lobby. It's about money, money, money.

Anonymous said...

One other thing on Dodd: he did get tort refrom passed in the last session or two where it needed to get passed on class action lawsuite that needed to be federalized instead of shopped around in state courts. He doesn't shine in front of the camera constantly like Lieberman but he gets stuff done that needs to be done when he can across party lines.

Don Pesci said...

Bluecoat

All very good comments. Thanks.