Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lamont Announces

Today, Connecticut finds itself facing immense fiscal challenges — as our working families and small businesses continue to bear the brunt of the economic downturn.

After years of unfocused leadership, our state is sorely in need of a chief executive who will focus like a laser on creating jobs and getting our economy back on trackNed Lamont

If you unpack “economic downturn,” you will find that the “burden borne by working families and small businesses” is related to high spending priorities in the Democratic dominated legislature, an unfriendly tax environment and excessive liabilities. A chief executive who focused like a laser on “creating jobs and getting our economy on track” would sturdily resist a legislature now spending beyond its means by, in round figures, about $3 billion.

One can only hope the next governor will direct his or her well focused laser at legislative leaders such as Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams, both of whom have shown themselves to be resistant to spending cuts. Donovan especially prefers “revenue enhancements” over cuts that may disturb his principal political supporters, union workers.

A Democratic hand on the tiller, it is tempting to think, may have a firmer grip on the direction of the ship of state than any of the previous three Connecticut governors, two of them Republicans, and a third, Lowell Weicker, who assisted Mr. Lamont in his failed senate campaign against present U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, a faux Republican who once identified himself, correctly, as “a turd in the Republican Party punchbowl.”

For the first time since former Gov. William O’Neill left office, the gubernatorial plum lies within reach of Democratic fingers, now that Gov. Jodi Rell has bowed out of the gubernatorial contest, and a government wholly captured by Democrats would be a “no excuse” government.

Lamont, best known for his ardent opposition to a war policy in Iraq that pretty much everyone agrees has accomplished the goals of ex-President George Bush, is beginning to sound like every other Democratic gubernatorial job growth candidate. Indeed there is no one in either the Democratic or Republican camps who would not, were he a governor armed with a magic wand, wave it over brutalized Connecticut and instantly produce the jobs without which the state cannot recover from its economic doldrums, closely related these days to legislative doldrums.

The legislature has reached the bottom of its revenue barrel. Its off budget credit card has been maxed out. Mommy, in the form of Moody’s rating service, already has rapped its knuckles and warned that the state’s bond rating will further deteriorate unless the legislature minds its economic matters by reducing both spending and its long term liabilities.

The state’s pantry is empty but for one remaining golden goose, Connecticut’s millionaires and mini-millionaires. Eager fingers are now reaching for the state’s last untapped revenue source, hoping the goose does not take flight and move to Texas, a state that has no income tax and is better positioned than others to recover from what promises to be, especially here in Connecticut, a long, painful convalescence.

When he threw his hat in the gubernatorial ring Tuesday at the old State House, Lamont mentioned Texas in connection with job production:

“I was talking with a manufacturer the other day, and he told me about a guy named Rick. ‘He kept calling to tell me that I should move my company to Austin, Texas -- lots of other manufacturers like me in Austin, he said -- in fact, he’d fly me down to take a look. I said no thanks, Rick, I’ve always been a New Britain guy, so I’m not inclined to move -- and he said ‘Oh, come on -- take a look.’

“That’s Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas... and Connecticut needs a governor who picks up the phone, beats the pavement, who puts us back on the offense.”
If the governor of Texas has been successfully poaching companies from Connecticut, it is likely that Texas has a better product to offer.

Whether the next governor will be able to change the getting and spending environment in Connecticut so that it’s sales pitch to companies on wheels will be more alluring than at present is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Phone calls are all very well and good; one supposes that the Rell administration made calls. But bringing to the surface a state that has the largest per capita debt in the nation is going to take a little more in the way of blood sweat and tears that is apparent in Lamont’s gubernatorial announcement.


  1. "Lamont, best known for his ardent opposition to a war policy in Iraq that pretty much everyone agrees has accomplished the goals of ex-President George Bush, . . ."
    Don't really know where to start with that, except to ask, 'What were those goals, again?' They seemed to change with the wind. Wasn't it something about Weapons of Mass Destruction and imminent mushroom clouds.

  2. The main goal was to build up security forces so that American forces could withdraw and leave behind a functioning government that was more Democratic than that of Saddam Hussein. American battle deaths have been much reduced since Obama and the Democrats were agitating for an early release that would have made this goal unlikely.

    Way back in 08: http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2008/01/where-wmds-went-told-you-so.html

  3. In truth, Iraq is a complete mess.

    Every day brings another high profile bombing.

    Elections have been delayed repeatedly, and the Sunnis are expected to boycott them.

    Key Iraqi political figures, including li al-Lami and Ahmed Chalabi, appear to be under the influence of Iran’s Shi’ite regime.

    The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Wednesday it could take months to form a new government after elections.

    The militias are fully armed. International observers fear that tension between the Shiite-dominated government and minority Sunnis may spill into the streets at any time, re-igniting sectarian violence.

    There is nothing at all functional about Iraq.

  4. The responsibility and buck for Iraq stops with Bush. The same responsibility and buck for Connecticut's fiscal position firmly rests with our last two Governors over 16 years and their use of the state's bonding credit.

    Not so long ago there were jobs, there was a budget surpluse, a rainy day fund and tax refunds. If jobs have been lost in the last 16 years to Texas, Rowland and Rell kissed them goodbye.

  5. Anon,

    Everybody is responsible for what they do. I never felt inclined to provide excuses for Bush’s mistakes. But if the Bush template were not successful in Iraq, Obama would not have copied it in Afghanistan. Right? Obama's bailout was similar to Bush's, only larger. It's very difficult to heap blame on one's adversary while copying him. Personally, I think they both goofed with the bailouts. Budget deficits in Connecticut no doubt were affected by the national meltdown. But not every state is California or Connecticut. Some will be better positioned than others when the recovery occurs -- because they were more prudent in spending before the recession occurred, and after. And at that point, unless painful adjustments are made here in Connecticut, business opportunities will flow from Connecticut to, say, Texas. No one will be able to blame this on Bush or Obama or anyone but those in the legislature and the governor’s office who now have a chance – a very thin one – to make the landing softer, and to improve out future.

    Iraq is NOT a complete mess. It's better than it was by any measure you care to mention.

  6. "It's better than it was by any measure you care to mention."

    Better than it was when? Before the invasion? No way Jose. Before the surge? Maybe a little better but at what cost and for how long?

  7. Conditions in Iraq are better than they were at that point when Democratic leaders were calling for a pull out in a year, or even sooner. Had their calls been heeded, Iraq would still be suffering the death of a thousand cuts. It has a chance now.

    Afghanistan, right now, is at a similar breakpoint, and prominent Republicans are not calling for a pull out in a year or less. They are not doing that because the conduct of the war in Iraq has given people – including President Barack Obama –reason to believe that the war template used by Bush in Iraq will work in Afghanistan. I have my doubts about this and have expressed them elsewhere This is not to say that Bush did not stumble badly in his conduct of the war before the turnabout initiated by General Petraeus, taunted at the time by war opponents as “General betray-us.” Here is my assessment in August of 08: http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-next.html

    Now, I know we are in the midst of a national election – it seems to come earlier each year – and I know that people will want to bend the arc of history to their own purposes. But it simply is not true that Iraq is worse off now. As to whether is better now than it was pre-Hussein, that is a question you ought to put to the Kurds.

    Wars are full of blood, sweat and tears. I agree that the removal of Hussein destabilized Iraq, and much else besides. The removal of Hitler destabilized Germany, and much else besides. The removal of the terrorists in Afghanistan will destabilize Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the entire Arab world, but there is one person sitting in the White House who thinks that all the blood, sweat and tears will be worth the price.

    It is an open question whether that is true or not. But he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces on the United States when they are in battle. And he ought to be given the benefit of the doubt.

  8. >>Better than it was when? Before the invasion?

    Depends "what".

    School Level
    Kindergarten 1995/1996: 88,000
    Kindergarten 2005/2006: 82,000

    Primary (1st-6th) 1995/1996: 2,900,000
    Primary (1st-6th) 2005/2006: 4,100,000

    Secondary (7th-12th) 1995/1996: 861,000
    Secondary (7th-12th) 2005/2006: 1,019,000

    Prep (10th-12th) 1995/1996: 293,000
    Prep (10th-12th) 2005/2006: 472,000

    University 1995/1996: 233,000
    University 2005/2006: 353,000

    Post-Graduate 1995/1996: 8,000
    Post-Graduate 2005/2006: 15,500

    Well footnoted, but fairly long page here:
    Life In Iraq Before and After The Invasion

  9. OK, if you ignore ethnic cleansing, bombings, 100's of thousands dead, museums looted, over 1,000,000 refugees including almost all the Christians and other minorities forced out of their homes, power outages, etc. etc., etc.,then maybe it's better.

  10. You describe Iraq under Saddam.

    But how do I delete superfluous comments such as the almost duplicate above?

  11. Never mind - the little trash can doesn't show up in firefox but does with whatever version of exploder I have here.