Lamont's conflicting poses of change and continuity
Pouring more of his personal wealth into his campaign for governor, zillionaire Democrat Ned Lamont went on television the other day with a new commercial touting "change." In the ad Lamont says he'll cut property and small-business taxes, reduce medical costs, and demand equal pay for equal work for women.
The latter already has been the law for a long time but Democrats need to nurture resentments to rile up their tribal base. The other objectives proclaimed by Lamont's new commercial will be delusional until state government manages to close the $4 billion deficit projected for the next state budget, and Lamont offers no ideas about that.
Indeed, while Lamont's campaign distributes press releases every day, the projected budget deficit is so large that whoever is elected governor will be lucky just to keep the lights on at the state Capitol for his first few years in office. Any proposals that cost money will be mere posturing and pandering until the deficit is closed.
At the end of his new commercial Lamont declares, "Change starts now." But even as the commercial began airing, Lamont received the endorsement of another state employee union, that of the state police. The unions are not supporting Lamont in pursuit of change but rather in defense of their privileges under the political status quo. The unions are confident that, since they dominate the Democratic Party, which has controlled state government for eight years, as governor Lamont will go easier on them than any other candidate.
Meanwhile Lamont keeps charging that the election of the Republican candidate, Bob Stefanowski, will destroy all public services, since the Republican's only idea is to eliminate the state income tax and thus forgo half of state government's revenue. In effect Lamont is arguing that no state and municipal government operations can manage with less money − that no employees, contractors, and welfare recipients can be directed to do more with less. That is, Lamont is arguing that the government and welfare classes must not be disturbed and that change is actually impossible.
So Lamont is presenting himself as the candidate of both change and continuity. This is incoherent. But it may be more than Stefanowski offers.
For at least Lamont is making appearances around the state, issuing statements, and being accessible. As for Stefanowski, other than his ads attacking Lamont as a clone of the ever-unpopular Governor Malloy, the Republican is hardly to be seen. The only advantage of this campaign strategy seems to be to prevent the candidate from displaying his unfamiliarity with state government and the state itself. After all, Stefanowski never before has been involved with public life and didn't even vote for the last 16 years.
Tax money pit
Next time New Haven Mayor Toni Harp shows up at the Capitol to plead poverty and to clamor for more state money for her city, legislators might ask her about her administration's concealment of its travel expenses, as reported this week by the New Haven Independent.
Officials with city credit cards, the Independent found, have not disclosed to the Board of Alders their cross-country flights, hotel stays, and luxurious meals on city business. Trips to meetings of the U.S. Conference of Mayors have cost two or three times more than was reported.
Since state government reimburses half the city's budget, New Haven seems to figure that it's nobody's money.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.
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