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OP-ED | Name-Calling A Poor Response to Criticism of Economic Reality

by | Jan 17, 2014 9:00am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: The Economy, Election 2014, Opinion

CTNJ file photos
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.

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(31) Archived Comments

posted by: DirtyJobsGUy | January 17, 2014  10:43am

For the Democrats among us, take this test.  Collect recent news stories on new business in the state (expansions count as well).  Score them by the degree of enthusiasm shown for the venture.  Unless it is a state subsidized boondoggle, a union shop, or a small trendy cafe or store the story will be full of potential problems.  Traffic, Environmental, labor you name it.  This attitude is not just in the press but permeates the state.  It’s not just high costs that hurt connecticut, its an overall lack of enthusiasm for business.

posted by: Stingy Blue | January 17, 2014  11:05am

Not mentioned in the “List of Lasts” is the American Human Development Report 2013-14, which measures Americans’ ability to obtain a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living.  CT ranks #1.  See this study here.  Unlike the Yankee Institute, the Social Science Research Council really is nonpartisan.

posted by: ocoandasoc | January 17, 2014  11:57am

There is a certain GLOOMiness about Connecticut’s fiscal condition. And financial DOOM seems on the horizon. But before the State legislature can face reality, someone else will have to point them in the right direction. Because they don’t seem to have a clue. You would think that CT’s voters would take it upon themselves to do so…. But they’re pretty good at avoiding reality as well.

posted by: SocialButterfly | January 17, 2014  12:09pm

Democrats took control of our once great State of Connecticut—by being “careless with the truth.” Our political lies are now being paid for by the
taxpayer-paid Gov. Malloy press releases.  Connecticut voters who cannot recognize the truth, have decided our past two state elections.
Yet, it is said that “truth is stronger than fiction.”
Not in Connecticut.

posted by: Joebigjoe | January 17, 2014  4:37pm

I would venture to say that most people that say CT is doing well from an economic development standpoint dont really travel much on business. When you do, you can see and smell true economic growth occurring. If you travel you know what I mean. It doesnt mean everywhere else is doing great because that is not true, but we really arent. We offer a tremendous geographic location and if you remove lower Fairfield County from the equation you see squat in the rest of the state.

Also regardless of whether or not someone actually leaves, when you have many people wishing they could leave CT or make comments like “there is no way I can retire here”, that also says alot more than any fudged facts and figures ever could.

posted by: Lawrence | January 17, 2014  9:08pm

Suzanne Bates, regular contributor to Raising Hale, who recently tried to give the GOP a leg-up with Hispanics in a so-called ‘news story’?

Please. No one is fooled. She is not a journalist; she is simply yet another a right-wing content provider. Yes, that’s a name. It’s also an entirely accurate observation.

posted by: ASTANVET | January 18, 2014  8:41am

the only true measure of non-partisan indicators i have seen have been the moving company numbers from carriers taking home goods from and to states.  The number 1 state being fled… CT.  Those are the people with the resources to re-locate.  I will be following them when I retire - why?  it would be giving myself a $15K a year raise just by moving away to a tax friendly state.  That’s just property and state income tax… not counting sales/gas/cost of living.  Will the GOP exploit these realities… they should!  I don’t care if a democrat, republican, or independent takes office.  If the end result is less taxes, and a lower cost of living that will make people stay - that will encourage business - the same decisions that make people want to stay, make business want to stay.  CT hasn’t cared for decades because we are so heavily subsidized by the federal government and think that gravy train will never end.  But when Defense budgets get cut, the EB/Groton/Sikorsky/pratt and whitney/hamilton/Colt contracts will dry up, along with those towns.  When the federal dollars dry up - then we will see the true state of our economy - that should be of concern to every citizen, and we should strive to be as competitive as possible to attract and retain quality people, quality industry on minimal taxes.  Just my two cents.

posted by: Lawrence | January 18, 2014  8:29pm

ASTANVET, you raise some good points, but here is the problem:

CT is one of the states LEAST DEPENDENT on federal spending (45th out of 50).

If you want to move to Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona, South Dakota or Missouri, just be aware that they are ranked 1-5 in reliance on federal government revenue for their annual budgetary expenses.


posted by: ASTANVET | January 19, 2014  12:49pm

Lawrence, you are talking about pork spending, and safety net spending… not an economy dependent on defense spending.  That is the federal monies that i am referring to.  Cut to DOD and EB/Sikorsky/Pratt/Hamilton and a number of other MAJOR employers lay off a TON of CT labor.  We are dependent… that is different than welfare reimbursement, medicare/medicade etc… you have to look at the right part of federal spending.

posted by: Chien DeBerger | January 19, 2014  3:14pm

On a happy note: Connecticut finished just above New Jersey who was dead last in fiscal solvency of the fifty states. Great job democrats! I know Holder-Winfield will be trumpeting that on his campaign trail. Anyone wishing to read on:http://news.investors.com/011614-686566-christie-new-jersey-worst-for-fiscal-solvency.htm

posted by: Commuter | January 20, 2014  3:41pm

This editorial is just another example of Republican nay-saying.

Republicans, this author included, refuse to acknowledge that state government is in dramatically better shape than it was when Malloy took office. This is a direct result of Malloy’s policies.

Republicans, including this author, continue to hope that the state’s economy will languish. There is only one explanation for this – partisan advantage.

Republicans, this author included, refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for the lack of job growth over four Republican administrations, Rowland & Rell, yet want to blame Malloy for the consequences of those failed governors’ fiscal mismanagement and economic somnolence.

Still no positive proposal from any Republican, this author included, as to what programs they would cut, how they would have closed the $3.7 billion budget deficit, and not one supporting the conversion to GAAP. In fact, Tom Foley said that increased tax revenues would have closed the budget gap – no cuts needed, no tax increase needed. Had he been elected, we’d have at least a $4 billion – and growing – budget gap today.

Republicans are a day-late and a dollar-short. The red flag they are raising isn’t one of concern, it is the tea party standard of partisanship for its own sake.

posted by: Commuter | January 20, 2014  3:57pm

There is a reason Connecticut was known as the arsenal of democracy, ASTANVET. Our industrial economy was built on defense spending. At one point something like 80% of manufacturing either relied on or was supported by defense spending. This goes back to the earliest days of the Republic and the Industrial Revolution (see: Colt firearms).

Partisanship aside, and as you seem to be pointing out, one of the very real reasons that the state has been in decline for so long is the end of the cold war levels of defense spending (its not the only reason).

Perhaps the biggest miss that the Rowland and Rell administrations are completely responsible for is that they did not recognize and respond effectively to this historic, structural change in the fundamentals of the state economy.

Malloy clearly has not missed that, and his aggressive efforts to compete in the short term to attract businesses and retain existing ones, while positioning the state to become a leader in emerging technologies and industries is exactly what we should be doing to attract, develop and retain the skilled workforce upon which those technologies and industries will be built.

Also, a close reading of press reports and company publicity suggests that our largest contractors have anticipated the decline of military spending and pivoted effectively toward commercial lines. We shall see, but the doom and gloom of self-serving partisans like this author is not justified.

posted by: OutOfOutrage | January 20, 2014  5:16pm


Lawrence, South Dakota is in the midst of an economic boom right now. This has nothing to do with dependency.  It reflects the fact that these states are markedly better at getting federal funds back for their citizens than we are. Remember all those TIGER grants we failed to cash in on? Hartford-Springfield funds?  I think we all know that the allocation of federal $ among the states is not really based upon need. Although it probably should be. South Dakota is booming right now yet they still seem to be getting a good share of federal $ back for their citizens.  What is CT doing?  Busway?

posted by: OutOfOutrage | January 20, 2014  5:28pm


Commuter, “his aggressive efforts to compete in the short term to attract businesses and retain existing ones”.  Keep paying companies to come/stay here. The CT Economic Digest estimates that CT has lost about 90,000 net jobs since the recession started.  At $100k/job: ($20Mil for 200 jobs = $100k/job) Danny only has $9 Billion to spend to get us back to pre-recession levels.  Good Plan!

posted by: ASTANVET | January 20, 2014  5:46pm

Commuter, you’re right… tied to defense spending we are on the decline… however, i would not just point the fingers at the short sightedness of Rell and Rowland, I would point out that the democrats have held a majority in the CGA for how long now?  So as far as remaining competitive I think there is rust on both parties hands.  I will tell you this - I don’t care who takes office - but someone had better get the idea that we need to be competitive with OTHER STATES - for all those who seek out the global economy and all these free trade agreements, how do you think we stack up against other states in the country, and other nations in the marketplace.  We have some skilled labor, but CT is stuck in the “madmen” era where we all want to be some middle level management - we are too enlightened to have a skill or a trade - we are expendible, interchangeable stuffed shirts.  (not all, but a large percentage) - we need to be competitive in wages, regulations, cost of living, taxation…if we were even in the game we’d be playing catch up, right now we are just dying.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | January 20, 2014  5:54pm

Help me please. If the governor and the state are doing so poorly, why is it that no quality republicans have expressed an interest in the job?


posted by: Commuter | January 21, 2014  5:09am

ASTANVET - you’ve hit the nail on the head. Competitiveness is what its all about. The question is, who are our competitors?

The Dakotas? Nope. There are more people in metro Hartford than there are in the state of North Dakota and South Dakota combined.

The Hartford - Sprinfield Corridor is home to some of the most innovative and competitive aerospace companies in the world. Nobody in aerospace is thinking “hmmm - it’s between Bloomfield and that town in South Dakota.”

You know what is going on up there? An oil and gas boom. You know what’s never going to be on up there? Additive manufacturing, bioscience, personalized medicine, and aerospace.

You know what’s going on in many of the so-called self-reliant (red) states? Massive inflows of federal money spent on things like tanks we will never, ever, use or need, and bridges to nowhere (we’re looking at you, Alaska).

The reality is that Connecticut has a closing window to maintain its competitive position and, whatever your political affiliation or persuasion, what Malloy is doing is what must be done. It is hard to overstate how critical these investments are and will prove to be.

If we are to avoid becoming Detroit, we have to diversify our economy beyond defense. That is what Malloy is doing.

One last thing - it is a red herring to blame “the legislature” for much of anything. The governor, in this state, has tremendous power (especially compared to other states). I’ve mentioned the failure of Rowland & Rell above, and the contrast with Malloy could not be more clear.

Beyond that, the cast of characters in the legislature has changed dramatically and several times over the years. Even a dim acquaintance with the who, what, when, why, and how of the last ten or twelve legislatures will make that plain.

posted by: art vandelay | January 21, 2014  10:14am

art vandelay

I have to agree w/ASTANVENT. IMHO you’re just a die in the wool Democrat who can’t see past his nose. The CGA has been under Democrat control since the late 50’s/early 60’s. The majority in many of those years has been veto proof.  Yes Rell, Rowland,Meskill etc have been complacent, but with veto proof majorities, there is not much a Republican Governor can do. Sorry Commuter, the Democrats for the most part put this state in the economic mess that it’s in.

posted by: ASTANVET | January 21, 2014  10:59am

Commuter - the National government (you cant call it federal anymore) - sends those projects to self reliant states precisely to change them from self reliant to reliant.  When all the jobs are tied to pork, you have to keep the pork coming if you get my drift.  Malloy isn’t investing in CT’s future?  the 9 mile busway that overlaps existing busways?  He is purchasing support and votes, at my expense.  Federalism would be the check and balance to that, at every level of government. The fact of the matter is, we are not competitive - and the masses of people leaving or planning to leave our state is a strong indicator that I am not alone in that assessment.  We can point fingers at who has done worse the RINO’s of this state or the Dems… that seems to be a pointless exersize.  To me, taxes and regulations, laws and cost of living/business is going in the wrong direction.  It is that way because there is just too much involvement of the state govt.  Interference, good intentioned or not, causes instability… it is no way to attract business.  And if business was so great in CT, why is our workforce participation rate shrinking, our unemployment growing, the number of people leaving rising, along with the cost of living?  It’s not good - i’m not engaging in the red team/blue team debate, I just want to recognize that we have a problem - and begin to fix it.

posted by: OutOfOutrage | January 21, 2014  12:43pm


HST - Do you walk to work or carry a lunch?  I guess you’re suggesting that all the “quality” GOP candidates secretly think things are going so well that they couldn’t possibly mount a successful challenge?  I think its more likely that they recognize that Dems have controlled the GA for 28 of the last 35yrs and in that time have managed to focus the real power in the legislative majority leaders rather than the governor’s office.  The only reason Malloy has been successful in any of HIS bouts with them is that, as a member of the party, he has the ability to put them in a pickle by playing to their loyalty in a way that a GOP governor never could.  How successful do you think a GOP governor would have been at pushing the state employee cuts through?  I don’t see how electing a GOP governor does anything for the state or the GOP.  Its a waste of time and resources without the GA.

posted by: SocialButterfly | January 21, 2014  2:53pm

@Matt: As a Democrat You condone the incompetence of the Gov. Malloy administratio leadership—and say a Republican governor would not do the state or the GOP any good. Apparently you are not concerned about the state as you won’t question Malloy’s inept leadership because Malloy is a Democrat—and you would not vote for a Republican governor anyway.
So what’s your point?

posted by: Commuter | January 21, 2014  7:58pm

Art - your willingness to acknowledge that Rowland and Rell were complacent is almost refreshing, except you want to defend it. The fact is that the legislature has not had a “veto proof” majority except for very brief periods. But in reality, that is a red herring for executive indolence, because the vote on any given issue is not certain - Democrats have voted the “other way” as recently as the gun legislation after Sandy Hook. None of that is to say however that those legislatures were not part of the problem.

I guess I don’t need to ask you if you know how many of the terrible budgets passed under Rowland and Rell were vetoed, right?

posted by: Commuter | January 21, 2014  8:14pm

ASTANVET - the grand conspiracy theory that its all some kind of Tri-lateral Commission plot to make the good people in the midwest compliant dupes, or whatever that is, simply doesn’t square with the facts on the ground. Not many small-government tea party hot heads voting against federal government spending when its in their own district. Go see for yourself.

Getting off the red-blue argument is most welcome.

The fact of the matter is that Malloy recognizes this problem is taking the steps to make us more competitive in the decades to come, after a decades-long decline in our competitiveness. The good news is that we have areas of strength where we are very competitive.

An ironic and an often over-looked reason that manufacturing jobs are disappearing is because of the productivity of the workforce (that remain) and the businesses that survive and often thrive. When it comes to wages relative to value produced, Connecticut is very competitive in areas such as precision manufacturing.

And, believe it or not, our corporate taxes (C corporations, not S) are the lowest or second lowest in the nation. This was a conscious decision that state government made in the late eighties or early nineties. But, one has to remember that taxes are not a prime consideration for most businesses making investment decisions. Its about quality of life and quality of workforce, first and foremost.

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | January 21, 2014  10:23pm

Thanks for the drive-by commentary Suzanne.  Usually we have to here this kind of tripe by regular party hacks.  Now go burn down another state.  New Jersey?

posted by: Joebigjoe | January 22, 2014  9:08am

Commuter, you seem to think you have this great command of facts and then you provide this thought which just shows the fantasy world you live in.

“But, one has
to remember that taxes are not a prime consideration for most businesses
making investment decisions. Its about quality of life and quality of
workforce, first and foremost.”

Just so you know, investment decisions by a business have to do with can I grow my business, can I make a profit, does it make financial sense and has very little to do with other stuff.

If you can pass the financial test then the other stuff comes into play. You don’t go to the bank or your investors and say “hey., not sure if this investment will work but boy, look at how close we are to the mountains and water around here, or hey, look at the good schools in the suburbs.”

posted by: ASTANVET | January 22, 2014  11:04am

Commuter -come on man - i’m not saying that it is a conspiracy, but as we experience here in CT, it is easier to make people dependent on Federal dollars than have self sufficient rabble rousers who want to run their own state.  THat being said, we disagree with what malloy is doing to the state - his ultimate end game does not decrease spending, and indebtedness, it increases it.  That is the difference between us (conservatives/progressives) I want to fix the problem by reducing the interference by govt, smaller, more local governance, in short federalism and old school republicanism.  Progressives want to bloat government and have them ‘fix’ it through manipulation/regulation/taxation.  The Conservative fix provides more liberty, more freedom… progressives provide more hoops… we just disagree - we’ve tried the progressive way for the last 100 years.  Some things have been successful, some have not.  I would argue that progressive policy has created the bubble of all bubbles in our economy… currency… which is dangerous.  We’ll see… i’m not a red/blue sportsman, as much as I am a liberty vs. tyranny fighter.

posted by: Joebigjoe | January 22, 2014  11:52am

Thank you lovers of Big Govermment for this one from the World Bank. Within our rank internally CT must be near the bottom.


posted by: Commuter | January 23, 2014  1:05am

Joebigjoe - just so you’re clear - nothing I said runs counter to that last comment, except that I do have a command of the facts.

You can go see the research for yourself, it’s out there, taxes are well down the list of what a company is looking at.

And particularly for the high-skill-based, high-paying businesses that Connecticut is competing for, that means they want to see a capable and proven native workforce and be able to attract talent. Most talent doesn’t want to live in Florida, North Dakota, Alaska, Utah, Idaho, or even Ohio and Michigan.

Sophisticated Western European companies looking to establish a base of operations in the US, for example, like Connecticut specifically because of the culture and lifestyle here, in addition to proximity to Boston and New York. That’s why you see a number of German companies here, and they are important members of the business community in key industries, employing a lot of Connecticut residents.

posted by: Commuter | January 23, 2014  1:18am

ASTANVET - I’m not going to bicker with you over labels, but I have to say that your definitions are off there, and your understanding of what Repbulicanism has been doesn’t agree with the history of the party, aside from the fact that what things were fifty or a hundred or a hundred and fifty years ago are simply not what they are today, in deep, structural ways.

Nor do I accept the label of progressive, nor your account of my motives or other Democrats’ motives. There are very, very, few people in office of any party that fit that caricature.

But given your view, its no wonder you don’t seem to understand the arguments I put forward, or my accounting of Malloy’s actions and so on. You’re arguing against a straw man instead of the real one talking with you.

And don’t worry about a currency bubble and inflation just now. We have the opposite problem - not enough money circulation in the real economy and not enough employment. In any case, the Fed can drain excess liquidity (take excess cash out of the system) very quickly…

posted by: Joebigjoe | January 23, 2014  9:53am

Commuter with all due respect, change where you get your news and facts.

Your comments about the Fed and liquidity are so far out in left field its frightening. The Fed has been pumping 85 Billion a month into the banks to prop up the stock market and get some liquidity into the system. The market is not where it is because the economy is good and earnings are good. The Fed cant shut off the spigot because the market will crash so many of the Fed governors are scared to death of what’s going to happen in the long run.

As for taxes, I am not referring just to the cost to owners and employees of Federal and State income taxes but the taxes in the form of the cost of doing business and regulations.

A few “sophisticated” European companies move in here and thats supposed to be a huge deal when those same types of companies are moving into other states at a much faster rate and northeast, not just CT companies, are moving down to South Carolina, Florida, Texas, etc. Ohio is doing fantastic economically as well. Not where I would want to live but you throw out beautiful but barren states and try to compare that to a state right between the middle of the northeast as a comparison? Give me a break.

Don’t worry about a currency bubble you say? Read the book Currency wars and then come back to me. Just yesterday there was an incredibly well researched piece I read about what China is doing with trying to buy as much gold as possible and also is now buying up as much US real estate as possible. They want to be part of the whole reserve currency with the US dollar.

Seriously, I don’t know if you’re progressive but you need to stop watching MSNBC and reading Salon and Mother Jones. Even CNN has clearly explained the issues with the Fed and currency. CNBC just cheerleads the market higher for higher ratings but Fox Business is always discussing what the Fed is doing and what China is doing.

posted by: Commuter | January 25, 2014  2:21am

Joebigjoe -
1. $85 billion is nothing compared to the 7 trillion (or more) the Fed pumped in, and took out of, the money center banks to keep them solvent. Seven. Trillion. It went in and out through the overnight window, for I can’t remember how many weeks. Impact on the real economy? None.
2. You’re quick to impute motives to this $85 billion infusion (whatever that actually refers to) but you’ve no evidence for the assertion.
3. Your loose definition of taxes is a non-starter. It primarily serves as a pretext for your conviction - presented as fact - that “big government” is to blame for all manner of economic woe and nothing good.
4. You are apparently unaware of the considerable federal assistance that Ohio and Michigan are receiving as they attempt to reboot their rust belt economies. And you again assert that there is some mass exodus of companies from the northeast to sundry other locations, but you are merely repeating what you’ve heard. The data shows that in fact there has been a slight but measurable inflow of population.
5. Do you know what the unemployment rate is in South Carolina these days? How about North Carolina? Hint: higher than Connecticut.
6. Pulp fiction like “Currency Wars” is at best cheap entertainment. Incidentally and for future reference, whenever you mention “gold” in the same sentence with currency, inflation, economics, or pretty much anything except jewelry, your argument immediately loses all credibility. Just so you know.
7. I partake of none of the media channels you mention. You on the other hand should turn off Fox News and AM talk radio, my friend. That diet is proven to result in massive intellectual infarction.

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