Two weeks before Connecticut voters are due to troop to the polls, U.S. Rep John Larson debated his opponents – Republican Ann Brickley, Green Party candidate Ken Krayeske and Socialist Action candidate Chris Hutchinson – at the West Hartford Town Hall. According to one report, Mr. Larson appeared “annoying.” The journalist who turned in the report surely meant to say that Mr. Larson looked “annoyed,” though it is unclear from the report which of the three burrs under his saddle irritated him most.
Those who could not attend the debate may find it on Ameriborn News. Following the debate in West Hartford, three more are scheduled.
Lately, and most surprisingly, Mrs. Brickley has crept up on Mr. Larson in the polls, a mere seven points separating the two.
Mr. Krayeske is best known for having been arrested by over-exuberant Harford police some years ago while innocently interrupting a parade and taking some pictures of Gov. Jodi Rell. He also confronted UConn coach Jim Calhoun with questions concerning his salary, and this produced some verbal fireworks during which the coach advised Mr. Krayeske to “Shut up.” Far from shutting up, Krayeske, a lawyer recently admitted to Connecticut’s bar, threw his hat into the ring in the First District.
Brickley’s resume is much fuller than those of Mr. Krayeske or Mr. Hutchinson. Mrs. Brickley is a licensed engineer, former employee of United Technologies and General Electric who now owns her own business consulting firm. Larson, one of the goodest of good old boys in the U.S. Congress, is the present executor of a seat that has been held by Democrats for the last five decades. Before Larson, the seat was owned by Barbara Kennelly, daughter of the last real Democratic Party boss in Connecticut. Mrs. Kennelly held the seat for 17 years. After the passing of her father, John Bailey, certain traditional party functions were outsourced: Anti-Republican and anti-Democratic crusher ads are now being shown and financed by extra-party functionaries; incumbent politicians are expected to raise their own campaign funds; and campaign strategies tend to be written by beltway Hessians.
This year, some incumbents – partly owing to the rise of the much reviled Tea Party movement – are having a rough go of it, and Mr. Larson’s sense of unease is shared by many. Among active voters, both Democrats and unaffiliateds each outnumber Republicans by a more than two to one margin. Mr. Larson’s slippage in the polls is directly related to dissatisfaction with Beltway solutions to the lingering recession, high taxes, out of control spending, bottomless deficits, malingering foreign wars and President Barack Obama’s drooping ratings among Independents and some Democrats.
On a sliding scale from socialist to capitalist, Mr. Hutchinson, who favors a 100% tax on rich people, would rank first, followed by Mr. Krayeske, Mr. Larson and Mrs. Brickley.
Mr. Hutchinson did not reveal in the debate in which town he plans to locate his gulag to house dispossessed kulaks, but West Hartford, a relatively wealthy town, dotted here and there with houses that reek of ill gotten riches and fortunes to be confiscated under the Hutchinson dispensation, would seem to be an obvious choice. In the matter of taxing entrepreneurial profits, Mr. Krayeske favors turning back the clock to the Reagan era in which taxes on the redundantly rich were at 50% of income. The problem with wealth confiscations is this: Under Mr. Hutchinson’s 100% plan, wealth can only be confiscated once. Wealth having been confiscated and dispersed, possibly to teachers, what is the Mr. Hutchinson’s Second Year Plan? When all the cows have been butchered and eaten, when there is no more milk in the udders -- when there are no more udders -- whence comes the milk? If I rob everything Peter has and give it to Paul in year one, how do I satisfy Paul’s expectations in year two? How do you share the wealth when there is no wealth to share?
The enduring problem in politics is how to milk the cow gently and in such a way that the cow, after the taxing process, will thank you for the stroking. Mr. Larson would tax robustly – probably not the best idea in a recession -- while Mrs. Brickley would tax more prudently. Even Huey Long, from whose progressive program Franklin Roosevelt borrowed heavily, reduced taxes during the depression.
And the cows? If the stroking is brutal, they will move elsewhere, where the shadow of the gulag does not disturb their peaceful grazing.