Debicella on Rell, Layoffs, Taxes, and Obama-care

State Senator Dan Debicella (R- Monroe, Seymour, Shelton, Stratford) announced a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in District 4 several weeks back, and CLP caught up with him for an interview last week, covering topics including the budget impasse, the GOP counter-budget, the national health-care debate, the stimulus, and more. The result is too much for one post, so we’ll start with the top-line issues.

On the budget process, taxes, and Governor Rell: Debicella would not say if he’ll support the latest plan (proposed on Wednesday the 26th), as he hadn’t seen any concrete legislation. I asked if there was now tension between the state GOP, whose budgets propose zero tax increases, and the Governor, who has opened the door to some tax hikes.

Debicella put it this way: “If Republicans controlled the legislature, there would not be a tax increase this year. However…the Democratic leadership is committed to growing government by raising taxes this year, and not just ‘on the rich’. They are also pushing increased cigarette taxes, alcohol taxes, taxes on small business, and expanded sales taxes—all of which fall squarely on the middle class…. Connecticut needs a budget. (Rell’s) latest proposal to increase taxes by $391 million is a compromise…to find common ground with Democrats. Unfortunately, (the) Democrats continue (to push) an irresponsible spending plan and a record $1.8 billion tax increase.”

As to whether he feels any tension with Rell’s “compromise,” Debicella does not say. But it he clearly opposes any tax hikes, nonetheless. This vote (when it finally comes!) will be a crucial and tricky one for all GOP reps in Hartford, to say the least.

On Layoffs: I noted that the GOP budget suggests using not-for-profits rather than state workers to provide some social services, and suggest that this might mean layoffs. Here is Debicella’s response: “We do need to shrink the size of Connecticut state government, which has ballooned to more than 55,000 employees at the end of last year. Our budget anticipates reducing 6,000 positions over the course of the next two years. Most of this comes through the early retirement program implemented by Governor Rell. The remainder comes from a “hard hiring freeze….” So if there has been any doubt, the GOP plan means that more than 10% of the state work force would eventually be eliminated. That’s a headline.

On national health care reform and Jim Himes: Debicella opposes “a Canadian-style single-payer system, or any “public option” that will lead us” there. Government-run health care does not address the fundamental problem” of rising health care costs. The health care plan Jim Himes supports would cover the 6% of Connecticut residents who are uninsured by increasing taxes on the 94% of us who have insurance. Harming most of us to help some of us is not (the) answer.”

Debicella’s own ideas on health care reform? Five main points here. 1) To increase prevention, a “healthy living tax credit” that would allow families to deduct all covered out-of-pocket medical expenses from their state income tax. 2) An “a la carte” system which reduces mandated services and thus makes policies more affordable; insurance companies would be required to offer the services—but the insured could choose to have them or not. 3) Malpractice tort reform, with limitations on multi-million-dollar “mental anguish” payments. 4) “Better electronic medical records and IT improvements will also enhance care and reduce costs. President Obama has this aspect of health reform 100% right.” 5) Create more low-cost, private-sector run plans. Governor Rell’s Charter Oak Plan is an example of a no-frills health plan that costs families less than $100 per month.”

So much for Republicans not having any health care proposals. I particularly like how he throws a bone to President Obama, who is still very popular here in Connecticut.

I followed up by wondering if computerization of health care records wouldn’t make it easier for government to detect private medical activities through data-mining, and he added that as the IT was upgraded, privacy protections would have to increase as well.

The takeaway? Debicella still hearts Gov. Rell, just not tax increases. He is a no-go on Obama-care, except the technology piece.  And he and the state GOP seem to realize that structural budget reform must include fewer state employees.

That’s all for this post, next time we’ll discuss Himes’ vote on the stimulus package and Equal Pay for Equal Work.

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11 responses to “Debicella on Rell, Layoffs, Taxes, and Obama-care

  1. AndersonScooper

    I don’t like that had Dibecella been in Congress he would have voted with the GOP against the imperfect TARP legislation, and the stimulus package.

    That’s playing politics with the American economy, and putting ideology in front of practicality.

    Had Congress done nothing last fall and winter, where would we be now? Heading into the 2nd great Depression?

    And where does Debicella stand on social issues like gay rights and a woman’s right to choose. Is he a neanderthal like Sam Caligiuri?

    PS– I like the fact that Dan has no problem leaving 6% of America behind. That’s a great quote, and one which should play really well in Bridgeport.

  2. [blockquote]I don’t like that had Dibecella been in Congress he would have voted with the GOP against the imperfect TARP legislation, and the stimulus package.[/blockquote]

    You can probably make the argument for TARP. But not for the stimulus package. That was a massive pork-fest, and most of the money still hasn’t been spent. Had congress not passed the stimulus, I doubt there’d be much difference in the economy today. Without TARP, it’s more of an unknown. Partly because of the perception (even if the bill didn’t do much, it had the look of doing something to shore up the banking system: if people fear a bank will have a run, that’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy).

  3. Weicker Liker

    State Senator Bob Russo has filed with the FEC to run for the House in CT-4.

    Interesting, his Candidate Committee address is P.O. Box 225 in Colonia, New Jersey.

    Ronald Gravino is his Treasurer.

  4. Ed, TARP and the stimulus are terrible bills, and were themselves the epitome of “playing politics with the American economy.” Neither has done a damn thing for our economy, and we’ll be paying for them for decades.

    Also, pay attention: Debicella didn’t say that he’d leave 6% of the population in the dust. Rather, he said that taxing 94% to help 6% isn’t the answer. Big difference — and he’s right. There are dozens of things we could do without raising taxes to make private health care available to those who need it — but that’s not enough for Obama or the Democrats, and the schism remains.

  5. Had Congress done nothing last fall and winter, where would we be now? Heading into the 2nd great Depression?

    It’s not a “mushroom cloud” comment, but what exactly are you trying to do Scoop?

    And Bernanke tells us that the US economy would face “significant harm,” if he reveals the names of the banks that benefited from his $10 trillion in fake money.

    Is this deva vu, all over again?

    Btw, I stand by what I said a year ago… pain now or pain later. Whether you’re a country or a household… when you run up your credit card… at some point you need to rein in your spending and pay down your debt.

  6. I disagreed with the stimulus package, but at least it was a question of fiscal policy that squared (to some extent) with liberal ideology… and elections have consequences. So it didn’t bother me a great deal because the country had spoken only months earlier.

    But the TARP? That thing was horrendous. And it dealt more with monetary policy, than fiscal policy. And I clearly remember the response from the two major party candidates for POTUS:

    Candidate #1 – I’m going to suspend my campaign and fly to Washington!

    Candidate #2 – Let’s all just simmer down. We need to listen to the adults before we take any action.

    Neither appeared to have any knowledge of monetary policy whatsoever.

  7. But silly me. Today we learned that the gov’t have “made a profit of $4 billion” on TARP. Yippee!

    That’s $4 billion on $700 billion. And if we assume that’s on a nine month loan, then… if my calculations are correct…

    The government is currently getting paid interest at a an annualized rate of…

    0.76% interest!

    That’s right… we’re getting almost one per cent! Wowsers! And who really cares about the trillions of dollars that we’re still on the hook for…

  8. AndersonScooper

    Amazing that you all would have preferred to sit by and watch some of America’s banks collapse in a crisis which could have snowballed into something of horrorifc proportions.

    Obama and the Democrats did a fairly good job of putting an end to the panic which was DOW 6,000, and while the economy isn’t great, fear is gone from the equation.

    And yes, much of what was done was all about the American consumer’s psyche.

  9. Sept 15, 2008 – Lehman collapses (decision by Bernanke, Paulson & Geithner according to accounts I’ve read)

    Sept 16, 2008 – AIG gets an $85 billion bailout from Paulson (number one beneficiary of the bailout was Paulson’s former company – Goldman Sachs… and that was kept secret until the pressure became so immense that Geithner could no longer stonewall it.)

    Sept 20, 2008 – Obama is in Miami with his top economic advisors, including one of Paulson’s predecessors at both Goldman and Treasury)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/20/business/20politics.html

    Scoop… do you just ignore all that? Btw, the number of bank failures continues to mount… and the bailouts continue mounting too.

    HuffPo crossposted from the WSJ today about how the FDIC is offering guarantees to banks to buy collapsed banks for pennies on the dollar. So again… the bailouts continue.

    Yet many liberals contest we need a public option or universal healthcare? Why not just tell the Senate Banking Chairman to stop the bailouts for likes of Goldman Sachs and get that money paid back? Why should I trust that these government officials had the best interests of America at heart? Do you think Geithner lives his life… always putting America first?

  10. My point is that the TARP was wrong. Unfortunately for America, neither the politicians nor the MSM understand what’s happening. Instead, the Beltway MSM do their usual routine of asking a D, then an R. Since both agreed in this case, then it must be positive! But for good measure, we’ll go ask someone on Wall Street.

    Shockingly, most Wall Street bankers feel that a Wall Street bailout is a good thing!

    Thankfully we’ve got people, such as Arianna Huffington (though I often disagree with her), who are willing to challenge the Beltway Powerbrokers and their continued fearmongering… “do as we say or civilization will end as you know it!”

    The whole thing reminds me of a little lie now known as the “Gulf of Tonkin incident.” Unfortunately for the mid-60s Beltway Powerbrokers… my dad’s never had a problem speaking truth to power:

    They lie to get what they want… though it’s more often a lie of omission, than a lie of commission.

  11. Amazing that you all would have preferred to sit by and watch some of America’s banks collapse in a crisis which could have snowballed into something of horrorifc proportions.

    Obama and the Democrats did a fairly good job of putting an end to the panic which was DOW 6,000, and while the economy isn’t great, fear is gone from the equation.

    Ed, TARP didn’t do anything about this. Banks were poised to flourish by the time TARP was passed. Do yourself a favor and Google “yield curve”: you might learn something. Banks were going to recover without TARP — if TARP was so necessary, why do you think banks are doing everything within their powers to get out from under it?

    Of course, you’ll credit Obama and the Democrats for the banking recovery, but who gets the blame for unemployment?

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