HARTFORD — They are politicians without a party.
Both occupied the same Senate seat.
Joe Lieberman and Lowell Weicker Jr., together again for a summit on fiscal responsibility Friday in Hartford, bemoaned the political and economic direction of the state and nation.
The self-proclaimed independents separately addressed an assemblage of top Democrats and Republicans on partisan gridlock, negotiations over the federal debt ceiling and Connecticut's own fiscal crisis.
“In our time, too often, each of our two political parties has been dominated by a partisan ideological wing that has tended to pull us into conflict, not unity,” said Lieberman, who ousted Weicker from the Senate in 1988.
Weicker went on after the Senate to become governor, leaving the GOP and founding A Connecticut Party.
The three-hour forum was co-sponsored by No Labels Connecticut, an organization whose stated goal is to take politics out of problem solving.
It was also organized by the Comeback America Initiative, a Bridgeport-based advocacy group for fiscal responsibility founded by David Walker, former comptroller general of the U.S. and a potential candidate for the seat of the retiring Lieberman.
Synonymous with the enactment of the state income tax, Weicker drew comparisons to himself and current Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is turning to $1 billion in tax increases and layoffs of 6,500 state employees to close a $3.4 billion budget gap inherited by his administration.
“What I'm not going to do is sit here and pick apart the current budget scenario, except to thank Governor Malloy for taking the monkey off my back,” Weicker quipped. “He didn't create the mess any more than I created the mess. I don't, in any way, want to neuter his attempts to put our state back in the black.”
At the opening of the event, Lieberman railed on a burgeoning plan crafted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to shift responsibility for the debt-ceiling quandary from Congress to the White House.