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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, January 26, 2012

Messed up priorities

Millionaires drop cash on candidates like candy, while elected officials look to tax candy to pay the bills. How did our priorities get so messed up?

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?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Essentially the next election was wrapped up this morning with the announcement that Caterpillar profits are up 60% year/year. Barack will be in, Republicans will hold onto the house, little will change about partisan bickering. My portfolio will do well and other than having health card foisted on me, since Barack has drifted to the right, Quantanamo, drone killings up, bail out big companies (GM, Solyndra) things will be better the next four years. It will have little to do with Barack but he's catching a nice business cycle.

January 26, 2012 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So finally someone from the left acknowledges the Massachusetts bottle law is fundamentally about raising revenue, not the environment. Your candor is refreshing!

January 26, 2012 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

The things that make Massachusetts a good place to live are the schools, healthcare, clean water & air, working transit and transportation, and the court system which enforces contracts as well as criminal law. These things are not free. The best thing the legislature could do is raise the personal deduction, to give a break to the people who have it really tough at the bottom of the income ladder, and raise the rate to 5.9% so the people at the top contribute more of a fair share.

January 28, 2012 4:17 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Anon 12:11, the bottle law was all about the environment when it was enacted before curbside recycling. It has taken on a revenue component because people can't or won't return bottles and the state pockets the difference. It has become a revenue source for those who rummage through recycling bins.

Extending the law to water bottles would have a strong environmental impact by discouraging the needless purchase of water bottled at plants in places like Ayer.

I think the bottle law was a great idea, ahead of its time. I'm not sure it still is now that most communities have curbside recycling.

Still refreshed? :-)

January 28, 2012 8:14 AM  

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