^ bold to the front of the discussion : Charlie Baker on income inequity
—- —- —-
Yesterday Charlie Baker, Republican candidate for Governor, made a bold move: he did the right thing. Bold, because doing the right thing doesn’t happen often in Republican campaigns these days.
This is what Baker said : “I agree with Governor Patrick that Massachusetts is a remarkable state with limitless potential, but also a place where far too many are struggling and others are falling behind.
But I believe we can grow our economy, improve our education system, and strengthen our communities without raising taxes again and depleting the Rainy Day fund. We did it during the Weld-Cellucci Administration, and it can be done again.
I also believe we should make work pay for struggling families by raising the minimum wage while also enacting pro-growth reforms like unemployment insurance reforms, and by expanding the earned income tax credit for Massachusetts workers.
Lastly, I think we need real focus on fixing our healthcare problems. Too many Massachusetts families are stuck in healthcare limbo – having been dropped from their health plan and unable to sign up because of a bungled transition to an inadequate federal law. We had a great state system that was working, and we should fight to preserve and protect it.”
Baker’s statement — first reported by my old Boston Phoenix colleague David Bernstein, now an editor at Boston Magazine — hit almost every mark that it aimed at. He supports raising the minimum wage, as does almost everyone : but unlike any of his Democratic rivals, he also accepts Speaker DeLeo demand for adjusting unemployment insurance.
That’s the way for a Massachusetts Governor — of any party — to get his legislation enacted. It’s the only way. The Speaker rules. It’s been that way in Massachusetts for decades. The Democratic candidates for Governor either don’t understand this or are unwilling to admit it. Asked by State Representative Jay Kaufman, at his Lexington Governor Forum recently, “what will you do if the Speaker declines to support your legislation ?” Every single one of the five Democrats — including both the flamboyant Don Berwick and the earnest Steve Grossman, ducked or evaded the question. They looked weak, weak candidates for a weak office.
Baker has beaten them all here. By endorsing the minimum wage, he supports a pressing issue that almost everyone in the state wants. By endorsing Speaker DeLeo’s version of the minimum wage legislation, he ensures its enactment. Game and set, Baker.
He did more. In the words that I quoted, Baker also advocated raising the earned income credit. Not one of the Democratic candidates — only Berwick has mentioned it — has put support for an increase in the earned income credit forward in a context of and on a path to enactment. Game, set AND match, Baker.
Baker both congratulated Deval Patrick and gave one critique — of Massachusetts’s flawed health care connector. For most Republicans, a criticism of how the ACA has been implemented would just sound same old, same old. Not with Baker. By stepping up to the income inequity issue as he has, and by congratulating Patrick for his achievements, Baker has given his one critique a context of fairness that will garner attention, not a shrug.
Three weeks ago Baker released a Homelessness Crisis Paper that was a model of thorough and benefit. No Democrat has even now offered anything close, although some have said fine words, Berwick especially. Indeed, Baker looks more like a governor right now than any of the Democrats except Steve Grossman. If they’re the two who make it to the November election, Massachusetts will have two solid choices, with Baker perhaps the bolder and more progressive. I would not, quite frankly, have guessed this outcome as recently as six weeks ago. And I am glad to have been wrong.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere