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Showing posts from April, 2018

Murphy As Kingmaker, Not King

A recent story in the Hartford Courant, “Lamont Gaining Party Support," focuses on U.S. Senator Chris Murphy as a Democrat Party kingmaker.
Murphy is a kingmaker by default. Party bosses disappeared long ago. They were done in by two things: an anti-boss movement that had been picking up steam since very early press attacks on Tammany Hall, and reforms in election processes. The old party boss, usually a party chairman, fell victim to primaries and open elections. But necessary functions in politics do not disappear; they are transformed. In post-reform modern times, the party boss is the party’s most important elected official.

Connecticut, The Laughingstock Of The Nation

As Governor Dannel Malloy sets off into the sunset, TheWall Street Journalreviews, in as economical a manner as possible, the real state of the state of Connecticut, once the diamond in the crown of New England.
“The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis recently rolled out its annual report on personal income growth in the 50 states, and for 2017 the Nutmeg State came in a miserable 44th.” That’s the good news.

Can Centrist Democrats Save Their Party?

Speaker of the State House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz has planted his flag. He has announced he will call a vote on instituting a new tax, congestion tolling, in Connecticut. “I’m not willing to walk away from this session with doing nothing to solve this problem. Our job is to rep (sic) the citizens of the state and make very difficult decisions for the betterment of this state. This falls into that category for me.”
There is no need to pause here and discuss the touchy question whether Aresimowicz properly understands what Connecticut's real problems are. After two major tax increases, the largest and the second largest in state history, inexorably followed by high and unsupportable deficits, the question – is Connecticut suffering from a revenue or a spending problem? – has now been settled. Even major newspapers that had in the past asserted Connecticut’s budget problems had been caused by insufficient revenue have since repented and now acknowledge the state has a se…

Malloy’s Collateral Damage

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is only the most recent of the casualties. In the midst of exploring a run for governor, Bronin, unable to garner sufficient support and money, the mother’s milk of politics, quietly dropped out of the race.
After a state bailout of $550 million, any politician not driven mad by personal ambition would have considered the mayoralty of bankrupt Hartford a softer political bed than the governorship of a failing state, a bed of nails.
The State of Connecticut and Hartford on March 27 inked a contractaccording to which the state will pay off the city's approximately $550 million general obligation debt over the next 20 years. Hartford's annual debt payments, projected to top $56 million by 2021, will also be “reduced” to $35 million per annum through the expedient of pushing payments into future years.
Bronin has had lots of company. Governor Dannel Malloy himself, after having consulted the auguries, decided not to run for a fourth term as governor. Hi…

Republicans Downgrade Malloy

S&P Global Ratings has lowered Connecticut’s rating one notch from A+ to A. Credit analyst David Hitchcock provided a list of reasons justifying the downgrade.
Hitchcock noted, according to a CTMirror story, that Connecticut has one of the highest per capita debt ratios in the nation, having ended the last fiscal year with a taxpayer bonded debt approaching 24 billion. The state has been struggling with ways to provide support for its poorly funded municipal teachers’ pension program. Connecticut, according to Hitchcock, “has a history of deficit financing during recessions.” Connecticut has yet to recover fully from a recession that official ended several years ago. The state’s emergency budget reserve is dangerously low at $210 million, according to Hitchcock, an amount just larger than 1 percent of annual General Fund operating costs. CTMirror reports that “Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo recommends a reserve of 15 percent.”

Cranky Democrats

Sometime after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lee Whitnum was dragged from a debate stage in Brookfield and arrested – apparently for being Lee Whitnum – Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nick Balletto issued the following directive to Fox News: “We’re a big tent party, we invite people from all walks of life to participate in our Party and the electoral process. But based on Lee Whitnum’s behavior tonight, and based on her behavior in the past, it’s clear that Lee Whitnum should not hold elected office and does not represent the Democratic Party, nor should she participate in Party functions at the local or statewide level.”
There will be multiple versions of the event, Whitnum’s and everyone else's. Going forward, the standard among gubernatorial Democrats for dealing with disgruntled declared candidates for governor appears to be -- call the cops. The "big tent" party of law and order is on the prowl, and Brookfield obviously is not a sanctuary town in which pol…

Can Walker Walk The Walk?

Former U.S. Comptroller General and candidate for Governor took some time out of his busy day to answer a couple of questions. See below.

Connecticut Commentary:  In your campaign literature, you style yourself a “turnaround specialist,” and your background suggests you have walked the walk. You served as Comptroller General of the United States for 10 years under three different presidents, Reagan, Bush (41) and Clinton, during which time you “led a widely praised transformation of the GAO and spearheaded related efforts for the accountability community both domestically and internationally.” The state of Connecticut certainly could use a CPA governor who can add one and one and get two. Other governors have in the past more or less fudged the numbers through overly optimistic revenue projections and outright thievery – by flitching money from so called “lock boxes” and using the loot to balance chronically out of balance budgets, relieving the pressure, such as it is, on the General …

Owning Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy has seven months remaining in his second term. His administration has been a deceptive failure.
Malloy came into office complaining loudly about the problems put on his plate by his predecessors, Governors Jodi Rell and John Rowland.They had not done what was necessary to remediate Connecticut’s economic woes.
When Malloy leaves office at the end of his second term, the problems will be intensified.Because he has promoted false solutions – tax increases, the extension of crippling state employee contracts beyond 2027, to mention just two missteps – Connecticut’s problems have become more intractable.

Solvency In The State Of Insolvency: Malloy Gets His Tax On

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me – an Italian proverb
House Bill 5046, which would re-establish tolls in Connecticut, is yet another tax, a tax being money that flows from private wallets to public treasuries.
According to popular delusion, people traveling from states bordering Connecticut will pay the tax. The trick in taxing is to find someone else to pick up the bill. Senator Russell Long of Louisiana put it aphoristically: “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fellow behind the tree.” The truth is: We are the people behind the tree. Even when the tax burden appears to be paid by someone else, as in business taxes, the burden of taxation comes home to roost. Businesses collect corporate taxes from the consumers of their products and services. Like your smarmy politician, the taxed business is a tax collection operation.
In the case of transportation tolls, the imposture is thin and transparent. Only about 30 percent of congestion tolling will be paid by the pe…

Taking The Fifth, After Esty

Whether or not U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty will serve the remainder of her term or resign immediately is very much an open question. But, in any case, the battle for Connecticut’s 5th U.S. Congressional District has begun with a show of unexpected fireworks.
For many years, the 5th District was a toss-up proposition; both Republicans and Democrats have held and surrendered the seat. Geographically the 5th District touches the border of New York from Connecticut’s northern-most point to Danbury in the southern quadrant and includes much of Litchfield county and parts of Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven counties. Party affiliation is competitive, in round figures, 30 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican and 45 percent unaffiliated. Over the years, the Democrat Party in Connecticut has moved from the center to the left, but the 5th District has been a moderate preserve. During the Obama presidential election, Republican moderates within Connecticut's U.S. Congressional el…

A Friendless Esty Calls It Quits

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” The saying was attributed to President Harry Truman by a playwright, but just because Truman may not have coined the phrase does not make it any the less true. Washington DC can be a cutthroat corner of the world. This is not to say that all well-mannered pols have cashed in their chips and left the casino in the hands of brutes. Some U.S. Senators still feel that politics should not be a murderous affair. If you do catch your enemy in a compromising position, it would be prudent to leave open a back door through which he might escape with his honor intact. Your enemy will appreciate the graceful gesture and, perhaps in some future encounter, pause and consider before he draws the knife across your throat”