The Buck Doesn't Stop Here

speakout

–By Ned Lamont

There must be a plaque on Governor Rell’s desk which reads, “The buck doesn’t stop here.”

Her recent op-ed piece in Sunday’s Hartford Courant was a classic example of blame-shifting for the state’s ongoing budget crisis. Crying, “the legislature made me do it,” is a thin excuse for someone who has held the title of CEO of the State of Connecticut for the past five years– five years during which our state should have been implementing a strategy to lift Connecticut from the bottom of the heap in job growth and new business start-ups.

In her budget address to the legislature this past February, Governor Rell stated that, “the bloat of bureaucracy is no longer affordable.” But that so-called bloat was never affordable, it was ramped up on her watch, and it has now become a long-term problem we are forced to solve with short-term fixes that will weaken Connecticut’s competitive position in future years.

The Governor’s op-ed piece would have you think that she is the only one in Hartford who wants a more efficient government, yet only last week she announced that she had exhausted all possible cuts in the state budget. “That’s a fantasy,” Republican columnist Kevin Rennie writes on the same page; “when state officials give up their drivers, we will know that every cut has been made. Their drivers will be the last to go.”

More importantly, when the state has a strategy to upgrade information technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency, when we have balanced the costs and effectiveness of drug treatment versus incarceration, and home health care versus nursing homes, when we achieve fundamental health care reform (can you say Sustinet?), when our capital spending is strategically targeted and not spread out like peanut butter — then maybe the Governor can say with a straight face that we are getting serious about managing our spending.

Governor Rell writes that Connecticut cannot tax its way to prosperity, but her budget instead tries to borrow, securitize, and cost-shift our way out of this severe deficit.

1) Borrowing: her biggest ‘labor savings’ simply borrows from the state pension fund by incenting our best workers to retire with additional pension bennies, and by failing to fund our pension obligations. Connecticut has one of the most underfunded state pensions in the country, but it will fail on someone else’s watch, so…

2) Securitize: Latin for more borrowing. How about a new gambling game which ‘taxes’ those citizens least able to pay, and then we sell the future revenue stream to a gambling company.

3) Cost shift: let’s pay our Medicaid doctors a little less; not to worry, small business can make up the difference with higher premiums.

Her cuts are piecemeal and ill-considered: cuts in internet access to our libraries and schools, cuts in economic development money, cuts to the Connecticut Innovations Fund, the Connecticut Economic Resource Council and the Connecticut Technology Council — all of which are at the forefront of attracting and keeping good paying jobs and businesses. While we may unilaterally disarm, other states competing for our jobs and workers are not cutting these types of initiatives.

HIS Global Insight recently ranked the states which are best able to weather the recession and return to pre recession job levels. Connecticut ranked dead last in regaining lost jobs: sometime “after 2015.” The high cost of housing, an aging transportation system, a gaping educational divide, high energy costs, one of the oldest populations and highest property taxes- these are all in the mix when it comes to holding Connecticut back. But don’t despair. We also have a much envied quality of life, a strong university system in the heart of the knowledge corridor, a well educated labor force, and access to capital ready to invest in the future of our state.

We need to maximize our advantages and address our deficiencies – starting with an honest budget. The budget buck passing needs to stop here and now; the Governor still has time to get all the stakeholders around the table and make smart, tough choices which do not shortchange Connecticut’s future. We don’t need armchair critics. That’s why for the past year William Cibes and I engaged business and labor and nonprofit leaders from across the state who came together around a strategic framework for our state’s future, which you can read more about at CTBlueprint.org.

As Warren Buffet commented on the national recession, “When the tide goes out, you can see who’s been swimming naked.” Sadly, Connecticut has been swimming naked for a long time, most recently under Governor Rell’s leadership. This economic downturn should have been our wake up call. Don’t let the Governor hit the snooze button once again.

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71 responses to “The Buck Doesn't Stop Here

  1. Ned, I’m not surprised to see that you don’t even mildly criticize the Democrats who have super majority control in the general assembly and can override any gubernatorial veto they choose. Fortunately for people like you, there is at least one Republican in Hartford to get all of the blame.

    What if DeStefano was Governor and we still had all the same issues, who would you blame? George Bush again?

    Oh wait…silly me, if we had a Democrat Governor I’m sure everything would be soooooo much better. Right, Ned?

  2. Finished reading the link; lots about taxes (as in increase them on rich) but no mention of cuts. None.

    Here’s a little story out of Cuba:

    The sons and daughters of the revolution are running out of toilet paper in Cuba, according to a Reuters report (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090807/lf_nm_life/us_cuba_crisis_toiletpaper_1).

    “Cuba’s financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat.

    “’The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,’ an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run Radio Rebelde.

    “The shipment will enable the state-run company ‘to supply this demand that today is presenting problems,’ he said.”

    Why, it may be asked, don’t the sons and daughters of the revolution make their own toilet paper, thus lowering the price that Cubans pay for more expensive imports?

    Cash poor Cuba, under the enlightened administration of the Castro brothers, does make some toilet paper. However, it does not have the cash to purchase the raw material to produce the product in large enough quantities.

    And so, the brights in Cuba have hit upon a solution: cut other imports by 20%.

    Cuba imports 60% of its food.

    But won’t the reduction in imports create more scarcity elsewhere in Cuba’s command economy?

    Yes and no.

    “Despite the shortages,” Reuters tells us, “prices will be cut between 5 percent and 27 percent for some food, drugs and personal hygiene products, officials said.”

    The perfect solution; wish away the problem.

    Fidel Castro’s brother Raul, current president for life in Cuba, has been complaining lately that Cubans are not as productive as they might be, and he has hit upon a novel solution. According to the Reuters report, “He has taken various steps to boost output, including putting more state-owned land in private hands and pushing for salaries to be based on productivity.”

    This may sound like creeping capitalism to his brother Cubans in Miami, where there are no shortages of toilet paper.

    I’m sure there is a message in there about command economies for Lamont, D’Amore and Cibes, the uncle, if not the father of Connecticut’s burgeoning income tax.

    Whatever can it be?

  3. The problem with Connecticut’s income tax structure was that it became very reliant on a small group of people, mainly in the financial services sector who worked at hedge funds and big banks and other investment companies in lower Fairfield county. However, now that financial services companies are not paying the big bonuses that were before, these people are making a lot less, and are therefore paying less in taxes. This has to be made up for either with spending cuts, tax increases or other gimmicks.

    Sales taxes are also down this year: does anyone have statistics on the source of sales taxes by sector. Obviously, grocery sales aren’t going to contribute anything since groceries are sales tax exempt. I would imagine that the biggest sectors in the past would have been automobile sales and then maybe appliances and home furnishings. Lower sales of these things will lead to lower sales tax receipts.

    Corporate taxes tax profits, not revenues. Since profits are down (and tend to fall much quicker than revenues due to fixed costs), corporate taxes are also down.

    How much would taxes realistically have to be increased to cover just the shortfalls? And what spending cuts does Lamont and crew propose?

  4. Excellent job Ned….

    Fact is there IS a lot of blame to go around, but in the end, under Connecticut’s system of Government the Governor is the CEO and her failure of leadership has been profound.

    The structural deficit she has led will force much deeper budget cuts and much larger tax increases then would otherwise be necessary.

    Strange the republicans talk about fiscal management and then when given the chance – take the most irresponsible fiscal actions possible.

    Governor Rell’s tenure will be known as the time when Connecticut took exactly the wrong steps on fiscal responsibility.

    Thanks for helping to make that clear.

  5. This is what happens with a Democrat super majority and a RINO Gov. mahem and a sinking state.

    People like Ned, a person thriving under capitalism and telling everyone else they should embrace Socialism…..silly little lemming we are.

  6. Yet another “Sunday Speak Out” from the fringe left. Is this editorial from the Onion? Where’s the Democratic legislature, with veto over-ride power, fit into this? How would their plan help move Connecticut (not just the government, but all sectors) to fiscal balance at this low point in the economic cycle? Why don’t they just pass their budget (which they certainly have the ability to do, even if it’s vetoed) and be done with it? What a farce!

    The burden clearly rests with the overwhelming majority, not with the governor of the minority party who hasn’t the power to stop their agenda. Talk about passing the buck!

  7. More importantly, when the state has a strategy to upgrade information technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency, when we have balanced the costs and effectiveness of drug treatment versus incarceration, and home health care versus nursing homes, when we achieve fundamental health care reform (can you say Sustinet?), when our capital spending is strategically targeted and not spread out like peanut butter — then maybe the Governor can say with a straight face that we are getting serious about managing our spending.

    How about some specifics here Ned?

    Outsource DOIT top to bottom? Continuous Improvement? Performance-based outcomes? A push down on union hiring, firing and promotion and benefits in the upper tiers? Eliminating much of the excess paperwork needed for procurement and Core expenditure tracking? Nimble project management?

    Rell has her faults. Her strength is saying ‘No’ to Democrats that refuse to discuss specifics.

    SustiNet? No comment until we see how the appointee process goes and whether industry professionals are hired or the same old party hacks.

  8. wtfdnucsailor

    I agree that there is some blame to splash on the Legislative Leadership but the real problem is lack of leadership in the Governor’s office. She could demand that the negotiations continue at a more rapid pace. Meeting for ninty minutes then recessing for a week when the state has not had a budget for almost two months is inexcusable.

  9. Stamfordinho

    So Ned wants a major tax increase. What a genius!

  10. The sons and daughters of the revolution are running out of toilet paper in Cuba, according to a Reuters report (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090807/lf_nm_life/us_cuba_crisis_toiletpaper_1).

    Bad link for some reason.

    Try this:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090807/lf_nm_life/us_cuba_crisis_toiletpaper_1

    If that doesn’t work – I tried to place it cleanly enough that it should be easy to copy & paste.

  11. AndersonScooper

    When will Ned declare his intentions regarding the Governor’s race? (I can’t keep saying “no” to my buddy Jim Amann.)

  12. It’s hilarious to watch left wing extremists defend “the system” that they have been complaining about for decades.

  13. Great post, Ned.

    While the Democrats do indeed have a more-or-less super majority in place, the complete lack of leadership from the governor’s office is largely the reason we don’t have a workable budget yet. Gov. Rell’s lack of understanding about even as crucial a bit of data as the SIZE of the deficit at the beginning of the budgetary process tells much about her dismal leadership abilities.

    Although, I don’t know if I can ever forgive you for the inadvertent mental image of Gov. Rell that sprang to mind caused by that low tide swimming scenario you mentioned!

  14. This is what happens with a Democrat super majority and a RINO Gov. mahem and a sinking state.

    People like Ned, a person thriving under capitalism and telling everyone else they should embrace Socialism…..silly little lemmings we are.

  15. Fact is there IS a lot of blame to go around, but in the end, under Connecticut’s system of Government the Governor is the CEO and her failure of leadership has been profound.

    Jonathon, I always thought we operate under three separate but equal branches of government. If that is true, the super majority Democrat legislature would be one one of those “equal” branches and would share in the blame.

    If I am wrong, please let me know so that I may correct myself.

    Peace, love

    Puffy

  16. Cibes, you’ve got to be kidding me. Any politician in Ct who would use this guy for advice is crazy.

  17. Thomas Hooker

    Yet another “Sunday Speak Out” from the fringe left. Is this editorial from the Onion? Where’s the Democratic legislature, with veto over-ride power, fit into this? How would their plan help move Connecticut (not just the government, but all sectors) to fiscal balance at this low point in the economic cycle? Why don’t they just pass their budget (which they certainly have the ability to do, even if it’s vetoed) and be done with it? What a farce!

    Dear CarGuy,

    Let me remind you that Mr. Lamont stands strongly in the middle of Connecticut Democrats in this Democratic state. Numerous opinion polls conducted by Research 2000 have shown strong and growing support for Mr. Lamont in a rematch with Joe Lieberman. Indeed, for over a year those polls have shown Mr. Lamont defeating Mr. Lieberman by landslide margins.

    I would also point out that overwhelming majorities of Democrats in the General Assembly by definition point to Democratic opinions as the solid center in this state, not a fringe. Indeed, Mr. CarGuy, it is your conservative viewpoints that constitute a decided fringe in this state. And your fringe is getting smaller by the year.

    It is precisely that unreality among conservative Republicans that continues to alienate them from the rest of the country, resulting in the smallest percentage of American voters in history identifying them as Republicans in a recent poll (21% of all voters).

    Until conservatives in this state and this country acknowledge that leaders like Mr. Lamont represent the solid center, and their own ideologies place them on the far-right fringe, the Republican Party is destined for even greater losses, eventually withering like Echo in Greek mythology.

  18. How can we possibly be giving this guy such a platform to speak from? What has he done as a politician or policy maker? NOTHING BUT LOSE. He won a primary…and then lost. It is tremendously irritating to watch someone like Ned continue to flirt with running to be the ‘CEO’ of our state government with nothing beyond a single anti-war one time stance. Are his criticisms fair? Sure. But maybe coming from someone with governmental experience…his stuff sounds like a recycled rip-off of the other candidates anyway… and even at that, they are weaker and less timely renditions. I hope that the Democrats do not consider putting someone like Ned remotely close to a shot at Hartford. Then, we can be sure, that Hartford is completely lost.

  19. Until conservatives in this state and this country acknowledge that leaders like Mr. Lamont represent the solid center, and their own ideologies place them on the far-right fringe, the Republican Party is destined for even greater losses, eventually withering like Echo in Greek mythology.

    I remember hearing these words when Clinton won in 1992. Teh GOP went out and nailed the overly cocky Democrats in 1994. When Bob Dole ran against Clinton in 1996 we heard the same story. Then Clinton underwent impeachment hearings. If the Democratic strategists believe as you do then prepare for a GOP rout over the next two elections.

    Indiana, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania are leaning to the Right in recent polls. Add in either North Carolina or Virginia and it’s a GOP victory.

    Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot is favoring the GOP and has been for 4 months after years of favoring the Democrats.

    Like Echo, history repeats the same conceits (with kudos to Elvis Costello).

  20. johningreenwich

    So great to hear from Ned Lamont. A Democrat with unlimited resources who still can’t get elected in Connecticut. This piece, which offers nothing and shy’s away from the slightest criticism of the Democrat majority, explains why.

  21. AndersonScooper

    And Tom Fedele offers so much more?!!

  22. And Tom Fedele offers so much more?!!

    “Tom”??

    Lt. Governor Mike Fedele is in fact an immigrant who learned English as a second language and is a self made man who unlike Ned, has avoided joining any racist whites only organizations.

    Lamont on the other hand made a brilliant choice in selecting his parents.

  23. Until conservatives in this state and this country acknowledge that leaders like Mr. Lamont represent the solid center, .

    Really? And I thought Ann Coulter represented the solid center! Lamont won the Democrat primary because he appeals to the fringe left. When the rest of the people came out to vote, you can see what the center thought of lefty Ned.

  24. Lt. Governor Mike Fedele is in fact an immigrant who learned English as a second language and is a self made man who unlike Ned, has avoided joining any racist whites only organizations.

    So Fedele resigned from his RTC?

  25. Goat… I don’t mind Ned not offering specifics in his front page piece. But in all seriousness, he should’ve made himself available this afternoon to check back for comments that merited a response.

    For my part, GC recently agreed to post a Sunday piece of mine (“Mr. Dodd have you asked for those bank names yet??” Shocking topic for me, I know. I asked GC to delay for obvious reasons, but the Senator is already back on the campaign trail… so GC… maybe next Sunday?) Regardless, when GC didn’t get to it the first week, I specifically asked him to not post it while I was on vacation (the islands in Panama are beautiful!)… or if he did, then to put a disclaimer on there that I may not be able to respond in a timely fashion.

    Ned doesn’t have any sort of disclaimer here. So frankly, if GC asked me… I’d say don’t front-page anything from anyone who is not going to engage in a thoughtful debate. That’s the least front-pagers can do.

    Furthermore, if he doesn’t have answers to your questions… I wouldn’t get upset. He should just say “I don’t know / I’m not sure… I’ll get back to you.” That’s good enough for me. But front-paging with no back n forth is not good enough IMO. Most bloggers here are thoughtful and considerate and hyperinformed… so we deserve feedback when we ask real questions… even if they’re tough questions.

  26. dude! GC! I didn’t even use the descriptive word to the right of Castro… and I still got moderated!!!

  27. So Fedele resigned from his RTC?

    Wow.

  28. So Fedele resigned from his RTC?

    You stay classy, Sam.

  29. So Fedele resigned from his RTC?

    Facts are not on your side.

    Who Created the KKK ???

    Martin Luther King’s niece, Dr Alveda C King.

    Civil Rights Act

    Note that in none of the votes did the Republican Party register under 80% in favor of the act.

    The original House version:

    Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
    Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)

    The Senate version:
    Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
    Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

    The Senate version, voted on by the House:
    Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
    Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)

    Currently the Democrats need to explain, and apologize for having a Cracker like Babs Boxer in their midst.

  30. Thomas Hooker

    Civil Rights Act

    Note that in none of the votes did the Republican Party register under 80% in favor of the act.

    All true. But after the Democratic Party, or more properly the majority of the Democratic Party in the north, strongly supported civil rights, all of those segregationist Southern Whites migrated en mass to the Republican Party. That included Strom Thurmond, the Dixiecrat who ran in 1948 on a platform of segregation forever. It was shortly after the passage of the Civil Rights Act that the Republican Party embarked in its Southern Strategy that employed thinly veiled racist language and polices, such as opposition to busing and excoriating so-called “welfare queens” as a way to inflame racist sentiment. Ronald Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act and prominently made his first campaign appearance of the 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place famous for nothing but the murder of civil rights activists by the KKK, where he used that other code phrase- “states’ rights” as his rallying cry. And it all worked, at least for about three decades.

    That is why the Republican Party’s base is now in the South, and why the Republican Party in the South is almost exclusively white. It is also why more than 90% of all the delegates to the Republican National Convention last year were white, while 40% of Democratic delegates to the Democratic National Convention were people of color. The Republican Party is fitfully attempting to move away from the legacy of that Southern Strategy. Indeed, RNC chairman Ken Mehlmann was in Connecticut when Hurricane Katrina hit, visiting Black churches to apologize for the Southern Strategy and to urge Blacks in the Nutmeg State to give the GOP a second look.

    The Democratic Party began to cleave into two in 1947 when Harry Truman issued a presidential directive integrating the US armed forces. Conservative Southern Democrats left the party for good after the Civil Rights Act.

    The conservative Southern Democrats are now, and have been for years, Republicans. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, the country has moved on, and even Virginia, the capital of the racist Confederacy, has elected a Black Democrat as mayor of that capital city, and that same Black Democrat as its governor. Progressive views are filtering down into Dixie, with even North Carolina going for a Black presidential candidate last year.

    A am proud that the Democratic Party championed the Civil Rights Act, even cutting loose its Southern wing. It will be a long time before the Republican Party lives down its legacy of having embraced those Southern conservatives who now form the core of that party.

  31. Bruce Rubenstein

    Anyone running for Governor must run as an insurgent…with big structural change ideas. A race against a popular incumbant based on incremental small ideas is certain to go down in defeat.Rell only offered a stop-gap plan. The next Democratic Governor needs to come out of the box swinging, with big and bold ideas.

  32. Genghis, you going to tolerate SamuelCT’s hate speech?

  33. Ned who again?

  34. Thomas Hooker

    How can we possibly be giving this guy such a platform to speak from? What has he done as a politician or policy maker? NOTHING BUT LOSE.

    It’s difficult to understand the Repulicans’ fixation with Ned Lamont’s loss in the general election in 2006. They continue to term him a “loser”, while ignoring the fact that he pulled off one of the biggest electoral victories in many years in the Democratic primary. It is also curious to see that fixation on “losing” when Mr. Lamont went on to chair Barack Obama’s campaign in Connecticut and delivered a stunning win in the primary in Hillary Clinton’s backyard on Super Tuesday, the only New England state that Obama won in the primaries. And while fixating on “losing”, Republicans ignore the poll after poll showing Mr. Lamont’s popularity with Democrats and independents rising steadily, even, as pointed out previously, showing that he would absolutely clobber Joe Lieberman in a rematch. Looks to me as though this is a bit akin to Rocky’s pummelling a side of beef before his match with Apollo Creed, and Apollo’s continued underestimation of his opponent.

    The repetition of the canard that Ned Lamont was a “single-issue candidate” is also curious. To all those who ever heard Ned Lamont speak, it was clear that he championed universal health care from the beginning, an issue which is front and center in Washington now, that he spoke passionately for more federal aid for public schools (take a look and you will see that Connecticut received nearly half a billion dollars in federal education aid in the Stimulus, which permitted Governor Rell to cut the exact same amount out of the state’s education budget), and that he has decried policies that led to utility rates and housing prices that make our state increasingly unaffordable.

    In focusing on Mr. Lamont’s general election loss, Republicans might be persuaded to review their own party history, such as Reagan’s loss to Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential primary, and Richard Nixon’s bitter defeat by Kennedy in 1960. Both made spectacular comebacks. Mr. Lamont has proved himself a solid Democrat, heading President Obama’s presidential campaign in this state after campaigning nationally for Chris Dodd (another politician that all would do well not to count out). Mr. Lamont has been working hard out of the public eye for the past two years and winning supporters across the state.

    Don’t be so quick to count him out. He’s been pummeling that side of beef-just out of sight.

  35. That included Strom Thurmond, the Dixiecrat who ran in 1948 on a platform of segregation…

    And who as a Republican was the first US Senator to employ a Black as his Chief of Staff.

    Your point was??

  36. A am proud that the Democratic Party championed the Civil Rights Act

    Except the numbers indicate they didn’t; and history tells us the truth while you don’t.

  37. Hooker, I think it is racist that you associate the term “welfare queen” with black women. What makes you think a welfare queen can’t be a white woman?

  38. Thomas Hooker

    This quoted from the website rightwingwatch.org:

    “…the so-called ‘Southern Strategy’ employed by Richard Nixon to win over traditional Southern Democrats who were angry by the party’s emerging pro-civil rights positions. As Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips explained it:

    “‘From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.’

    “Ronald Regan’s strategist Lee Atwater was even more blunt about the reasoning behind the strategy:

    “’You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

    “…former RNC chair Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern Strategy, with Mehlman admitting in 2005 that ‘Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.'”

    It was racist, it was deliberate, and even Ken Mehlman apologized directly for it. Pretending that it didn’t happen is just not acceptable in the year 2009. It happened.

  39. Thomas Hooker

    Except the numbers indicate they didn’t; and history tells us the truth while you don’t.

    Southern Democrats attempted to filibuster the Civil Rights Act, but President Johnson persisted, and in the end it passed. Northern Democrats voted for it, as did moderate Republicans, while Southern Democrats voted against it.

    As quoted in Wikipedia:

    “John Kennedy originally proposed the (Civil Rights) Act and had lined up the necessary votes in the House to pass his civil rights act by the time of his death in November 1963. However, for the fight in the Senate, Johnson was the one to get it pushed through. He signed it into law on July 2, 1964. Legend has it that, as he put down his pen, Johnson told an aide, ‘We have lost the South for a generation,’ anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against Johnson’s Democratic Party.”

    I think most fair-minded people will accept this version of events, that has been recounted in so many books and articles. You just can’t wish it all away now.

  40. Thomas Hooker

    Hooker, I think it is racist that you associate the term “welfare queen” with black women. What makes you think a welfare queen can’t be a white woman?

    Consider Paul Krugman’s 2007 commentary about race, the Republican Party, and Ronald Reagan’s legacy: specifically about whether he exploited the white backlash against the civil rights movement.

    “The centrality of race — and, in particular, of the switch of Southern whites from overwhelming support of Democrats to overwhelming support of Republicans — is obvious from voting data.

    “…More than 40 years have passed since the Voting Rights Act, which Reagan described in 1980 as ‘humiliating to the South.’ Yet Southern white voting behavior remains distinctive. Democrats decisively won the popular vote in last year’s House elections, but Southern whites voted Republican by almost two to one.

    “The G.O.P.’s own leaders admit that the great Southern white shift was the result of a deliberate political strategy. ‘Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization.’ So declared Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, speaking in 2005.

    “And Ronald Reagan was among the ‘some’ who tried to benefit from racial polarization.

    “True, he never used explicit racial rhetoric. Neither did Richard Nixon. As Thomas and Mary Edsall put it in their classic 1991 book, ‘Reagan paralleled Nixon’s success in constructing a politics and a strategy of governing that attacked policies targeted toward blacks and other minorities without reference to race — a conservative politics that had the effect of polarizing the electorate along racial lines.’

    “Thus, Reagan repeatedly told the bogus story of the Cadillac-driving welfare queen — a gross exaggeration of a minor case of welfare fraud. He never mentioned the woman’s race, but he didn’t have to.

    “There are many other examples of Reagan’s tacit race-baiting in the historical record. My colleague Bob Herbert described some of these examples in a recent column. Here’s one he didn’t mention: During the 1976 campaign Reagan often talked about how upset workers must be to see an able-bodied man using food stamps at the grocery store. In the South — but not in the North — the food-stamp user became a ‘strapping young buck’ buying T-bone steaks.

    “Now, about the Philadelphia story: in December 1979 the Republican national committeeman from Mississippi wrote a letter urging that the party’s nominee speak at the Neshoba Country Fair, just outside the town where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964. It would, he wrote, help win over ‘George Wallace inclined voters.’

    “Sure enough, Reagan appeared, and declared his support for states’ rights — which everyone took to be a coded declaration of support for segregationist sentiments.

    “Why does this history matter now? Because it tells why the vision of a permanent conservative majority, so widely accepted a few years ago, is wrong.

    “The point is that we have become a more diverse and less racist country over time. The ‘macaca’ incident, in which Senator George Allen’s use of a racial insult led to his election defeat, epitomized the way in which America has changed for the better.

    “…And because conservative ascendancy has depended so crucially on the racial backlash — a close look at voting data shows that religion and “values” issues have been far less important — I believe that the declining power of that backlash changes everything.

    That’s why “welfare queen” was meant to refer to Blacks.

  41. I think most fair-minded people will accept this version of events, that has been recounted in so many books and articles. You just can’t wish it all away now.

    Sure – and both Abe Lincoln and Martin Luther King were Democrat(ic)s too; whatever you and other history revisionists say.

  42. I am confused. How can the Governor be solely responsible for the budget crisis in this state when we have three “separate but equal” branches of government? And how can the Republican party be responsible for lost tax revenue when Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal have both come out in support of an insane plan to try and cap the salaries of people who earn their own money? Is it any wonder that major employers in this state (like Pratt and Whitney) are finding ways to take their businesses elsewhere, where the infighting between elected officials can’t possibly be as bad?

    Oh, and by the way, I am not confused by the fact that this post is obviously the start of the next hate campaign by Mr. Lamont. Seriously, do we really need this right now?

  43. Ned, thanks for mentioning the Global Insight study, now our readers won’t suspect it was a GOP plot, as they did when I cited the research. By the way, noting that high taxes have caused us to be projected last in job creation is NOT a great argument for raising taxes again.

  44. Sure – and both Abe Lincoln and Martin Luther King were Democrat(ic)s too; whatever you and other history revisionists say.

    Honest Abe introduced the first Federal income tax on August 5th, 1861.

    I would have been a Republican in the 1860s, and Lincoln would be a Democrat today.

  45. Honest Abe introduced the first Federal income tax on August 5th, 1861.

    I should note that this was only one of many reforms Lincoln was able to make that steered the country to the left when the racist, conservative south left the union.

    What I never got was why so many Democrats got upset about the Texas Governor talking about seceding over the stimulus package. They could leave, we could pass universal healthcare, and then they can come back, broken and humiliated. That’s a win-win-win situation, there.

  46. Thomas Hooker

    Sure – and both Abe Lincoln and Martin Luther King were Democrat(ic)s too; whatever you and other history revisionists say.

    Abe Lincoln, the 1860 presidential candidate of the Republican Party, was a courageous critic of slavery who freed this country of the scourge of slavery. The Republican Congress after the war struggled mightily against the shameful actions of Democrat Andrew Johnson to make sure that Blacks were not abandoned in the peace that followed. Southern Whites stuck with the Democratic Party for a century after the Civil War, and during that century they inflicted the horrors of Jim Crow on African-Americans in the South. All of that is true. No one can erase that shameful chapter from our national history or from the history of the Democratic Party.

    But it is also true and undeniable that the Republican Party changed after the civil rights movement began in earnest in the 1960’s, employing strategies which collectively were known as the Southern Strategy to attract Southern segregationist Whites. It is also statistically clear that Southern Whites comprise the core of the Republican Party today.

    It’s the truth, not revisionism. It happened. And it is a major reason why voters in states like Connecticut have turned so decidedly against the Republican Party.

  47. Thomas Hooker

    I would have been a Republican in the 1860s, and Lincoln would be a Democrat today.

    Bingo!

  48. I would have been a Republican in the 1860s, and Lincoln would be a Democrat today.

    Not a chance – you’re a Dem and go along with the crowd….because that’s what the majority of them do; you know like Lemmings.

    For that matter you would have been a Tory 75 years earlier and probably fled north.

  49. “Honest Abe introduced the first Federal income tax on August 5th, 1861.”

    Right. It was a two percent tax on millionaires to pay off the war debt and aid in reconstruction. Kind of matured over the years. What’s your investment in the payroll tax today? That should tell you something about taxes on millionaires, but it won’t.

  50. In the meantime, the Hill is reporting: “The independent budget scorekeeper has projected the deficit to reach $1.8 trillion by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. The deficit in 2008 reached $455 billion, which was a record at the time.”

    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/deficit-grew-by-181-billion-in-july-2009-08-09.html

    There just ain’t that many millionaires to absorb this debt. Add to these figures the cost of President Obama’s new Health Care program and you’re talking real bucks.

  51. So Hooker & Sammy, you too, would have willingly continued slavery if it would have been expeditious?

    After all, Lincoln famously wrote: “If I could free all the slaves and preserve the Union I would do that. If I could free none of the slaves and preserve the Union I would do that. If I could free some slaves and leave others in place and save the Union, I would do that also.”

    This is not to suggest Lincoln regretted Emancipation.

    It is to suggest that — in attempting to cloak yourself in Lincoln’s legacy — you only highlight your ignorance.

  52. Thomas Hooker

    There just ain’t that many millionaires to absorb this debt. Add to these figures the cost of President Obama’s new Health Care program and you’re talking real bucks.

    Once again, it seems that conservatives haven’t learned anything about economics since before Herbert Hoover. When this country was faced with a financial meltdown in 1929, Hoover and the Republican congress did exactly the opposite of what was required: they cut spending and continued to cut spending. As John Maynard Keynes pointed out in his General Theory in 1936, when a country has fallen into a liquidity trap in which interest rates cannot be cut any further, and when there is so much idle productive capacity that even low interest rates won’t stimulate investment or consumption, only the government is capable of getting the economy going again, and it must do it through substantial deficit spending. That is what helped pull us out of the Great Depression, with the final step being dramatic deficit spending during WW II. No serious economist denies that fact today, none.

    In 2008 we were faced with just that sort of financial meltdown once again, a “once in a century” financial crisis as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan put it. Both the Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration employed conventional economic correctives, the former, under the direction of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars in new liquidity into the banking system in order to stave off a complete meltdown, and the Obama administration injecting equity into crumbling financial institutions and creating a stimulus bill to keep state governments from becoming insolvent, and propping up key industries that could have enormous negative multiplier effects on the overall economy. What they both did was well accepted economic practice. And it’s worked so far.

    As Paul Krugman pointed out this morning, however, most Republicans, once again displaying a shocking sense of unreality, opposed all of it. Had they held sway, there is no doubt, but that we would be well on our way to a second Great Depression. And as the Nobel Prize winning economist also pointed out, we have frequently engaged in deficit spending. The deficit spending during WW II helped get us out of the Great Depression, and prefaced a period of enormous economic expansion and prosperity. The increase in income taxes during WW I also helped pay for a war that was necessary for us to win and also for the world. There is a world of difference between the senseless deficit spending of the Bush years, and critical deficit spending as we engaged in during wartime and as we are now to stave off financial and economic collapse.

    Though it is unpleasant to roll up the debt that we have, it would have been absolutely disastrous had we not. Anyone fully understanding of the suffering this country underwent during the Great Depression also understands that we must avoid that sort of economic collapse. Yet attempting to balance the budget now, as Republicans are pushing us to do, would indeed land us in an economic collapse.

    It is curious indeed to see the same sense of unreality from Republicans regarding health care. Let’s keep in mind that this country pays at least 50% more of its GDP for health care than any other nation on earth, yet gets far less for it than any country on earth. Per capita spending for health care is double that for any other country, yet more than 50 million Americans have no health insurance, and on most measures of health, we rank far below other developed and even developing nations. Less than three in five Americans under the age of 65 now receives health insurance from his employer, and that percentage has been dropping for years as corporations find they cannot afford the bloated premiums of the for-profit insurance sector.

    When every other developed country in the world covers every one of its citizens with health insurance, gets better outcomes, lives longer, and pays far less, why in the world do conservatives continue to insist that we can’t afford that same type of inexpensive, yet enormously effective, health insurance system here? It just doesn’t make sense.

  53. Thomas Hooker

    It is to suggest that — in attempting to cloak yourself in Lincoln’s legacy — you only highlight your ignorance.

    Yes, at the beginning of his presidency, Lincoln did say that. He did not want to break up the Union. Yet he is the same man who opposed slavery so strenuously before he became president that his election precipitated the secession of numerous Southern states, and he is the same man who issued the Emancipation Proclamation after the Battle of Antietam, and who endorsed the equipping of Black soldiers to fight against the Confederacy, with their numbers reaching 10% of all Union troops at the end of the war. Indeed, a Black Union soldier was assigned to guard the wife of Jefferson Davis after the Union army took Richmond near the end of the war. Exactly how does that “highlight my ignorance”? Isn’t that comment a bit vituperative and unnecessary?

    But how in the world do you suggest that I would have supported slavery? Isn’t that spinning off into space, the space devoid of common sense and facts? And it is not I who began by cloaking hmself in Lincoln’s legacy, but others here who attempted to use Lincoln to deflect criticism of the Republican Party for its Southern Strategy.

  54. Thomas Hooker

    Not a chance – you’re a Dem and go along with the crowd….because that’s what the majority of them do; you know like Lemmings.

    For that matter you would have been a Tory 75 years earlier and probably fled north.

    Isn’t this exactly the sort of denigration of opponents’ patriotism that ill-served Senator McCain in the past election? He used as his slogan “America First” and asserted that he would “put America first”, insinuating that Senator Obama didn’t and implying that he was less of a patriot. And isn’t that sort of denigration of others’ patriotism the sort of fuel on the fire that has led to the bizarre questioning of Obama’s citizenship, and that has been twisted by talk show hosts to make people believe that their freedoms are being taken away?

    Slighting others’ patriotism and commitment to this country is wrong. Period. I do hope that you reconsider and decide to retract your remarks.

  55. “And Ronald Reagan was among the ’some’ who tried to benefit from racial polarization.

    Hooker, you’re just coming off as a kook.

  56. Thomas:

    Your understanding of Lincoln and race is as nuanced as a brick. Sorry if that strikes you as vituperative. It is what it is.

    I do not for a minute detract from his record as the Great Emancipator. I do not hesitate to declare him the greatest single president in American history.

    What amuses me, even as it seems to escape you, is that were you to bring the sanctimony and self-righteousness that inform liberalism of the 21st century back to the 19th century and attempt to wrap yourself in the Lincoln mantle, you would — all unknowing — at various times (and not all “at the beginning”) be endorsing compensated emancipation, forced emigration to Madagascar (an idea Lincoln clung to stubbornly) and other proposals we would now consider abhorrent and flatly racist.

    Frederick Douglass, among others, felt Lincoln was lukewarm at best in his antislavery efforts.

    Again: My point is that the claim Lincoln would be this, that or the other betrays a sadly impoverished understanding of Lincoln … Among other things.

  57. Slighting others’ patriotism and commitment to this country is wrong. Period. I do hope that you reconsider and decide to retract your remarks.

    You are easily the most unrepentant individual this side of Kos.

    You’re consistently both snide & insulting, and you engage in the lengthiest most pathetic attempts at sophistry ever witnessed online, posting what appear to be the thoughts of a 17 year old child prodigy packing an English degree but who longs to appear more like an attorney thus loading each and almost every post with meaningless glop for filler so they’ll look more like a legal brief resulting in nonsensical rambling run-on sentences much like this one.

    Like the woman who wished a career as an opera star and thus drank heavy cream by the quart; you’ve confused fat with muscle.

    Further – you insult the memory of the very Founder of this state with your sniveling drivel that appears through the `net over his good name which you sully further everyday.

    I find it truly disgusting.

    Yet you feel I should withdraw some insulting remark made in response to your chronic and consistent smearing of my own Abolitionist/Republican forebears?

    I think not.

  58. AndersonScooper

    ACR–

    Because of the divisive politics the GOP has been waging, Abe Lincoln would have quit the Republican Party thirty years ago.

    As a man of such honor and integrity, it amazes me that you’re still a member.

    I guess you must like hanging out with the birthers?

  59. I guess you must like hanging out with the birthers?

    I didn’t even know what they were talking about until a week or so ago.

    The Ron Paul / Schiff people seem confusing too; but most of them are pleasant enough.

  60. Thomas Hooker

    Hooker, you’re just coming off as a kook.

    A kook? By pointing out Reagan’s actions and positions? By pointing out Lee Atwater’s actual quotes? By quoting the former chairman of the RNC on the Southern Strategy? That constitutes a “kook”? Really?

    I find it fascinating how conservatives at this site when confronted with quotes, facts, and reasoned arguments, instead of responding in kind, result to insults.

    “Unrepentent”, “snide & insulting”, “sophistry”. The insults go on. Name one insult on this post that I have made. Name one. Yet you, while accusing me of hurling insults, have engaged in the ugliest, most insulting diatribes here. Your entire post was a lengthy insult. Is that called for? The frontpagers here actually go to great lengths to post fact-filled reports and insightful commentary. Yet you, at the drop of a hat, call people names, demean their patriotism, and descend into the ugliest sort of dialogue.

    That is wrong. More than one person has been banished from this site for just that sort of really ugly slinging of insults. I would urge you to pull back from that brink and confine yourself to rational discourse. No one deserves or desires the insults.

  61. Weicker Liker

    I agree with you Thomas Hooker.

    Away with the personal insults.

  62. Right. It was a two percent tax on millionaires to pay off the war debt and aid in reconstruction. Kind of matured over the years. What’s your investment in the payroll tax today? That should tell you something about taxes on millionaires, but it won’t.

    It was actually a 3% tax on incomes over $800. And it was instituted less than four months into the war, so it didn’t pay off war debt and reconstruction — it financed the war itself.

    Though I suppose you should be congratulated for getting so much wrong in a single paragraph.

  63. So Hooker & Sammy, you too, would have willingly continued slavery if it would have been expeditious?

    It’s hard to judge whether Lincoln was intrinsically great, or if he just found himself to be in a time and place where greatness was thrust upon him. He campaigned against slavery, raised an army against the states that seceded, and then defeated them. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued more than a year after the war started — does the fact that the Proclamation was _not_ issued before the war make Lincoln a moral coward? I think history shows that he did everything the cause of justice demanded of him, even if he had to be brought along part of the way by the course of events. That’s not perfection, but it’s something that can be said about very few Presidents.

    Civil rights are an ever-expanding frontier, and I’ve been glad to fight for those rights which are on the minority side of public opinion in my time. I think that’s about all anyone can say about themselves.

  64. A kook? By pointing out Reagan’s actions and positions? By pointing out Lee Atwater’s actual quotes? By quoting the former chairman of the RNC on the Southern Strategy? That constitutes a “kook”? Really?

    Hooker, go play victim with somebody else, it won’t work with me. All you have done is thrown insults at every conservative you disagree with and I’ve for one have had enough. Yes, attempting to portray Ronald Reagan as either a racist or a race baiter in not only offensive, shameful and dishonest but puts you in the land of kooksville. It’s difficult to have an honest debate with people that make such accusations.

  65. Thomas Hooker

    Hooker, go play victim with somebody else, it won’t work with me. All you have done is thrown insults at every conservative you disagree with and I’ve for one have had enough. Yes, attempting to portray Ronald Reagan as either a racist or a race baiter in not only offensive, shameful and dishonest but puts you in the land of kooksville. It’s difficult to have an honest debate with people that make such accusations.

    I’m sorry if you are troubled by my pointing out the fact that Ronald Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act, that you don’t like being reminded of his appearance in Philadelphia, Mississippi where the KKK murdered civil rights workers, that his appearance was, indeed, targeted at “George Wallace Democrats”, that he did rail against “welfare queens” and that everyone knew he was referring to African-Americans. I regret that you dislike being reminded that Reagan tried to have key portions of the Voting Rights Act repealed during his presidency.

    But pointing out undeniable facts of history does not constitute “throwing insults”. It happened, it’s true, and becoming furious doesn’t wipe out history. And I hate to point it out, but relying on facts and quotes to support reasoned argument, far from putting one in “kooksville”, in fact puts one squarely in the reality-based community and places one firmly in the tradition of rigorous and honest debate. Pointing out the facts of Mr. Reagan’s record most assuredly does not constitute “making accusations”. Statements of fact are not accusations. And supporting one’s assertions with quotes, dates, and supporting opinions is precisely what reasoned, vigorous discourse is supposed to include. I will also remind you that Mr. Reagan recorded radio advertisements opposing national health care, which hecalled “socialism”. His radio ads were played a week ago as part of a story on NPR. Now is that an “accusation”, or a statement of fact? Most would conclude that it is a statement of fact (but should be accompanied by the date of the story, and the year he recorded them).

    The Republican Party’s record on race over the past four decades is a matter of public record. When former RNC chairman Ken Mehlmann apologizes for the Southern Strategy, as he did in 2005 don’t accuse me of insulting conservatives when I point out that fact.

    I understand that you might not like discoursing with Democrats. But please don’t accuse me of being a “kook” and of being “offensive, shameful and dishonest” when you haven’t disproved a single assertion of fact that I have put forth.

    In an honest debate, you would concentrate on the facts and refuting in a logical, defensible manner your opponent’s arguments. I would urge you to refrain from ad hominem attacks, and concentrate on precisely what you say you value: honest debate.

  66. Away with the personal insults.

    Considering the nonsense you pulled on an RNC employee, in here no-less; you sir are in no position to say a bloody thing.

  67. Weicker Liker

    ACR, lets get something clear….

    First, the person was NOT an RNC employee at the time…….

    Second, unlike some other posters on this blog, I did have the decency to personally apologize to this person for the “nonsense” you
    suggest and have the comment removed by Genghis.

    Maybe others should exhibit the same kind of humility.

  68. Considering the nonsense you pulled on an RNC employee, in here no-less; you sir are in no position to say a bloody thing.

    ACR, you are an honorable guy and always speak the truth.

  69. ACR, you are an honorable guy and always speak the truth.

    Thank you; I *do* try.

  70. I would have been a Republican in the 1860s, and Lincoln would be a Democrat today.

    Eh… you guys know the Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves in areas of the country that were in rebellion? In Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, Missouri, Tennessee, what is now West Virginia, and Union controlled areas of Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, the Carolinas, Mississippi, and Florida slavery was still legal until the 13th amendment was ratified almost three years later. And if any of the seceding states had ended their rebellion within 100 days of the Proclamation, they would have been able to keep their slaves, also. In other words: Lincoln only freed slaves in areas where he didn’t have the power to free slaves.

    Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus, jailed reporters for dissent, instituted a military draft (making slaves of those drafted), planned to deport blacks to Liberia, Haiti, and Panama, told freed blacks to “lead by example and leave the United States of America,” and denied people the right to self government. Lincoln was no Presidential hero. There were other ways to free the slaves without a Civil War. The Civil War was about money and power, not slavery.

    “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercize it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.”

    Abraham Lincoln, 1848 – when he still believed in the Jeffersonian ideal instead of tyranny.

  71. Free and Independent

    Governor Rell has my support… Rell must standup to the TAX and SPender
    DEMOCRATS…
    Keep holding the line Governor and remain FREE and INDEPENDENT.
    We the People… Support you!
    David G. LaPointe

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