NEW BRITAIN — Ned Lamont, the Fairfield businessman who in 2006 challenged Joe Lieberman for his U.S. Senate seat, upbraided Gov. M. Jodi Rell for her budget Wednesday. He spoke on the state of the Connecticut economy at Central Connecticut State University.
While he also spoke of his support for President Barack Obama, his disappointment in Rell’s budget stood out.
“We’re not bankrupt, but we’ve been flat as a pancake for a generation,” he said of the state economy.
Unlike Rell, who has flat-funded education, Obama has proposed increased spending for priorities such as education and health care, he said.
“We haven’t added any new jobs and many young people are leaving,” Lamont said of Connecticut.
He called her budget — $38.3 billion over two years with cuts meant to correct predicted billion-dollar deficits — a smattering of quick fixes with little in the way of important changes.
Pointing out the projected deficits for the next several years, he said the need for change at the Capitol should be obvious.
“This is the time for Connecticut to make the big changes that are so long overdue,” Lamont said. “We as a country and we as a state have consistently underestimated the scale of the issues and crisis in front of us.”
Rell recommended that people turn out lights when leaving their offices and not travel out of state as a way of paying down the deficit. Lamont hit at her intention to borrow against the state’s rainy-day fund.
“Her plan is extraordinarily shortsighted, and you young people should be outraged because they’ve borrowed against your future,” he said to the students.
Lamont, who was made a distinguished professor of political science and philosophy, said the university arts and sciences public policy committee he leads will be looking at ways to fix the economic problems and get the state going again.
“We’re going to take a look at this deficit and look at it in a serious way and hopefully present an alternative to the governor that will prepare the state for when we’re on the back side of this depression and get the state rolling again,” he said.
Lamont said he was not considering a run for either the governor’s seat or a senate seat.
For Brian McKeown, a sophomore among the crowd who supported Lamont in his senate bid, the talk was enlightening.
“I supported him then, and I guess if he ran again I’d support him again,” McKeown said before the talk.
As to the economic problems with the rest of the country, Lamont said the Obama plan will work and Americans will come through these hard days.
“If you look at the great presidents of all time and you look what was confronting Lincoln and you look what was confronting Franklin Roosevelt and you look at what is confronting Barack Obama and you realize something,” he said. “This country will get by. We sometimes stumble, but we’re going to get past this and make sure our country and our state make the right decisions.”
Lamont also spoke on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his confidence in Obama to handle the situation in such a way that the people of those countries can take care of themselves without the aid of U.S. troops.
SOURCE: JAMES CRAVEN, New Britain Herald, February 19, 2009
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