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Sunday, November 19, 2017
Red Notes From a Blue State - Progressive Scorpions, Republican Frogs
Democrats, the ruling party
in the General Assembly for the past thirty years, have been very hard on Connecticut.
Most economists worth consulting agree that the state is under water, blowing
bubbles, and all the usual stratagems to which Democrats have in the past
resorted to pull the near corpse aboard – tax increases, more regulations,
moving budget money from one or another “lockbox” in order to cover deficits,
plundering the rich – have only made festering problems worse.
The General Assembly now has produced a compromise budget,
and some thoughtful analystshave
argued that this compromise will compromise a winning Republican campaign in
They have a point. The compromise budget is for the most part a
Democrat budget. Only a handful of Republicans -- among them Rep. Rob Sampson,
who is well named, and Senator Joe Markley, this year running for Lieutenant
Governor – voted against the compromise budget.
Republicans in Connecticut want a vigorous, authentic
campaign from Republican leaders. The new comity between Democrats and
Republicans in the General Assembly is not unheard of among incumbent politicians
of opposition parties prior to important elections. Campaigns are crucial; they
provide light and lucidity to voters who, here in Connecticut, have long been
in a rebellious mood.
Recent losses in some suburban municipal elections have been
attributed to President Donald Trump’s acerbic nature and the failure of
national Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Already, Democrats in
Connecticut are beginning to harry Republican leader in the House Themis
Klarides because, they argue, she had supported Trump. It is not altogether
certain that the Trump presidency will plunge Connecticut into darkness and
despair. Connecticut is over-reliant on financial firms, which appear to be
recovering from the President Barack Obama business slowdown, and orders for
military hardware are up, always a boon for Connecticut.
Republican approval of the compromise budget will alter the
messaging of Republicans as the 2018 election draws near. Napoleon used to say
never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. Compromise – and even
worse, silence – signifies assent. Democrats already had seized the political watch
towers overlooking state employee union salaries and benefits. Republicans had
been excluded from any discussion on deals Governor Dannel Malloy had arranged
with SEBAC, an important front won by Democrats. Contracts favorable to unions,
affirmed by a Democrat dominated General Assembly and signed into law by
Malloy, were pushed far out into the future; the terms of the Malloy-SEBAC deal
will not expire until 2027.
Author Don Pesci
This strategic victory on the part of Democrats had been
mitigated somewhat by a Republican budget that, miraculously, passed both
Houses of the General Assembly. Republican voters began to see at this point a
road to a winning campaign in 2018. Malloy had fashioned a hangman’s noose for
backsliding Democrats and fragile Republicans: If some variant of his program
was not incorporated in the budget, he would bring the hammer down on
municipalities, forced under Malloy’s plan to absorb one quarter of educational
grants assumed by the state.
The Republican budget, and later the compromise budget,
stayed his hand and removed what may have been a strategic feint. Some
stalwart Republicans at the time were arguing that Republican leaders in
Assembly should not have interfered. They had only to do nothing, and
the 2018 elections, punished municipalities would have dropped into the
Republican bucket. Democrats had sown destruction and disorder; let’m
they had sown.
But Republicans instead chose to compromise, removing the
noose from Democrats' necks.
Republican leaders in the General Assembly have pleaded
necessity. They had to combine with progressive Democrat leaders to produce a
“third way” budget that, assuming Democrat cooperation in the future, would
represent a march forward towards a brighter future and a step away from past
To read the rest of Don's commentary, visit his web site.