Principle and power in opposition as Congressmen resign

The tension between holding power and standing on principle came into sharp relief last week as the national #MeToo wave of intolerance for sexual harassment swept three members of Congress out of office.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., all said they would resign in the face of complaints of sexual misconduct or harassment. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy was among the Democrats calling for Franken to step down. When Franken did, the Minnesota Democrat called out President Donald Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who also have been accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct.

Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel brought one of the rare times when Murphy and his colleague Sen. Richard Blumenthal were split on an issue.  They were in lockstep with each other and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty in their condemnation of the Republican Party’s move to combine the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act — which the Connecticut delegation opposes — with a move to strengthen the FBI background check process for gun buyers.

Mackenzie Rigg / CTMirror.org

John “Sean” Riccio, 52, of Suffield protesting a reduction in the state’s Medicare Savings Program.

It is unclear whether Democrats, Republicans and the president will be able to negotiate reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program that expired Sept. 30. If they don’t, Connecticut’s part of the program will run out of money at the end of next month.

That would bring misery and/or higher medical costs for thousands of families, And  according to a number of Connecticut CPAs, the new federal budget probably would not put any money back in the pockets of many middle-class Connecticut families. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was unreserved in his assessment of the new tax legislation, which he said will harm the state’s economy: “This bill is nothing short of an abomination, a scam and ill-wrought attempt to finally get a legislative win for the Trump administration, and nothing more.”

There is no telling what Connecticut residents think about the FCC’s plan to end so-called “net neutrality,” since thousands of public comments submitted on line appear to have been contaminated with false identities and misleading information.

There probably will be no shortage of political information, however, now that candidates from both parties are gearing up for the 2018 elections.

State Attorney General George Jepsen’s decision not to seek reelection caused former gubernatorial hopeful Chris Mattei to refocus his efforts on that office last week.

Republican Bob Stefanowski, meanwhile, in opening his bid for the governor’s seat, enlisted the help of economist Arthur Laffer to promote his plan to boost the economy by cutting taxes and relying mainly on the sales tax to run government. Stefanowski was not among the large group of Republican contenders who sketched out their positions at a Dec. 7 forum in Windsor.

ctmirror.org

Mike Handler opens the Republican forum in Windsor. From left, Prasad Srinivasan, Dave Walker, Peter Lumaj, Steve Obsitnik and Tim Herbst. Toni Boucher arrived late.

 

One issue that probably will confront the candidates and certainly the next governor will be what to do about the state’s transportation fund, which is approaching a financial crisis. Malloy on Thursday tried to bring some urgency to addressing the problem, rattling off a long list of services and projects that will be curtailed unless more money to pay for them is found.

Legislators and the governor also might like to find more money for the Medicare Savings Program, but that prospect seems unlikely. In the face of protests from hundreds of constituents, they delayed the implementation of new income eligibility limits  that will force many from the program.

Lawmakers also are likely to hear more about the apparent contest between casino operators to set up shop in Bridgeport. MGM Resorts International held an event early in the week to introduce state business people to a “life-changing” plan to open a waterfront casino. The next day lawmakers got a letter from the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribal nations saying they want to be part of a casino-development plan for Bridgeport — if there is going to be one.

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