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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trial run on Question 1?

Although the specifics still remain unclear, there is no doubt that Deval Patrick is eliminating 1,000 jobs and $1 billion from the state budget. The days and weeks ahead will spell out exactly who is losing their job and what that will mean in terms of renewing a driver's license or getting a permit.

Is it just a prelude? The father of Massachusetts Republican Party spokesman Barney Keller certainly thinks so (still waiting to see how the GOP talking points match up).

But frankly, I think so too.

Cynics are already suggesting the Statehouse exercise is merely a campaign ploy that will be reversed if and when voters reject Question 1, the income tax repeal. Those sad souls are the same one who have bought the Republican "you can have it all and not pay for it" philosophy that has helped this nation into the massive debt.

Those cynics are also ignoring that it is Democrats, like Bill Clinton nationally and a raft of governors of both parties who have been living within their means while the Reagan-Bush free gravy train ran on endlessly.

If Question 1 passes, those cynics will be high-fiving, congratulating themselves on teaching big government a lesson on how to live within its means. That would come about by cutting another $12.5 billion in spending -- on "frills" such police, fire and education.

But even if Question 1 fails, I suspect Patrick and the Legislature will indeed be back at in January, looking to take even more out of a budget that will be hamstrung by a massive loss in capital gains taxes that reflect the tanking of Wall Street and the stock market.

So watch the reaction in the days ahead as the various financial oxen are gored. These cuts, while real and painful, really are just a dress rehearsal -- at best for another round in January, at worse for Question 1.

The outcry will be a better gauge than any poll out there.

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