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OP-ED | Malloy May Reap Political Dividend From Jindal Spat

by | Feb 28, 2014 9:12am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Opinion, White House

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has been making a splash on the national stage this past week, fueling speculation that he has his eye on something beyond Connecticut. At the very least, he’s putting himself in good position for help from national Democrats for his re-election campaign this fall.

Malloy was down in Washington over the past week attending the annual meeting of the National Governor’s Association. The NGA is supposed to be the sort of organization where everyone leaves partisanship at the door, but likely presidential candidate Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal opted to use a press conference at the event to make a rather bumbling attack on President Obama’s proposed minimum wage hike. “The Obama economy,” said Jindal, “is now the minimum wage economy.” He’d earlier accused Obama of “waving the white flag,” though what he meant by that is a mystery.

A visibly irritated Malloy wasn’t having it, and muscled up to the microphone to first call out Jindal on the breach of bipartisan protocol before rebutting his argument. “What the heck was that reference to ‘white flag’ when it comes to people making $404 a week?” Malloy said, while governors behind him grinned. “That’s the most insane statement I’ve ever heard.”

Jindal’s argument was pretty ridiculous; the idea that raising the minimum wage is the same thing as becoming a “minimum wage economy,” whatever that is, doesn’t really make sense. 

Malloy’s strident defense of the minimum wage, though, won praise online and gave him a moment in the national spotlight. Malloy went on his favorite choice of national morning show, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” to pound the point home the next day. Articles appeared in national publications, and cable news played the footage.

So who was right, Malloy or Jindal? It doesn’t matter — they both got on TV.

Giving a very public rebuttal to a potential GOP candidate for president in 2016, while backing what has become the president’s signature legislative issue, is great news fodder as well as smart politics. It doesn’t matter if Malloy meant it that way, or that his support for minimum wage hikes has been less than enthusiastic in the past. And, of course, it adds fuel to the rumors circulating in the less reliable corners of the Internet that Malloy is looking for some kind of job in Washington to save him from bad poll numbers and, presumably, Tom Foley.

There’s no actual proof anywhere that he’s doing this. In fact, much the opposite: Malloy neatly pierced the possibility of a presidential run himself when asked last week, saying “I am not going to be a candidate for president.” There’s plenty of other offices open, of course, so the rumor mill will grind on, but mostly this is fantasy. Malloy is instead looking like he’s gearing up for a tough re-election campaign.

That’s where his moment in the spotlight could pay off. After the spat, President Obama announced that he’s headed to Connecticut this coming week to talk about the minimum wage. National money may flow into a tight race in Connecticut, and if Malloy is lucky Obama will return to try and rally the troops before Election Day. In 2010 Obama visited Bridgeport only days before the election; Malloy won in part thanks to very high turnout in the Park City.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t expect to see Malloy on the national stage more often. In fact, if he can win re-election in what is likely to be another punishing midterm cycle, Democrats across the country may be looking more closely at him. The great thing about statements like “I am not going to be a candidate for president” is that they can be taken back, and nobody really minds. He may have some work to do, though; both TIME and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews referred to him as “Daniel” Malloy.

What about the minimum wage itself? There’s so much conflicting information out there that it’s very, very hard to separate truth from propaganda. The truth itself is depressingly murky: the minimum wage, according to various meta-studies, probably doesn’t have a huge negative impact on jobs — unless it’s set at the federal level. Then it has some effect. How much of an effect? No one has any real idea.

The only thing the federal minimum wage increase is absolutely certain to do is allow people in desperate poverty a chance to earn slightly more money. That is, if they can find a job.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

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(10) Archived Comments

posted by: GBear423 | February 28, 2014  3:52pm


White Flag= Surrender, as in Obama instead of reforming Tax Law, and becoming Pro-Business by submitting an Actual Budget Congress could vote on, he is surrendering to election year gimmicks his sycophants (Malloy) can jump on and preach (pander) to the low/no-income earners in their urban centers… Some mystery. Democrat 101

posted by: jim black | February 28, 2014  4:10pm

Why is this even an issue? Between Malloy and Barry they can’t create a climate for business to create good paying jobs? Gov. Jindal was absolutly correct in pointing out that both these dolts are out of touch and at the same time flying the white flag because they haven’t the slightest clue.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | February 28, 2014  4:52pm

See, this is what I mean. So far, so good.

posted by: Todd Peterson | February 28, 2014  9:39pm

Oh boy, another below-average column by Susan.  I’ll take a swing at the piñata and possibly hit something solid.

First thing is that the very subject is a bit lazy and tedious.  So much of what goes on in media is about who won and lost every little piddling, trifling non-event.  All heat, no light, no insight, no return on the time invested in reading the piece.  I’m politically involved and I actually am elected as a land use commissioner where I live.  I’m very familiar with the chess match and PR value of things.  OK, Dan Malloy probably burnished his street cred with the nutroots, MoveOnanist crowd.  So what?  At the end of the day our budget is still out of balance and the state economy still bites.

This minimum-wage “discussion” going on is only a diversion.  Susan sort of stumbled onto something in the last paragraph although most of those earning minimum aren’t living in poverty.

There aren’t enough jobs being created PERIOD.  For the past five years job growth has only been sufficient to accommodate growth in population, not an actual, discernible recovery.  Phony unemployment figures are lower because millions of folks have left the workforce.  The labor participation rate is where it was in the late 70’s when I was in junior high school!

So many college grads have gotten their degrees from their overpriced , underperforming schools and can’t find work in their fields of study.  A lot can’t find much of anything at all because tons of college grads work jobs that don’t require a degree.  Furthermore, in this non-recovery we’re experiencing the % of part-time jobs created is exponentially higher than it has been following other recessions. 

Do you know what the minimum wage really is?  The answer is zero.  Ask those recent grads, they’ll understand that.

Barack Obama and Dan Malloy are basically the same guy, politically speaking.  Trouble is that Dan has an election coming up and his - and Susan’s - party brass know that the numbers are upside down.  As to the subject of the column, Susan took the bait and ran with it like Dan wanted her to.  Some of us aren’t buying it…

In conclusion I believe that the Obama-Malloy elements with the Dems ranks want more dependence.  Unemployment extensions, Obamacare subsidies, more student loan money, hell, even birth control for 30 year old law students in elite universities.  It’s all about getting folks looking to the government first like Europe.  Well, even Sweden lowered their tax rates.  Funny how the worm has turned, isn’t it?
Actually it’s not funny;  it’s sad.

posted by: bob8/57 | March 1, 2014  12:37pm


Yeah Dannel!

posted by: Chien DeBerger | March 2, 2014  3:12pm

I don’t think so Susan. When the CBO comes out and tells the POTUS that this little promenade into making life fairer is going to cost the nation one half million jobs, I am not sure why Daneel is this stupid pushing this too.

posted by: Stingy Blue | March 2, 2014  10:55pm

Todd, what’s sad is that, after the Reagan-era destruction of labor unions, coupled with the evisceration of American manufacturing as a result of unchecked globalization, lower and middle class workers now have no leverage to carve out a living wage for themselves and their families.  Where previously a strong union could negotiate on their behalf, now unfortunately it is left to Uncle Sam.  Better, I say, (using national numbers from the CBO report) to lift 900,000 families out of poverty at the expense of 500,000 jobs (of which 250,000+ are likely suburban teenagers anyway).

posted by: ASTANVET | March 3, 2014  8:18am

Stingy blue - The last good Democrat president was Truman - he did a bit of union busting too, he also held himself accountable for everything the government did, or failed to do.  All of this nonsense is about the role of government.  What is a “living wage”? it is someone who has found a way to provide goods or services that is in demand by someone else.  Unions distort that service to the market, government devalues currency and then pushes for high taxes and high minimum wage, which ALL have effects on the job market.  Its the self licking ice cream cone.  If the minimum wage is the problem, make it 50K a year, why not 100K a year… that would lift X numbers of people out of poverty wouldn’t it?  But it’s as ludicrous as artificially raising the minimum wage to anything beyond what that work/product/service is to whomever is willing to pay for it.  Higher unemployment in urban areas, and in young workers will have the added effect of the loss of early job experience at places like McD’s or Subway leading to having to ‘learn’ how to be an employee later in life - it is not a little problem, but i’m sure Government has a Solution to impose on the masses.

posted by: StillRevolting | March 3, 2014  8:32pm

Well Ms. Bigelow, I’m afraid your headline is probably accurate. It speaks directly to the stupidity of the national electorate and specifically to idiocy of the electorate here in CT who refuse to acknowledge what is being proven daily through the economic failure that has become my beloved home state in so many ways. We are dead last or nearly so in most measured economic metrics and policies such as this are exactly why. If anyone can make the case that CT’s economic plight is not the fault of business crushing liberal legislation, I’d be happy to hear them out. In the meantime, raising the minimum wage sounds so fair that we should probably do it and vote for those standing behind it, right? Oh wait, I forgot that I’m more interested in a solid foundation for the success of the state and the country in the future than in feeling good about myself for the next 10 minutes. Chien DeBerger employs far too much logic when he nails the issue in one short paragraph. That is of little concern to voters in Connecticut who would simply prefer to fill in the D’s and continue to fail.

posted by: Greg | March 4, 2014  2:18pm

Want to raise the minimum wage? Fine, just don’t complain when that increased labor cost is passed through to product pricing.  We love to villify WalMart and McDonalds for low pay, but not many lament the low prices and dollar menu offerings for their respective, crappy products. 

As for CT, why is this state so darn expensive? The same wage gets 10%-20% more in other states on cost of living alone, so why is reducing the excessive cost of existing in this state not a priority as well? Little old connecticut stands out like a sore thumb amongst a mass of Northeastern states for cost of living, but nobody advocating for things like a minimum/living/fair wage seem to care why. 

Oh, and if the minimum wage is increased 10%-20% i should demand my pretty decent salary be increased by as much…just like the union-indexed wages are indexed to a factor above the minimum.  If someone doing unskilled, menial work can get a 20% raise, don’t the rest of us deserve one as well?

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