If there was ever any question about Gov. Dannel Malloy’s popularity in the West Wing of the White House, his status as a Lenny Skutnik at Tuesday’s State of the Union address should remove all doubt.
Skutnik, you may recall, was the first person to be used as a prop during a SOTU address when in 1982 President Ronald Reagan invited the government bureaucrat to be his guest only two weeks after he dove into the icy waters of the Potomac to rescue a female passenger whose plane had crashed only minutes from the White House.
Reagan, whose own life had been saved by intrepid Secret Service agents and surgeons only 10 months earlier, no doubt had lifesaving on his mind when his team came up with the idea of hauling hero Skutnik into the House chamber.
Almost 35 years later, the tradition has continued but, much like the bloated federal government itself, the list of props has grown exponentially. Including Malloy himself, 23 individuals were Scutnikized on Tuesday.
The reason for the Malloy invite should be apparent to all by now. He might be unpopular at home, but Malloy has been busy for years positioning himself as a progressive hero, talking along the way to anyone who will listen, including yours truly. No wonder he was seated right next to First Lady Michelle Obama.
The list of causes pursued by Malloy and favored by liberals like Obama is substantial. In the words of Obama’s press team, Malloy “has pursued many of the progressive priorities that the President laid out to make America stronger.”
Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” initiative and criminal justice reform efforts, his sweeping gun control legislation following the Sandy Hook massacre, raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and signing legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave, have endeared him to the Democratic base that elected Obama. Malloy also aggressively implemented Obamacare and reduced the ranks of the uninsured in Connecticut to historic lows.
His snarky and bellicose efforts to demonize Republicans on cable news shows have been music to the ears of progressives who have grown weary of Obama’s professorial bearing. Indeed just this week on MSNBC, Malloy openly questioned whether the Republican presidential candidates “like America” because “they’re talking it down so constantly.” And though he professed no interest, you could tell he was flattered to be asked by host Rachel Maddow if he was interested in being tapped as a the Democratic nominee’s running mate.
In touting Malloy’s credentials, the White House said virtually nothing about his economic record beyond stating he had “delivered the best job growth since the 1990s.” But when he first ran successfully for governor in 2010, Malloy insisted Connecticut was one of only two states in the nation to lose jobs during the 1990s and 2000s. Which is it?
Be that as it may, the reason the White House public relations machine said little about Connecticut’s economy under Malloy is there hasn’t been a whole lot of good news. We’ve had two enormous tax increases under Malloy but there are still deficits as far the eye can see. Energy costs are extremely high, as is the regulatory burden. Too many companies are leaving the state and it seems like the only way we attract new employers is to bribe them to come here.
The capstone on Malloy’s economic record was the announcement this week that General Electric will pull its corporate headquarters out of Connecticut and move to Boston, taking with it 600 jobs, $1.8 million in annual tax revenue to the town of Fairfield, and a whole lot of prestige.
Of the impending departure of GE, Malloy said, “You win some, and you lose some.” And right now, I’d say if Malloy runs for a third term, he will lose. As is the case with his tough-talking adversary, New Jersey Gov. and presidential candidate Chris Christie, Malloy’s economic record is not good. You can bet he’s hoping for a Hillary victory in November. If that happens, look for The Porcupine to resign at the end of the year to become her secretary of transportation. You heard it here.
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