Republicans have a unique opportunity to be the dominant party for the next generation by addressing a gnawing problem in American society – the ability of the super rich to manipulate the political process for their own greed. The media concentrate on the top 1 percent, those who make comfortable six-figure incomes. But these individuals are not the problem. It is the top 0.01 percent, a class of super wealthy gods – those with a net worth in the hundreds of millions or billions – who use their economic and political leverage to distort the market place.
Most of us understood all along that a state which cannot meet its obligations ought not to borrow hundreds of millions more to renovate a failed and decrepit downtown arena. Unfortunately, a few of the folks who still don’t get it are on the state Bond Commission, and (at the governor’s behest) will vote today to borrow another $40 million to begin the XL face-lift.
It is a dark hour, indeed, right now for Connecticut community colleges. The Board of Regents (BOR) has proposed a shockingly bad reorganization plan, “Students First,” which will strip community colleges of their presidents, academic deans, and other top leadership, along with their unique identities, local traditions, and ties to local communities. This new BOR plan will transform our beloved community colleges into giant box stores. They will have plenty of merchandise, but no one around to help you find it. Be ready to wander around aimlessly asking, “Is there anyone running this place?” The answer, alas, will be “No.”
The Republican Party is trying madly to lower taxes for its base. For coal miners and factory workers and for you and me, you’re guessing.
“Don’t be silly,” as my grandmother used to say. No, they are scrambling to slash taxes on the already too richly redundantly rich for words.
Sure, you and I might get a pittance — that is, if they don’t snatch away federal tax deductions for our mortgage interest, sky-high medical bills, student loan interest, state and local taxes, our personal exemption; or if they don’t lower our 401K contribution limits and eviscerate the Affordable Care Act.
We have a state budget! But we’re not nearly out of the woods yet. A new round of projected deficits is just over the horizon, and if prompt and substantial action isn’t taken, we’ll go through this again, and again. There is surely some good news in what was achieved in the bipartisan budget agreement. But it’s barely a toe in the water. We need to really dive in if we are to calm the waters for more than just a few months.
Undergraduate and graduate students across Connecticut and the country should be marching in protest against the proposed new tax bill that will repeal numerous education deductions and credits and will tax graduate students. We need our next generation to be educated — not kept out of all educational opportunities as this proposal surely will cause. This proposed bill makes taxable the value of the tuition and other benefits universities give to their graduate teaching and research assistants. Ditto for education benefits offered by employers to their workers.
Connecticut Veterans are smart, highly trained, hard-working, dedicated, and team-oriented leaders who are comfortable in changing and dynamic environments. Successfully reintegrated Veteran create economic, political, and social capital in our communities. As we celebrate Veterans Day, let us remember they are national assets and an important part of restoring Connecticut opportunity and launching our great state’s economy on an upward trajectory.
I have spent my entire career in the nonprofit sector. During most of those 40 years, I have worked hard to build strong ties to the business community, but my rationale for doing so has evolved. As a trained social worker, I used to argue that businesses should support community efforts because it was simply the right thing to do. Today, with a deeper appreciation for the needs and motivations of business, I believe that private sector support for nonprofits is not only good for the community, but it is very good for business as well. And the research seems to back me up.
The Connecticut legislature has finally agreed upon a two-year budget and Gov. Dannel Malloy has signed it into law — minus a hospital funding mechanism which he deleted with a line-item veto. Part of the details say “all individuals with a valid Connecticut license plate will be exempted from paying parking fees at state parks.” However, “A $10 surcharge on motor vehicle registrations will go to support parks. It is expected to raise $8 million this year and $16 million next year, but $2.6 million will be transferred to [the] general fund each year.”
There is a difference between raising tax rates and raising taxes. An increase in tax rates on the rich or anyone else does not always lead to increased government revenues. Historically, almost the opposite has occurred. Over 50 years ago, President Kennedy lowered tax rates and Federal revenues grew dramatically. President Reagan did the same thing with a similar result after he took office.
As our state lawmakers wrench their shoulders patting themselves on the back for finally writing a budget (four months late), let’s stop for a moment. Put down the champagne and ask ourselves: What really happened here?