Former ambassador and successful businessman Tom Foley, who lost a razor-thin election to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2010, has said he wants to give it another try. This week he wrote a new year's message to Republican leaders across the state with what amounts to a battle plan to attack the governor's leadership and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
He suggests Republicans need to take a more aggressive stance. Foley proposes depicting the Democrats as the protectors of insider special interest groups, the Republicans as the defender of the taxpayer.
Foley also calls on Republican lawmakers to change how budget debates are defined, comparing budget proposals with the size of the prior budget, not with what it will cost to maintain current services.
It appears the 2014 gubernatorial race is beginning awfully early.
The Foley letter to Republican leaders:
Dear Fellow Republican:
Happy New Year. I am glad 2012 is behind us. The massacre in Newtown was a heartbreaking reminder of how quickly precious things can be lost. Hurricane Sandy took its toll on many Connecticut families. On November 6, Republicans won no federal seats in Connecticut and barely held onto our woefully low numbers in the General Assembly. While our federal government practices cliff jumping, Connecticut, the land of steady habits, steadily refuses to cure its own addiction to spending. Poor policy choices by our Governor have cost Connecticut residents 26,000 jobs since he took office.
Connecticut would not be bleeding jobs and cash if our government was working as it should. Our state has been hijacked by insiders who benefit from runaway government spending and toxic public policy – public employee unions, social service providers, some healthcare providers, various do-gooders, and lobbyists. These insiders live in a bubble at the Capitol where nobody matters but those getting fat off the government spending. We must put an end to this.
In 2011, Governor Malloy enacted the largest tax increase in Connecticut history and agreed to a cushy contract with public worker unions providing generous pay increases and no lay-offs for four years. He failed to reduce spending in other areas. I said at the time that he had put himself in a box where he either was going to have to cut services to our neediest citizens or raise taxes again. And, indeed, that day arrived last month with a $400 million-plus projected budget shortfall.
The Governor closed the budget shortfall by implementing rescission that cut aid to the blind and disabled, Alzheimer's patients, rape victims, and autistic children, and then passing a bill reducing reimbursements to hospitals. The latter is simply a new tax because the hospitals will now have to cover the reimbursement cut by raising what they charge to the privately insured. Connecticut families who do not have government-paid health care will now pick up even more of the tab for those who do.
The Governor's self-inflicted political predicament is a great opportunity for Republicans to point out how he and the Democrats have taken care of insiders at the expense of Connecticut's other citizens, especially those most in need. With Democrats fully in control of our government, we are the opposition party. We shoulder a responsibility to inform the public when the party in power is implementing bad policy, self-dealing, or otherwise misbehaving. We have a lot to work with. Let's use it.
We also must illuminate a better way forward. You can help. The upcoming biennial budget debate will be very important. Republicans must stand for no new taxes, protecting services to the needy, and living within the constitutional spending cap. We also must change the language of the budget debate. We must start using "prior year spending" as the budget baseline rather than the deceptive "current services" budget. In doing so, the FY2014 "current services" projected deficit of over $1 billion becomes a surplus. Instead of "cuts", the conversation will be about where we can afford to invest more.
I am committed to doing what I can to carry our message in 2013 and hope you will help. Together we can break the hammerlock that the insiders have on our Capitol and get Connecticut's citizens back in control of their government.
Best wishes to you and your family in 2013.