Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Traps that Candidates Set

It's fantasy season and the Morpheus crew are eager to entrance you with their spells and fantasies. Our talentless, inexperienced lieutenant governor is already trying the Republican version and lately she has found witchy company from the other chasers after the governor's chair and doorplate.

So, what manner of witchery would beguile voters in November, yea, even in the Democratic primary?

Taxes 1. Yes, indeedy. Republican Kerry Healey has fully sucked Tom Reilly into that trap, and even Chris Gabrieli -- with his usual non-commitment -- is playing the game. She is doing what Willard Mitt Romney and George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did before her. She has taken a pledge of no new taxes and to roll back the temporary 5.3% state rate to the old 5.0%. That's right folks a breath-taking 3/1,000th, $3 dollars on $1,000 taxable dollars to you lucky voters who support her.

Reality Check: According to state revenue figures, that 0.3% would give an average couple $2.75 a week back. This is the same sucker game Bush played with his $300 give back.

Reilly bought into the same fantasy. This is the guns-and-butter dream world that is the basis for Reganomics. Give ordinary people a tiny bit of tax money back, pat them on the head and remind them that they need to be grateful at election time. Tell them that the wealthy people and corporations who benefit will not sock away this money, but will be honor bound to spend it creating jobs and making our lives better. Get a little; give a lot. God bless us, every one.

Great trick, if only it worked...

Patrick says not so fast. Our economy is weak. We don't have the cash to meet our payroll and social programs now. If we take out those millions, we can't build that stable and growing economy. His honesty is definitely not as sweet or sleep producing as Healey and Reilly's fantasy.

Taxes 2, Taxachusetts: Republicans nationally and locally have done well promoting Massachusetts as Taxachusetts. Funny thing is though, while this makes a nice figure of speech, it is not at all true. Last year, for example, we were way down the list 32 of 51 in combined state and local taxes per capita. Good old conservative Maine was highest at 13%, we were 9.8%.

Instead, the fantasy is that Republicans in D.C. or on Beacon Hill don't raise taxes, so taxes are lower. In reality, the Romney sorts move the pea under a different shell. By not raising taxes, but giving the cities and towns less revenue sharing, he raised taxes...repeatedly. It ended up nearly 35% average when the local governments had to add or increase fees and property taxes.

This fantasy is an accounting trick, one that Democrats had better be ready to name for what it is and has been. Mumbling a weak defense is not the right tactic, nor is joining in the deceit. Screaming it loud and specifying the blunder are.

Reilly seems to be playing the same dishonest game. Then again, he's been part of a Republican executive branch so long, maybe he really has bought into it.

One-Party, Tax-and-Spend Government: The most popular fantasy and the one easiest to sell to inattentive voters is that a Republican executive branch is essential to rein in irresponsible Democratic legislators. In a virtual one-party state, what's standing between wastrels and our bank accounts if not New England fiscal conservative Republicans?

That has a tough one to counter for several reasons. Most obvious is that we have an unearned reputation for liberalism.

Let's say it together, Ted Kenney and John Kerry and Barney Frank's votes are not enough. The culture here, the centuries of fiscal conservatism, the bluenoses, the racial and cultural compartmentalization and so much more roil our waters. Bay Staters tend to be liberal on some issues only.

Consider also:
  • Unenrolled voters. We have a huge 49% unenrolled voter base. They like to call themselves independents as though that means they are cosmopolitan free-thinkers. Most are more like mugwumps. They vote left for President, right for Governor, and give-me-mine for General Court. Liberals in a pig's eye!
  • DINOs live. Our General Court does not spend freely on social programs. It trails many other states in liberal legislation. It is more inclined to support local programs that will help each rep or senator get re-elected. [View the inaction on same-sex marriage for two years that led the Supreme Judical Court to legalize it by default. Shameless. Also, we are in our current anti-SSM amendment flap because this allegedly liberal legislature couldn't even act after the fact when commanded to do so.] Instead, we have many middle-of-the-road lawmakers and some damned righties, like Emile Goguen and Phil Travis. The card may say Democrat, but calling a pig a giraffe doesn't give him a neck long enough to munch the tree leaves.
Brylcreem adLet the Dems call it loud and proud. We don't need a Cap'n Brylcreem or Muffy Healey to keep us from enacting liberal laws. We alleged Democrats can do that just fine on our own, thanks ever so much.

We're not a high-tax state with spendthrift, liberal legislators bankrupting us. We are a fairly culturally and fiscally conservative state frozen in inertia.

We need to wake up from those daydreams and shake off the spells. We have had decades of timorous governors and stagnant legislatures. That has gotten us, even with our educational and industrial base, to declining economies, lowered expectations and self-imposed limits.

Since the colonial era, if ever a time has arrived that calls for vision and decisive action, this is it. Come September 19th, come November 7th, we need a new New England. Let it start here.

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