Monday, April 27, 2009

A "storm" over a snit? I think not.

My good friends over at BMG have declared a "BLOG STORM!" (capitals, exclamation point, and italics all in original) because, well, the budget is being written at the State House and the governor sent a press release. That's really about it. I should specify: he sent a whining note to members of the Massachusetts Legislature about how they're mean and he'll veto 'an' stuff, and released it so loyal supporters could echo his whining.

I often harken back to a year ago when I attended something sold as a policy forum on education during the Democratic State Convention, which in reality was an Amwayesque attempt to bully people into pushing Deval's education agenda, the "Readiness Project". Already, his office was trying to pretend that Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Democratic Party were one and the same, and one could only be loyal to one by being loyal to the other.

The most amazing part of that day for me was the discovery that many people had signed up to be "Readiness Representatives" who promised to sell Deval's agenda to their school committees and districts -- before they even knew what it was. Maybe Deval would triple charter schools, or ax them altogether, nobody knew. But whatever he wanted, these people were signed up to sincerely argue that it was a good idea, just because it was Deval's idea.

Well, our Commonwealth has many "Deval reps" who will gladly do as ordered by the Guv on any issue. One of his groundbreaking ideas is to end the exemption of soda from the sales tax. (Regular, not diet soda -- I don't know about lite soda, or if we'll simply tax per calorie). Of course, when Senator Barrios wanted to eliminate Fluff from school lunches he was roundly mocked -- often by the same people now reporting for duty to implement Deval's brilliant idea. You can play with tax rates all you want, but kids' menus are sacrosanct, I guess. The same folks have turned in any pro-labor credentials because Deval wants to stampede people into the GIC plan, whether it works for the town or not.

Here's what happened: someone in the Legislature came up with a stupid idea -- raising the sales tax by two percent -- and it was shot down. The governor was on the side of the angels in fighting it. End of story for most of us, used to trial balloons on any given day. Of course, Deval (who is adopting Mitt Romney's habit of running to the press to complain about the Legislature, rather than quietly working with it) decides to throw himself a snit party. The man who announced ethics reforms and pension reforms via press release unbacked by actual legislation is...announcing his veto plans via press release.

Geez, a governor who lobbies by press release and travels the country. Like we haven't had enough of that in this state.

I'll tell you when I will take Deval Patrick seriously about revenue: when he gives up his Yeltsinesque struggle with the legislative branch and pushes for a progressive income tax.

"Oh, but that takes a Constitutional Amendment" you may whine. So? The anti-equality folks whipped those up right quick to try to prevent marriage equality in this state. I like to think that there are more of us than them in this state.

Are you saying that in the age of Bernie Madoff, we can't get the requisite signatures on the idea of the rich paying their fair share in this state? Deval Patrick can't lead an effort for a progressive income tax in this era and in this place? That is the kind of change we need and we were promised, and if he can't deliver, he's just a fraud with lots of yes-men. Of course, it could mean coming out from behind his press people and leading from the front -- I'd like to think Deval is still up for it.


Ryan said...

I don't get it.

Do you want the sales tax? Do you think there's better options?

The blog storm is less about Patrick's letter than it is about ensuring smart policy gets done... that actually solves problems. DeLeo's sales tax doesn't do that... and would create a few new ones.

Quriltai said...

I wish it were. What started out as a debate about the sales tax has, with Deval rushing to the presses via statements and badly produced videos, become more about Deval v DeLeo than anything else. A very, VERY stupid move, an done that will seal the deal for the sales tax.