Hank Aaron is baseball’s career home run leader with 755 — excluding one player from the performance drug era — despite the fact that, in his best season, he tallied only 47, placing him 77th on the single-season record list.
Outgoing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is Connecticut’s Hank Aaron of tax hikes, the undisputed career leader, and he has a much better single-season record than Aaron. Malloy’s $2.9 billion in career tax hikes place him way ahead of Lowell Weicker, whose $2 billion increase in 1991 earned him both second place on the career list and the top position for single-season performance.
With his $1.95 billion tax jolt in 2011, Malloy is just $71 million, or 3.5 percent, behind Weicker on the single-season record list. Malloy’s next best yearly number was $945 million in 2015, just $75 million behind Jodi Rell’s fourth place $1.0 billion increase in 2009. (All amounts are adjusted for inflation.)
Notwithstanding this reality, last week, the nonpartisan Connecticut Mirror lambasted Connecticut Republicans for claiming that Malloy is “to blame for the top two tax hikes in Connecticut history.”
Of course, the Mirror is technically correct, but most reasonable people would overlook this technical error in view of Malloy’s huge lead in the career ranking.
In addition, Weicker claimed his single-season record 27 years ago. No one carries around in their everyday consciousness both the exact nominal number from so long ago and the precise inflation adjustment factor to convert it into current dollars.
And the third-ranking single-year increase predates the institution of the income tax in 1991. That’s ancient history. Let’s exclude it.
So, were Malloy’s two tax increases only slightly larger, he would rank first and third in the single-season rankings for the income tax era.
Nevertheless, the Mirror proceeded to charge the GOP with a capital crime, soliciting quotes from three objective observers. Malloy’s spokeswoman called the GOP’s “top-two” claim “an outright lie.” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont’s campaign manager called it “a bundle of lies.” Malloy’s two-time campaign manager offered righteous instruction “When you intentionally misstate facts, that’s a lie.”
The Mirror not only charged the GOP with making an error but implied that it was engaging in a campaign of deception. “As most of us know, if you say something often enough, people will start to believe you. Worse yet, they’ll repeat it.”
Pursuing this disinformation campaign angle, the Mirror was expansive in parceling out reproach. Two business association leaders and one think tank leader were fingered and shamed for perpetuating “the GOP lie.”
Curiously, in another article last week, the Mirror leaned over backward to explain away Malloy’s 2011 tax increase. In a timeline of the biggest tax increases in state history, the Mirror placed the 2011 increase under the header “Malloy inherits a $3.7 billion deficit.” While obviously designed to absolve Malloy of blame, nevertheless, the header is fair and accurate.
However, symmetry would suggest that, if we look at what Malloy inherited, we should look also at what he is bequeathing his successor. Malloy’s own administration projects a $4.6 billion budget deficit in the next biennium.
That’s despite his career record tax increase of $2.9 billion, which, in turn, doesn’t include the equivalent of a third big Malloy-era tax increase. The current biennial budget includes the elimination or reduction of various tax credits, deductions and exemptions totaling an estimated $350 million.
Nor does it include the current $750 million raid on the U.S. Treasury in the form of a Kafkaesque hospital tax scheme that Malloy introduced in 2011.
In the current budget, Connecticut is levying a $900 million tax on hospitals, sending $600 million right back to them in the form of Medicaid “supplemental payments,” which qualify for $450 million in federal matching funds. The state is netting $750 million (the $300 not returned plus the $450). If ever the federal government were to shut this down…
Despite the technical error in the “top two” charge, the GOP is absolutely correct to label Malloy the tax hike record-holder of all time. The tragedy is that we’re not talking about baseball, but rather numbers that threaten the very survival of the state. Individuals and businesses are fleeing, having endured massive tax increases under Malloy and, given his “bequest,” seeing no possible end to them for years to come.
Red Jahncke is a nationally recognized columnist, who writes about politics and policy. His columns appear in numerous national publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Hill, Issues & Insights and National Review as well as many Connecticut newspapers.