Gov. Ned Lamont promised and claims he delivered an honest and balanced state budget. While the budget easily could have been worse amid the leftward stampede of the Democratic majority in the General Assembly, honest and balanced it isn’t.
The budget estimates state income tax revenue as $180 million greater than the most recent estimates by state government’s budget analysts, whose estimates traditionally have been used.
Worse, the budget anticipates $450 million in undetermined savings from state employee expenses. Budget director Melissa McCaw says these savings “are not concessions or givebacks” but admits that they will have to be negotiated with the state employee unions. If the savings were not at least potentially concessions or givebacks, they would not have to be negotiated.
The budget also anticipates $50 million in new but unidentified state government fees.
Altogether that’s $680 million, 1.5 percent of the budget. That gap easily could widen amid the state’s lagging economy and the prospect of another recession. The budget will be more troublesome still for diverting tens of millions of dollars from the state transportation fund to general purposes while the governor’s proposal to replenish the fund with highway tolls apparently won’t pass the legislature.
So the budget is full of holes and probably will have to be substantially rewritten in the months ahead.
Better Than Impeachment
Without bigger offenses than have come to light so far, there’s no point in trying to impeach Donald Trump as many Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives propose to do. Even Rep. Jim Himes, who joined the impeachers the other day, acknowledges that, given the current evidence and the Republican majority in the Senate, the president would be acquitted. So for the time being impeachment is just posturing for the Democratic Party’s hard left.
But practical legislation to constrain the Trump administration and put Republican members of Congress on the spot remains available to Democrats, and Rep. John B. Larson is pursuing some of it. Larson recently voted with the majority in the House to repeal the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against the al-Qaida gangsters, the authorization that is construed as license for the perpetual “war on terror” by the United States in 19 countries. Larson also is sponsoring legislation to prohibit spending on war against Iran without additional approval by Congress.
With his blustering and bullying nature, Trump should not be left alone with old authorizations for use of military force. If the president is to be believed, last week he brought the United States within 10 minutes of war with Iran over the downing of a drone aircraft over the sea near that country. Trump implausibly attributed his change of heart to his benevolence, to his belated determination that the drone wasn’t worth the likely deaths of 150 Iranians at the military installations about to be attacked.
Canceling the attack was also fortunate because it would have given Iran’s theocratic regime a convenient distraction from its nuclear program and sponsorship of terrorism throughout the world, even as U.S. economic sanctions are already severely weakening the regime and Iran’s capacity to make trouble. Those sanctions are war enough.
Now if only Larson and other members of Congress would move to cut off the money for the half-hearted and futile U.S. military intervention in the civil war in Afghanistan, which for 19 years has accomplished only carnage and destruction, just like Vietnam.