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Big Government Alert!

Oct
26
2006

In the opinion business, it’s common practice to drive your stakes in the ground prior to an event’s actual occurrence; it gives you license to shill when things work out the way you say they will. If they don’t work out, well, there are more important things to write about, so the miscues can be conveniently forgotten.

(Editors’ Note: Guilty!)

That’s why I want to make some noise on at least one issue before the November 7 elections, and time is growing short. But first, I want to take care of one bit of housekeeping.

Back in August, I waxed eloquent on the independent candidacy of Joe Lieberman. In that piece, I referred to Lieberman as “a liberal Democrat addicted to the narcotic called political power.”

Seems that label didn’t sit well with some folks. One reader, Joseph Webb of Whittier, California, questioned my intelligence, saying that I have “no idea what a liberal is.” In spite of being a poor judge of (my) character, Mr. Webb seems like a reasonable guy. And I can understand why he’d jump ugly with me on my application of the “liberal” label. Senator Lieberman has been a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, and his voting record generally supports moderate stands on issues related to business, crime, civil rights, and education. For leftists, Lieberman’s moderate stance fairly screams conservative; for rightists, his record on issues like abortion, taxes, and labor put him squarely on the side of liberalism.

You see, it’s a matter of perspective. My perspective – and in this space that’s the only one that really matters – tends toward social conservatism and a strict small-government bias. I assume Webb comes from a place a little farther to my left. I appreciate his enthusiasm, I appreciate that he felt strongly enough to write, and I appreciate that he’s engaged in this dialog. He and everyone else who disagree with me (except that nutty Hillary Clinton supporter… you know who you are) are encouraged to continue keeping me honest.

I just wish I had said at the time that I knew Lieberman was going to win in November. It doesn’t take a genius to see that now, but I stand behind my prediction of Joe maintaining his steady support for big spending, big government.

Locally here in Massachusetts, I’m disheartened by the seemingly insurmountable lead Democrat gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick has over the GOP’s offering, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey. Since my party didn’t put anyone up for the seat, I’m still in the air over how to cast my vote. I’ve already groused about unchecked spending in the Bay State, and there’s no indication that any of the four choices will do anything to reverse the trend.

Independent candidate Christy Mihos sounds like he’s an anti-tax, small government candidate, but his position on state property tax reform reveals that he’s just another street hustler playing the tax dollar shell game.

Capping property taxes for existing homeowners, like his Proposition One would do, sounds like a great idea, until you understand how such a proposal would modify behavior at the local level. There’s ongoing and active debate as to how effective the Proposition One approach is to forcing fiscal responsibility on lawmakers. In California, the country’s largest test lab for social engineering, a similar scheme was enacted. Proposition 13, endorsed by voters in 1978, rolled property taxes back nearly 1/3 and capped spending increases. Some say Prop 13 has been an unqualified success, while others say it has been an unmitigated disaster.

The hard lesson learned in California is that tax cuts without spending cuts beget looming train wrecks. Rather than cap spending at the local level, Proposition One will encourage local communities to spend like drunken sailors since they will quickly catch on to the fact that, for existing homeowners, there will be no day of reckoning. The state will be forced to step in and provide aid to cash-strapped communities, where appetites for expensive services will inevitably remain voracious, putting even more demand on the Massachsetts taxpayer.

Sadly, and in spite of Healey’s “no new taxes” pledge, there are no true fiscal conservatives on the ballot here in Mass. You don’t need to be named Nostradamus to see that Deval Patrick will be our next governor, giving the 80+ percent Democrat majority in the state legislature a rubber-stamp chief executive on Beacon Hill.

My wallet is already wincing in pain.

(Another Editor’s Note: California-based writer Chris Nolan has her own take on Prop. 13 – she hates it. Here’s a sampling of her reasoning.)

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