Archive for March, 2014

Maximum Fight, Minimum Wage

Hey, you want an absolute, definitive answer on the total effects of raising the minimum wage? You’re not going to get it.

There are lots of stats and opinions floating, some in very thin air. However, you can turn to the US Department of Labor for what the federal and states’ laws are. A better view was in the Dec. Atlantic in Jordan Weissmann’s overview of research and conclusions on the subject,

Today, we kicked around the trends and what we should do. As no surprise to regular listeners, we think it is economically as well as morally right to go up to $10-plus an hour, striving to bring it to an inflation-adjusted 1960s minimum wage. States and countries with higher minimums than our federal $7.75/hour and even guaranteed living wages, as numerous of our Presidents have called for, thrive and have low unemployment. We can easily point here and there and there.

Ryan also spoke of the tepid MA House wage plan (not inflation indexed and demanding reduced unemployment benefits), the pretty good MA Senate version, and a ballot initiative in the works from Raise Up Massachusetts. That group want $10.50/hour. The way our laws work, an initiative with enough sigs becomes a bill for the legislature and if not passed, goes to the ballot. Ryan figures one way or another, this has a good shot.

Listen in as we talk about wages — realities, myths, benefits — productivity and management.

icon for podpress  Minimum wage [31:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Fisher Talks Free Markets and Government Promises

Mark FisherSmall business owner, erstwhile unemployed guy, and self-identified MA Tea Party Republican Mark Fisher wants to be governor here. He spoke with me today about his vision of what government should and should not be about.

On his campaign site, he details his planks. There and personally, he makes no bones about being a full-platform MA Republican. That is, you can hold him personally accountable for the planks in the recent MA GOP version. (You can see it courtesy of RedMassGroup here; the party does not openly publicize it.)

Click below to listen in to Fisher’s positions. He starts, like the famous the-rents-too-damned-high guy, with the call on the front of his own site, “NO TOLLS.” That is one of his political and moral certainties. He says the MA Pike has been paid for since over 30 years ago, the ads and service area fees pay for road maintenance, so the tolls should go away. Moreover, both the sales-tax and income-tax hikes, billed as temporary, need to each return to 5% as the voters chose. He sees all three as moral issues — “If we can’t trust our government,” he said, “there’s no use talking about anything else.”

I had thought we’d mix it up on health-care. I asked him about it when he appeared recently at a Rappaport Center round table. He claimed that the solution to health-case cost hikes was to let the free market settle it, that said free market had not gotten its chance to work fully. I contended and still do that deregulation from the Weld administration permitted wild capitalism at its worst by the large providers, leading to regional monopolies and price inelasticity. When we got to that near the end of today’s half hour, he deflated me by not disagreeing. He still contends that letting providers across state lines offer various policies in the style of auto insurers would drive down prices, but he agreed that the likes of Partners gobbling up hospitals and doctor groups created regional monopolies.

Fisher drew in his company, Merchant’s Fabrication, with its 7 employees. He spoke of his travails in keeping health care affordable to them, particularly in light of not even being able to get competitive quotes from providers because he pays 100% of this employees’ deductible.

We were farther apart on areas like marriage equality. His Tea Party mind has it that the resolutions to such conflicts need “to be settled in culture.” Of course, he’s down on what he calls activist judges legislating from the bench. You can listen in as he points to the likes of the Boy Scouts easing off on their anti-gay policies as these forces came to bear.

Listen in as he differentiates himself specifically from Charlie Baker. He also feels sanguine headed into this weekend’s MA GOP convention. He has to have 15% of the delegates voting for him to get on the primary ballot. He recognizes that many delegates around the state don’t want to spend the time and money for the convention (Boston this time), but his people have called the delegates and he feels sure he has plenty of votes.

Double Baker note: Fisher has been asking the Baker campaign for a debate. Today, Fisher said that’s not going to happen before the GOP convention because the other camp refuses. Also, Baker’s people are the only gubernatorial hopefuls’ that have not agreed to speak with us. Check our posts and archives for all the others, except Martha Coakley, and her people have scheduled a show with us for next month.

icon for podpress  Mark Fisher [30:48m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Full-Platform GOP Fisher Runs for Governor

Mark FisherFrom the GOP mug with an obvious tea-bag tag he carries, Mark Fisher does not hide his Republican or Tea Party leanings. In fact, he is quick to call himself a full-platform believer in both the MA party and a TP believer.

He’ll join us next Tuesday to stake out and define his turf. We’ll ask about the larger race for MA governor, as well as the closer Republican primary. He is not shy about, well, about anything. You can prime yourself with a visit to his campaign site.

To hear him live, go here Tuesday, March 18th, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward his show will be available to hear or download at the show link, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

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Falchuk’s Big Fat Populist Vision

Evan Falchuk mugEvan Falchuk seems intent on taking the sport out of MA politics. Like weather talk, bemoaning the shortcomings of Dems and then Republicans is our MA sport without colorful hats and jerseys. He is confident that his new political party will shut your mouth.

Click below to listen in to his vision of the United Independent Party that is at once synonymous with Falchuk and then is is vision of the new commonwealth political order. He starts with the cliché about not having to vote for the lesser of two evils, then zooms into specific details on what he and the UIP would do differently.

You can also check his ideas and platform at his Rappaport roundtable presentation, on his campaign site, and on my commentary at Marry in Massachusetts.

Falchuk is a big vision guy. That includes:

  • Healthcare — squelching the monopolies created that drive up costs and give patients no choices
  • Taxes — repealing the 1915 commonwealth constitutional amendment mandating a flat tax, setting up a commission to define what makes sense heading to progressive tax regs
  • Infrastructure — similar to taxes, defining what makes sense for the next three or four decades and working toward that instead of patch, patch, patch
  • Economic growth — building for more citizens as well as more jobs, while doing what’s necessary to foster health of small and medium businesses

Falchuk also has plans beyond this election. He sees the UIP fielding candidates at multiple levels in MA. He certainly figures he’ll have the resources for this gubernatorial run. He claims to have hundreds of passionate volunteers augmenting his staff, and a vigorous fund-raising effort, including his personal $2 million contribution.


icon for podpress  Evan Falchuk [31:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Falchuk runs for MA Gov. with his new party

Evan FalchukFalchuk? United Independent Party?

It’s time you got with the program. Running headlong in the hunt for MA governor is Evan Falchuk. He has strong platform planks and a great conviction that voters here don’t want a Dem or GOP top exec this time. You can get a sense of his positions in my blog post here.

He joins us Tuesday, March 11 at 2:30 PM Eastern and you can go here then if you want to hear him live. Afterward, his show will be available at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page to hear or download.

We’ll talk his populism, his planks and his strategy.



Avellone would be Gov. Patrick, but more so

Balancing praise with self-promotion in evaluating the pol you want to replace can be tricky. Today, Joseph Avellone managed that well. He is one of five Dems eager to follow Gov. Deval Patrick, who leaves term limited after eight years.

Avellone said Patrick “has created a very exciting and compelling vision for our commonwealth,” adding, “we don’t need a new vision.” Instead, he wants to continue and expand on Patrick’s drives for new industry, education improvement, and healthcare cost containment.

With an impressive and diverse résumé, Avellone has been surgeon, COO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of MA, biopharmaceutical exec, and more. Click below to listen in as he describes how he’d build on Patrick’s work and layer on his own ideas.

We talked of his year-old Commonwealth Pledge he is driving, at first for Dem candidates and for all if he wins the primary. That would expand the People’s Pledge to include instate PACs and lobbyists, effectively shutting off outside money from the campaigns. We got into an ease of expertise and passion — healthcare cost control. We also spoke of his detailed education plans and his problem/solutions sets there from pre-K up. However, we did not have time for his Office of Recovery or energy and environment ideas. See his site’s Issues area for those.

icon for podpress  Joe Avellone [31:42m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Avellone promises jobs and health-cost control

avellone Another physician in the 2014 run for MA governor is Joe Avellone. A surgeon who went on to be a health-care/pharmaceutical exec, We’ll talk his big, progressive goals, like tens of thousands of new jobs and wrangling health costs, all without raising taxes.

He has tons of relevant experience (like COO of BC/BS) and limited elected background (six years as Wellesley selectman). Check the link above to his campaign site for his issues/proposals.

If you can join us (changed to 2 PM, on Thursday this week), do that on March 6th, Thursday at 2:00 PM Eastern here. Afterward, his show will be available at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.