Saturday, May 23, 2009

On taxes and toughness...weekend blather

  • Republican morons are rending their garments over the idea of accused quasi-terrorists being moved from Guantanamo to American supermax prisons, anything-goes houses where the most dangerous Americans in the world are housed. Some of whom, I rather imagine, have killed more Americans than any of these guys. I imagine I'm supposed to be scared at the idea one of the fellas might escape. Not sure why -- am I supposed to think that this guy is somehow going to find a way home to the other side of the planet, or that he'll resume his maybe-terrorist career right then and there? Because a dark-skinned man with a thick Central Asian accent would have no trouble buying large amounts of fertilizer in the wake of a terrorist escape. In any case, it cracks me up that Republicans believe that a recently escaped Afghani wandering around Marion, Illinois in prison garb, speaking almost no English, with no money, and unfamiliar with American cultural norms would be a real danger. I'm a lot more worried about what might happen with an escaped Charles Manson -- a man we know is a murderer who is familiar with American culture, educated, with a number of admirers still in this country -- than these guys in Guantanamo. Yet he's here, and they are there. Crazy.

  • At my second home at BMG, I explain why I have trouble taking Deval Patrick's tough talk relative to the Lege seriously, and why I don't think they have reason to take him seriously, either. He had a golden opportunity to change the face of the Legislature during last month's special election primary for Sal DiMasi's old seat. Deval and his people sat on the sidelines and watched the machine keep a vulnerable seat. Unless Patrick & Co. are going to give legislators notice that they will work to unseat them when possible, they won't be listened to.

  • For that matter, the more I think about the sales tax hike, the less upset I become. That's partially because I lived in Montreal, which features a total sales tax above 15% on most goods to pay for a crap health care system. Also, most of your essential expenses are not subject to sales tax in the Bay State -- mortgage or rent, supermarket food, health care, gasoline, heat, etc. The sales tax affect discretionary spending mainly, so it's not as if this is affecting working class folks in ways they can't avoid -- the way that an income tax hike would.

  • The only long-term solution to revenue shortfall is progressive income taxes, where everyone pays a fair share. Jamie Eldridge and Sonia Chang-Diaz pointed this out in the Globe recently.

  • Speaking of which, State Senator Chang-Diaz is emerging as an interesting case. On taxes, she is voting more with the governor's position and not that of the Legislative leaders. Given that the power rests with the leaders, and that Deval endorsed her criminally indicted opponent with a history of playing things fast and loose during the primary, she really doesn't owe him much. All of which leads me to presume that Senator Chang-Diaz is voting along her sense of what is right or wrong. Good for her.

  • I'm adding "Massachusetts Liberal" to my blogroll. Check it out for stuff such as this:

    What the GOP is apparently incapable of doing in Massachusetts is consistently recruiting and electing a farm team, people willing to run for state representative and senate. [Weld and Romney] lost interest in the job and put personal gain over creating a team that could actually develop into a credible minority party.

    MaLib does a great job tracing the history of failure that is the Republican Party's misadventures in Legislative elections. I would add that this is the closest comparison we have to the status of Deval Patrick's 2008 promises to remake the tired politics of Massachusetts.

  • Somebody who works for Tim Cahill put a lot -- a lot of resources into capturing the chairmanship of the Plymouth County Democratic League. Four years ago, that body was led by a guy named John Walsh. Huh. On the other hand, his campaign committee website isn't working at the moment...if anyone has a way to get in touch with Cahill via phone or email that doesn't require going through the treasurer's office, I'd appreciate it if you would send it to


Daniel said...

Deodorant, laundry detergent, toilet paper..."discretionary expenses"?

Quriltai said...

Smelling nice is overrated.

Seriously, though, I said "The sales tax affect discretionary spending mainly" which has poor subject-verb agreement, but remains true. If you're spending over 50% of your money on smelling nice, you got a problem.

I wouldn't mind some refinement on what is and is not sales-tax exempt. Heck, I'd like to see closer monitoring of tax-exempt status in the first place. But the big ticket items still aren't affected here.

If you would care to run the numbers, and show me how raising the sales tax 1.25% takes a bigger bite out of working class -- nevermind middle class -- families than an income tax hike that raises the same revenue, I'll listen.