Thursday, February 06, 2020

The State of Lamont’s State


Governor Ned Lamont delivered his second State of the State on the first Wednesday in February to a General Assembly bulging with eupeptic progressives. Democrats have been in charge of the budget writing General Assembly for the last few decades. It is true in Connecticut, as elsewhere in the nation, that the governor proposes budgets to the legislature, but it is the legislature that disposes of budgets, usually in close consultation with governors of the same party.

Lamont’s State of the State address was launched two days after President Donald Trump delivered before a bitterly divided U.S. Congress his State of the Nation address. Trump failed to shake Speaker of the U.S. House’s proffered hand at the beginning of the hostilities, and Nancy Pelosi ripped up the presidential signed State of the Union address at the end of the hostilities, which show no sign of abating.

The handshake has an interesting history. It developed in 5th century Greece as a means of indicating non-hostile relations. An empty, outstretched hand offered in greeting showed that the greeter was unarmed. In the Middle Ages, a vigorous handshake was deployed to shake from loose clothing any concealed weaponry.

Pelosi’s quickly withdrawn outstretched hand concealed no dagger because the downward thrust of the Democrat’s impeachment bill was still to be deflected by Republicans. It is uncertain that the end of the process, a dismissal of the bill of impeachment by the Republican controlled Senate, will end attempts by Democrats to force Trump from office and so symbolically repeal the president’s 2016 election victory over an aggrieved Hillary Clinton. Pretty much everyone, including Trump, thinks the Democrats will be back at the same corner, should Trump win re-election in ten months, hawking the same impeachment elixir.

In Connecticut, there is no such deadly animosity between Democrats and Republicans, possibly because Democrats have been ruling the roost in the General Assembly for a good long while, longer than the young college age progressives in the state, many of whom are working feverishly to elevate to the White House the nation’s first socialist president, have been alive.  Familiarity with the run of things does not breed contempt among Connecticut Republicans; it breeds familiarity. Over long periods of time, the creaking and worn back benches begin to feel like plush divans. Republicans in the state have never known how to campaign. Elections in the northeast are won on social rather than economic issues.

Democrat leader of the Senate Martin Looney liked the tone of the State of the State address – upbeat. And Democrat leader in the House Joe Arisimowicz thrilled to Lamont’s optimism. “I loved the idea of being the champions of Connecticut,” he said. “At some level, we all raise our hand and take an oath of office and we’re going to not only observe the Constitution but we’re going to act in the taxpayers’ behalf. And every time that you say that you can’t trust government, that’s a direct slap at the people’s trust in the government. We need to be out there and start talking positively about Connecticut.”

If majority Democrats were to board a CTFasttrack bus to Hell, the trip down would be considerably relieved with Lamont as the Devil’s co-pilot. He has a way of triumphing through shear exuberance over the most depressing news by inflating himself with gobs of optimism. Three years ago, Lamont noted, the Wall Street Journal was asking, “What’s the matter with Connecticut?” But today, after Lamont jaw-jawed the opinion editors of the Journal, the paper had changed its tone – “The state has dug a deep hole--maybe it has now stopped digging.”

Lamont’s enthusiasm, we are told by CTMirror, “was briefly rewarded with a bipartisan standing ovation. “The rest of the country is looking at our state in a new light — so should you. Optimism is contagious!” Lamont intoned.

But the hole cannot be conjured away through eupeptic incantations. The way UP is the same as the way DOWN – only in reverse. And there is no indication in Lamont’s directional map that the drivers, at long last, have got the message. If high taxes, burdensome regulations and the renting out to unelected commissions of the Constitutional getting and spending obligations of the greatest deliberative body in the state point downwards, then way up is plain. Reverse everything – control runaway spending, moderate destructive ambitions, withdraw the crushing tentacles of state management from a creative and independent marketplace, discontinue investing in failed processes and invest in successful governance -- and Connecticut will begin to revive. It will stop digging its own grave.

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