‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough in Fairfield: GE may flee over state tax policies
In the shadow of General Electric’s headquarters in Fairfield, MSNBC token conservative Joe Scarborough said Thursday night that Connecticut is in imminent danger of losing the conglomerate that used to sign his paychecks.
The “Morning Joe” host said his former boss and fellow New Canaan resident, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, is at a tipping point over the state’s corporate taxes.
Scarborough was the moderator of a fiscal policy forum sponsored by the conservative Yankee Institute at Fairfield University, further fueling speculation the former GOP congressman from Florida is eyeing a return to politics in his adopted state.
“Jeff has been concerned about this business climate for 10 years,” Scarborough told Hearst Connecticut Media. “I’m sure he’s going to look around and do what’s best for General Electric.”
Scarborough, 52, said GE is more likely to leave Connecticut for a state with a more competitive tax structure, such as Georgia, than to be enticed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who visited last month to sell the company on Westchester County.
“I don’t see GE leaving Connecticut to go to New York,” Scarborough said. “I don’t see Jeff going from the frying pan into the fire.”
“Just like every other Republican, Joe Scarborough is trying to score political points by rooting for economic failure,” Appleby said. “The truth is that Connecticut’s economy is only getting stronger.”
The 90-minute showcase with Scarborough was part “The Shirt Off My Back Tour,” a statewide campaign by the Yankee think tank opposing a two-year, $1.2 billion tax increase in Connecticut. The hike was the result of negotiations between majority Democrats in the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on a $40 billion budget, which went into effect July 1.
Malloy has been a frequent guest on “Morning Joe,” where Scarborough has maligned Connecticut’s leaders over their tax plan.
“I haven’t talked to him since,” Scarborough said.
Scarborough said that as far as he’s concerned, he’s still on good terms with Malloy.
“If he did (have a problem), you know the governor; he’d let me know,” Scarborough said.
A spokesman for Malloy declined to comment.
Scarborough’s contract with MSNBC doesn’t expire until 2018, when there is both a governor’s race and U.S. Senate race on the calendar in Connecticut.
“I’m getting questions, but we’re three years off,” Scarborough said. “I’m just trying to figure out how Donald Trump is flying his plane upside-down.”
Carol Platt Liebau, Yankee Institute’s president and a New Canaan resident, said Scarborough is an influential messenger.
“He’s a very talented (individual) who has done a great deal to direct national media attention to the plight of Connecticut,” Liebau said.
Employing 5,700 people in the state, GE took the unprecedented step earlier this summer of announcing it is exploring alternative locations for its headquarters because of the tax climate in Connecticut.
Seen by many as an ultimatum, the step has created a feeding frenzy for rival governors such as Cuomo to try to pry GE away to their states.
GE is said by people close to the situation to be miffed over a looming unitary reporting requirement for multinational companies to open their books to see how much of their business activity is tied to Connecticut.
The mandate was scheduled to be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, but Malloy agreed to push it back one year. GE is also said to be unhappy with the state capping a relief measure that allows companies to offset their tax liabilities with operating losses at 50 percent instead of the previous 70 percent.
“What do I tell Jeff Immelt about the path forward?” Scarborough said.
Several top Republicans turned out for the event, including state Sen. Tony Hwang and state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, who were both panelists and reside in Fairfield. State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, and former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker, a candidate for lieutenant governor last year, were also in attendance.
“I think Joe would be an excellent candidate for U.S. Senate,” Walker said.
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