Goldrick: The Republican Party is the Party of No

Letter to the editor submitted from Sean Goldrick, who served two terms on the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

Republican state representative Livvy Floren in a recent oped bemoaned the fact that the “ugly din of rancor and false allegations prevails … name calling, rudeness and riled tempers.”

One would think she was referring to Donald Trump, who has told close to 10,000 documented lies since becoming president, and who begins nearly every morning by spewing out one ugly insult after another.

Or perhaps Fox News and right-wing hate radio.

But no, Livvy Floren is upset by the “demeaning epithet” that the Republican Party is “the party of ‘no.'” That is “actually and factually” false, she claims.

Let’s look at the facts.

During the past nine years, Republicans in Congress voted 70 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without any plan to replace it. Here in Connecticut, the ACA is responsible for cutting the uninsured rate in half, providing over a third of a million Connecticut residents with affordable health insurance, and protecting the half of the population with “pre-existing conditions” from having their insurance cancelled or denied.

Here in Connecticut Livvy Floren and two-thirds of her fellow Republicans voted “no” to creating Access Health CT (SB 921), the state’s spectacularly successful state health insurance exchange.

And this year, Ms Floren voted “no” on HB 7174, legislation designed to reduce Connecticut’s obscenely high prescription drug prices. According to Comptroller Kevin Lembo, under this bill, “Connecticut is going to call the shots on health care quality and cost now – and what we want is the best care for the best price.”

But when it comes to reducing drug prices, Livvy Floren and the Republican Party are the party of no.

Turning to social justice and equality, in 2009 Ms Floren and fellow Greenwich Republican Fred Camillo joined two-thirds of Republicans to vote “no” on marriage equality (SB 899), even though the Connecticut Supreme Court decreed that Gay couples have the right to marry.

Last year, General Assembly Republicans blocked the nomination of the state’s first openly gay Connecticut Supreme Court justice, Andrew McDonald, to be chief justice, for no other discernible reason than that he was Gay. Ms Floren voted for his nomination, though she pointedly declined to urge her fellow Republicans to support him.

The GOP is also the party of “no” when it comes to ensuring voting rights. In 2011, Ms Floren personally introduced a photo ID voter suppression bill (HB 5234), doing her part in a nationwide Republican effort to suppress the African-American vote to prevent Barack Obama from winning a second term in office.

Each of the past two years, she, Fred Camillo, and General Assembly Republicans, voted for photo ID voter suppression legislation, even though Connecticut Election Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi has repeatedly confirmed that Connecticut has never seen a single allegation of in-person voter fraud.

After the slaughter of children and teachers at Sandy Hook, Democrats proposed a strong gun control law that included the ban of assault weapons like the one used in that mass shooting, legislation that since its enactment has helped dramatically reduce violent crime in Connecticut. But majorities of Republican legislators in both chambers of the General Assembly voted no.

And take a look at the budget Ms Floren and the GOP passed in 2017, which she calls a “Republican truth.” It eliminated funding for the Citizens Election Program, threatening to send Connecticut back to the corruption of the John Rowland era. It included massive cuts to higher education that University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst warned “would decimate the university for years to come.” It hit Connecticut teachers with a punitive $100 million “teachers tax”, equivalent to $1,500 per teacher, that did not improve Connecticut’s lousy teacher pensions by one penny, reduce the plan’s unfunded liabilities, or eliminate the impending 2032 “cliff.”

Floren’s Republican budget sought to virtually eliminate the state’s earned income tax credit, which helps thousands of struggling hard-working, low-income families in Greenwich and Stamford make ends meet. And it eliminated the $37 million Roberta Willis Scholarship, which helps 15,000 low-income, minority Connecticut youth attend college. That is Livvy Floren’s “Republican truth.”

“Actually and factually,” Ms. Floren claims, “(the GOP) is the party of KNOW,” and it is a “Republican truth” that the transportation lock box and “Prioritize Progress” offer reasonable means to accomplish needed infrastructure improvements.

In fact, outgoing transportation secretary Jim Redeker late last year was blunt: “Prioritize Progress” would not provide sufficient funding for basic maintenance and repair of Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure, let alone pay for improvements. Claiming that “the lockbox” is sufficient, Ms Floren doesn’t understand that since 2015 the Special Transportation Fund has been raiding the General Fund, today pulling out more than a third of a billion sales tax dollars needed for education and social programs. Even with that diversion, the STF will become insolvent within four years.

The real truth, not Ms Floren’s “Republican truth,” is that the Republican Party is the “party of no.” When it comes to the struggle to provide average folks with affordable health care, passing legislation to reduce prescription drug costs, safeguarding the right of Connecticut minorities to vote, protecting us from gun violence, providing equality for Gay Americans, and adequately funding Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure, the GOP’s response is always “no.” That is not a “demeaning epithet”; it’s just the truth.