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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Great expectations

Deval Patrick knows what there are a lot of hopes and dreams riding on his shoulders -- as well a significant number of people hoping he will fail. As he continues to lay out his thoughts, the parameters of this first Democratic administration is 16 years is coming into view.

By responding first and foremost to Kerry Healey's soft on crime mantra, Patrick makes it clear safety begins at home with cops on the beat. The debate about who did what ignored the fact that image counts -- and the perception was the Romney-Healey cuts in local aid forced cutbacks that in turn encompassed less public safety. Patrick is making a symbolic stand -- one likely to win quick support from legislators.

Same applies for his emphasis on early childhood education -- as a way to counter the questions about commitment to education raised by his refusal to say MCAS is the be-all and end-all solution to educational quality.

And let's not ignore the sleeper dropped in the middle of the interview -- his belief the Romney administration may indeed be leaving him with a fiscal mess.
"The problem with the surplus, to the extent there's a problem with the surplus, is it's based mainly on capital gains and not on higher wages or more people working. And it's the latter -- that's the real sign of sustained economic growth."
Notice how this differs from Mitt Romney's grandstanding budget cutting maneuver. In using his executive powers to reinstate $425 million in ideological cuts, the Mittser was trying to shift the subject.
"State revenues are at an all-time high, jobs are being created by the thousands and the stock market is at historic levels," Romney said in a written statement. "... The state is not in a fiscal crisis, but a crisis is looming if the Legislature continues to overspend."
The facts are the Massachusetts economy is finally growing, belatedly after a deeper recession in Massachusetts that was hurt by a failure to aggressively recruit new businesses as Romney had promised. Anemic job growth for much of the Romney years is a clear factor -- as is the fact that people have been voting with their feet by leaving the state for better jobs and lower costs elsewhere.

Romney inadvertently makes the same point as Patrick when he points to the high stock market levels -- and the capital gains tax receipts that usually grow as a result.

There is little disagreement that the economic future is uncertain, (MTF here; MBPC here). But let's leave aside the dismal science and turn to the political one. With that statement Patrick is also drawing a line in the sand. Romney's moves said "don't blame me, I cut spending." Patrick is responding "Not so fast. Spending is only part of the picture."

Throw in the challenge of making the health care law work and, for policy geeks, these promise to be interesting times.


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