Sunday, July 14, 2019

Lamont Jaw Jaws the WSJ


Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont traveled to New York the other day to convince Wall Street Journal editorial writers that his state is in the grip of a turn-around, thanks to the Lamont administration.

The business oriented WSJ is not at all the same media gang that covers the Lamont administration at home. Most Connecticut news outlets are willing to allow Lamont a loose tether; not so the WSJ, which has been critical of the direction of the state for the past few decades.

Lamont survived a sharp analytical cuffing at the usual left of center political pit stops -- MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” hangouts for anti-Trump progressives such as U.S. Senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy -- but the WSJ is a tough assignment for a progressive Democrat governor who sometimes use words as magical incantations. Words, however, are only powerfully effective when they convey objective truth. And the truth is – Connecticut, run by progressive Democrats in the General Assembly  for the last three or more decades, has pretty much landed in intensive care, and magical incantations will not cure what ails it.

What ails the state is a much too burdensome tax load, complex and business-inhibiting regulations, and legislative inattention to the real causes of Connecticut’s dramatic economic and social issues tail spin.

Yes, social issues tail spin. Lamont returned from New York – whose progressive Governor Andrew Cuomo months earlier had given his blessing to a bill that winked at infanticide – to Hartford, Connecticut’s capital city, where he was greeted by gunfire.

Two men were killed in shootings less than 12 hours apart on Thursday” the Hartford Courant reported. “The city has seen 14 homicides this year, including Thursday’s deaths, which matches the total at this time last year.” The figures raised no eyebrows among progressive legislators under the Capitol's gold dome. Six years after the state, in response to a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, passed one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, unrestricted murders in Connecticut's Capital city, has become the new normal. In fact, the ballyhooed gun laws have done nothing to reduce the mayhem in Hartford or other of the state’s large cities.

Reaching outside the statutory box that confines Connecticut’s attorney general to the representation in court of the state’s administrative agencies, AG William Tong, a political creature hatched in Connecticut's left-leaning General Assembly, is suing President Donald Trump, some think for being Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton.

On his return from the WSJ grilling, Lamont joined Tong and others who were protesting heavy handed ICE enforcers. The ubiquitous Blumenthal, who often jokes that he's been known to attend garage door openings in Connecticut, has produced a bill in the senate that would codify in law current best practices observed by ICE. Blumenthal’s bill would in addition prevent ICE from apprehending and deporting illegal aliens from courtrooms, in effect making courts sanctuary abodes like churches. So, if an illegal alien is found present in a court – possibly there to answer a summons for having committed yet another crime, in addition to bum-rushing the border and thus avoiding legal entrée through a proper port – ICE would not be able to apprehend and deport him under the terms of Blumenthal’s sanctuary bill. The real problem with sanctuary approved by lawmakers is that it effectively nullifies federal laws that, it cannot be repeated too often, should properly and legally be repealed by senators such as Blumenthal.

Blumenthal is a U.S. Senator, not a moral flasher. If he thinks a law is damaging to the economic and moral fabric of the country, he should work for its repeal. It’s what senators are supposed to do, just as deporting illegal aliens is what ICE is supposed to do. But no, Blumenthal wants a Potemkin village bill that codifies some current ICE procedures, a piece of incantory legislation that, he hopes, may convince his targeted audience -- a set of Latino-Latina voters he imagines are incapable of making proper distinctions between legal and illegal immigrants -- that Blumenthal is on the left side of a blistering social issue, a prime example of moral preening posing as political reform.

Lamont told the WSJ editorial board, “We had to get an honestly balanced budget done on time without raising taxes. We did that."

The proposition did not survive a critical review by former state senator Joe Markley, who toted up Lamont's revenue increases: $652 million in sales tax increases, growing to $1.1 billion by 2022;
$515 million increase in healthcare provider taxes, which are passed on to patients through higher insurance costs and payments for medical care; $340 million raised by a new 0.5 percent payroll tax to pay for paid FMLA; $163 million from a new soda tax; $71.5 million property tax increase by 2022, to pay for teacher pension payments; $70 million income tax increase, mostly from canceled exemptions; $50 million corporate tax increase (average of two years), includes an offset for elimination of the Business Entity Tax; $41.6 million in license and fee increases; $30.2 million plastic bag tax; $17.8 million in other miscellaneous tax increases, including on vaping, a real estate conveyance tax increase on homes over $800,000, and an increase in the movie ticket tax.”

As a kicker, the excessively polite Markley added: “As for ‘honestly balanced,’ the budget includes nearly $460 million in labor savings which have not been negotiated--in fact, the talks haven't even begun. We won't get anywhere unless we face facts and tell the truth.”

Markley’s remarks might make a nifty WSJ editorial.

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