Alternate alternate title: Just how stupid do they think we are?
The Massachusetts State Senate initiated the run-up to next week's budget debate with a strikingly familiar set of announcements. Rather than re-do the analysis, I'll ask you to simply read the Globe article linked immediately above, and then re-read this post from Wednesday April 15, the day the House Ways and Means Committee released its own budget blueprint - except substitute "Senate" wherever you see "House," and "Steve Panagiotakos" for "Charley Murphy." With those minor tweaks, the analysis is exactly the same.
We have the same budget blueprint with deep spending cuts (to local aid, to health care, to... the Boys and Girls Clubs!!) and no tax increases. We have the same meaningless laments from the Ways and Means Committee Chairman: "it is an accurate assessment of the dismal revenue picture." You have the same foreshadowing by the Globe of the pro-tax advocacy this "assessment" is designed to trigger: "The budget contains no new tax revenues, but it is sure to fuel demands by human service advocates and unions for tax increases along the lines of a House-approved sales tax increase from 5 percent to 6.25 percent."
Senate leadership and rank-and-file are hardly angling for profile in courage awards as the budget debate looms next week. From the Globe:
An informal Globe poll this week of the 40 senators indicated that few are willing to take a strong stand for or against new taxes to repair the recession-ravaged budget. The Globe asked all senators to respond to an informal survey on whether they would support raising taxes at all and which specific ones they would support. Few responded at all, and several senators, who are known to discuss issues for hours on end, hedged in interviews.
Most of the Senators who are unwilling to "take a strong stand" today know just as well as we do how this process ends - in a vote to raise the state sales tax by 25 percent. They are also making noise about other tax increases, but in all likelihood this talk is just part of the subterfuge; the requisite scare rhetoric designed to soften the blow of the final tax hike vote.
By following the House strategy so exactly, and so soon after it was employed by the House, it is like the Senate is re-making a movie that everyone just saw, simply plugging different actors into the key roles, and hoping that we, the viewers, have already forgotten the ending.
Like so many other things that the Democratic machine does on Beacon Hill, this carbon copied strategy presumes that the voters are stupid, or are not paying attention.