Thursday, May 31, 2007

Political posturing...

The jockeying for the best seat around the negotiations table continued in Hartford yesterday.

The House passed its own version of a tax bill, that included the provision to implement a progressive tax where those who earn more pay a higher percentage. (The Senate had previously approved its plan in the wee hours of the morning.) But House Democrats added the amendment that would suspend the state tax on gasoline for the summer to its proposal (which now heads back to the Senate, where Sen. President Don Williams said the house version would be approved and sent to the governor.)

But the governor doesn't like the tax package - although she does favor the suspension of the gas tax - and has vowed to veto the bill if it gets there.

The Democrats, who hold "veto-proof" majorities in both chambers - failed to pass either proposal by enough votes to guarantee (or even threaten) and override of her veto. Too many Democrats jumped ship on this one, leaving leaders with a majority, but no veto override.

So now, Rell can point the finger at the Democrats accusing them of implementing a new tax when one is not necessary (forgetting that last February she proposed a 10-percent across the board tax on everyone), and Democrats are poised to point a finger back at her accusing her of not supporting her own party's proposal to bring some relief to those of us at the pumps.

And all that finger-pointing does it sets the table for the serious budget negotiations that have yet to begin. They are negotiating - the difference is they're not serious yet. We still have until Wednesday at midnight.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gas prices and taxes...

This past Sunday, in my column that runs in the Norwich Bulletin, I opined on the problem of rising gasoline prices and how lawmakers don't appear to be very anxious in trying to help out. I particularly noted the Republican proposal in Hartford to temporarily suspend the state's 25-cents per gallon tax from Memorial Day through Labor Day - and asked why not?

I'm not going to try and take credit for anything, but late Tuesday night the Democratic Senate majority voted in favor of an amendment that would do just that. Democratic leaders at first dismissed the Republican idea, and now it appears they are having second thoughts.

But don't too excited yet because there may also be a bit of game being played. The amendment was tacked on to a "Lemon Law" proposal that still needs one more committee's approval before it can proceed along the legislative process. And there is some thought that the leadership specifically picked that bill to attachment the amendment to because it offered the best opportunity for the whole idea to die a quiet death.

In other words, if that were to happen, the Dems get the opportunity to say they voted in favor of it...but don't have to worry about it every happening.

Getting a first hand look....

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, spent Memorial Day in Baghdad with American troops. You can read what he had to say about the visit in this morning's Norwich Bulletin. Courtney held a teleconference with reporters late Tuesday afternoon from an undisclosed location in the Middle East. His staff, citing security reasons, will not discuss where he is or when he'll return.

In a teleconference with U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., last week, he mentioned that he, too, was heading off to Iraq this week. But again, for security reasons, those plans were not for public disclosure prior to his departure. But CNN's Paula Hancocks - who is in Baghdad - reported this morning that Lieberman was in the capital today. According to the CNN report, He visited a joint security station where U.S. and Iraqi forces are based, as well as a forward operating base and a local Baghdad market.

I suspect that he, too, will schedule a teleconference with reporters in the coming days to discuss his latest visit.

Not exactly what they had planned...

Senate Democratic Leader Don Williams, D-Brooklyn, finally sqeaked out t enough support from his caucusto pass the Democratic tax package that will, if it ever gets enacted into law, raise taxes on the state's richest residents, cigarette smokers, clothing buyers and those paying for funerals. It will provide some tax relief for the middle class.

The vote came a bit after 3 a.m. this morning...and the final vote tally was just 19-17. Five Democrats voted against the measure. That's five votes that Democrats will need if they have any hope of overriding the governor's planned veto.

With only a week to go in this year's legislative's not looking very promising that a compromise can be reached before midnight next Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Session coming to a close...

The 2007 legislative session in Hartford has about 10 days remaining to it, and it would appear that negotiations between the Democratic leadership in the General Assembly and Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office isn't going so well.

According to the governor's office, the Democrats intend to roll out their tax plan for a vote later today...and she is not pleased with that proposal. Here is what she had to say about it...

"The Democrats should be embarrassed to be offering a billion dollar tax
increase at a time when state revenues are pouring in and the surplus is

Families struggling with soaring gasoline prices and high energy and
utility costs need legislators to show fiscal restraint, not to go on a
spending spree.

The Governor's budget proposal -- along with its expectations for
education reform, health care reform, a property tax cap and more -- can
all be paid for without any new taxes.

No one expected the Democrats to go on a spending frenzy and propose a
10.5 percent budget increase in addition to spending every last dime of
the budget surplus. No one expected it and no taxpayer should have to
foot the bill for it.

Simply put, the Democrats' plan is irresponsible and unaffordable."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Summer is here...

It's the unofficial start of the summer season, and weather-wise, not a bad start this year. Which is probably a good thing since most of us will be staying closer to home this weekend because of the rising gasoline costs.

Which is my way of leading in to another selfish plug for my column in this Sunday's Norwich Bulletin.

Hope you all have a wonderful safe...and take a minute to remember what Memorial Day is all about.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It still amuses me...

I find it very amusing when things like this happen.

A few days ago, after I wrote about the planned protests at yesterday's Coast Guard Academy graduation, a reader filed this on the Norwich Bulletin's forum page:

"Bulletin reporter Ray Hackett a well known communist sympathizer and Stalanist supporter would rather futher (sic) his goals by publishing ANSWER talking points."

This morning, another reader posted this in response to my coverage of the graduation:

"Ray Hackett is a useless liberal with poor journalistic abilities. His opinion does not matter, the opinion that matters is the one of the idiot voters in this area who whine about gas prices but vote for democrats."

I'm not sure how gas prices got into this...but then again, it's pretty clear that unless you write exactly what someone wants to hear - you are obviously are a communist suympathizer or a useless liberal.

The morning after...

Major cliches with the lap top during the Coast Guard graduation yesterday prevented any blog updates. I was able to post a few - via cell phone - on the paper's main Web page. It was a long day, and the sunburn shows that it was also a bright sunny day.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, passed up an invitation to fly up on Air Force One to attend the graduation ceremony, leaving on Congressman Christopher Shays - the only Republican member of the state's congresssional district to attend with the president. Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele represented the state.

I actually thought the president's speech was considerably better - delivery-wise - than the one he delivered at the academy four years ago. And, as it was the case four years ago, he certainly did seem to enjoy handing out the commissions and having some fun with the cadets and families. I suspect he doesn't get to have that much fun these days.

All in all, a good day for the cadets and their families. And that was the important part of yesterday's event.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A busy Tuesday...

Crossing the t's and dotting the i's in preparation of the presidential visit to the Coast Guard Academy graduation tomorrow. Lots of live updates scheduled on tomorrow from both inside the academy grounds - and outside where hundreds of protesters are planning to gather.

Meanwhile...on the Fred Thompson watch...

The former senator from Tenn. has picked a "campaign-manager-in-waiting" who will run the campaign when the actor from Law & Order announces his presidential bid. Tom Collamore, a former assistant secretary of Commerce, under the first president Bush has the job.

Thompson will be in Connecticut Friday headlining the annual state GOP dinner. Don't expect an announcement at that event. Instead, keep your TV in working order. Thompson has scheduled an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno for June. That's where is more likely to announce.

Monday, May 21, 2007

It must be Monday...

My story about the upcoming anti-war protest that appeared in Sunday's paper, and my column talking about President Bush's visit to the Coast Guard Academy graduation, drew a wide range of response from readers. There was the comment one reader left on the Norwich Bulletin forums that read:

"Bulletin reporter Ray Hackett a well known communist sympathizer and Stalanist supporter would rather futher (sic) his goals by publishing ANSWER talking points."

I must admit...that's a first.

I also received a number of e-mails from others who felt I didn't go "far enough" in the other direction by more sharply criticizing the Secret Service decision to make the area directly in front of the Academy's main gates off-limits to protesters.

I guess it's true, you can't make everyone happy - or in this case, anyone. But then again, I'm just reporting on what's going on...and not trying to bolster either side.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Sunday is Tax Freedom Day, that day each year when we've earned enough to pay all the state, federal and local taxes we owe. Beginning Monday, everything we earn is now ours.

Now that Gov. M. Jodi Rell has backed off her plan to increase the state's income tax - 10 percent across the board - Democrats are revising their plan. They are now claiming that 95 percent of us can see a tax decrease under their new plan which calls for adoption of a graduated income tax where those earning more pay a higher tax rate.

Under the Democratic plan, any joint-filing taxpayers who make less than a combined $270,000 will see a tax cut. Meanwhile the property tax credit, which Democrats want to increase to $1,000, will not phase out until an income level of $200,000.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Showdown in Hartford...

There's been a lot of talk this year about the Democrats' "veto-proof" majority in the General Assembly, and today we might see the first action beyond the talk.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a bill that would have allowed legislative review of any waiver the state submts regarding Medicaid payments. The governor sees that as attempt on the legislature's part to take away executive powers. (It's been no secret, the Democratic-controlled legislature has been attempting to wrestle away some of those powers.)

The measure passed the House and Senate by a large enough margin to suggest an override of the veto is certainly possible. It would take 101 votes in the House to override, and the proposal passed that chamber with a 102 votes.

There is some thought that it might come up for a vote as early as today.

More sub talk today....

The U.S. House of Representatives will take up the Defense Authorization Bill today, and it is expected to pass. Included in the measure is the authorization to spend an additional $588 million for the advance procurement of materials needed to begin building two subs a year. (It's the check that hasn't been signed.)

Later this afternoon, I'll be a onference call with Congressman Joe Courtney and EB President John Casey talking about that. (A mre detailed story will appear in Friday's paper).

But there is a better story coming out of EB today. Workers there are holding a fundraising luncheon. They're trying to raise enough money to send over 3,000 pounds of school materials to a soldier in Iraq who has a program going with Iraqi schools. I'll have more on that in tomorrow's paper as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Unconfirmed Romney visit...

I don't have this officially...but I've been told that former Massachusetts Gov., and GOP Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney is holding a fundraising luncheon at the Hartford Club on Monday. More when I get more...

Dodd's effort to end the war...

Ended in a sound defeat in the Senate this afternoon.

By a 67-29 vote, senators rejected a proposal to cut off all funding for the Iraqi War after March 31, 2008.

Capitol watch....

The General Assembly has a sent a bill to Gov. M. Jodi Rell that would put limits on school officials in handing out school suspensions for minor offenses - such as talking back to a teacher, being late for class, etc. If enacted, the new policy would allow school officials to suspend students for major offenses or posing a threat to themselves or others.

There will be no universial health care measure this year. A proposed bill to implement a single payer system died in committee yesterday.

Later today lawmakers will take a measure to provide James Tillman with $5 million tax free. Tillman was wrongly convicted of rape back in 1988, and released in the last year after DNA evidence proved his innocence. Rell had offered a $500,000 payment during her budget address last February. Anotehr bill in the Finance Committee offers $3.5 million.

There are two competing bills in the Senate addressing energy reform. Not sure which, if either, will make it out alive.

And no breakthrough yet in the budget negotiations.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Now an update on the no new taxes pledge...

Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Amann wasted no time in responding to the governor's plan to pull back her proposed tax increase.

This is what he had to say:

“I don’t even know what the Governor’s budget is anymore or what we are even negotiating. In just the past few months, she proposed, disposed, abandoned and reinvented her own budget. What will it be tomorrow?

At least she finally gets what we’ve been saying from day one, that her across the board tax increase makes no sense. The difference is that she now says there is no need for a tax increase, and Democrats have had a plan all along that gives tax relief to 90% of the taxpayers.

We have a big budget surplus and over a billion dollars in the reserve fund. Citizens are overtaxed and if the Governor isn’t willing to join Democrats now to give tax cuts, then when?

On healthcare, the Governor says she has a plan ‘to make monthly premiums affordable to even our poorest citizens.’ That is a totally outrageous statement and proves just how out of touch this Governor is with reality."

It's official....Read My Lips...

No New Taxes.

That according to Gov. M. Jodi Rell this afternoon, completing the turnaround from a 10-percent across-the-board increase in the income tax, to a slight or maybe no tax increase to this new poisition of none of at all.

This is what she had to say today:
"Connecticut's economy is strong and growing and with the new revenueprojections I have just received, I firmly believe that we can adopt a budget for the next biennium that contains no tax increases whatsoever.

She goes on to say...

"I am calling upon our lawmakers to work with me to fulfill those promises. They have talked about these issues for years. Our citizens overwhelmingly support investments in education and property tax limits.
We can provide both without raising taxes - any remaining excuses for inaction have been eliminated with these latest OFA numbers.
"Based upon projected revenues for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Fiscal Year,I am convinced that we can reach a final agreement on a new state budget that is balanced and that invests in the critical priorities of this
state, particularly in our children's education.

"In my budget proposal, I offered a plan to provide health care coverage to every uninsured Connecticut resident who needs it through the Charter Oak Health Care Plan, through premium assistance to make the monthly premiums affordable to even our poorest citizens and through enhancements to HUSKY outreach.

"I also offered an energy plan - the only energy plan on the table -- to provide both short-term relief at the pump and longer-term initiatives designed to drive the state toward more efficient energy usage and to
foster renewable resources.

"I called on the legislature to act on my proposal to cap the gross receipts tax on gasoline and other petroleum products at the wholesale price of $1.75 a gallon.

"I also called for the scheduled July 1 increase in the gross receipts tax to be rolled back. Gas prices have jumped more than 33 percent in recent months, with the average price of regular gas rising well-above
three dollars a gallon.

"There are just three weeks to go in the 2007 legislative session and I believe we can make meaningful progress on the four issues that speak to the need for generational investment: education, energy, health care and responsible growth. There are actions we can take and this is the time to move these issues forward. This is the time to honor our commitments, to work together and to show real leadership."


I write alot about the state's economy and jobs - usually from a perspective of what needs to be done to create more jobs and enhance the economy. I don't often get the chance to write about what's already here...companies in Connecticut producing products.

Tomorrow, up at the state Capitol, there will be a demonstration of 40 "homegrown" companies from around the state showing off their talents - and products produced right here in Connecticut, from submarines built at EB in Groton to Al's Beverages located in East Windsor.

There are more than 3,500 manufacturing companies in Connecticut, employing more than 200,000 Connecticut residents who make things. It's pretty impressive when you actually see what we're already doing - not that we couldn't be doing more of it.

The event will run from 111 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Hall of Flags at the Capitol.

On the presidential trail...

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd is going to the airwaves, launching his first television commericals in his bid to win the Democratic nomination for president. The 30-second ads will run on TV stations in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as national cable channels. The ad focuses attention on Dodd's opposition to the continued war in Iraq.

"This ad draws a clear distinction between Senator Dodd and the rest of the Democratic field," said Dodd campaign manager Sheryl Cohen. "Chris Dodd understands that half measures aren't going to change George Bush's course in Iraq, and he's set himself apart by fighting for a plan that would use Congressional power to require the President to safely and responsibly redeploy American troops and bring an end to the war."

Here's the script of the ad:

CHRIS DODD: Half measures won't stop this president from continuing our involvement in Iraq's civil war. That's why I'm fighting for the only responsible measure in Congress that would take away the President's blank check and set a timetable to bring our troops home.

Unfortunately, my colleagues running for President have not joined me. I'm Chris Dodd. I'm running for President. I approved this message because we can't simply wait for a new President. We should have the conviction to stand up to this one.

you can see the ad at:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Another busy Monday in Hartford...

The activity level in Hartford is paicking up now that we're entering the final weeks of the legislative session.

On Friday, legislative leaders announced they didn't have enough votes to bring a proposal that would allow gay marriages out for a vote. So that "legislative' effort is over for the year. But earlier today, the state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a legal challenge to the state law denying same-sex couples from getting married. We won't have a decision on that for a couple of months...

The General Assembly's Appropriations Committee is meeting this afternoon. Among the items on the agenda is the bill aimed at enhancing the military value of the Groton submarine base, recommendations that came from Gov. Rell's Commission on Diversifying the Southeastern Connecticut Economy. It should be the last "committee" stop before going to the Senate for a vote - and then onto the House for its approval....

Republican lawmakers today called for a suspension of the state's gasoline taxes from Memorial Day through Labor Day, citing the growing state surplus as a reason why the state doesn't need to be collecting more taxes from people now paying over $3.10 a gallon...

Negotiations between lawmakers and the governor's office over the final version of a state budget continue...and likely will continue to continue for most of the time remaining in this legislative session. I'm betting a "compromise" is announced late Monday, June 4. (The session ends on Wednesday, June 6.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

A quiet end to the week...

Not much going on today as mst of prepare for what will likely be one of the best weekends weather-wise in awhile. I do hope you all enjoy it.

Monday, however, will be quite different.

The big news of the day will be the state Supreme Court hearing where oral arguments in the gay marriage lawsuit will heard.

The local subase realignment group will also be meeting Monday morning, updating the status of efforts to enhance the military value of the base a day after the anniversary of the May 13, 2005 announcement that the Navy wanted to close it.

And in my column this Sunday, I write about a conversation I had this week with an old friend, Tony Principi...the former chairman of the BRAC Commission that removed the base from the closure list, and prior to that, the secretary of Veterans of Affairs. What we talked about are the recent controversies regarding the Walter Reed Hospital (Which the BRAC Commission voted to shut down) and the bonuses given out to VA executives. I think you might find Tony's take on these issues interesting.

Have a Great Weekend...and to all the Moms...enjoy Sunday.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Busy times in Hartford

There's a lot going on up in Hartford these days.

I guess the big news is the ongoing jockeying in regards to the state budget negotiations between Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Democratic leadership in the General Assembly. Rell is backing away from her proposal of an across-thge-board 10 percent increase in the state income tax, going as far as suggesting no tax or a slight increase may only be necessary to implement her plan. She is holding firm, however, in her rejection of the Democratic plan to implement a graduated tax where those who earn more pay a higher rate. Democrats claim at least 90 percent of Connecticut residents would see a tax cut under their plan.

Meanwhile, a poll released yesterday shows most voters prefer the Republican proposal that calls for no tax increase at all. But that proposal has little chance of passing.

On another front, Rell finally made an appointment to the vacancy at the top of the state Department of Economic and Community Development. She has chosen Joan McDonald of New York City - a choice that drew immediate criticism from Senate President Pro Tem Don Williams, D-Brooklyn, who questioned the governor's choice by noting that McDonald's expertise is strictly in the area of transportation - not economic development.

State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, has a press conference scheduled for later today on her proposed legislation that would ban the use of bull sticks on elephants. Urban's "Act Concerning the Treatment of Elephants" is currently on the House calendar awaiting a vote in the lower chamber.

In the Senate yesterday, senators voted 26-7 to expand the state's bottle bill by putting a nickle deposit on water bottles, sports drinks and juice containers.

The Senate also voted 26-10 in favor of a meaasure that would eliminate the use of trans fatin Connecticut restaurants by the end of 2008.

And over in the House, members there gave their approval - and the final action - to a measure that authorizes the state Department of Consumer Protection to re-train bartenders and others who serve alcohol and have been caught violating the Liquor Control Act and lost their permits. That measure now goes to the governor's desk for her signature.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

House Commttee supports two subs...

The House Armed Services Committee today voted to include the additional $588 million for the advance procurement of a second sub a year beginning in 2009. The committee vote doesn't guarantee's just the "authorization" for the increase in submarine construction.

The real key is the Appropriations Committee and whether it will put the extra money in its budget. We'll know that later this year.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A worthy cause...

Last week I wrote a story for the paper about Chris Coutu of Norwich, a young man who founded a group called American Warrior. It's basically a clearing house for veterans to put them in touch with various agencies that can help them get the services and programs they need - and earned.

But the focus of the story was another part of Coutu's plan - a plan to bring 100 World War II veterans to Washington to visit the World War II Memorial. Coutu wants to do this, especially for those vets who because of financial or health reasons are unable to visit on their own. His plan is to raise enough money so that this trip is "at no cost" to any of these veterans.

It is a both an ambitious and wonderful gesture on his part.

When the story appeared in the paper, I got about half-dozen phone calls the next morning from people who wanted to contribute to this effort. Chris tells me that even more people contacted him directly, offering to help out.

His organization is hosting a golf tournament on May 25 at the River Ridge Golf Course in Griswold. All the proceeds from the event will go towards this effort to bring the 100 vets to Washington.

He needs golfers. He's hoping to attract 144 people to play in the tournament - and as of last week had only 8 teams of four signed up for the event. He could also use some sponsor support.

So...if you think you might want to help can learn more by visiting his Web page at

If you want to sign him at

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A second sub...

Not to get too excited, but the House Armed Services Committee's Seapower & Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee this afternoon completed its work on a Defense Authorization Bill that includes an additional $588 million for the advanced procurement - the first step in increasing funding for construction of a second submarine.

I say it's not to get too excited about because it's still a long way to go before we get to the point where a second sub is real. The House Armed Services Committee will mark up the full authorization bill next week.

And then again, this is just the "authorization" not the actually "appropriation." We went down this route a year ago when the Defense Authorization Bill was approved - authorizing the construction of two subs a year - but the money to actually do it never materialized.

What is different this year is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee, Rep. John Murtha, has pledged his support to include the funding for the second sub when his group gets around to acting on the Defense Appropriations Bill. But that isn't happening yet...and that won't be happening until much later in the year.

But speaking of subs...the USS Hawaii, the third in the Virginia-class submarine construction schedule, will be commissioned on Saturday. Tomorrow, the Navy is hosting a media open house for the I'll be spending my morning at the sub base.

I'll be spending the afternoon at Conn College where the War in Iraq will take center stage. Ned Lamont, the 2006 Democratic nominee for US Senator, and AFL-CIO President John Olson are the featured speakers discussing what should happen next.

The 17-year-old vote...

The state House of Representatives this afternoon passed a proposed Constitutional amendment that would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries provided they will turn 18 by the time the general election rolled around. The vote was 105 in favor, 36 opposed.

Although impressive, it wasn't enough. The measure needed three-quarter (113) support of House members. It fell short by eight votes to reach that mark.

What that means is the proposed amendment to the Constitution will NOT be on the 2008 ballot for voter approval.

But it's not completely dead yet. If the Senate does pass it this year with the three-quarter support(27 out of 36), then both chambers have the opportunity to bring back up again next year - where only a simple majority would be needed to put it out on the ballot for voter approval.

Responding to Bruce...

Earlier this week, a viewer to this blog by the name of Bruce asked if the next time I talk with Congressman Joe Courtney to ask him about a campaign contribution from the Marijuana Policy Project. It created a bit of stir for a couple of hours among the local media (apparently Bruce shared this question with others as well) as the news of Courtney's campaign donation spread...and Republican Party Chief Chris Healy jumped on the bandwagon.

I didn't want Bruce to think I was ignoring him, but the answer to his question will be the subject of my weekly newspaper column, Hackett on Politics, in this Sunday's Norwich Bulletin. (Which is also available on line at

What do you think...

When former Congressman Rob Simmons said he was abandoning any bid to reclaim his House seat in Connecticut's 2nd District earlier this year, one of the reasons he cited is that he doesn't expect the "mood" of voters to be any different in 2008 than it was in 2006.

There was an interesting piece in USA Today by Susan Page where she listed the five reasons why Republicans will have a very difficult time in holding on to the White House in 2008. I think these same five reasons can applied to congressional races next year as well.

Here's what Page said about the presidential campaign and the problems the GOP face:

1. It's mostly about Iraq: "It has cost the GOP support among political independents, who by nearly 2-1 call the invasion a mistake. And it's united and energized Democrats, who oppose the war by more than 4-1."

2. Excitement is contagious: "Democrats are more excited about next year's election than Republicans are: 59% of Democratic-leaning voters call themselves extremely or very enthusiastic about the election, compared with 50% of Republicans."

3. Fewer say they're with GOP: "The Republican Party now has a net negative rating of 9 percentage points: 42% viewed it favorably, 51% unfavorably. The Democratic Party has a net positive rating of 13 points, 55%-38%."

4. Money flowing to Democrats: "During the first three months of the year, Republican presidential candidates took in $53.4 million in contributions. That would have been a record for this stage of a campaign except that Democratic candidates took in $78.4 million -- nearly 50% more."

5. Hunger for change growing: "The appetite for change may be the strongest tide running against the GOP... By 2-1, those surveyed by Gallup say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the USA. That's the sourest climate in a presidential election year since 1992, when the elder Bush lost his bid for a second term."

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This from the Associated Press...

A little something on the light side to start this dreary, rainy Wednesday morning....

PERSONAL SIDE: What the presidential candidates would be doing, if they weren't doing this
Eds: Multimedia: An interactive quiz on alternate career paths of the candidates is available in the wdc/personalside_jobs folder.
By The Associated Press

(AP) - The Associated Press asked the presidential candidates a series of questions about their personal tastes, habits and backgrounds. Today's question _ the first in a series _ and their answers:

What is your alternate career choice?


Delaware Sen. Joe Biden: Architect.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: "Continue to work for causes and issues I care about, in a setting like a university or foundation."

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: Teacher.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards: Mill supervisor.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Astronaut.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama: Architect.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: Center field, New York Yankees.


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback: Farmer.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: Sports announcer.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: Bass guitar player for a touring rock band.

California Rep. Duncan Hunter: Outdoor writer.

Arizona Sen. John McCain: Foreign service.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: Auto company chief executive.

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo: President

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

From Hartford....

The legislature's finance committee this afternoon voted unanimously in favor of Senate Bill 937, an act that increases from $10 million to $50 million the amount the state can spend on enhancing the military value of the Groton Sub Base (in an effort to avoid future targeting of the base for closure) and creating an Office of Military Affairs. If created, that office will be run by an executive director appointed by the head of the Department of Economic & Community Development.

There was, however, an amendment being proposed that would add a whle new wrinkle to that idea. The amendment, however, was never called. But according to the legislature's Web page, this is what the amendment called for...

(g) The Business Advocate shall: (1) Coordinate state and local efforts to prevent the closure or downsizing of Connecticut military facilities, particularly the United States Naval Submarine Base-New London, located in Groton; (2) maximize the state's input into the federal Base Realignment and Closure or "BRAC" process, including, but not limited to, (A) act as a liaison to the state's congressional delegation on defense, military and BRAC issues, and (B) act as a liaison to consultant lobbyists hired by the state to assist in monitoring activities related to BRAC; (3) encourage the relocation of military missions to the state; (4) coordinate state and local efforts to enhance the quality of life of all branches of military personnel and their families living or working in Connecticut; (5) review and make recommendations for state policies that affect Connecticut's military facilities and defense and homeland security industries; (6) coordinate state, regional and local efforts to encourage the growth of Connecticut's defense and homeland security industry; (7) support the development of a Defense and Homeland Security Industry Cluster; (8) establish and coordinate a Connecticut Military and Defense Advisory Council to provide technical advice and assistance; and (9) oversee the implementation of recommendations of the Governor's Commission for the Economic Diversification of Southeastern Connecticut.

And...we all know that the new state Business Advocate is none other than former Congressman Rob Simmons, one of the major players in the BRAC fight from two years ago.

Not sure why the amendment never came up for a vote - or if, it might resurface when this proposal hits either the Senate or House floor for a final vote.

Prague and taxes...

State Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, has canceled her scheduled press conference in Norwich this afternoon. Prague had called the press conference to tout the Democratic state budget proposal, specifically the part of the Democratic plan to implement a graduated income tax rate where higher income earners would pay a higher income tax rate.

Her office offered no explanation as to the sudden cancelation, nor was any date announced for it to be rescheduled.

Here basically is what is being discussed up in Hartford.

The governor wants a 10-percent across the board increase in income tax rates to finance her plan to dramaticly increase education aid.

The Democrats are proposing an increase in education aid - but not quite as dramatic as the governor's - and implementation of a graduated income tax rate where higher wage earners pay more.

Republicans in the legislature have put forth a plan to increase education aid - again not as much as the governor's plan - using the state surplus and thus avoiding any tax increase.

What they ultimately decide on doing will probably not resemble any of the three proposals as they are now being offered - but rather some sort of compromise.

What do you think?

The Democratic income tax plan...

State Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, has scheduled a press conference at Norwich City Hall this afternoon to discuss the Democratic proposal to implement a graduated income tax hike as part of its two-year state budget proposal.
Democrats estimate that 90 percent of the state’s income taxpayers will see a reduction in taxes if adopted.
The graduated income tax structure places a larger tax burden on the state’s wealthier income earners. Democrats have proposed this method in response to Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s plan to increase income taxes by an across-the-board 10 percent hike to fund her plan to increase education aid.

Iraq war debate...

NEW LONDON - Former Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Ned Lamont and state AFL-CIO president John Olson will discuss the Iraq War at Connecticut College Friday.
Lamont’s lecture will focus specifically on the issue of withdrawal and what U.S. foreign and domestic policies are best suited to deal with terrorism at home and abroad. Olson’s address will focus on the true cost of the War in Iraq and the Administration’s polices that do not support America’s working classes.
The lecture will be held at noon in Room 014 of the Olin Science Center.