Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Lamont’s Democrat Problem

During his coming first term in office, Governor Ned Lamont need have no fear of the Republican Party, which was thoroughly thrashed by Democrats in the recently concluded elections.

Out- hustled by Democrats, Republicans lost 12 seats in the state House and 5 seats in the state Senate, returning the political status quo ante to the Democrat Party’s high point when former Governor Dannel Malloy first came into office. In years following the Malloy administration, Republicans had achieved parity with Democrats in the Senate and were only a few seats behind Democrats in the House.

President of Connecticut’s NAACP Scot Esdaile perfectly described the correlation of forces following the recently concluded elections, and issued a word of warning to Lamont: “No matter how you look at the whole landscape, at the end of the day, the urban communities delivered for him.” In Connecticut’s cities, 94 percent of African American voters voted for Lamont. “It shows how people are thirsty on getting a return on our political investment,” said the parched Esdaile.

No reporter paused to ask Esdaile  whether he was satisfied with the Democrat delivery system in the state’s urban areas, where public schools are delivering pass-through students to colleges that must employ remedial staff to teach them how to read, write and figure. The urban delivery system has been for many years a sort of gilded cage in which the ever-thankful poor are kept on the edge of poverty and taught to rely upon the Democrat Party machine for bare sustenance. 

The state’s failing cities have lain precariously in the hands of Democrats for decades. The last Republican mayor of New Haven, Esdaile's home turf, was William Celentano, who left office in 1953, more than  six decades ago.

When Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, a rising star in Democrat politics in the state, was unable to balance his budget, Malloy sent a shipload of bailout funds his way. Bronin had been Malloy’s chief counsel before he ran for mayor in the state’s capital city. In Connecticut’s urbanscape, it’s who you know that matters – not what you are able to accomplish by reducing the high cost of public employee labor, a nettlesome problem Democrats rarely address.

Esdaile is not alone. Imperious calls crackle in the air throughout progressive Connecticut. In Connecticut’s House -- overseen by Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a union coordinator employed by AFSCME Council 4 at a yearly salary of $97,112 in 2015 – “nearly half the 92 Democrats are part of the Democrat Progressive Caucus,” according to a story in the Hartford Courant titled “Groups who helped Ned Lamont to victory must face fiscal realities.”

The title of the Courant story is somewhat misleading: In Connecticut politics, “musts” are determined by the mechanics of power politics, not realities. If Connecticut had been attending to reality, it would not have tripled its spending in the space of four governors. Now that the Republican Party firewall has collapsed, there is no reason why clamorous progressives cannot get what they want – and what progressives want most of all is MORE taxing and spending.  Connecticut, “the canary in the progressive New England mineshaft,” will in the New Year be singing loudly its progressive anthem.

“Democratic legislators,” PJ Media has reported, “are ready to push a liberal agenda of what they are calling ‘The Big Five’: paid family and medical leave, a minimum-wage hike and electronic highway tolls, along with legalizing recreational weed and sports betting.” Far from representing progress, the new progressive agenda represents a return to the silly 60s and a triumph of an impossible utopia over rational politics. 

There are truth-sayers out there in the public square, Cassandras whose messaging is left unattended because it will occasion unwanted change. Chief Economist and Director of Research Don Klepper-Smith of  DataCore Partners is one of them. “Revised data shows that Connecticut ranked 50th in real GDP growth in 2017, last in the nation, down 1.1 percent, and the state still has the lowest job-recovery rate since the Great Recession in New England at 90.4 percent,” Klepper-Smith writes in Hartford Business. “Between 2007 and 2017, the U.S. economy as measured by real GDP has risen 15.5 percent. During this same period, new revised data shows that the Connecticut economy has declined 9.2 percent.”

Quasi-socialists in the General Assembly’s strengthened Democrat progressive caucus will not pay heed to Klepper-Smith's analysis or policy prescriptions: “Bottom line: This ‘economic stagnation’ is likely to continue as long as we adhere to state economic-development policies that are predicated on outdated, anachronistic economic fundamentals that were prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s.”

Lamont might easily survive a much diminished Republican opposition in the General Assembly, but can he – or, more importantly can Connecticut – survive  Democrat outdated and anachronistic business-as-usual pushed forward by 60’s progressives?

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