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Posts published in “Connecticut Newspapers”

The State Labor Deal and the Resulting Retirement Wave

Ned Lamont would have voters believe that he has engineered a “Connecticut Comeback.” On his campaign website, he claims to have turned a $4 billion deficit into a $4 billion surplus.

Lamont has had nothing to do with the temporary improvement in the State’s condition. The transitory improvement is based upon billions and billions of one-time federal assistance that will run out in a matter of months and upon a gusher of individual income tax revenue derived from a stunning decade-long stock market rally that ended nine months ago.

Lamont did have one critical task. He had 100% control over the negotiation of the new state employee wage contract, the SEBAC deal. Over the next decade that deal will cost the state an estimated $6.4 billion.

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Not An Isolated Incident

Recently, an assistant school principal in Greenwich, Connecticut was caught on video avowing that he hires only progressive teachers. He explained that he won’t hire Catholics because they are too rigid, nor older teachers since they are too set in their ways, for him to be able to bend them to his mission of progressive teaching.

In Greenwich, he is probably an outlier. I live in Greenwich, and I have a second grader in the school system. He has had two great teachers and is just starting with a third of apparent great promise. Yet, most of the progressive education mischief occurs in higher grades, so I will reserve judgment.

The reality is that this is not a Greenwich issue. It is a national issue, more precisely a Beltway issue. The national teacher unions headquartered in Washington DC and the Biden Administration are very clearly pushing a left-wing agenda. The unions and Biden are doing everything possible to inject critical race theory (CRT) into the nation’s public schools, despite all their protestations to the contrary.

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College: Free is Free, Before or After; Yet, Nothing Is Free

Joe Biden, supposedly a moderate, has become Bernie Sanders without much realizing it. Bernie Sanders and progressive Democrats have long advocated free college. Yet, most Americans understand that there is no such thing as free college any more than there is free lunch. Someone always has to pay.

Biden has now proposed cancelling much of the cost of college after the fact.  What’s the difference between up-front free tuition and after-the-fact tuition cancellation, aka loan forgiveness? There is none, if you think about it.

Taxpayers will have to pay.

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Federal Reserve Has Accelerated and Escalated

The Federal Reserve Bank’s monetary policies of increasing interest rates and “quantitative tightening”—reducing its $8.9 trillion balance sheet—will increase the volume and cost of government borrowing at all levels. It will slam the federal budget and state budgets as well, especially states in chronically weak fiscal condition such as Connecticut, despite its recent improvement.

The impact will be felt even without a recession, but if the economy does contract, the federal government will have limited capacity to employ fiscal stimulus to spur a recovery or to provide aid to struggling states.

The Fed has increased short-term rates by 2.25% following its 0.75% rate increases yesterday and in June and smaller increases in March and May. According to the Fed’s own official guidance, it will increase rates further in 2022 to reach an all-in increase of at least 3% by year end.

As this additional 3% works its way into the refinancing of maturing Treasurys and Connecticut State bonds, federal and state interest costs will soar.

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Ned Lamont’s “Debt Diet” and CT Democrats’ Debt Delusions

What happened to Connecticut Governor Lamont’s “debt diet”... if there ever was one?

Lamont is running for reelection claiming credit for fiscal restraint.

Yet, since Ned Lamont took office, Connecticut’s long-term borrowing has increased from about $25 billion to $27 billion. Moreover, after issuing $1.2 billion of new bonds already this year (see below), the state is officially scheduled to issue another $1.3 billion of new bonds this fall. In addition, Lamont and crew have committed to issue $175 million of Community Investment Fund bonds as well.

What kind of diet is that?

Lamont’s claim of engineering a fiscal turnaround of the state couldn’t be further from the truth. That is not necessarily to say that he has mismanaged affairs, but rather to say that he has had virtually nothing to do with the factors which have improved the state’s standing…  improvement which will only be temporary.

Three factors have been at play. The federal government has showered the state with Covid assistance money; the roaring bull market in stocks and bonds through December 2021 has produced a gusher of tax revenue from the state’s large population of wealthy investors; and, finally, automatic fiscal restraints adopted in 2017 before Lamont took office have limited spending.

Lamont was simply lucky at being there as governor as the three trends coincided.

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The Build Back Boondoggle and the Magnificent Seven

What if Connecticut’s All-Democrat Congressional delegation (pictured above) had had their way a year ago? The Magnificent Seven all supported President Biden’s Build Back Better proposal, a constellation of new federal spending initiatives that would have cost anywhere from $2 trillion to $6 trillion.

At the time, the national debt had already skyrocketed by almost $7 trillion largely to fund spending over the course of the shutdown and the pandemic.

Imagine inflation today if that massive boondoggle had been enacted.

If ever there were a reason to “nationalize” an election and for voters to “throw out the bums” for misdeeds in Washington, promoting such wildly irresponsible national spending should be the textbook example.

Voters in Connecticut should throw out Senator Blumenthal and Representatives Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Johanna Hayes, Jim Himes and John Larson for fiscal and financial malpractice.

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Democracy Dies Without Disagreement

It is a sad day in America when we cannot agree to disagree. It is sadder when failure in that regard is overtaken by an effort to smear those with whom we disagree.

May 27, 2022

This week saw such a sadder day, with the release, and widespread media magnification, of a report by a far-left group attacking by name hundreds of Republican officeholders nationwide charging them literally with guilt by association.

May 25, 2022

The headline in one Connecticut media outlet sounded the alarm: “Report finds 16 Connecticut legislators have joined ‘far-right’ Facebook groups.” Similar headlines appeared across the country.

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Bolster CT Economy, Repay $400 Million in Federal Loans

The Connecticut General Assembly session has now concluded with the adoption of a revised budget for the biennium of fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

April 29, 2022

Happily, Democrats conceded to half of the GOP’s recently proposed $1.2 billion tax cut plan.

Yet, Governor Lamont rejected a major element of the GOP plan: a proposal to use off-budget American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to repay hundreds of millions of still-outstanding federal loans received by Connecticut over the last two years to fund unemployment insurance benefits.

April 29, 2022

Apparently, that proposal has been squashed, with Lamont agreeing to repay only $40 million.

Why is a loan repayment proposal part of a tax-cut plan? Because otherwise these loans must be repaid with hefty tax increases on employers in the state.

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Lamont’s Labor Union Deal Creates a Much Bigger and Costlier Retirement Wave

Gov. Lamont’s tentative agreement with Connecticut state labor unions (the “State Employees Bargaining Alliance Coalition,” or SEBAC) compounds distortions in the natural process of renewal in the state workforce introduced by his predecessor. To prevent a retirement wave over the next three months, Lamont is offering huge wage raises and bonuses to induce employees to stay on the job.

Ironically, in battling a retirement surge created by his predecessor’s meddling, Lamont’s own meddling would create a much bigger and costlier wave in less than two and a half years.

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