Limited Taxation & Government
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CLT&G Update
Wednesday, May 21, 1998

"Promises" Never Intended to be Kept:
A Survival Lesson in Political Doublespeak

Greetings activists and supporters;

Did you hear Mass Pike Czar Kerasiotis on Howie Carr's program last week tear into Treasurer Joe Malone, then insist to Free the Pike leader Doug Barth and Howie's audience that they "are taking down the tollbooths" starting west and working east, that everything west of Rte. 128 will be down some day soon?

Was that a promise, or just empty rhetoric?  Read on then judge for yourself.

The U.S. Congress has passed the Roth IRA, and the state Senate just piggy-backed one of its "tax cuts" on it.  The Roth IRA would allow someone saving for his or her retirement to increase tax deductible savings beyond a regular IRA.  The regular IRA defers taxes until you draw on the retirement fund and are beyond your peak earning years and in a lower tax bracket.  The new Roth IRA provides no immediate tax relief, but would make distributions tax-exempt way down the road when you retire.

Is this a promise, or just empty rhetoric?  Read on then judge for yourself -- then decide whether you want to bet your retirement income on it!

But remember, you're betting on the promise of Social Security too, and paying almost 17 percent of your income for that bet!

Today we have an important lesson before us, taught by Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees (R-East Longmeadow), a political survival lesson we must take to heart -- and remember the next time any politician tells us ANYTHING:

When politicians make a commitment, they are either "so stupid they could throw themselves at the ground and still miss" (thanks to U.S. Rep. Jim Traficante, D-Ohio, for that wonderful quote!), or lying through their teeth, because THEY KNOW they cannot be held accountable for anything they "promise" -- or at very least can use this excuse to cop-out of any "promise" they make, after enjoying the immediate benefits.

Chip Ford


Barbara's observations:

In my eagerness to congratulate our Republican friends on the quality of the income tax rollback debate, I neglected to mention that Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees did a really dumb thing at the beginning of the debate:  he went out of his way to state that "We didn't promise to because you can't promise to make a future Legislature do anything."

No kidding, Brian. This is not the point, of course, and I have a feeling that someone, perhaps from the Governor's office, called him quickly to explain the facts of life, that the Legislature in 1989 did promise that the tax increase would be temporary and forgot to mention to the public they were promising that the promise was not binding after the next election.

So by the next time he stood to speak, Lees was expressing himself more carefully and I figured, why bring it up.

However, if you read the Globe today (below), you will note that the Democrats were quick to call his gaffe to the attention of the media, and Brian will forever be quoted as the Cellucci campaign leader who denies there was a promise, which is probably why the Senate Democrat leadership conned him into making that statement, as I'm sure it did.

See how it all works?

But getting back again to the quality of the debate, I think there is real potential with Senate Republicans.  They, like the House Republicans, just need a new, more savvy leader, like they had in David Locke.

Barbara --


The Boston Globe
Thursday, May 21, 1998

Cellucci concedes on tax cut plan
By Geeta Anand
Globe Staff

Casting himself as a leader who fights hard for his agenda, Acting Governor Paul Cellucci marshaled a group of former legislators yesterday to say his $1.6 billion tax cut plan is the only one that fulfills a promise by the Legislature nearly a decade ago.

But in the same press conference, Cellucci acknowledged the limits of his battle plan, saying he will not veto the Legislature's more modest tax cut proposal.

"I'm not going to deny the people of Massachusetts a tax cut," he said. "There's another year" for that fight.

Cellucci's supporters stepped forward a day after the Senate unanimously approved a $543 million tax cut for next year. The House last month overwhelmingly endorsed a $500 million reduction, and the two plans will be reconciled in conference committee and sent to Cellucci.

Whether the Legislature made a promise to voters in 1990 to roll back the income tax rate to its former 5 percent level - as Cellucci insists - remains unclear. What is undisputed is that no such pledge was put in writing.

[It is NOT "unclear" -- See our webpage:
for the words out of their own mouths - Chip]

In Senate debate this week, even Cellucci's Republican colleague, Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees, pointedly discounted the idea of such a promise even as he pushed the governor's income-tax cut.

"We didn't promise it because you can't promise to make a future Legislature do anything," Lees said.

Instead, Lees argued on the merits of the Cellucci plan: that lowering the tax rate returns money into the hands of "working men and women." In 1990, lawmakers intended for the tax rate to be reduced when the economy improved, and it should be, Lees said.

Pushed on the issue, Cellucci also cited the issue of intent.

"We're referring to the arguments the Democratic legislators made to their members to get them to pass the tax increases," he said.

"The only alternative to limited taxation and government is
unlimited taxation and government"