Anyone who wonders why the general public was so outraged that they put Donald Trump in the White House has only to look at the behavior of our new governor Ned Lamont. Taking a page from the playbook of his fellow Greenwich plutocrat, Lowell Weicker, Lamont deliberately misled the voters by promising to place tolls only on incoming trucks, just like Weicker misled the voters in 1990 into believing he would not initiate a state income tax. Like Weicker, Lamont knew that if he had been honest, he would have lost.
We witnessed the usual kabuki theater that precedes a middle-class fleecing, as Governor Lamont assembled a team of business leaders, Goldman Sachs cronies and reached out to Republican leaders for input. We saw learned men and women with furrowed brows pondering the complex dilemma of responsible stewardship.
It was a huge scam of course. Lamont had every intention of imposing tolls. As a scion of the J.P. Morgan fortune (his great grandfather was a partner in Morgan’s firm) and a respectable entrepreneur in his own right, he knows how to read a balance sheet.
The state is $1.7 billion in the red for the next fiscal year and almost $4.0 billion in the red for the next two years. The generous pensions and health care promised to our public employees are grossly underfunded. Revenue must be increased or spending must be cut. And taxing potheads or preying on gambling addicts with more casinos would not bring in enough revenue. It’s fourth grade math. In fact, the Department of Transportation – anticipating the Governor’s mendacity – had already taken the liberty of creating a map where the 82 tolls will be placed.
Lamont will argue that tolls are necessary to rebuild our infrastructure. This is the same story our political class told us when they foisted one of the highest gas taxes in the country upon us. But a significant portion of the gas tax was diverted into the general fund. The same will happen with tolls, as our political class jacks them up to fund even more lavish pensions, create more bureaucratic sinecures, offer free college tuition to all including illegal immigrants while bankrolling failed social policies. Lamont will also point out that “congestion tolling” will unclog our roads. Ask anyone who drives in Boston, where a similar policy was implemented, how that worked out.
Governor Lamont is pretending to be fiscally responsible by promising to decrease Connecticut’s borrowing by 39%. He is being advised by David Lehman, a Goldman Sachs con man whose fortune was subsidized by the 2008 taxpayer bailout when Goldman’s risky investments went south. How long will this policy last? If you said two years at most, go to the head of the class.
There are reasonable people who wonder why Lamont and the Democrats are doing this. Why keep raising taxes and fees when it is obvious that it is causing productive people to leave the state? The answer is that these productive people lean Republican, making it much easier for the Democrats to retain power.
Lamont certainly does not regret his behavior. He knows he will be lionized by the political class and the media for doing the dirty work necessary for “responsible government.” He may even receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award like Lowell Weicker did, after he lied to the voters.
But if there is any silver lining in Lamont’s behavior, it is savoring our corrupt political class’s apoplexy at Trump’s competent Presidency – two years of peace and prosperity. President Trump tells small lies – how big his crowds are, denying he copulated with a porn star, what percentage of drugs cross the border etc. But Governor Lamont told the real whopper: there will only be tolls on trucks entering the state. I miss the good old days – when plutocrats sat on their yachts, ogled debutantes and sipped martinis – rather than buying political offices and shafting those of us who take pride in working for a living.