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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, June 25, 2010

Profiles in cowardice

The contrast could hardly be more striking: public employees have far more clout with legislators than legal immigrants.

The Massachusetts Legislature has once again whiffed in efforts to rein in what have become increasingly indefensible benefit costs that are saddling cities and towns. And the cop-out is hilarious. In the words of House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Murphy of Burlington:
“It’s very much a live issue, because it is so important ... Everybody on both sides of the issue acknowledges that the costs are an issue we have to address. The trick is finding the middle ground."
There's a certain "we had to destroy the village to save it" quality to the excuse. It's pretty clear is that middle ground includes salving the feeling of municipal unions who have balked at lawmakers taking away collectively bargained rights.

So while that may be a legitimate -- but hardly unresolvable issue -- lawmakers took the path of no resistance in saving some health care costs. They took away coverage from legal immigrants.

Let's repeat that for a second: these are not undocumented men and women who have been the focal point of right wing wrath. They live and work in Massachusetts with all the appropriate documentation and pay taxes. But unlike municipal employees, they don't vote.

Deval Patrick fought and won when the Legislature cut this program last year -- but appears to be noncommittal to another fight at this moment.

But that's apparently better than Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill, who prefer to focus on the fact that Patrick and lawmakers chose to fund the program and others with federal stimulus money that's been yanked away with the same predictably as Lucy's football holds.

And that's a profile in political expediency, just like taking it out of people who don't vote. Leaders offer solutions to problems. Let's hear 'em Charley and Tim. And Bobby and Terry.

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