Saturday, January 05, 2019

The New Year

It may be worth mentioning – and, in fact, President Donald Trump, never shy about tooting his own horn, has mentioned it several times – that the national economy has improved under his watch.

An Associated Press story noted on the 4th of the New Year, “U.S. employers went on a hiring spree in December, adding a surprising 312,000 jobs… Health care and education added 82,000 jobs last month, the largest jump in nearly nine years. Restaurants and drinking places posted a net gain of 40,700 jobs. Builders added 38,000 construction jobs, while manufacturers increased their payrolls by 32,000 workers.” Amazingly, “The torrid hiring in December far outstripped the 180,000 jobs investors had been anticipating and could help ease fears that the economy’s expansion — now in the middle of its 10th year — may be coming to an end.”

Of course, there are demons hiding the hallways. Some analysts worry themselves over Trump’s “tariff war” on China. Illegal aliens continue to bum-rush the border. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has recovered her gavel, promises that not a dollar will be forthcoming from the Democrat controlled US House to pay for Trump’s wall. And most Democrats, but for new-wave progressives in the Congress, appear to have settled upon judicial action rather than impeachment as the best means of ridding the country of an intolerable, bad mannered president. All this aside, the successes of Trump’s near two years in the While House appear to be substantial.

There is a method to the madness of anti-Trump Democrats. The advantage in suing rather than impeaching a president is that the same end, his immobilization, may be accomplished through judicial means, and in the process no political fingerprints are left on outcomes. Suits need not be won when the purpose of suing is only to delay administrative action. There is a very long road connecting an initial suit brought by, say, a state attorney general and a final resolution decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. And court filibusters of this kind may be more effective, because of their long duration, than congressional filibusters.

As to the economic rebound of the country following the limping economic progress of the Obama administration, political truths – always to be sharply distinguished from objective truths – are fashioned by partisan politicians. There are two kinds of economic progress: progress as measured by what Benjamin Disraeli called “dammed statistics,” and real, FELT progress. Now that Democrats have recovered the House, one expects the Trump economic upswing, should it continue for the next two years, to be attributed by Democrats to the progressive sagacity of progressives.
What is the prospect for economic improvement here in Connecticut during the New Year?

This writer has said, perhaps more often than is necessary, that there is only one politician in the state who can prevent the state from committing economic hara-kiri – Governor Ned Lamont.

Theoretically, Lamont could take the “road less traveled” by hegemonic Democrats in the General Assembly. He could, by making common cause with Republicans and non-progressive Democrats, initiate permanent, long-term spending cuts. He could allow legislators to adjust some present non-adjustable entitlements by moving Connecticut’s ever-growing “fixed costs” into the fixable cost budget ledger. He could put legislators on alert that their primary constitutional obligation is to unilaterally control getting and spending. This would require wresting control over the budget from unions allied with governors and Connecticut’s courts, a mission that can only be accomplished by removing salaries and pensions from contractual arrangements.

It is true that the governing authority in Connecticut may not abrogate current contracts. You cannot produce legislation that will magically change the past; legislation is always pointed towards future action. But you can make necessary adjustments in both the present and the future. Some means must be found to stabilize current pension debt, perhaps, in addition to other means, by moving some state assets into the nearly vacant pension fund. Progressive governors will be temperamentally opposed to effective reforms. When they say “no”, they should be marginalized by legislators who hope to devise reparative means that would preserve the state from a certain death by a thousand cuts.

It is not governors, legislators or the courts but rather real world consequences that are the final arbiters of objective reality. The art of governance lies in drawing lessons from objective reality so that the governed body – all of us who live in Connecticut – will not be ambushed by predictable and recurring consequences. You feel the flame’s burning sensation, and you withdraw your finger. You see the cliff and avoid it, and you avoid leaders who will pipe you over the cliff with soothing melodies.

Within the first year of the Lamont administration, we all will know whether the new governor has chosen remedial reform or political business as usual.

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