15 July 2011

There is No Realty

It's hard to keep one's balance or grip on what is going on in the halls of government these days. The more I go into the details of massive government layoffs and debt reduction brinkmanship, the less convinced I am any of it will really happen. In Hartford, the state union leaders, who have done more to destroy themselves than 100 Yankee Institutes, are now planning to move the goal posts to the 50-yard line to accept Gov. Dannel Malloy's original "concession" plan.

This plan, which the union rejected for fear of being dumped into a single-payer system called Sustinet, would guarantee jobs for all state workers for four years, put off some raises for two years and do little to address the $65 billion unfunded pension and health care benefit liabilities to taxpayers.

Gov. Malloy sets off to Utah to be with fellow Governors who understand the real problem and probably lecture them on why his way is the best way to grow the economy. Malloy always seems to have an opinion about every one's business. He scolded Congress for not agreeing to an increase in the debt ceiling by urging members to "grow up."

I mean, what's then big deal anyway? What's another $4 trillion in receivables when you come right down to it.

And while Malloy was away, his able staff were morbidly announcing cuts in spending and personnel. But those "cuts" are merely notices to some 6,500 employees, who can still "bump" other employees due to seniority. And if you add state workers who are retiring anyway and jobs that are still vacant and not filled, it's maybe 4,000. Who knows? Who cares? It doesn't matter because it won't happen. Yet, the Democrats continue to go through this exercise as if it will and that is unfair to everyone. The only good outcome of all of this is it will irreparably divide the union for years.

These massive layoffs won't happen because the Lords of Labor will figure out how to recount the votes, or lower the threshold for passage. They can do that by changing the union by-laws. Under the old rules, 80 percent of union members who voted on the "concession" package, had to approve it. Only 57 percent did while 21,000 members said knet. By the way, has anyone seen or heard from AFL-CIO President John Olsen? Is he okay?

Once the unions come around and bend over, Malloy can say he stood tall, did what he had to do and got the result he wanted - $1.6 billion in savings and no disruption in state services. He will shrug when Republicans and those who reside in this universe that Malloy did all of this by pushing through the largest tax increase in Connecticut history.

And while the executive and judicial branches have at least gone through the motions to cut their budgets, the Legislative branch - those charged with the public purse - have no cut a penny from its bottom line. There has been no shared sacrifice from the Legislature. No one has given up a day's mileage, or part-timers in the mail room or a subscription to Legislature Today.

Again, those in the reality challenged community known as Hartford, have little clue or appreciation for the state of the economy in Connecticut. Malloy's laughable $60 million corporate bribe to CIGNA puts the final candle on the cake.

Isn't CIGNA one of those evil corporations the Democrats spend most of their waking hours deriding and claiming are living well while the rest of us are drowning in a Middle Class quagmire of stagnant incomes and lost opportunities? Shouldn't David Cordani, the CEO of CIGNA, be paying more in income tax to cover the needs of those who are looking for their next meal in dumpster.

Guess not or why would the state give CIGNA, a great company by the way, give CIGNA an interest free $15 million, another $6 million for "job training" with the rest coming in the form of tax credits for the promise of 200 jobs?

That same day, across the state in Groton, Electric Boat announced it was shedding 100 jobs for lack of work.

In Washington, President Obama complains that he would rather be "talking about new programs" than haggling over raising the debt limit. For once, Republicans have a better argument on spending. The country by a large, is done with it, even those programs that they like. They know a fiscal diet is needed and it has to start yesterday.

And while liberals in Washington are deriding any potential cuts in federal spending as a one-way ticket to cat food sandwiches for the elderly, the left in Connecticut has been mute when it comes to what Malloy is doing to state versions of big government.

Most telling is the Malloy administration's attempt to strip down and consolidate all of the good government oversight agencies and place them under one department head. Those commissions include Ethics, Elections and the Freedom of Information panel. These are the crown jewels of the liberal crown and not a word has been spoken by this power play.

It all depends of course, of who's in charge. For years, Democrat decried all attempts by Republican Governors to run the government once the Legislature had passed a budget. Since the unions nixed the deal, House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden and Senate President Don Williams, D-Brooklyn,have freely surrendered their duties to Gov. Malloy - hoping he would make it all go away.

For now, the Democrats hope the union leadership - already divided and under siege from its rank and file members, will make their problems go away by waiving off the reality at hand with a new outcome based on the realities at hand.

Some day, we will get real about this.