Sen. Fasano: UConn Economist Oversteps His Role in Political Commentary

October 11, 2018

Sen. Fasano: UConn Economist Oversteps His Role in Political Commentary


“You have moved from your economist position to a political position.”

You continue to act as a political commentator above and beyond

both your expertise and your defined role.”


Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) has written to the University of Connecticut’s Fred Carstensen expressing displeasure with the economist’s recent press statements regarding the political elections.

In a three-page Oct. 11 letter (attached), Fasano listed a series of Carstensen statements which show a pattern of bias that “demonstrates you have moved from your economist position to a political position.”

Fasano noted that in a recent article, the economist decided to weigh in on Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski on something “that has nothing to do with economics, just conjecture at best.”  Fasano reminded Carstensen that the economist made a similar statement about 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.

“While I understand that everyone is free to express their opinions under the First Amendment, I am extremely disturbed in the manner for which you have used your title to influence a political position,” Fasano wrote to Carstensen.  “You are being asked by the press for your opinion as a direct result of your position as the Director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis which should define the limit of your opinion; however, you continue to act as a political commentator above and beyond both your expertise and your defined role.

“You are an economist. defines an economist as ‘an individual who studies and interprets data concerning the factors that influence supply and demand, such as inflation and unemployment.’  Please note that the definition does not include offering color commentary on sensitive political issues or ignoring facts for political beliefs.

“Your opinion always has the attribution, as printed in the news as ‘according to Fred Carstensen, director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Research at the University of Connecticut’ which leads a reader to believe that your comments have some credibility or truth behind it.  Let us be clear, when dealing with a political position, they do not.  They are the opinion of you, an individual, made from your own political affiliation and bias.  Your political affiliation appears to be very evident based on your one-sided statements as well as what you choose not to comment on.”

Fasano then asked Carstensen a series of questions:


  1. Where were your comments when billion dollar deficits were consistently addressed with tax increases that resulted in over $8.8 billion in taxable income leaving our state?  The loss of all that income means less taxes generated by our current tax rates thereby putting downward pressure on every other family that has chosen to, or has no other option but, remain in our state?
  2. Where were your comments when Governor Malloy doubled the state’s annual assumption of new debt resulting in an increase of our annual payment for debt from less than 9% of our budget to more than 13% of our budget?
  3. Where were you when Governor Malloy and the democrats locked the state in unsustainable health and pension benefits for state employees for the next ten years?  Did you do an analysis of what state employees receive as compared to other private unionized counterparts?  Do you know that some state employees only contribute 1.5% of their salary toward their pension?  Do you know that state employees need to contribute 3% for only three years to receive healthcare benefits for the life of the retired state employee and their spouse?
  4. Did you do your own extensive research into the background of Mr. Stefanowski or did you simply rely on the tidbits that were given to you by the CT Post which were clearly directing you to make the inflammatory position on how you define him?
  5. Are you advocating for toll revenue to be used to pay for a tax credit paid from the general fund?  Are you not aware of the transportation lockbox and the fight that Republicans have continually had to stop using transportation dollars for general purposes?
  6. How do you know that there is no way to get out of a recession without taxes?  Are you knowledgeable about all of the $20 billion that our state annually expends?  Have you gone through the process of going through all of the accounts like I have done to make such a determination?


Fasano concluded by asking Carstensen to retract his statements about Stefanowski.


Fasano recommended that when asked by the press about politics in the future, Carstensen “stick to the facts, like the state’s failing economy, dismal gross state product growth, employment growth that significantly lags the country as a whole as well as the Northeast, housing prices that remain more than 11% below their pre-recession peak, home sales that are 37.4% below their pre-recession peak, contracting real per capita personal income, and huge reduction in taxable income.”