Thursday, December 26, 2013

Is Malloy Fooling All the People Some Of The Time Or Some Of The People All Of The Time?

One news publication apparently has an ear for a political pitch:

“In the first-term Democratic governor’s recent speeches, echoes can be heard of the broad themes that President Obama successfully used in 2012 to make a case for his second term, despite stubbornly high unemployment and a tepid economic recovery, the same conditions confronting Malloy.

“Like Obama, Malloy is asking for more time to overcome fiscal challenges left by a Republican predecessor, rattling off statistics that point to progress and ignoring those that do not. And like the president, the governor acknowledges the electorate’s fears and frustrations about the pace of recovery.”

The publication notes that Governor Dannel Malloy has not yet formally announced his candidacy. His on the stump remarks are styled by the publication as a “soft opening of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s unannounced re-election campaign.” Pause for a moment over the oxymoronic expression “soft opening of an unannounced campaign.” It is not modesty but rather political calculation that so far has prevented Mr. Malloy from shouting his candidacy for governor from Connecticut rooftops.

But suppose – just to suppose – that the state’s recovery from the national recession, always painfully slow in Connecticut, has been impeded by measures adopted by Mr. Obama to spur the recovery? In that case, would Mr. Malloy be willing to detach his political program from the usual made-in-Washington campaign script and head out, to vary a term use by Huckleberry Finn, “for the territories?” For Huck, “the territories” were potential states in which slavery had not yet had a chance to put down roots, an important consideration for his friend Jim, over whom the possibility of enslavement  hung pendulously like a damoclean sword.

It is true that a progressive script disclaiming responsibility for a lackluster economy did work well for Mr. Obama, even though he had occupied the presidential office for the preceding four years. A few months into his second term, however, Mr. Obama’s inauthentic campaign “reality” crashed into real reality. The Benghazi imposture, the raid by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on the constitutional privacy rights of much derided and inoffensive conservative organizations, the defection of Edward Snowden to Russia and the consequent drip, drip of previously closely guarded spying methods of the American spook machine, the abject surrender of Mr. Obama’s Middle East policy to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the stressful – some would say fatal -- architectural fault lines in Obamacare, and a continuing lack luster economy, all this and more has rubbed raw the trust Americans place, almost as a matter of course, in their president. The principal features of the Obama-Malloy script are a ganglion of suppositions, many of them untrue or doubtful.

No doubt new presidents and governors “inherit” problems from their predecessors. However, along with the manageable difficulties come certain benefits. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Malloy did pledge to overcome the difficulties of their predecessors, and both inherited, along with a weakened economy, a constitutional framework they did not have to invent from whole cloth, business enterprises they did not have to establish from the ground up, and traditional economic configurations they did not have to configure from scratch – on the whole, a rich, even an enviable patrimony. As for the “inherited problems,” both chief executives were swept into office on pledges that they would settle them; and if the problems remain unsettled or grow more severe during their time in office, one always hopes voters will have the good sense to throw the bums out. Grousing about predecessors after one has had years to implement plans offered in campaigns to solve such problems borders on whining.

During the soft opening of his thus far unannounced political campaign, Mr. Malloy, borrowing a page from the Obama campaign, boasted that jobs in Connecticut were on the uptick, presaging a recovery flowing from Mr. Malloy’s sagacious political programs. That soap bubble burst when it collided with a less politically campaign oriented report issued by UConn economists.

The report noted "Connecticut has not created and sustained net new jobs in 25 years. The extraordinary persistence of weak job creation argues powerfully for profound structural weaknesses in the state's economy, weaknesses that surely predates (sic) the devastating recession that hammered the state economy at the opening of the 1990s or the financial crisis in 2007-2008." The report did not stress that the “profound structural weaknesses” began in the state with the imposition of the Lowell Weicker income tax, that it took ten years for the state to recover the job losses incurred during the Weicker recession, or that Mr. Malloy’s “solution” to the budget deficits left to him by his predecessors, the largest tax increase in state history, was eerily similar to Mr. Wicker’s false solution. With considerable chutzpah, the UConn economists suggested that job losses in the state could be stemmed, if only temporarily, as soon as Mr. Malloy begins to spend bonded money already allocated for capital expenditures – perhaps by adding a few more buildings or professorships to UConn. Demands of this kind should be made discreetly.     

The real solutions to years of anemic economic growth lie outside Mr. Malloy’s progressive fantasy world. Stop borrowing money, except for justifiable state-wide capital projects; this year, the Malloy administration borrowed nearly a billion dollars to finance a change in state accounting processes. Reduce municipal mandates, thus relieving the pressure on town officials to increase property taxes. Cut business taxes across the board, and end the crony capitalism that transfers taxes from the dwindling savings accounts of hard pressed taxpayers to the budging pockets of tax gobbling CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations. Cut spending. Establish term limits; more elections more often are a corrective for voter apathy. Tell the unions in Connecticut that no one has a right to strike against the public safety, anytime, anywhere, for any purpose.  Govern wisely, parsimoniously and well. And try as much as possible to keep your grubby hands off people’s bibles, their wallets and their guns.

These steps on the road to recovery would mark a promising beginning. 

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