While the marquee races for the U.S. Senate and the 5th Congressional District continue to dominate political news, politics and government continue in many other places. Some dispiriting statistics indicate Connecticut's decline will continue.
Consider the Citizens' Elections Program. That's the scheme enacted by state government to require the public to finance political campaigns. This year, with only the General Assembly facing the voters, the cost is estimated at $10 million. In two years with a host of statewide races to fund, you'll be on the hook for as much as several times more.
The keepers of the inaptly named bonanza for candidates declare on their website that "74 percent of sitting legislators have come to office using the Program." This is a catastrophe for Connecticut's future. Requiring taxpayers to fund partisan political campaigns removes Connecticut politicians further from reality than they already are. The proof is in the program. A candidate for the House of Representatives who raises $5,000 in small donations receives $28,850. For the state Senate, raise $15,000 and get $91,290.
Notice something odd about those numbers?
The amount a candidate has to raise to qualify for a "grant" has not changed since the program began. The amount the candidate receives, however, has. It's grown because the law provides a boost for inflation in the amount given, but holds the amount a candidate must raise immune from the inflation that the rest of us face every day. Where, oh where, is the shared sacrifice? Taxpayers are required to give more while the overlords who take the dough are not.
If you felt a tremor the other day, it wasn't a shift in tectonic plates. It was Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development and a refugee from the private sector, inadvertently telling The Wall Street Journal something insightful. Smith, often isolated by the Malloy administration, is said to have something to do with trying to boost the state's flagging economy. Although there's no evidence that she has, Smith is nevertheless put out front to answer questions.
Commenting on the state's generous corporate welfare program, she noted that the reason Stamford, fwhence Democratic and Working Families Party Gov. Dannel P. Malloy comes, has benefited so much is "because of its proximity to New York." Cold logic tells us, though not Smith, that Stamford's advantage in being so close to New York should mean it needs less corporate welfare, not more. These companies, which already make a lot of money, don't need to be underwritten by taxpayers who lead far less privileged lives than the people who run UBS, Charter Communications, NBC Sports, Deloitte and Bridgewater Associates.
Last year, a New Yorker profile of Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio labeled him "preposterously rich." According to Forbes, Dalio, who lives in Greenwich, is the fourth richest person in the United States, worth an estimated $10 billion. He is a hedge fund genius and has been rewarded for his ability to combine insight with action. We salute him.
Dalio and Bridgewater's finances are in a lot better shape then the Connecticut's. It is a perversion of traditional notions of fairness that Malloy's administration would require the less affluent — which would be almost everyone in the state — to subsidize Bridgewater's move from Westport to Stamford.
Think of it this way. A jarring 9 percent of Connecticut's workers were unemployed in August. The Malloy administration's misbegotten corporate welfare mania requires each one of them to help underwrite Bridgewater's move a few miles west in tony Fairfield County.
One of the business enterprises in Connecticut that least needs a $25 million forgivable loan from the sovereign people of Connecticut is the company Malloy calls "the most successful hedge fund in the world." Bridgewater's dealings with Malloy provided a glimpse of how it got to the pinnacle of the competitive world of finance.
The corporate welfare program started out with a goal of larding state benefits on five companies. It's fast become axiomatic of modern government: It's grown to 15 as the money flows from working and not working people to corporate executives who know how to frighten bumptious Malloy into handing over other people's money to the wealthy.