Messed up priorities
While our nation slowly, slowly emerges from the depths of a Great Recession triggered by lax government oversight, governors are looking in every nook and cranny to find ways to pay for services that are necessary and/or expected -- without the resources to pay for them.
Patrick administration budget chief Jay Gonzalez told the Globe Massachusetts the state will never again be able to pay for the level of services it provided before the recession, citing long-term debts, including $40 billion in unfunded liability for current and future state and municipal retiree health benefits.
To close the gap, Deval Patrick is asking to extend the 6.25 percent sales tax to candy and soda, raise cigarette taxes again and make water bottles subject to the bottle law. In other words, nickle and dime people, many of whom are already stretched to the limit.
In part because it's a safe election year assumption have no stomach for a broader, fairer proposal. After all, this is a nation that steadfastly refuses to ask millionaires to pay their fair share toward the common good.
But millionaires have no compunction about dropping obscene amounts of cash to buy, er, support their favorite candidates.
Exactly what are Sheldon and Miriam Adelson getting in their $10 million purchase of, er, investment in Newt Gingrich? GOP critics may ask the same question about the $23.7 million George Soros dropped on Democrats in 2004.
Guesstimates are Barack Obama may raise upwards of $1 billion to defend the White House against the attack of plutocrats who have already bought and paid for Congress and are driving it ever farther away from dealing with the root causes of the recession -- the mortgage scandal, two credit card wars and massive tax cuts for their financial backers.
Meanwhile, kids are being asked to dig deeper in the pockets for a candy bar or a can of soda.
How did we go so far off the rails?