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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, November 25, 2009

Oh yeah, can't make me!

There was an old line in the Statehouse press corps that legislative rules were made for breaking. The rules are overridden in innumerable ways every session for matters mundane -- and occasionally major.

And it's also true that lawmakers passed important changes to their joint rules more than a decade ago after abuses that came in late-night and end-of-session lame duck extravaganzas where tax cuts were swapped for pay raises and favored constituents got sweetheart deals.

But the obstinacy of legislative leaders to take a six-week hiatus in the face of major budget headaches reminds of the old TV commercial where the tough guy challenges someone to knock a battery off his shoulder:

"Go ahead and knock it off. I dare you."

The tough guy today is House Speaker Robert DeLeo. The battery is the Legislature's chip that Gov, Deval Patrick deigns to question the seriousness and pace of lawmakers' efforts to cope with the endless fallout from the Great Recession.

I'm not talking about allowing staff to have a little extra time off around the holidays. These are the folks who do the actual constituent work, stay up late with their bosses and who are the ones being asked to take unpaid furlough days, unlike their bosses.

DeLeo's insistence to play by House rules and break until January seems obstinate in the extreme given the myriad of unresolved financial problems Patrick is asking them to join him in fixing.

Let's just say their efforts to date on the budget front have been underwhelming. And by putting off the inevitable they only deepen the cuts that will be needed to close the gaps.

Maybe lawmakers know that Patrick will get blamed for it all anyway so why do any heavy lifting?

Talk about holiday turkeys.

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