Sunday, October 13, 2019

Connecticut Democrat’s Policy Problems

A recent Hartford Courant-Sacred Heart University poll demonstrates that Governor Ned Lamont, as well as Democrats in the General Assembly, have intractable policy problems.

Lamont’s policies are largely the same as those of former Governor Dannel Malloy, whose poll ratings were abysmally low when he left office after two terms. The latest poll results blow out of the water an always dubious theory that Malloy’s disapproval poll numbers, hovering around 25 percent during his two-term administration, were low because the former governor was a bristly character. Lamont, Malloy without the quills, everyone will agree is far more eupeptic than Malloy.

Lamont’s approval rating remained at 24%,” the Courant story  notes, “but 47% of respondents said they disapprove of how he is handling his job, a seven-point increase from a poll conducted in May. Twenty-nine percent said they were unsure about how Lamont is doing.”

The breakdown cannot cheer Democrats: “Lamont’s approval rating was 40% among Democrats surveyed, compared to 17% among independent voters and 10% among Republicans.” Democrats are losing the affections of independents, who are more numerous than Democrats in the state.

During the presidential off year elections, Democrats swamped Republicans in the General Assembly by campaigning vigorously against President Donald Trump, who was not on the Connecticut ballot, a stratagem that worked well before the Mueller report had been released and the possibility that Trump had colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin to deny Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton her reserved spot in the White House was yet a live wire. Mueller had successfully prosecuted some Trump associates on what are called process crimes, but his report vindicated Trump supporters who claimed that charges of collusion were, as Mark Twain once said of the premature news reports of his death, greatly exaggerated.

In 2020, barring a successful impeachment that removes Trump from office – an impossibility since the U.S. Senate lies still in the hands of Republicans -- Trump will be on Connecticut ballots. Democrats even now are busily tar-brushing Connecticut Republicans who fail to denounce the nominal head of their party. A move by some Democrats to remove Trump from the Connecticut ballot in 2020 appears to have been shelved. National and State Democrats may be putting all their campaign eggs into a basket without a bottom.

In the interim, two reports may be released before Election Day: one by the Inspector General exploring the abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) rooted in a highly suspect “dossier” -- really a somewhat fanciful opposition research document -- financed through Democrat National Committee funds collared by Hillary Clinton, and a second report, a prequel to the Mueller Report, to be issued by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham.

It will be nearly impossible for U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal to "Kavanaugh" Durham, because Durham had been highly recommended to Trump as the U.S. Attorney from the District of Connecticut by both Connecticut U.S. Senators Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. Blumenthal’s recommendation was unimpeachable: “I know John Durham well, having known and worked with him over many years. He is a no-nonsense, fierce, fair career prosecutor. He knows what it means to try some of the toughest cases against career criminals. He knows what it means to try to stop the opioid crisis in this country. He knows what organized crime does to the fabric of our society. He is exactly the kind of person we should have in this position.”

The most important feature of the 2020 election, the dubious impeachment effort aside, is that it will not resemble Connecticut's 2018 election.

As many voters in the state feared, Lamont has shown himself to be, on policy issues, Malloy without the quills. New to the political game – Malloy had served four terms as Mayor of Stamford before he became governor – Lamont has been less competent than Malloy in fooling all the people some of the time. Toll averse voters will recall Lamont’s truck-only toll tax, followed by his 50 gantry toll tax, followed by his bridge only toll tax. Malloy pledged not to raise income taxes and did so: Lamont pledged not to raise the income tax and proceeded to “broaden the tax base” by levying taxes where even Malloy had feared to go.

The chief characteristic of the Malloy administration was his dedication to progressive ideals. He raised taxes, causing an exodus of taxpayers from the state, because he and the state’s now  progressive Democrat Dominated General Assembly were loathed to introduce long-term permanent cuts in spending, a policy that has made a wreck of Connecticut, now known outside its borders as a “sink-hole state.”

Other than raising taxes – yet again! – the ruling Democrat Party, whose political barracks are chock full of progressives, is incapable of filling the ditch. That is what the recent polling of tax-whipped voters suggests.

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