Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Other Solution: Cut Spending

A piece by Keith Phaneuf in CTMirror, “Who pays the next CT tax hike? Democrats must answer question soonpresents half of the right question.

 Listening to Democrats in the General Assembly in this the winter of our discontent leaves the impression that one has heard half a conversation. The debate in the General Assembly and, unfortunately, in the media, ALL OF IT, is about discharging deficits through tax increases. But a deficit, like a coin, has two sides. And a “comprehensive solution” to our problems that shows only one face is no solution.

If the level of spending in Connecticut continues to increase at a rapid rate – and that will assuredly happen if Connecticut continues to pursue a course all too familiar ever since former Governor Lowell Weicker forced his income tax down the throat of a somewhat resistant legislature in 1991 – and if the underside of the getting and spending coin continues to remain face-down on Connecticut’s table, then tax increases are inescapable, a boon to cowardly and lazy politicians.

Why are tax increases in Connecticut inevitable? That is a question rarely addressed by the General Assembly or by Connecticut’s media, even though the answer to it is as plain as the nose on Pinocchio’s face.

The “cut spending” side of Connecticut’s getting and spending coin so rarely is turned face-up in budget discussions for two reasons; 1) the “moderate” wing of the Democrat Party -- a union bought organization intent on self-preservation that, like  some greedy landlord holds all the political property in the state -- has completely collapsed, and 2) tied to the administrative state, progressive Democrats have found it much easier to raise taxes, since spending cuts would alienate support from those who have been propping up the corpse, and the ruling party has received considerable support from crony capitalist businessmen in the state who much prefer tax extensions on the state’s vanishing middle class. Weicker raised taxes and declined to run for governor again once his income tax began to pump additional dollars into Connecticut’s swelling treasury; Governor Dannel Malloy raised taxes in both his first and second term, and then declined to run for a third term in office. Governor Ned Lamont has inauspiciously opened his administration with massive tax increases, and his solution to deficits is Weickerish -- tolls are Lamont’s income tax.

Naturally, a swelling stream of spending will follow in the rut of taxation, and before long a future legislature will be discussing yet again whether consumption tax increases are more or less damaging to Connecticut’s economy than income tax increases, the subject of Phaneuf’s latest piece in CTMirror. The discussion is a magic trick.  Connecticut’s taxes are punishing both consumers of products and services AND people blessed – temporarily – with real property and assets. The “either-or” proposition is a false flag. No one in Connecticut’s gluttonous government is proposing to decrease asset taxes as consumer taxes increase. And no one in the legislature is volubly supporting a no-net-tax increase measure requiring a pledge from legislators that every tax increase must be off-set by a corresponding tax decrease.

The real “either-or” that hangs ominously over Connecticut like a Damoclean sword is this: either more costly and inefficient top-down government that threatens republican governance -- or greater freedom at a micro-governmental level and a re-invigoration of the doctrine of subsidiarity, which holds that government closest to the governed governs best. The doctrine of subsidiarity is the core principle of representative government. At a micro level, a father or mother governing the affairs of a household will do a better job of it than Lamont or the two minor political deities who control legislation in the General Assembly, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz and President Pro Tem of the Senate Martin Looney, both progressives. But how is dad or mom to govern their own affairs when they are put at risk by socialists who want to plunder them, bring up their children, balance their checkbooks and through a deprivation of assets – high taxation – deprive them of self-governance?

Avowed socialists like Bernie Sanders, and others within the progressive wing of the Democrat Party playing with socialist fire, are especially good at seizing the whole economic loaf for the purpose of magnanimously distributing crumbs to the poor.

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal and other Democrats chiefly concerned with their own welfare, always in permanent election mode, is an artist among more ham-fisted political actors. A millionaire by marriage, a graduate of Harvard and Yale, he mingles as often as possible with the struggling masses, the sweat of the working classes dampening his brow.

A recent photo in a newspaper – Blumenthal has never been camera shy – really is worth a thousand words. It shows the senator on a strike line with Stop & Shop protestors, in an exultant pose, waving his fist in the air and mouthing some solidarity slogan, his arm draped around a union worker sporting a sign that reads “Please do not patronize – Stop & Shop on strike – Local 371 UFCW AFL-CIO.”

If union demands are met, the successful strike will result in store closings and consequent unemployment for staff that believes their wicked employers intend to replace workers with less demanding, non-unionized robots. There is no indication in the story that Blumenthal has ever personally stopped to shop at Stop & Shop. A candid photo showing him selecting fruit from one of the bins at the store or ordering a half pound of mortadella from the store’s cold meat counter would be news indeed.

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