Thursday, January 25, 2018

Red Notes From a Blue State - Is Lamont Passé?

Ned Lamont, who won a Democrat primary against sitting Democrat U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman in 2006, has entered the gubernatorial contest. There is little reason to believe that Lamont will be able to effect an ideological course correction within the Democrat Party.

Lamont will in part be self-financing his campaign. In a preceding election, Lamont self-funded his $12.7 million campaign, having pledged not to accept money from lobbyists. The temptation on the Democrat side to choose a candidate who is not, shall we say, poor will be almost irresistible. The Republican Party fell prey to self-financing candidates several times in the last few elections, and the results were disappointing. Lamont claims he has been “actively involved in this state” and points to his service on the board of selectman and finance board in Greenwich, a background in practical politics much less fulsome than that of Governor Dannel Malloy.

Lamont managed to wrest the Democrat U.S. Senate nomination from Lieberman in 2006 but lost to the resilient senator, who ran as an independent in the general election. In 2010, Lamont ran for governor, losing to Dannel Malloy. His past in practical politics is much thinner than his past campaign experience.
Championing a $15 an hour minimum wage and paid leave, Lamont is putting himself forward this time as a progressive. He is a fan of electronic tolling. Raising taxes on the wealthy will be a part of Lamont’s formula to “turn the state around.” State employees have already “given back quite a bit, in particular the younger state employees have given back a lot.”

“I’m the candidate in this race who believes in collective bargaining,” Lamont told the Hartford Courant, “The way we’re going to get through this budget crisis is by working collaboratively with labor.”
Lamont acknowledges that Connecticut needs “fundamental change,” but his prescriptions on these points do not differ markedly from those of the outgoing lame-duck governor. Working collectively with labor, Malloy returned to the General Assembly a negotiated deal with state employee labor unions, later approved by the Democrat dominated General Assembly, that will prevent future governors – even Lamont, should his campaign be successful – from laying off workers to achieve budget savings; and, of course, the budget deal Malloy arranged with SEBAC pushes out union contractual gains until 2027.

The Lamont campaign, once it puts fourth its leaves and branches, will likely resemble a Malloy campaign without Malloy in it. There is no indication in Lamont’s campaign preview thus far that he will attempt to offer a welcoming and open hand to moderate Democrat voters put in political limbo by aggressive progressives in his party. And while Lamont may be more popular just now than Malloy, whose approval ratings are in the mid 30’s, his political product is not likely to appease moderate Democrats, some of whom swell the ranks of those in Connecticut who hold Malloy in low esteem.
Among Democrats, a destructive progressive ideology has all but replaced a pragmatic view of the economy and society. How, for example, is a state that has yet to recover from a recession that ended elsewhere in the nation in 2009 to pay for Lamont’s $15 an hour minimum wage and paid leave?  Through tolls, Lamont may say, little realizing that the bulk of dollars in tolls will come from the same empty pockets that fill Connecticut’s treasury with slowly disappearing revenue. Is there a direct relationship between increased spending and bulging budgets? Of course there is, but that relationship is soft peddled by soft-socialists like Lamont, Malloy and more than half of Connecticut’s General Assembly.

Democrats in Connecticut appear anxious to hang their election chances on President Donald Trump’s bristly character. Somewhat like Malloy, Trump tends to throw his porcupine quills with reckless abandon.  Trump, no doubt, will be a presence in the 2017 campaign. However, Trump is not running for a political slot in Connecticut, and it is by no means certain that the much anticipated anti-Trump political demagoguery will outweigh the consequences of largely conservative policies – regulatory reform, business tax reductions, and a big stick foreign policy – that, so far, have had some beneficial consequences. GDP growth is up, and Walmart, often a target of progressives, has decided to greet the resulting economic sunrise by boosting the starting wage of their employees from $9 per hour to $11.

Trump’s tax cuts and regulatory reform already  have lifted a good many boats, as President John Kennedy said they would after his own similar tax reform proposals had been adopted by a bipartisan U.S. Congress.

Don Pesci's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Author Don Pesci
. . . Good political policies are like good genes, and Lamont’s policies -- higher taxes, more spending, union favorable deals -- are antiquated and, in Connecticut, proven detriments to a growth economy.

To read the rest of Don's commentary, visit his web site.

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