and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation


Barbara's Column
December  2003 #4

A look ahead to 2004
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

As many people make New Year’s resolutions, some newspaper columnists make predictions.

May I resolve not to make predictions?

It’s just that the few predictions I’ve made over the years have been, for the most part, wrong.

There was the prediction that was inspired by my fascination with the Vampire Chronicles of Anne Rice. When “Interview with the Vampire” was being filmed, I predicted that it would be an overwhelming cultural event, the beginning of an ongoing movie series, inspiring vampire action dolls. Instead, toy store shelves have been filled with World Federation of Wrestling action dolls. If I’d been asked the first time I saw professional wresting on television, I’d have predicted that such a silly thing wouldn’t still be around in 2003.

Which reminds me, I predicted that Jesse Ventura would be running for president this year. I think I even wrote to him to volunteer as a Massachusetts coordinator, if things didn’t work out with President Bush.

That was before Jesse raised taxes in Minnesota. But even if I’d wanted to join his campaign, where did it go?

I did predict several years ago that if Republicans held all three branches of the federal government, there would be no excuse for not getting a Republican domestic agenda done. I was right about that, there is no excuse. So where is the balanced budget, and the battles for tax simplification, education vouchers and entitlement reform?

I guess I’ll have to settle for effective foreign policy, without which domestic issues won’t matter for long.

I think I predicted on cable television, early in this current presidential campaign, that Howard Dean would probably become the frontrunner. I could see why his definitive personality would appeal to Democrats fed up with phoniness. However, I thought Joe Lieberman would be doing better; he seems real, if somewhat confused at times.

Not going to predict, along with almost everyone else, that George W. Bush will win the election, though I plan to vote for him. It’s just too far to November in an unpredictable world.

On the local political scene, I predicted -- or fantasized -- in 1992 that Republicans would take over the Massachusetts Senate and the Republican minority leader, David Locke, would be Senate President. Instead, Senator Locke lost his election to Democrat Cheryl Jacques, who ran as a reformer. Today, the Republicans do not have enough members to sustain a veto, should they be so inclined.

I predict that voters in Jacques’ district will elect Republican Rep. Scott Brown to fill the retiring anti-reformer Cheryl Jacques’ seat, despite the efforts of Senate Democrats to rig the election for a Democrat by arranging it the same day as the Democratic presidential primary. And I predict that if Governor Romney is successful beyond his wildest dreams in creating a viable two-party system, and Republicans control all three Beacon Hill branches, there will be no excuse for not getting a taxpayer agenda done.

Lower taxes, more reform, less business-as-usual, better services: I predict this would be a nice change for 2005.

But I predict that the following will not happen in election year 2004:

  • Local officials will not be arrested for breaking the law and importing drugs from Canada for their cities.

  • Some people will not stop demanding price controls on drugs, and if they get them will wonder why many drugs, like the flu vaccine whose cost the federal government limited, aren’t there when they need them, at any price.

  • Massachusetts politicians won’t be able to duck a vote of some sort on the “gay marriage” issue, as they did in recent years by ignoring the constitutional requirement to vote on initiative petitions.

  • Anti-smoking activists won’t picket the new two mile tunnel, where commuters are stuck in traffic sucking exhaust fumes.

  • The attacks on SUV’s will not cease, even as it becomes more evident that in some cities, they are necessary for driving on streets with potholes and unplowed snow.

  • The state and many communities will not build sufficient snow removal money into their budgets, which are passed in mid-summer when hey, it’s not snowing!

  • Charter schools and MCAS will not go away, no matter how much the teachers unions dislike competition and accountability.

  • Spending advocates on Beacon Hill will continue to cry wolf, but the second year of the Massachusetts “fiscal crisis,” allegedly requiring immediate major tax hikes, won’t materialize either.

  • However, the “temporary” income tax hike of 1989 will not be finally phased down to 5 percent this year, even though voters mandated a three-year rollback in November 2000. The promised sales tax holiday in August also won’t happen.

  • The proposed "temporary" increase in local business' share of property taxes will not be temporary either.

  • While the remake of “Dark Shadows” will be a big television event, there still won’t be vampire action dolls.

But I do predict that:

Beacon Hill will continue to want more of the taxpayers blood. And someone will go to court to challenge “fees” that are really taxes.

Happy New Year.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.

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