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    Thursday, August 11, 2022

    Deal on abortion is possible but Dems prefer acrimony

    Both political parties in Congress want to sustain the immigration controversy for partisan purposes more than they want a compromise that could resolve the controversy's two major components: securing the borders while providing a path to citizenship for longtime illegal residents and children whose violation of immigration law was not their fault and who know no other home.

    Last week in Congress, it was the same way with abortion. A majority could have been cobbled together in the Senate in favor of legislation nationalizing a broad but limited right to abortion, but the Democratic caucus in the Senate sought to go beyond its purported objective of codifying the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. The Democratic majority in the House had already passed a bill extending abortion rights beyond those laid out by Roe.

    Among other things, the Democratic bill, supported in the Senate by Connecticut's abortion fanatics Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and endorsed by Governor Lamont, would have left an abortion to a doctor's discretion after the viability of the fetus, forbidden any parental notification requirements for abortions for minors, and prohibited even a 24-hour waiting period between a woman's first medical consultation and her abortion. The bill would have nullified even the lesser restraints of Connecticut's own permissive abortion law.

    The Democratic objective is all abortion all the time and any time, immediately on the spot and right up to the moment of birth.

    The bill failed to get a majority of votes in the Senate. Several senators who voted against it indicated that they would support a less expansive bill, but the Democrats were not interested in negotiating such a compromise, even though it would have left them free to keep pressing for a more permissive law and though polls have long suggested that a compromise would reflect national opinion. Few people support unrestricted abortion just as few support prohibiting it - the extremes that dominate the two parties on the issue.

    With their all-or-nothing approach, the Democrats wanted to sustain the acrimonious controversy, perhaps to distract from the roaring inflation, shortages, and social disintegration that are making the Biden administration unpopular and threatening a Republican takeover of Congress in November's election.

    Neither side can acknowledge that the abortion issue is full of fair concerns and complications of law and morality that don't lend themselves to the usual sloganeering and posturing.

    * * *

    CITIES GET PLENTY: Much complaining in Connecticut politics and journalism has been done lately about the huge share of urban real estate that is exempt from municipal property taxes: government property and property belonging to nonprofit schools and colleges, churches, social-service agencies, and so forth.

    The most recent reminder came the other day from a report in the Hartford Courant, which noted that 51% of the value of real estate in the city is tax-exempt, even as state government never gives the city all that is supposedly due under the state's payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program, or PILOT.

    But complainers and the Courant failed to note that apart from PILOT payments, state government already reimburses Hartford and other cities about half their annual budgets.

    Nor did the newspaper note that in 2018 under the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, state government assumed Hartford's general obligation bonded debt over $500 million - a bailout of the city's decades of mismanagement. In effect, state government also paid for the minor-league baseball stadium Hartford had just committed to build while on the brink of bankruptcy, and did build with serious delay and cost-overrun.

    Connecticut's cities have been failing not because of any lack of money, since state government long has been throwing ever-increasing amounts at them. The cities have been failing because the ways the money is spent - largely at state government's direction - perpetuate poverty more than they eradicate it.

    The spending also perpetuates political dependence. The cities never improve, but that's okay, since they never stop providing huge Democratic pluralities.


    Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.

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