Monday, December 18, 2017

Tammany Malloy’s Tin Ear

This from the cut and run governor, the author of the two largest tax increases in state history, who refused to talk with Republicans about budget matters during his entire term in office which, God and the Devil willing, will soon be over:

’The Republicans were very proud of producing what they called a bipartisan budget, but I call it a Republican bipartisan budget,’ Malloy said. ‘And as soon as they got heat for making a decision, they want to cut and run. But not only do they want to cut and run, they want to cut and run and make the deficit worse. And what was the first thing they did? Raise taxes. Everything they said was a fraud and they admitted that when they raised taxes. And what’s the first thing after they raise taxes and get some heat over something? They want to come back and make the deficit worse. Sounds like other Republican governors from our state whose names I recognize.’”

How do sensible reporters manage to keep a straight face when the governor pushes out campaign propaganda in this fashion? The budget compromise Malloy is referencing, as with all other budgets in the past half century, is a Democrat budget. Malloy here conveniently forgets that he vetoed a Republican budget that passed both houses of the General Assembly. And on whose watch, pray tell, has the current deficit and all the preceding deficits of the Malloy administration "become worse?" And why have the deficits become worse? Hold that question, rarely answered honestly by Malloy, for a moment.

Was there no reporter in the room to put such cut to the quick questions to Malloy as he reeled off his pointless campaign pitch?  Was no one curious that the pitch had been uttered by a governor who, quite literally, has “cut and run?”

Unwilling to stand for re-election on his dismal record in office, Malloy a few months ago lame-ducked himself, which is to say – he has shown himself unwilling to stand before the bar of public opinion in his own state and defend his indefensible record in office. Malloy’s approval rating hovers around 25 percent; with this kind of negative approval, the former Mayor of Stamford could not be elected dog-catcher in Stamford.

His two tax increases, both the largest and the second largest in Connecticut history, did not go down well with a) people who voted against his tax increases with their feet and either left or are considering leaving the state, and b) business, some like Aetna, home-grown anchoring institutions, that have shaken the dust of Connecticut from their feet and laid plans to move, implausibly as it seems, to New York City. General Electric months ago moved to “Taxachusetts.” In two terms, Malloy has reverse the traditional flow of business from high to formerly low tax states like Connecticut. Repeated business punishing tax increases, beginning with former Governor Lowell Weicker’s game changing income tax and continuing unabated through the Malloy administration, have  “leveled the playing field” – and with it Connecticut’s advantage over high tax bordering states.
So, what is Malloy up to?

A couple of things: he is trying to salvage his record in office from close scrutiny and, at the same time, provide Malloy Democrats – is there any other kind in the Democrat General Assembly hegemon? -- with a utilitarian script for upcoming elections in 2018, which will occur a little less than ten years BEFORE the union deal negotiated between Malloy and SEBAC is due to elapse. That deal, which includes a provision awarding salary and benefit increases to state workers after (three) years, and continues crippling state employee labor contracts enforceable by courts to the year 2027, strips the next governor, Democrat or Republican, of a tool often used by Malloy to balance chronically out of balance budgets – the Malloy-SEBAC deal includes a fatal no-lay-off provision -- as it delivers to union chiefs a welcomed arrangement that, to quote Senator Edith Prague during an earlier Malloy-union contract negotiation session, union chiefs “would be insane to reject.”

Well, the union chiefs were not insane.  Turn of the century Tammany Hall boss George Washington Plunkitt once boasted “I seen my opportunities, and I took’em.” So too with union bosses in Connecticut. Malloy, during his two terms in office, was betting that propaganda of a kind we often see during elections would overcome common sense. On the one hand, people’s senses, and some few honest newspaper editorial boards, were telling the great unwashed that there is a reckoning coming that will obliterate Connecticut’s advantages with respect to bordering states. On the other hand, progressive campaign propaganda has for many years in Connecticut ruled the roost. Never underestimate the power of demagoguery, Mark Twain warned: “Whiskey is carried into committee rooms in demijohns and carried out in demagogues.”

Events in Connecticut –the flight to other states of entrepreneurial capital and entrepreneurs – have taught the state, if not Malloy, that demagoguery may have its limits.

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