Back during the primary season, I wrote a piece decrying the fact that the candidates seemed more focused on slinging mud at each other than focusing on the very real issues facing our state. I’d hoped once we got through the heat of the summer’s primaries, we’d hear less rhetoric and more reasoned debate.
I guess I should have just bought that bridge in Brooklyn.
Watching the televised senatorial and gubernatorial debate this week was incredibly frustrating. As if we hadn’t seen and heard enough attack ads on TV, the radio and in mailers, we then had to waste time debating them. I’d already had my work productivity Tuesday afternoon substantially reduced by the fact that I was stuck in traffic for close to 2 and a half hours driving what should have been a 1 hour round-trip school car pool to Norwalk, because I-95 southbound was closed due to an accident. I would have much preferred to hear what plans Foley and Malloy have to alleviate our ongoing transportation nightmares, and how Blumenthal and McMahon would go about bringing home the Federal bacon to do it.
In Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate, we were treated to a “lightening round”. Each candidate was asked to describe the other in one word. Malloy’s word for Foley was “rich”, which made me wonder what’s Malloy’s chip on the shoulder with rich people. I grew up in Stamford and thus know what it means to own a home in Shippan. Translation for folks in the rest of the state: it’s a sign that Mr. Malloy isn’t exactly “poor” himself.
Snarling “rich” like it’s a swear word was just silly – it played straight into the image the Republicans like to portray of Democrats – hostile to business and just waiting to tax the life out you.
Message to Dan Malloy: There’s nothing inherently wrong with being rich. In fact, succeeding in the thing we’re passionate about and becoming rich is the American dream. Why do you think The Social Network opened number one at the box office last weekend? Because everyone wants to know how a 19 year-old “code monkey” from Harvard ended up the world’s youngest billionaire by the age of 26. If we’re going to fill the massive budget deficit our state faces, we can’t afford to alienate the energetic, creative, and entrepreneurial folks in CT. Projecting such an anti-wealth attitude will only drive potential business investors away.
But on the other hand there’s Tom Foley accusing Dan Malloy of being “Loose with the truth” – for example, saying Malloy supporting Race to the Top. When Malloy protested, refuted the charge Foley accused him of saying something different in a debate the week before, and being a typical politician, changing his message depending on the audience. However, it was actually Foley who was loose with the truth – or perhaps rather becoming befuddled by all the facts he’d had to learn for his debate prep. Independent Party candidate Tom Marsh was the one who’d espoused that view in the debate held the week before, as Marsh confirmed via Twitter. But more importantly, Foley was vague about how exactly he is going to solve the budget crisis.
Privatize services that could be better done by contractors than by government? Okay. But as with McMahon, Foley’s Plan Forward for Connecticut has that imbalanced equation: it talks about reducing taxes and “aggressively reducing spending” so that we can have that all important balanced budget – but we need to cut billions in spending to be able to reduce taxes and balance the budget so I’d like a clearer idea of where, exactly, those cuts are going to hit – because someone’s going to feel the pain. I’d like some explanation of the who, what and where before I fill in my oval.
Voters deserves answers not more slugfests. Let’s hope we start to get them.
Sarah Darer Littman is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers and an award-winning novelist of books for teens. Long before the Financial Meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU.