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State GOP must spark a true debate

Chris Powell

Publication: The Day

Published November 03. 2013 4:00AM

Some Connecticut Republicans seem to think that they've just nailed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

He was caught going to California to raise money for the Democratic Party, some of which may be routed back to this state for use outside regulated campaign committees, in effect to evade campaign finance limits and reporting rules. During his trip the governor might have talked to if not exactly raised money from a state contractor. And the expedition's cost was shared by taxpayers, since the governor was necessarily accompanied by his state police escort.

Yes, in the crunch Democrats are usually phonies about campaign finance reform. But there are a few problems with Republican self-congratulation here.

First is that Republicans themselves are indifferent to campaign finance reform.

Second is that the governor's California trip is just the sort of thing leaders of both major parties do. It's not always pretty but Connecticut's last two Republican governors raised political money too and the state's next Republican governor, if there ever is one, will do the same.

And third, Malloy's political fundraising has no bearing on the problems that bedevil the state, and as a result few people are likely to care about it. Indeed, that leading Republicans rushed to exploit this issue proclaimed that they have little to say about anything that matters.

As the governor's political fundraising was being criticized, six people were shot, one fatally, at a bar in New Haven, Connecticut's latest urban mayhem. The governor offered a hollow statement of condolence lamenting gun violence. As many recent shootings in New Haven lately have happened in bars and clubs, Mayor John DeStefano proposed legislation authorizing municipalities to regulate them more, as if that would have any bearing on the underlying problem of Connecticut's social disintegration, the raising of thousands of parentless children who grow up with little idea of proper behavior.

A few hours before the New Haven shootings the governor touted a report from the Office of Policy and Management describing efficiencies achieved by his administration that supposedly total millions of dollars. While these efficiencies may be creditable, they really didn't save anything in the end; they just liberated the administration to spend more elsewhere, from corporate welfare to "aid to local education," the euphemism for increasing the salaries of members of the public employee unions that constitute the core of the Democratic Party. Of course the efficiencies touted by the governor were not great enough to permit any reduction in taxes. Nor did they address Connecticut's decline.

Also, a few hours before the shootings in New Haven, the governor visited Windsor to praise schools there for serving not just lunch but also breakfast to students whose parents can't get the job done at home. Presumably next will be dinner in school and then a program subsidizing teachers to take the students home with them at night.

Of course the kids have to be fed one way or another - if not by parents, then by the government. But where is the public policy discussion of why so many kids are not fed at home anymore?

Where is the public policy discussion of the failure of Connecticut's restrictive gun laws to make the cities any safer?

Where is the public policy discussion of the general impoverishment of Connecticut despite state government's vast growth in the name of social uplift?

In most important respects state government is actually clueless. Of course power, aiming mainly just to sustain itself, rationalizes cluelessness. But it's worse and likely fatal that the supposed political opposition also strives to avoid every clue.

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