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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, July 14, 2010

The heat is on

As if the temperature and humidity weren't high enough lately, Deval Patrick is doing his best to raise it even more under the Golden Dome.

With one eye on the July 31 end of the legislative calendar and the other firmly planted on Nov. 2, Patrick is raising his rhetoric in an effort to either get the Legislature to move on some of his key initiatives or make them the scapegoat if nothing happens.

And meanwhile, Charlie Baker can only sit back, look at news that cuts credibility from his claims and dream up budgetary solutions that are just dreams without legislative concurrence or a statewide ballot initiative.

But back to Patrick, who is engaging in an ever-increasing war of words with House Speaker Robert DeLeo over slots at the track, even as he decries the rhetorical escalations.
“We’re not going to get a bill without a compromise between the House and Senate, and there isn’t going to be a compromise until folks start trying to engage with each other and dial down some of the rhetoric,’’ Patrick told reporters. “To the extent that this stuff is stuck on the gaming bill, it’s really important we take a deep breath and start talking to each other, instead of about each other, and try to find the compromises that get this stuff done.’’
For a governor accused of being too aloof and disengaged, hypocrisy is a charge he can live with when the headlines show him to be active and passionate.

But DeLeo is no innocent here either, having told the Statehouse News last week that his intention was to gum up the works until he gets the racinos he wants, ostensibly to boost local aid.
"I just can't be persuaded," DeLeo said. "As the governor and others may have trouble being persuaded about having the slots, I can't be persuaded that we shouldn't have the slots. The casinos are going to have slot machines, so I really, really can't understand the difficulty with it."
Senate President Therese Murray, who agrees with Patrick on racinos, is wisely letting the boys engage in their own spitting contest.

From a political perspective, this is golden time for Patrick. He is showing himself as deeply engaged, fighting an entrenched legislative leader. He was also handed a free gift when a judge reinstated the pension of DeLeo's indicted predecessor, reminding voters about the corruption stench emanating from the House and Senate in recent years.

And while all this is playing out, Baker needs to gin up attention. Hence his chat with the Herald in advance of an announcement that he will impose new caps on Beacon Hill spending and rebuild the state’s rainy day fund. All part of an effort to lay the blame for the Great Recession at Patrick's feet:
“I want Massachusetts to learn from the mistakes of the last four years,” Baker told the Herald. “Let’s try to make sure we do something going forward where we’re not leaving these gigantic deficits.”
While it's true voters don't discern between culprits and tend to blame the easy target when they're angry, those pesky facts do tend to get into the way. Facts like the new CNBC survey listing Massachusetts at No. 5 among America's Top States for Business.

Or the fact that the Legislature ultimately decides spending levels and rainy day fund use. Good luck getting them to agree to your plans Charlie, short of launching a ballot initiative that could appear no earlier than 2012.

There's a long way to go until November. Heck, there's a long way to July 31 and legislative logjams have a way of rapidly breaking, even as late as July 30. The posturing now is not really different from the words before the Legislature passed ethics, pension and transportation reform last year.

Patrick is building his own campaign credibility as someone who can get things done -- or setting himself up as the someone with both the willingness and the experience in challenging an entrenched Legislature that has stood in the way of progress.

These are good days for Deval. Whether he can keep them going is clearly the big question.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

All for show from the Governor. Where has he been for three years?

And you think Baker would be less effective with a Democratic legislature? Impossible.

July 14, 2010 6:09 AM  
Anonymous Stealth said...

What exactly is the rainy day fund for, if not massive unemployment and no help in sight from Washington? To ward off an invasion from Vermont?

July 14, 2010 3:11 PM  

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