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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 7 percent "solution"

The idea is so preposterous that even the Tea Party Newsletter relegated it to deep within the recesses of its web site. But with less than a week to go, expect Charlie Baker to launch fear ads accusing Deval Patrick of planning to raise the income tax to 7 percent.

We all know political campaigns make selective, out-of-context use of sound bites and headlines to scare voters about the other guy or gal. That's what Baker did in this week's debate when he took an answer Patrick offered to a questioner to suggest Patrick supports a graduated state income tax.

But it's rare to see outright fabrication, which is exactly what Baker did yesterday in a set-up that strongly suggested last-minute commercial material:
“To solve the $2 billion deficit the state faces next year without any reforms or restructuring to deal with the $2 billion problem the governor doesn’t acknowledge exists, you would have to raise the income tax from 5.3 to 7 percent,” Baker said. He added, “The governor hasn’t proposed anything, but what he has done over the past four years is raise taxes.”
Not even the slimmest shred of evidence and note the weasel words that he "hasn't proposed anything," words that can be neatly edited from a commercial that would likely be launched Friday night -- too late for Patrick to respond until the TV advertising offices re-open on Monday.

Patrick has discussed the deficit the state faces next year as well as what he says have been a cumulative $13 billion in cuts that Baker has yet to acknowledge accompanied tax increases. And Baker's own solution to the deficit problem is to roll back the income tax to 5 percent, creating a hole just as large as the one he claims Patrick is ignoring.

Baker needs to change the subject about the real October Surprise, the memo that emerged in 1998 in which he labeled Big Dig costs "surreal," but suggested the solutions be delayed until after that year's gubernatorial election.

However, putting words in other people's mouths to distract from your own words on paper is not an honest or ethical way to do it.

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