Reports from the event don’t differ much in their description of former Governor Lowell Weicker: Blunt, feisty, not shy, on and on. But for some who are still paying for Weicker’s income tax—a tax he lied about when he was running for governor—his bloviating act is old and yesterday’s news.
Weicker made a rare public appearance yesterday at the annual meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Former aide turned blogger Tom Dudchick drove the former US Senator and governor. Dudchick’s inside connection to the state Capitol was when Weicker was there.
Weicker said the state’s fiscal policy is insane. “If various elements of the Connecticut government are afraid to say so for one reason or another, I’m not. It should be said, and that’s my purpose of being here today. … there are no more easy alternatives. The trust funds have been run dry. The rainy day funds have been depleted. The bond ratings [have been lowered]. Do you understand what that costs the state of Connecticut? People moan and groan about taxes. That’s a tax. Every step we go down means we have to pay more to borrow that money.”
Weicker contradicted himself by calling for steep spending cuts (channeling Dick Cheney, Weicker said such cuts are needed “Big Time”). But he also says the state should pay for all public education, K through 12. One official in the audience called him on it and asked how the numbers to do both add up. “They don’t,” Weicker responded according to the Hartford Courant. “I’m just trying to throw out ideas to be debated.”
The Shad is at a loss as to why there are those in the state who are so enamored with Weicker. He pulled one of the biggest “bait and switch” jobs in state history in 1991. For the newly initiated, Weicker was being tagged as a possible supporter of a state income tax as he ran for governor in 1990. To settle things, he ran advertisements saying instituting an income tax would be like throwing gasoline on the flames on recession. After winning the governor’s office, he promptly proposed an income tax. He was then and is now, unapologetic about it. It’s not the tax The Shad objects to (it’s a reliable and responsible stream of revenue to maintain the fine services in the state). It’s the lie. Weicker’s bullying tactics are at the very least, old. This is 2010 and why his opinion matters at all is a mystery.
In 1990, The Shad was fresh out of college and cutting teeth as a radio reporter. A scheduled gubernatorial debate at the Danbury Hilton was not supposed to include Weicker; he had declined to participate. But on the day of the forum, he showed up. He helped himself to the buffet and announced he planned to be in the forum. As the staff scrambled to find another chair and set things up properly for another candidate, The Shad (who was more like a minnow at the time) asked Weicker why he decided to attend. “Well, the big bear heard there was a picnic and decided to show up and sniff around,” he replied—an obvious reference to the TV ad that played a large role in his defeat for re-election to the US Senate at the hands of Joe Lieberman.
It was classic Weicker—obnoxious, condescending, high-handed and glib. Yet why should he ever change when he is indulged by a still captivated Connecticut?