The Lamont-Looney waltz
The CTMirror’s sub-headline, “Connecticut’s expansion of earned-income tax credit unites a centrist governor and liberal lawmakers,” seeks to establish some permanent political boundaries in Connecticut.
Gov. Ned Lamont is the presumptive “moderate Democrat” in the state, while President Pro Tem of the State Senate Martin Looney is, variously, the chief “Democrat progressive” or liberal.
In Connecticut and elsewhere in the nation, most of these terms – moderate, leftist, liberal, progressive, conservative – are fungible. If a poll were taken of the first thousand names picked at random from a Connecticut phone book, most would agree that Lamont and Looney, while they sit in the same Democrat church, occupy different pews, and the CTMirror piece draws on some major differences, nearly all of which center around progressivism.
Postmodern progressivism is concerned mainly with the redistribution of wealth by means of progressive income taxes.
The animating idea of postmodern progressivism was most lucidly formulated by Karl Marx, a relatively poor socialist and his comrade in arms Friedrich Engels, a relatively rich industrialist. From each according to his means, to each according to his needs, said Marx-Engels.
In a progressive Eden, tax money should flow uninterruptedly -– beware; fungible term alert! — from rich to poor. A poor citizen of the United States is far less destitute than, to pick but one example among many, a poor Guatemalan, which is why, come to think of it, Guatemalans these days, suffering structural poverty under extreme progressive authoritarian regimes in South American, tend to vote against socialism with their feet. Guatemalans are not banging down Cuban doors for entry, but they would not mind in the least passing the remainder of their days in Looney’s New Haven, among rich corporations that partly finance Looney’s postmodern progressive agenda.
The authors of the CTMirror piece, Keith Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas, have been reporting on Connecticut politics for many years and are used to juggling with fungible terms. Proficient at calling a political spade a spade, Lamont appears in this piece as a moderate Democrat, Looney playing the progressive part in Connecticut’s sometimes confusing political farce.
And we learn from CTMirror that, on the point of tax credits – a progressive redistributive tool – the moderate lamb, Lamont, and the immoderate progressive lion, Looney, have lain down with each other.
Here is Looney, the progressive lion, on tax credits: “We were the last state in our region that had a state income tax to institute the EITC, [earned income tax credit]” Looney said. “And that was because Gov. [John G.] Rowland and Gov. [M. Jodi] Rell had opposed it ever since I first introduced it in about the year 2000. And their argument was that it’s a refundable credit. It’s a windfall for people. It shows you how little they understood.”
And here is lamblike Lamont on Looney, the progressive lion, and on the income tax credit, “Sen. Looney’s been a champion for earned income tax credit from the very beginning. Every time, he was in my office, reminding me how important it is. And we’re 100% aligned on this… One thing I just thought early on is: I want work to pay… Numerous studies have shown that this tax credit is one of the best anti-poverty tools we can use, because it encourages work, boosts economic stability and uplifts generations to come.”
Accord, at last – the satiated lion, Looney, licking the outstretched neck of the sleeping moderate lamb, Lamont, generally opposed to a punishing progressive increase in income tax rates.
Despite the bow taken by Looney, the EITC did not emerge fully formed from his head. Historically, the EITC was first launched by conservative economist Milton Friedman as a “negative income tax” that would REDUCE welfare payments and the ever-growing welfare administrative state, a notion that would, and did, make progressives grow faint from apoplexy. The EITC, properly administered, was a compromise spin off of Friedman’s negative income tax.
Here is Friedman defending his negative income tax from Bill Buckley’s probing questions.
Looney’s EITC does not reduce a distended welfare apparatus, nor does it alter welfare payments. It is, instead, a political arabesque designed to bewilder the public and shift tax payments progressively from those who have to a middle class increasingly impoverished by the high taxes necessary to support an ever increasing welfare apparatus, a mainstay for Democrat progressive politicians seeking office and for those in gerrymandered districts seeking office for life.
No one need wonder why the Looney idea, a life-saving rubber tube for majority Democrats, has found support among “Democrat moderates” and “Democrat progressives.” Every large economic and social disorder had its beginning as a small, politically deceptive, imperfection.
Donald Pesci lives in Vernon and is the writer of the Red Notes from a Blue State blog.
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