and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
October #2

Free-spending Democrats make strong case for GOP gains in 2010
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Despite the weather, I enjoyed my Saturday drive out Route 114, then down I-495. The autumn foliage shone bright through the rain.

I was headed for Westborough where I was part of an "issues panel" at the "Winning in 2010 Conference" of the Association of Massachusetts Republican Town & City Committee Chairmen. The other panelists were economist David Tuerck of the Beacon Hill Institute, and Bill Vernon of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Dr. Tuerck did a PowerPoint presentation on the economy, arguing that the federal government rushed into a stimulus plan that didn't and won't work, but will cause massive deficits and inflation.

He said that Massachusetts is doing slightly better than the national average on employment. But the lost jobs have led to lower personal and corporate income-tax revenues; and the sales-tax hike won't raise the $980 million that had been anticipated by state tax-hikers partly because many Massachusetts shoppers, who like other Americans are buying less, are doing more of that limited buying in New Hampshire and on the Internet.

Well, we already know that the new sales tax won't save us from fiscal free-fall, as state revenues dropped dramatically in the first month of its existence. And while shoppers' restraint is tough on business, I think we all know that Americans in general should be saving more, borrowing less, and spending less.

However, the government doesn't have to make it worse on the usually job-creating, small-business sector. Vernon focused his remarks on the special difficulties these businesses face in Massachusetts, where unemployment insurance costs are the highest in the country, taxes are high, regulations create more expense, and the state health-insurance law raised costs 45 percent in three years.

When it was my turn I thought some optimism was called for, so I said that if the assembled Republican city and town committees did their job and defeated some tax-hiking state legislators, we could start to move Massachusetts in a better direction. I expressed confidence that they can also help their country by defeating Democratic congressmen who vote to increase the national debt.

One of Tuerck's charts compared the roughly $400 billion deficits under Bush to the $1.85 trillion deficit predicted for this year by the Congressional Budget Office. Many Republicans were understandably unhappy with the Bush deficits, but now, as a bumper sticker says, "Please don't tell President Obama what comes after trillion."

Sunday night I listened to WRKO's Pundit Review, where RedMassGroup blogger Garrett Quinn joined host Kevin Whelan. A caller attacked libertarian-leaning Republicans like Garrett, saying they should not be part of the real, conservative Republican Party. Garrett calmly disputed that, arguing that everyone who believes in fiscal responsibility should be welcome.

If ever there was a year to set aside differences on social issues in order to save the country, it will be 2010.

Someone sent me a photo of a little girl about four years old at a rally, holding a sign that said, "I'm already $38,375 in debt and I only own a doll house." She looked a lot like my granddaughter.

I'm an Independent who appreciates the Massachusetts minority party. State Rep. Jeff Perry, R-Sandwich, has written a book called "My GOP" in which he expounds on its history. According to Perry, the Republican Party was created by anti-slavery organizers, played a leading role in securing women's right to vote, and we know from watching the Ken Burns' documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" last week, that the party also took the lead in environmental protection.

I've long been grateful for Republican leadership in ending the military draft after Vietnam, and was told years ago by a party elder that Republicans fought to allow birth control here in Massachusetts, causing them to lose power to Irish Catholic Democrats. Seems that blacks, women and environmentalists should give some credit where it's due.

Meanwhile, on Democrat-controlled Beacon Hill, the Joint Revenue Committee is embarking on a "listening tour" to get ideas for more taxes. Other lawmakers are considering forcing the still-viable banking, insurance and financial sectors to uncover links to the slave trade as a condition of doing business with the state, so that apologies and reparations can be considered.

Bob Katzen's Beacon Hill Update tells us that many legislators who get a per-diem payment for showing up for work have not been paying federal or state income taxes on the amount for decades. Also, when they were caught not paying into the Medicare system, state taxpayers were forced to send the missing amounts to the federal government. Think we taxpayer serfs will get an apology and reparations?

The sales-tax package also raised Registry fees even as Registry offices were closed around the state, forcing customers to wait in line the way we did before then-Gov. Paul Cellucci hired Dan Grabauskas to run the Registry of Motor Vehicles. That's the same Grabauskas, by the way, who was just forced out as MBTA manager by the Patrick administration. Couldn't the governor have asked him to save the Registry again instead of just buying out his contract at taxpayer expense?

Yes, Republican town and city committees: It's time to win in 2010. Just find us some fiscally conservative candidates, and I predict we voters will do the rest.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.