An Inflation, Recession Primer For Connecticut

October 5, 2022
Image by Patrick Trueman

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As late as August 10, President Joe Biden, who has presided over the worst national economy since stagflation President Jimmy Carter, hit the airwaves to assure a doubtful nation that “the US had ‘zero inflation’ in July. Hours earlier the federal Consumer Price Index data showed annual inflation dipping only slightly to 8.5%, which outraged Republicans and other critics who pointed out it’s still near a four-decade high,” according to the New York Post.

Owing to a severe reduction in future supplies caused partly by Biden’s war on fossil fuel, gas prices rose sharply throughout Biden’s current term as President. According to AAA, Connecticut now ranks 15th in US for highest gas prices: “Today's statewide average for a gallon of self-service regular is $3.42, 11 cents higher than last week and $1.25 higher than last year.

"’Compared to a year ago, it’s costing drivers about $17 more to fill up their vehicles,’ says Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman. ‘Unfortunately, however, it doesn't look like drivers will find relief at the pump any time soon.’"

The law of supply and demand – when demand is a constant, a reduction in supply causes price increases – is inflexible and not susceptible to rhetorical flourishes.

The Lamont administration has responded to the gas shortage crisis by – key word -- temporarily eliminating one of the two taxes the state imposes on fuel. Normal, increased taxation will resume after the 2022 November elections. Traditionally, the Connecticut dominated General Assembly has abided by what is proving to be its unstated principle: “All state tax cuts shall be temporary, all state tax increases shall be permanent.”

State coffers were diminished by gas tax reductions, broadly attributed to an increase in supply engineered by the much derided President Donald Trump Administration. Connecticut currently is running what some consider, during a time of rising consumer prices, an obscene surplus.

Other prices have risen as well. Of note in New England, always subject to winters as frigid as the Democrat dominated General Assembly, average energy prices in Connecticut far outpace national energy prices.

“On average,” Energy Sage reports, “electricity users in Connecticut [emphasis original] spend about $302 per month on electricity. That adds up to $3,624 per year. That’s 31% higher than the national average electric bill of $2,760. The average electric rates in Connecticut cost 26 ¢/kilowatt-hour (kWh), so that means that the average electricity customer in Connecticut is using 1,177 kWh of electricity per month, and 14,124 kWh over the course of the year.”

Inflation was rampant during the late Roman Empire, just before the Goths paid a visit. As far as memory stretches back, inflation has been defined as “too may dollars chasing too few goods,” a definition that has not yet penetrated the concrete skulls of tax and spend Democrats.

Ned  Lamont has been letting the recession cat out of the bag since last July and, in a debate with Republican gubernatorial challenger Bob Stefanowski, who had the temerity to question Lamont’s obscene $5.6 billion surplus at a time when nearly all Connecticut citizens are tightening their belts, Lamont, throwing all caution to the wind, said he would be reluctant to return a significant portion of Connecticut’s surplus to hard pressed taxpayers because, “Maybe we're going to have a surplus at the end of this fiscal year, maybe we're not, but don't spend the surplus we don't have. That's the type of thing that got this state into such a mess over the last 30, 40 years.” Not pausing to explain how one may spend a surplus one doesn’t have, Lamont remarked after the debate, “I did a debate the other day and my opponent [Stefanowski] spent that surplus, you know, five times over. We're heading into what could be a REAL RECESSION [emphasis mine]."

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At this point, such a robust denial of Biden’s robust denials – there is no inflation and no recession – should have caused the solid earth in Connecticut to open and swallow Democrats who feverishly cling to every word that falls from the President’s mouth as if they were papal infallibility pronouncements.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, formerly called Taxachussetts, outgoing Republican Governor Charlie Backer “filed a fiscal year 2022 closeout budget that sets aside $2.94 billion to be returned to taxpayers and leaves the Legislature about $1.5 billion in surplus dollars to spend,” according to NBC Boston.

Massachusetts passed a statute, 62F, way back in 1986 that tied tax growth to wage growth.

"We are in phenomenal shape," said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan. "On 62F, back in 1986, they passed a piece of legislation that if tax collections grew faster than the three-year average of wage growth, you're collecting too much in taxes and you should return it to the taxpayers, and that's exactly what we're going to do."

A similar statute in Connecticut would serve as a retaining wall preventing a spendthrift legislature from collecting unnecessary taxes to spend on unnecessary programs. In addition to enforcing thrift in government, it also would prevent slick politicians from “fooling all the people all the time,” easy to do in a state in which, for the last half century, there has been no enemy to the left.

Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.


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