OP-ED | Name-Calling A Poor Response to Criticism of Economic Reality
As the Republicans who are lining up to run for governor criticize the state’s dismal economic performance over the past few years, Democrats are responding by labeling them gloom-and-doom naysayers.
When Tom Foley announced his bid for governor and called out Democrats for the state’s poor economic performance, the state party responded by saying his critique should have been titled, “Connecticut is the worst place in the world and everything is Dan Malloy’s fault.”
Malloy told reporters on Jan. 10 that “Republicans would pray for clouds on a sunny day.”
State Democratic Party Executive Director Jonathan Harris said Tom Foley’s speech was a “doom and gloom sky-is-falling critique,” according to the Hartford Courant, Sept. 11.
When Republicans point out the obvious, Democrats resort to name-calling.
It’s like a patient who has just gotten bad news at the doctor’s office saying, “Why do you always have to be so negative?”
It begs the question — do Democrats really think things have gone well in Connecticut during Gov. Malloy’s time in office?
Of course they don’t — which is why they are belittling Republicans and the people whose lives and businesses were adversely affected by their economic policies, instead of owning up to the mistakes they’ve made.
Connecticut’s economy shrank in 2012, the only state in the nation to experience economic retraction instead of economic growth, and the state was ranked 50th for economic performance. The state’s economy also shrank in 2011.
So while every other state in the country was pulling out of the recession, Connecticut was still stuck in reverse.
Malloy likes to claim that the state’s poor performance wasn’t his fault — no, he says, the people who came before him were to blame.
But it was his decision to hike taxes in 2011 to fill the state’s budget gap — placing the burden largely on middle class taxpayers — in the midst of a terrible recession.
When Democratic lawmakers threatened last year to raise taxes again to eliminate the deficit, Malloy was forced to send budget director Ben Barnes to the statehouse to stop them.
“I do believe taxes are a drain on economic activity and would not help our efforts at fostering recovery,” Barnes told committee members. Too bad he figured that out two years too late.
Of course, if Malloy wants to look for someone else to blame, he doesn’t have to go far. Democrats have been in charge of the state legislature for years, overseeing decades of overspending and increasing regulations.
The ideas Democratic lawmakers put forward to promote job growth are stale. The intellectual atrophy is not surprising given the years of single-party rule in the legislature.
The state’s economy is showing some signs of life this year, but looks can be deceiving.
While the state’s unemployment rate appears to be falling, University of Connecticut economists suggest the falling rate may be more attributable to the shrinking number of people working in Connecticut than to job growth.
Their report, released by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, says 65,000 people dropped out of the labor market over the last few years in the state. If they were counted in our total numbers, our unemployment rate would be closer to 10.7 percent than 7.6 percent.
Accusing Republicans of being negative could also be a response to the List of Lasts compiled by the Yankee Institute — included on the list are things like Connecticut’s ranking as having the worst debt situation in the nation, the latest tax freedom day, and the worst achievement gap.
The “gloom-and-doom” is in actuality the bad news that Malloy and his fellow Democratic lawmakers don’t want to face.
Raising the red flag of concern isn’t the same as being negative. It is facing reality. Plugging our ears and pretending everything is OK is not going to work if we want to make things better.
But I’m just seeing the clouds on a sunny day. Talk to someone who has experienced long-term unemployment and ask them how sunny their day has been.
Suzanne Bates is a writer living in South Windsor with her family. While traveling across the country as an Air Force spouse, she worked for news organizations including the Associated Press, New Hampshire Union Leader and Good Morning America Weekend. She recently completed a research fellowship at the Yankee Institute.