Don't Fear the "T"-word

(Guest post by Emma White)

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made the case for the importance of taxation the other day in the Washington Post, talking about the schools, roads, and other services our tax dollars pay for and closing:

     I’d like to think that the most prosperous nation in human history can have both freedom and security. I think we have reached a point where my personal success is not threatened by a program to help our parents retire with dignity. Voters are smart enough to see that taxes are one of the ways we get those things. They are the price we pay for civilization.

Patrick’s words struck me as a contrast to Democrats’ typical silence or statements along the lines of the following from Harry Reid’s website:

     I have led the fight to provide tax relief for working families, reinstate the state sales tax deduction, and reform the IRS.  In today’s difficult economic climate, I understand how important it is to ensure tax relief is focused on providing help to hard-working families, and to encouraging investment and job creation.

Harry Reid argues that the “relief” should be concentrated on working and middle income families rather than the rich, but his language accepts the idea that taxes are a problem to be solved, rather than a tool to provide services we could not pay for or arrange as individuals. 

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Patrick Backs Kennedy's Last Request

Brief recap: When it looked like John Kerry might become President, the Massachusetts state legislature changed the Senate succession law so that the Republican Governor, Mitt Romney, would not have the power to fill Kerry's seat. The new law states that a special election must be held 145-160 days after a vacancy, but contains no provision to keep the seat filled during those 160 days. A week ago today, news broke that Senator Ted Kennedy had sent a letter to state leaders asking them to give the Governor the power to appoint someone to fill the seat until the election could be held, on the condition that that appointee not run for the office him/herself.

So here's the news: Governor Patrick said today that he supports Senator Kennedy's request. State Republicans will, of course, try to paint this as a power grab, never mind the fact that the appointment is just for 145-160 days and that Massachusetts voters need to be heard on issues from cap-and-trade to budget issues. From the Boston Globe:

"I'd like the Legislature to take up the bill quickly and get it to my desk and I will sign it,'' Patrick said in an interview with the Globe, reiterating in his strongest terms what he had been saying throughout the day, as the state and nation absorbed Kennedy's death and what it would mean for Massachusetts, and for the chamber he served for a half-century.

Patrick's public statements add to growing momentum for Kennedy's plea, which he made last week in a poignant letter to the governor and legislative leaders. Kennedy said that while he supported the state's current method of filling vacant a Senate seat through a special election, Massachusetts could not afford to go without two senators at such a critical time.

Kerry, Harry Reid, and Vicki Kennedy have both been lobbying state leaders to make the change. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said nothing publicly but seems to support the change privately. Senate President Therese Murray has been more reluctant but her opposition seems to be softening.

I would be remiss if I did not end a post on Ted Kennedy, however, by again expressing dismay. This New York Times op-ed from former staffer Adam Clymer (whose biography of Kennedy should arrive from Amazon tomorrow) is one of the better tributes I've seen.

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Competence vs. Ideology

Okay, this isn't going to be a long diary but I haven't seen another entry where this would be an appropriate standalone comment.

It is infuriating that states like New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey should have even a chance of electing Republican governors.  The Republican party should be dead-dead-dead in the Northeast but the Democrats keep giving them a chance to crawl back to life.

The problem is that we have to insist on competence from our candidates.  And that insistence on competence needs to trump ideological preference.  I don't care whether your sentiments are "Progressive" or "Blue Dog," if your candidate can't cross and sustain the competence threshold, it does your cause---our cause---no good at all.  

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DNCC: Gov. Deval Patrick

Deval is speaking. There is a serious buzz in the hall. We were just handed red signs that say

"McCain More Of The Same."

Update [2008-8-26 22:17:26 by Todd Beeton]:Nice, they're saving the shots at McCain for prime time.

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Reforms Denied: How Spitzer and Patrick should be a warning for Obama

While I was doing my usual blog surfing to catch up on what I missed over night, I came across a blog entry by Ezra Klein about Eliot Spitzer that struck me as warning for all those would be reformers out there, including Barack Obama.

...what we're seeing here is not the fall -- if indeed he does fall -- of a high-flying governor. It's the final tumble of a crushed reformer. Spitzer, for reasons both structural and personal, has been utterly humbled by Albany. The new capitalism he promised, the age of transparency he spoke of, the national ambitions he harbored -- all have broken before the obstacles he faced in the governor's mansion. When you think of the hype he was getting only a couple years ago, that's a rather remarkable fact. I don't care about the prostitution. But the capacity of the system to stand against those who would reform it, and who come into office with a broad mandate to do so, is really quite sobering.

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