Archive for September, 2008

Taxes on the Chopping Block

The no-on-1 side was our podcast today. Speaking against Question 1 on the Nov. ballot in Massachusetts, Michael J. Widmer explained why eliminating personal income taxes here would be terrible.

The initiative would cut the 5.3% personal income tax in half in January 2009 and eliminate it entirely the next year. Taxpayers would appreciate over $3,000 more cash. The commonwealth would lose up to 39% of its revenue.

Widmer is president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan research group that studies public finance and government.  He frames the much more complex reasons and arguments against the ballot measure.

Listen in as he explains what he sees happening if this passes.  Check back here shortly for a link to the study his group is about to release on the subject. Then listen in next week, 10/7, when a leading proponent of the initiative, Carla Howell of the Committee for Small Government presents a very different view.

Finally hold on to the end of this podcast when Ryan, Lynne and Mike mix it up with strong, differing opinions on the huge financial crisis.

icon for podpress  Tax Chopping Block [64:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Budget Liposuction

howell.jpg

Well, well, the yes-on-1 folk are also eager to have their say too. We’ll  match the no-on-1 head, Michael J. Widmer, with the leader of the Committee for Small Government, Carla Howell.

Those who want blood on the floor will have to invite them to their own function. We’ll host Widmer this coming Tuesday and Howell the next week.

Each gets an solo shot at explaining what’s terrible or wonderful about dropping personal income taxes in the commonwealth.

The initiative petition is Question 1 on the November 4th ballot.  It mandates halving the 5.3% tax starting in January 2009 and totally eliminating it in January 2010.

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Tax Battle 11/4

taxes.jpg Home of an early, famous tax revolt, a.k.a. the Boston Tea Party, Massachusetts is at it again. Voters will go to their battle stations again in November. This time, it’s ballot question 1.

This would cut the 5.3% personal income tax in half in January 2009 and eliminate it entirely the next year. Taxpayers would appreciate over $3,000 more cash. The commonwealth would lose up to 39% of its revenue.

The yes-on-1 people say the government would find ways to slash waste and make up the difference. Our guest Tuesday (9/30), Michael J. Widmer, says otherwise.

Listen in live at 2:30 p.m. or catch it here later.

Widmer is president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.  He frames the much more complex reasons and arguments against the ballot measure.

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Dogs, Duties and Drugs

On November 4th, we have YES/NO choices on three ballot questions:

  1. Eliminate state personal income taxes by 1/1/10 (cut in half to 2.65% on 1/1/9)
  2. Change  possession of small amounts of pot from criminal to civil offense
  3. Outlaw dog racing by 1/1/10

We stated our impassioned, and we think reasoned, arguments. We say:

  • No on 1, in the strongest terms.
  • Yes on 2.
  • Yes on 3, also strongly.
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Insidious March of Progressives

Let us chuckle together. What wingers seems to fear, election of progressive and leftist politicians, seems to continue in Massachusetts. Ryan and Mike reveled in the legislative possibilities following yesterday’s Massachusetts Dem primaries.

Sonia v. Dianne.  Huge without a doubt was the victory of Sonia Chang-Díaz over incumbent state Senator Dianne Wilkerson. Sonia lost two years ago in an all-sticker campaign. She eked and squeaked out a 1-plus percentage win over the eight-term (16-year) incumbent. Both offer progressive and activist aims and platforms. Sonia does it without the trappings and distractions of legal and financial troubles and regular revelations.

Kerry v. O’Reilly.  A week ago, we had Ed O’Reilly on to discuss being the first challenger to our four-term (24-year) incumbent U.S. Senator. Ed is a bit to the left of Kerry but of course far less experienced and with a might less defined platform. Voters would win either way, but they stayed with what they know and Kerry crushed O’Reilly. Ryan and Mike have seen a lot of legislative and program activity from Kerry. He didn’t seem to welcome the Dem challenge at all, but the constituents seem to have benefited already.

In a number of other races, progressives were re-elected or won vacant seats. A pair lost against a DINO rep in Medford/Malden, but  in Watertown/Cambridge, Jon Hecht walked away with it. Over in Somerville, Rep. Carl Sciortino won reelection on a sticker drive against a candidate on the ballot after not turning in enough signatures. 

All in all, we see solid gains, with some November races uncontested. We’ll be looking for some progressive legislation in the next incarnation of the General Court.

icon for podpress  They Have Been Chosen [42:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Ed O’Reilly On Message

eo.jpgSquaring off against 24-year incumbent U.S. Sen. John Kerry somehow hasn’t exhausted Ed O’Reilly. The Gloucester lawyer has put his career on hold to contend in the Democratic Primary, September 16th. He seems to have visited every town square, coffee shop and public meeting place in the commonwealth in the process.

Ed joined us today to discuss his platform, the difficulty in getting Kerry to debate, and even the small recent firestorm about his brother and politics. The key point is that O’Reilly thinks he has better founded, more productive positions that will serve the public more efficiently and more openly.

He notes that he differs in numerous issues, including:

  • He wants to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq now and wants a timeline to complete the handover.
  •  He has a detailed energy program, including a WPA-style renewable energy program.
  • As Senator, he would make his appointment book public before and after the fact, as part of his belief in transparency.

O’Reilly and Kerry ended up having a single 19-minute debate-like-mingling on WBZ-TV. It was not the most comfortable Sunday morning gathering. However, they did get a chance to exchange on what O’Reilly had said during the past year of campaigning.

While O’Reilly says he never doubted his own motives for offering himself as a better Senator, he seemed sanguine about his chances.  He acknowledges that Kerry has the money and machine to, as he put it, “fight an air war” of advertisements. Yet he says he can live with what the voters decide. He’s confident he’d be a better Senator, but can accept if the voters don’t want a change. On the other hand, he figures the likely low turnout election can work in his favor.

He is quick to point out that he was supposed to get only about 7% of the commonwealth Democratic Convention votes, well below the 15% required to be on the ballot. He says most people were very surprised that he got 23%, a figure he says shows that many are ready for a change in the position.

icon for podpress  Giant Killer? [34:42m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Views from Arlington Podcast

We were graced by John Galligan, a.k.a. Humble Elias, the blogger at Chimes at Midnight. Lynne and Mike dragged national and local politics around the grounds.

He knows a lot about and has strong opinions on Arlington politics, Sarah Palin, John Kerry and Ed O’Reilly among others. As one teaser, he figures lots of shoes are about to drop on Palin’s candidacy. Sounds like fun to me.

icon for podpress  Chimes at Noon [34:40m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Quixote or Giant Killer?


Everyone, including candidate Ed O’Reilly knows he’s walking under huge legs in trying to unseat long-term U.S. Senator John Kerry. The Gloucester lawyer is neither cowed nor seemingly does he need sleep.

Cross-post note: This appears at Marry in Massachusetts.

I bumped hips, figuratively, with him at the Ward 11 and 19 candidate forum at Boston English last night. (I’ll post on that over there when I can find all the endorsement results.) He’d been to Springfield, New Bedford and who the devil knows where else that day. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge that this primary is allegedly Kerry’s.

Join him and us at Left Ahead! on a special Wednesday podcast to talk about his campaign and why he thinks progressives and even wishy-washy lefties should peep about with him…but not to find their final resting places.

You can listen live on Wednesday, September 10th at 2:30 p.m. here. Within an hour you can go there or return to Left Ahead! to hear the show on a player or to download the MP3 of it.

~Mike

Related Thingummy:  We’ll be sure to ask O’Reilly about the truncated near debate he and Kerry will have with John Keller on WBZ TV at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, September 7th. It’s limited in format as well as to 20 minutes during a very sparse eyeball time.

 …and Kerry?:  For those who ask why we don’t give John Kerry a say, we’ll do that as soon as he permits. We’ve asked on and off since March. Congress and campaigns have not allowed, his staff say. In fairness, we have not asked every week, but as of last week, we heard he was headed to D.C. for a busy session, making it impossible to give us 30 or 60 minutes on the phone until after the primary. We haven’t ignored our Junior Senator.

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Chimes at Noon Podcast

We’ll run our weekly a tad early this coming Tuesday, 9/9.  At noon, the blogger behind Chimes at Midnight joins us.

Commenting as Humble Elias, John L. Galligan has little patience with foolishness or delusion. Hear him live then or check back here for the podcast.

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Something Old/New Candidates

Okay, we can’t claim high ground. We rolled around the John McCain/Sarah Palin rubbish.

Along with rumors of babies recent and pending, we went for some substance. Her veep nomination is a combined intelligence and personality test. Palin has no meaningful expertise or experience. Her personal life is a royal mess, down to active charges of misusing her authority as governor to fire a commissioner. She has a history of pork-barrel politics of the type McCain allegedly abhors. Moreover, for moderate to leftish Americans she has all the wrong positions — anti-choice (even in incest and rape), pro-gun, pro-capital punishment, and more.

The test questions would be how many could delude themselves enough to pretend she’d be a good choice to be first in line to replace a president? Second, if Barack Obama is so unqualified to lead the military and make foreign policy decisions, what does that say about transparent-résumé Palin?

To Mike, what the choice highlights is that McCain likes to portray himself as a free-thinking maverick, but this is clearly an uninformed and impulsive decision. Palin may not even make it through the convention and if she does will face ceaseless questions. For McCain, we must ask that if he makes such a capricious decision for VP, could we ever trust him in the Oval Office?

icon for podpress  Something New, Palin [52:05m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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