It’s not only money, but energy as well, that makes things go. A headline in a Hartford paper, “House extends gas tax cut,” drives home the point, although the headline itself is a bit convoluted.
What happened was this: There was a considerable energy shortage after President Joe Biden assumed office, largely because the incoming president had declared a war on energy as we know it.
Biden has said several times since assuming office – the infamous “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 had not been successful, and Biden was sworn into to office shortly after the electoral count showed he had prevailed over outgoing President Donald Trump – that there would be no more fossil fuel development so long as he was president.
We all know that if you reduce the supply of a consumable product, the price of the product will increase so long as demand is constant. The demand for fossil fuel was constant, and once the COVID pandemic began to recede, the price of gas at the pump increased.
Here in Connecticut and elsewhere, Democrats were temporarily alarmed by this development, mostly because the 2022 off year elections were peeking over the horizon and discontent was rising along with the rise in gas prices.
Something had to be done. Connecticut taxes gas twice, once at the incoming port and again at the pump. The state, post COVID, ran massive surpluses thanks to Biden, who had both borrowed huge gobs of money and inflated the currency by printing money in order to provide Connecticut Democrats with election insurance.
Democrats, who had been ruling the General Assembly for nearly a half century, and Governor Ned Lamont decided to take a temporary hit on the gas tax until December, a month after the elections. In truth, the hit, because it was temporary, was barely felt among ruling Democrats at the Capitol. The price of the consumable product had increased, and the state treasury was realizing a corresponding increase in revenue. In the longer term - say, three or four decades hence – all fossil fuel production , Biden has numerous times promised, would come to an and, along with it, state tax revenue. But then, in the long run, we are all dead.
Things happened. Son of Stalin, Vladimir Putin of Russia, invaded Ukraine and gas shortages to western Europe soon appeared. Because of cutbacks in fuel production at home, the United States was no longer prepared to soften the blow to its NATO partners. The war on Ukraine has continued for several months, along with increased gas prices and supply shortages.
Connecticut Democrats have now pledged to revoke the temporary gas tax cut that was due to expire in December. In New England, December may be “the cruelest month” -- and never mind that T.S. Eliot has designated April as the cruelest month in his 1922 poem The Waste Land:
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
December in New England will be wintery – and expensive -- so too January, February, March and April. We are not lilacs. Winter will keep us warm only if we can count on a source of energy more reliable than Democrat House Speaker Matt Ritter’s latest pronouncement.
Pointing to a massive “Rainy Day Fund,” the largest in state history – $4.3 billion last year and $2.8 billion for the current fiscal year -- Republicans want Democrats in the General Assembly to be just a wee bit less -- What’s the word? -- greedy. Why not extend the 25 cent cut in the gas tax to the fiscal year on June 30?
Niet, said Democrat House Speaker Matt Ritter, as quoted in CTNewsJunkie. “We just kinda litigated this whole issue. Voters had a chance to weigh in. The [Republican} amendment today is, let’s do the whole thing until June 30, well that was a platform that somebody ran on and got 42% of the vote… [The bill includes] sustainable policies that benefit people. That’s the difference between reckless amendments that you can’t pay for.”
Ritter’s underlying message should be plain to every overstressed Connecticut taxpayer. The progressive Democrat majority in Connecticut’s General Assembly, the all Democrat U.S. Congressional Delegation, and the state constitutional offices, all occupied by Democrats, are committed to the following inflexible rule: Tax cuts must always be temporary, tax increases and spending must always be permanent. So it has been for the last few decades, so it will be in the future. And a majority of Connecticut citizens have decided, by consistently voting Democrats into office – “litigating” the point, as Ritter put it – that they want perpetual increases in taxes and spending.
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.