Sunday, April 23, 2006

My Take on the Debate

This isn't going to be some long blog - we didn't learn much in today's debate. Here's what we did learn:

This debate changed nothing: at 8:30 am on Sunday, who else but me watched it? I found Jon Keller's questions "gimmicky" and far from hard-hitting. Let's get some real questions, Keller, okay? I believe there's a debate on Thursday, so let's hope that one's better (and at a time people will watch it).

We didn't learn much from the candidates during this debate. None of them really hurt their chances, I also doubt any of them did enough to jump to the head of the pack. We learned that Chris Gabrieli likes to make wife-beater jokes; Tom Reilly thinks he's special because - for the first time ever - he released his tax returns; for good or bad, Deval Patrick actually answered questions as opposed to avoiding them (tobacco addicts should hope the state doesn't need to raise revenue).

Do these things sound "gimmicky?" Well, Deval Patrick certainly did call some of Keller's questions just that. All things being equal, I think more people in Massachusetts probably watch Jessica Simpson advertising pimple cream on late-night infomercials than what should be a really important - first - debate that should help decide the future of this state. Governor is the most important position in the state: it's a position that has more impact than either the President (here in Massachusetts) or any single Senator or Congressmen. The entire debate seemed like a gimmick: it belonged on Prime Time, not bedtime.


D. R. Tucker said...

"Although Reilly came across as the most sensible Democratic candidate--especially on issues such as taxes and state accommodation of 'undocumented immigrants'--this debate wasn't about politics, it was about style. And in terms of style, Patrick destroyed Reilly..."

Ryan Adams said...

Honestly, I don't think anyone destroyed anyone... and there was any big winner, but that's just my take. People could make a big deal out of the wife-beater joke... and if they do, Gabrieli almost deserves it... you just don't joke about stuff like that, especially in front of people, running for office. However, seeing as this debate was at 8:30 - I highly doubt people will make it into a big deal (and, believe it or not, that's probably good for the race... 3 candidates is better than 2).

BTW - I really just don't think you can call Reilly's stances as "the most sensible." It's all a matter of opinion and, ultimately, the voters will decide what's the most sensible. I thought he came off as gimmicky, but I'm biased.

MaverickDem said...

I love Patrick supporters. Now the debate was about style? Give me a break. I, along with the rest of Massachusetts, will take the "most sensible" candidate over the more stylish candidate any day of the week.

Ryan Adams said...

Maverick - read DR Tucker's website. He's anything but a Deval Patrick supporter.

Lynne said...

It's sensible to cut taxes the GWB way??? Sure, let's have deficits again...let's dip into the rainy day fund when that's supposed to be for downturns so you don't have to RAISE taxes in a revenue-challenged's the same thing as GW saying we can dip into the Social Security surplus and then telling us there's a goddamn crisis in SS. If that's sensible then give me fantastical any day!

MaverickDem said...

FACT: The majority of voters believe that government is wasteful and mismanaged. FACT: The only way for the Democrats to regain credibility on this issue is to govern better with the resources that the taxpayers want to give us, namely the 5.0% income tax rate. Reilly's position is both principled and necessary.

Ryan Adams said...

FACT: property taxes have skyrocketed in leau of these "tax cuts," that Deval Patrick aptly calls "tax shifts."

Let's put the issue on the ballot again, but in an honest way: would voters rather property tax hikes that influence some people far more than others, or a rollback to 5%? It's been years since the last vote and I think voters deserve an honest question for such an important issue.

Furthermore, Deval Patrick has never said he'd be opposed to rolling back income taxes. He just says that we need to wait till the economic position justifies the rollback... which legimately could happen with job growth.

MaverickDem said...

Actually, Ryan, the tax rate issue pre-dates the voter-approved referendum in 2000. It's originated in 1989 during a recession when legislators "temporarily" raised the rate to 5.75% with an assurance to the public that it would be restored as soon as possible. That opportunity came in the late '90s, but the legislators repudiated their promise.

So, your solution is to put this issue back on a referendum even though the initial increase was condition on a promise that legislators rebuked and subsequently re-approved by a voter referedum that legislators ignored? Pardon me if I don't believe the majority of voters are going to buy into that one.

You are demanding that the voters have a discussion about an issue that they have already resolved. They are not looking to be convinced that the income tax rate should remain at 5.3%. The voters were lied to once and then ignored once. Telling them that they need to approve another referendum is rather insulting.

Ryan Adams said...

The last referendum was years ago. Furthermore, referendums pass and fail just as frequently based on wording and strategy as they do the merits of the actual proposal. For example, there was a recent Proposition 2 and a half from my town (Swampscott) that gave voters three options: 1) Vote for no override, 2) vote for an override that raise taxes above 2 1/2, but not level-fund the town (thus forcing lots of cuts, including layoffs and no town funding of school activities and sports) and 3) increased funding beyond level funding. IF the town gave an option to level-fund the town, the electorate would have chosen it.

My suggestion - which was a quick idea I shot off in response to your initial critique - was that we give voters a better choice than merely rolling back income taxes. Let's give them the choice of rolling back property taxes instead. If voters decide they'd prefer income over property, fine, but property taxes are far less progressive and in hurt some communities far more than others.

Personally, I live in a small town with no real retail businesses. There isn't a big mall in Swampscott or industrial center. Revenue comes straight through the residential tax-base. Furthermore, there's a large percentage of people who are either retired or nearing retirement age and high property taxes threaten their way of life.

Deval Patrick has simply said that he prefers income tax to property tax -- and it's been a message that has resonated with large swaths of people. If that were the question on the referendum today, that's what I think people would go for. I guess we'll know more about that come election day.

Lynne said...

You know what? This is going to sound weird, but I don't want taxpayers to directly set the rate.

Why is that? Because they will always ask for a decrease, regardless of the situation. Who wouldn't? However, it has caused all sorts of problems. We like our services in MA.

Is there money wasted? Hell yes. But why is the only (uncreative) answer people have is to cut taxes? That only winds up cutting services and not getting rid of the waste.

Believe me when I say I am impassioned about cutting the dead wood (I call it the GOB - Good Ol Boys - on my blog). I question my Dem reps on a lot of things. I've been attacked BY the GOB about my stance against Panagiotakos and the way he does things. I'm not a blind Democrat - I may vote that way, but I want results.

Look, I seriously would read some of what Deval Patrick has to say about cleaning up the budget on his newest policy paper, Streamlining Government Spending.

I'll be honest with you, I was skeptical of this man too. But repeated contact with his campaign and the man himself have convinced me this man is the one that can go the furthest in cleaning up government (AND the state Dem party!), who has the committment to practical and innovative soloutions to Massachusett's problems. I don't say that lightly. I really don't! Contrary to some peoples' opinions I am not a drooling fangirl blogger stuck on a candidate. Please give him a chance to explain it to you himself. I know it's easier to be cynical, I realize it's easy to categorize Patrick as using better rhetoric and running the same old campaign...but try the harder road...just for a little while. I'm a pretty cynical person myself, and I'm telling you, this is the guy. If he even gets 25% of the things listed in his policy papers done in his first term, I'm telling you, it's more than the last 4 governors have done combined!

Ryan Adams said...

Lynne... I must commend you for this quote:

"Is there money wasted? Hell yes. But why is the only (uncreative) answer people have is to cut taxes? That only winds up cutting services and not getting rid of the waste."

You are a credit to progressives everywhere - that sums it up perfectly!

Michael said...

Ryan, just so you know, the Agawam debate is not going to be televised.

We are planning to tape it and I'd be happy to share copies. Maybe I can figure out how to get it up on my website, or better yet have it put up on Deval's blog.

Also, from what I've heard, Gabrieli was invited but hasn't yet accepted, so it may be just Reilly and Patrick. We'll see.

btw, this tax debate is getting way old already. If this is the only issue Reilly has to offer, stick a fork in him, 'cause he's done! No one I know around here gives a flying f about whether the tax rate is 5.0 or 5.3 or 5.crap. They want their bridges repaired (thank you very much Big Dig for sapping all the resources out of our end of the state), their schools staffed with competent people, the disaster we call a healthcare "system" fixed, etc. etc. etc.

I'm with Lynne -- ignore the voters who said "lower my taxes" -- who doesn't want that? Where was the accompanying referendum that said, "which services do you want curtailed to offset the lower revenues?" Hey, let's plow those streets every other storm. We don't need all those expensive ambulances or police cars -- let people pay for those services if they want them.

A true Conservative (as opposed to a cringing Repuglican) would want to return to the principles espoused by our Founders: we were supposed to be a Republic (remember the pledge?}, not a Democracy. As Deval has pointed out, thank goodness we didn't have a popular referendum on Brown v Board of Education ...

Ryan Adams said...

Thanks for the offer, Michael. If you can convert the file to a digital file, we could get it up on a website like youtube (which works great).

I'm shocked that they aren't at least posting the debate online. How can it not be televised? Is our state really that apathetic!?

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