Friday, March 05, 2010

Where will the 5,000 jobs come from, Charlie Baker?

Perhaps Baker's biggest "issue" of his campaign thus far is his claim that we need to cut state jobs -- 5,000 to be exact. Not only can Massachusetts do this, he says, but he actually has the gall to say this will make Mass government work better. Chutzpa, you got to give him that. His only appeal thus far has been to people who want to drown government in their bathwater.

Well, it's easy to throw out a nice, round number like 5,000, with no meaning whatsoever, but much harder to sit down and say where those 5,000 people are going to come from. Where are they going to come from, Charlie? Which state workers are you going to give the pink slip?

It's much harder to discuss how cutting 5,000 jobs will improve the Massachusetts economy, so it'll probably be even more difficult to ask him where those 5,000 hard-working employees are supposed to find new work, or what 5,000 newly unemployed state workers with nifty resumes will do for the other thousands of people who have already been unemployed for months. Ready to answer that question, Charlie?

Baker also talks about how people in the private sector are taking gigantic paycuts, throwing out the number "20%" for the private sector, that he claims are way more than state government, without citing any sort of legitimate comparison numbers. Another question for Charley Baker: How many of those private-sector employees taking 10-20% paycuts worked for Harvard Pilgram? In times like these in which health care is what people (and towns) are struggling to afford most of all. Did Charley Baker take a 20% pay cut? He could have passed that kind of savings along to a city or town struggling so they could avoid laying off 2-3 teachers, just by his lonesome.

Well, I have to say this joke of a candidate keeps getting funnier. Declaring on the radio this morning that no one in state government's taken a pay cut, he asks Erica, a state employee, if she knows anyone in state government who's had a pay cut. "Absolutely," she says, "I took a pay cut." Not only pay cut, but furloughs, she says. "Well, you're the exception to the rule," he says.

And you know what? She's right. Governor Patrick cut 750 state jobs just last year -- and ordered 5,000 executive branch employees to take furloughs of up to 5 days each, many employees actually working through it (for the math impaired, a week's pay is 2% of a state employee's entire salary). Watch the whole radio clip below, in which Baker clearly shows he either can't remember or didn't bother to read about what was gigantic, above-the-fold news on the economic disaster that struck our state less than a year ago. Baker's title of "Smartest Man in Government" is quickly becoming the biggest gag in politics.


Anonymous said...

Anyone that truly believes that there are not 5k extra wateful jobs in the Commonwealth is nuts.

Mark Belanger said...

State pay and benefits are out of line with the private sector.

Baker's numbers may have been pulled out of ... err ... thin air, but there is waste to be cut. If not in jobs than in compensation packages. Health care benefits for example were discussed in a recent Globe article.

All that said, the state has done a fair bit in addressing these issues. There's just a lot more to be done.

Ryan said...

Anon, 2000 jobs have been cut over the past year from state government alone, not to mention the various government entities and local goverments, which would probably quadruple that number. Government's been cut to the bone. There just aren't that many jobs left to be cut.

Mark, I'm sure there are plenty of changes left to be made, but honestly it's a small slice of the budget. That's not to say things that are out of proportion shouldn't be fixed, but they should be fixed out of fairness -- it's not some panacea. Baker could cut his 5,000 jobs and wreck state government -- and it wouldn't even close half of this year's deficit. Salaries of state employees, while costly, don't really compare to the cost of health care, infrastructure costs, debt services, etc. etc. etc. Just look at the income tax cut ballot initiative -- if that had passed, every single paid member of state government could have been laid off and it *wouldn't* have covered the entirety of that initiative's costs to the state.

If we want to focus on balancing the budget, we have to realize that "streamlining" employees of the state is a very small piece of the puzzle. Bigger pieces include the need to raise more revenue (mainly, 5-10 cents added gas tax over the next 4-5 years for transportation needs) and growing the economy, so we're getting more tax revenue that way.

Anonymous said...

Baker is correct. You want to protect the hacks and the patronage hires. I want the people sucking off the public tit to be downsized. Dems love the public sector jobs because they do not require lots of effort.

Ryan said...

No, Baker's not correct. For starters, the chances of him firing 5,000 people is essentially zero -- and he knows it. So he gets to say the sexy number for the rabidly-hates-government types without ever having to be held accountable for it. People can believe it and be naive and/or stupid, or they can realize he's lying and made the up the number out of thin air.

Anonymous said...

Candidates lying. Where has that happened before?

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