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Blue Model Goes Belly-Up
Connecticut Sings the Blues

When he took office, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy was hailed as a harbinger of the progressive future of the Democratic party. He would combat inequality in the great white state of Connecticut, home of carnivorous hedge fund managers and long-suffering blue collar workers alike. Yet six years into his tenure, Connecticut is struggling and Malloy’s approval ratings are among the lowest of any American politician’s. City Journal has more:

In politics, dreams can turn quickly into nightmares. Just ask Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy. Not long ago, the Daily Beast touted him as the “dream progressive governor” who raised taxes, boosted the minimum wage, introduced mandatory paid sick leave, tightened gun control, and still managed to get reelected. Feeling his oats, Malloy even challenged other Democrats to “grow a pair” by sticking to their progressive principles. That was barely 18 months ago, but it seems an entire political lifetime.

Now, Malloy is being attacked by supporters of progressivism’s standard bearer, Bernie Sanders, for not being faithful to the cause. The criticism comes even as the governor has alienated the state’s business community, provoked criticism from Wall Street for his fiscal management, and garnered among the lowest approval ratings from the general population of any current governor. It’s hard to alienate so many people across the ideological spectrum so thoroughly, but Malloy has managed to do it.

Connecticut is a state with deep fiscal problems. Malloy’s biggest miscalculation was his belief that he could sock residents and businesses with taxes and regulations and then somehow rely on the economy to bail him out. Malloy rammed through a $2 billion tax increase in 2011, promising unspecified budget savings to help balance the books. He cut a mere 1,000 jobs out of a state workforce of 58,000, made only modest reforms to Connecticut’s deeply indebted pension system, and declared victory. Enough residents believed him that he eked out a narrow electoral triumph in 2014.

The fall of Malloy is an instructive tale, and you should read the whole thing.

Alas, the Republican Party doesn’t seem to have a promising replacement for the Blue Model either. If Connecticut was the great Democratic hope, Kansas was the great Republican hope. There, Governor Sam Brownback went all-out starving the beast and the results haven’t been pretty. Clearly, both parties are in need of some new and creative ideas.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Is the message here that State and Local governments are powerless to cut costs regardless of party, i.e., that the governmental machine is out of control?

    • ljgude

      Yeah, something in that country I think. I think that many Republican governors have improved their states and stemmed the slide into Blue fiscal unsustainability that the Malloy is on. But is strikes me you can only do so much at the state and local level. To what extend did Scott Walker’s reforms benefit from businesses fleeing Blue Illinois? Certainly my native state, New Hampshire has benefited from people and business fleeing Taxassachusetts for a long time to say nothing of shoppers from all surrounding states and La Belle Provence shopping for cheap liquor and sales tax free merchandise in the Granite State. But some of it is real. Texas is more business friendly than California and interstate immigration figures back that up. By business friendly I mean small to medium size business friendly, not Big Business friendly – that is exclusively the province of Washington DC and neither the businesses involved nor the politicians or bureaucrats of Sodom on Potomac tolerate competition well. I don’t think that should stop state and local government trying to cut costs and working to make sure people can make a living without undue regulation or prohibitive taxation. Certainly making it harder to earn a living pushes more people toward government employment – a self stoking cycle.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I think on the whole, Blue model states are doing much worse than Red model states, and fleeing taxpayers is the primary symptom. The influx of both legal and illegal immigrants is highest in the Blue states, as immigrants are 10 times more likely than naturally born Americans to be receiving some form of Government Assistance. For most aliens living in America on the Taxpayer’s dime, is 10 times better than working hard in their nation of origin.

    • Andrew Allison

      I largely agree with your assessment but, given that 45% of households don’t pay any Federal income tax, I think your estimate of the relative likelihood of receiving government assistance is a tad overblown. The sad fact is that half the country is, in one form or another, on the dole (and half the government employees administering it are (or should be) redundant). Unhappily, whilst clearly worse in the Blue states, it’s a nationwide problem. The Leviathan has taken control.

      • Pait

        It is more likely that the “estimate” of 10 times was merely invented by the author to please himself, and perhaps to draw people into an interminable argument where he dares you to prove that his inventions are not true.

    • Jim__L

      Immigrants work hard, or immigrants receive generous benefits… why not both? You know how expensive it is to raise a family in California? Every little bit helps, ese.

  • Pait

    If great “innovative” ideological hopes from the right as well as from the left don’t seem to work, then perhaps it’s time to consider the logical alternative: that middle of the road compromises, the status quo, the way American local and state governments are run, work fairly well. They should be adjusted as made necessary by circumstances, but perhaps are in no need for radical reinvention.

    This logical conclusion may displease ideologues on both sides, but has the merit of agreeing with the facts. Government in the US works remarkably well in comparison with most foreign or historical alternatives, including governments of rich, well run countries. I expect ideologues will be satisfied with success and convinced by the facts, don’t you?

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