BY    Originally seen on Brookfield Patch

  NEW FAIRFIELD — Shortly after the 2018 midterm elections a panel of two reporters, a Government professor and a pollster told an audience at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield that Donald Trump’s negative ratings in Connecticut were a pronounced reason why the Republican Party lost the gubernatorial race as well as seats in the General Assembly. They noted that it had appeared there should have been an appetite for change from two-term Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, who had about the lowest approval rating of any state chief executive. Retired Assistant U.S. Attorney David X. Sullivan of New Fairfield, who is considered the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the sprawling Fifth Congressional District, says times have changed because Trump “has addressed many things in three years that other presidents haven’t addressed in eight years.”   “This is a president that comes in with a lot of accomplishments,” Sullivan said in an interview. Victor Davis Hanson of the Herbert Hoover Institute at Stanford University wrote in his 2019 book, “The Case For Trump,” (Basic Books, 400 Pages) that, “So far Trump has proved to be one of the rare presidents who has attempted to do what he said he would.” Hansen’s list includes a vibrant economy with the lowest unemployment in 50 years, a recalibration of trade, restoring America’s deference with Russia and China, two U.S. Supreme Court justices confirmed and the approval of a slew of other federal judges. A recent CNN poll reported that 76 percent of the people surveyed are more confident about the economy than any time since February 2001, about a month after former Democratic President Bill Clinton left office. A 2017 C-SPAN poll of journalists, scholars and college professors ranked Clinton as the third best of the 45 presidents in economic management. Washington Post political writer Dan Balz recently wrote, “Between incumbency and the statistical strength of the economy Trump has, by historical standards, a real advantage in his bid for a second term.” However, he added, “The president’s approval rating on the economy is far better than his overall approval rating.” The booming economy is due to Trump’s “tax cuts and deregulation,” remarked Sullivan, who said, if elected, he would support Trump’s proposal for a subsequent middle class tax cut. “I think we need to unleash the economy,” he added. However, Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson has stated that Trump’s latest tax cut proposal would damage the economy. “What we have here is a glaring example of a political bribe [tax cuts] masquerading as economic policy,” he wrote in November. “The economy is already near ‘full employment’ with budget deficits of $12 trillion projected for the period of 2020-2029. Any Trump tax cut would simply add to the total. To be fair, Democrat’s various spending proposals [for expanded health care and free college] seem to treat present deficits as fait accompli and build on top of them.” Politico has reported that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was incorrect in saying when the 2017 when the initial tax cut was approved that, “Not only will the tax cut pay for itself but it will help pay down our debt.” Sullivan said regarding reductions in spending, the federal government should consider former Republican President Ronald Reagan’s call for a line-item veto, which the Connecticut governor and many others across the country have. Sullivan said the “pork” that attaches to [congressional appropriations] is obscene.” U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes D-5) of Wolcott, who captured the Fifth District seat in 2018, has endorsed enacting the Pay As You Go system that was instituted in the early 1990s under former Republican President George H.W. Bush. Under those provisions, spending increases would have to be offset by reductions in other line items or an increase in taxes in an effort to ward off further deficits. On another topic, Hayes stated in a December 19 news release that she supported the House legislation that removed the state and local taxes cap (SALT) for 2020 and 2021 because it “unfairly targeted heavily-populated states. Eliminating the cap will provide much needed relief to hardworking taxpayers.” Sullivan said he didn’t yet have a position on revising the state and local taxes component of the Trump tax reform. “I’d have to consider it,” he said. “I think it is part of a bigger tax overhaul.” When asked about a proposal by U.S. Rep. Tom Souzzi (D-Long Island), who, according to Newsday, wants to permanently raise the state and local taxes cap to $20,000, instead of $10,000, Sullivan said, “The real problem is the taxes in those states – in New York and in Connecticut – are oppressively too high. Other states are not complaining about SALT because they don’t offer the same state tax burden as Connecticut and New York. That’s the simple solution.” Sullivan said high taxes by the Connecticut state government have kept the Nutmeg State from fully benefitting from the longest national economic expansion in American history. “Here’s something you never hear, ‘When I retire, I’m moving to Connecticut,’ ” he exclaimed. “Connecticut is not a place where people are starting a business. How many vacant commercial properties are there in [New Fairfield], which is simply not acceptable.” Regarding, the impeachment proceedings against Trump, Sullivan quoted George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who has labeled it, “A very hasty, rushed and dangerous process.” Sullivan, who served as a federal prosecutor for 30 years, said, “There is no high crime or misdemeanor.” He labeled the House vote on the two articles of impeachment, mostly along party lines, as partisan politics by the Democrats. In a recent news release, he criticized Hayes for supporting the impeachment articles. “Washington Democrats have frozen DC for weeks with their impeachment pipe dream and it’s a colossal waste of time and money,” Sullivan stated. Hayes had stated in a news release that, “As I listened to the testimony, I became more concerned about the actions of the president. While some may argue these actions do no merit impeachment, to do nothing and normalize this behavior would be a dereliction of my oath of office.” In the interview, Sullivan explained, “They had those numbers [for impeachment] even before [Chairman] Adam Schiff began doing anything on the Intelligence Committee. There is an agenda going on here.” Regarding the campaign, Sullivan has recently annexed a bevy of endorsements – ranging from state House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-114) of Derby to Southbury First Selectman Jeff Manville to state Rep. Stephen Harding (R-107) of Brookfield. Former FBI agent Mike Clark, who is familiar with Sullivan’s work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, offered praise in his endorsement. Clark, who is currently the chairman of the Farmington Republican Town Committee and was a candidate for the GOP congressional nomination in 2012, said in a prepared statement that Sullivan has “a tremendous work ethic and knowledge of the law.” Sullivan is facing Ruben Rodriguez of Waterbury, who works as a water meter technician for the city of New Britain, and Robert Hyde of Simsbury for the GOP nomination. The convention is scheduled for May and, if needed, a primary would be held in August. Klarides and some other prominent state politicians have called on Hyde to withdraw from the race after he made sexist social media statements about former Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, the U.S. senator from California. The Republicans have not held the seat since former U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-New Britain) was defeated in 2006. None of their nominees have taken even 46 percent of the vote in the last three races. Litchfield developer Mark Greenberg, who was the GOP nominee in 2014, told Patch.com shortly after that election that, “In my district [as a Republican] you have to make up a 20,000 voter deficit based on typical voter participation.” Sullivan said, “I think we’re all on the same page” regarding comments he’s heard from meeting with Republican leaders in the Fifth District, which stretches across 41 municipalities from Salisbury to Newtown. “I tell people this is a campaign against Jahana Hayes,” Sullivan said. “But this is more against Socialism. The policies being promoted by the Democratic Party are troubling and very expensive.” He criticized Hayes for supporting a Green New Deal energy initiative that would cost $93 trillion and a Medicare For All package that would be $32.6 trillion under U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT.) version or $52 trillion under the plan presented by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “Five plus two equals one voice,” Sullivan said in a reference to Connecticut’s congressional delegation, which has Democrats occupying the five U.S. House seats and the two U.S. Senate seats. “None of these people are working with this president and this administration,” he declared. On another topic, Patch.com reported in August that Hayes supports the plan from former Democratic President Barack Obama’s 2008 platform to increase the income exposed to the Social Security tax to $250,000. Currently the figure is $132,900. “I think we should raise the ceiling, otherwise the program is going to be in deficit,” she said. University of California-Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman wrote in their 2019 book, “The Triumph Of Injustice,” (W.W. Norton & Company, 232 Pages) that Social Security taxes are “deeply regressive” since the cap for income “roughly corresponds” with the threshold for the top five percent of wage earners. Regarding raising the income cap for paying Social Security taxes, Sullivan said, “I don’t have an opinion on that right now.” “I am concerned about solvency,” he added. Former Republican gubernatorial candidate David Stemerman of Greenwich has told Patch.com that three successive two-term presidents – Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama have failed to reform Social Security and the last major revision came more than 35 years ago during Reagan’s first term. Reportedly, the future of Social Security has been an important issue in each of the congressional campaigns in the district, dating at least to the 2002 race when Connecticut’s congressional apportionment had been reduced from six to five seats and fellow incumbents Johnson, who had initially been elected in the Sixth District in 1982, and Democrat Jim Maloney of Danbury faced off. Also, Sullivan endorsed Trump’s policies on some other issues. He said the recent United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade, was “long overdue.” The pact, which has been approved in the U.S. House, will, among other things, increase labor and environmental standards from the current North American Free Trade Agreement, which initially took effect in 1994. Hayes voted in support of the USMCA, noting in a news release that it would help “dairy farmers” in the Fifth District. Sullivan also said he is pleased with Trump’s tougher stance on trade with China, which has been engaged in permanent normal trade relations with the United States for about 19 years. The candidate noted that China has been “stealing” American technology. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) described the U.S./China relationship in his 2019 book, “Trump vs. China,” (Center Street, 416 pages) as “a struggle between two competing systems.” “Many in government, the mass media and academia don’t realize – or refuse to accept – that the fantasy is over,” wrote Gingrich, who sought the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. “We now face a serious competitor that does not want to share the world stage.” Sullivan said he endorses Trump’s “tough love” message to American allies in the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) who “have not been honoring and abiding to their membership to NATO.” In 2018 during the NATO meeting in Brussels Trump said the other countries have been “delinquent” in their defense spending. On a different topic, Thomas Philippon, the noted professor of Finance at New York University, wrote in his 2019 book, “The Great Reversal,” (The Belknap Press, 341 Pages) about how America “gave up on free markets” over the last 20 years. He wrote, “Sector after economic sector is more concentrated than it was twenty years ago, dominated by bigger players who lobby politicians and expand their profit margins. Across the country, this drives up prices while driving down investment, productivity, growth, and wages, resulting in more inequality.” Sullivan said, “So much of it is the way business is done [now]. The evolution.” He pointed to such growing companies as Yale-New Haven Health, Home Depot, CVS, Walgreens, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club. “I don’t know that it’s so much monopolies,” Sullivan commented. “It is part of the way business and things are done.” “Mom and Pop stores don’t exist [as much] because they can’t offer the same prices as the big companies,” he added. However, Philippon stated, “Prices in the United States have increased 15 percent more than prices in Europe, but wages have increased only 7 percent more than in Europe. Half of the relative price increase in the U.S. comes from increasing markups.” “Moreover, we see that markups are systematically related over time and across countries and industries to the changes in concentration,” he continued. “The evidence strongly suggests that increasing concentration in the U.S. is responsible for an excessive increase in prices by at least 8 percent over the last 17 years.”
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