New Cartoon! Move over Dr. Atkins...
... cause here comes Dr. Mitt ("Dr Mitt's Budget Revolution"). Yes, multimillionaire Ken doll Mitt Romney is now officially the governor of Massachusetts, and if his inaugural speech is any indication, he's going to be just as bad as I expected. Symbolism, smooth talk and smiles mask his ruthlessly conservative agenda for Massachusetts. The fact that Romney and Lt. Governor Healey (both multi-millionaires) have given up a few hundred thousand in salary is a gimmick, especially as the money is going to pay raises for top Romney aides.
And no amount of talk about "investing" in the poeple of Massachusetts changes the fact that Romney intends to fire approximately 10% of teachers, ditch bilingual education, and "encourage volunteerism" (i.e. get rid of essential programs for the needy and then get photographed serving meals at a homeless shelter). This, apparently, is more humane than raising taxes (which the admin is doing anyway under names like "pharmacy assurance", the new $1.30 tax on prescription medicines). Choice quotes from his inaugural speech follow:
Our nearly $3 billion deficit next fiscal year means that we can afford only our core responsibilities; many nonessential programs, even some that we like very much, will have to be downsized or even eliminated...And so on. To translate, Romney apparently expects teachers and firefighters and other state and local employees to sacrifice their jobs in the name of not raising taxes? Yet many would say that it was Republican tax cuts that gutted the budget in the first place. From the Globe:
I will bring forward proposals that will shape state government for the realities of our new century. They will call for a greater level of responsiveness to our citizens, faster decision making, a lighter more agile bureaucracy, and an openness to change...
We disinvest in people when we tax away their ability to invest in themselves and to make their own life choices. Over these next several months and years, as we work to reshape government, we can't lose sight of the need to invest in our people and to protect their freedoms. I am convinced that, in fact, the only way we will be able to do that is by pursuing the changes that reshaping government will entail. Continuing to raise taxes to feed the bureaucratic beast can only result in devouring the means and motivation of our people.
A great share of the task ahead will be borne by the thousands upon thousands of public servants in state and municipal positions. You public servants know that these changes will be difficult and possibly painful for some. I wish this were not the case, but it is. You also know just how cumbersome and inefficient and ripe with patronage government has become. You know that to invest in the people we serve, we can't continue along the present course. I have confidence in your commitment to serve the public, for I have seen you do it time and again.
The ceremonies were clouded by the state's budget crisis, which was the central theme of Romney's 15-minute address. He laid the blame for the crisis on Beacon Hill leaders, saying that ''in state government, our slow and bureaucratic ways have led to leviathan budget deficits and tax hikes.'' He also said state leaders failed to understand that the revenue surge caused by the Internet boom in the 1990s was temporary, and that they not only spent the windfall, they did not make the structural changes needed to make government more efficient.But Romney listening to a reminder like that is about as likely as Bush admitting that his "stimulus package" only helps the wealthy few.
Romney's scolding brought a quick rebuke from House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, who told reporters after the speech that Romney was ''glossing over recent history.''
He said the governor should be reminded that the Democrat-controlled Legislature had the foresight to build up a $2.3 billion rainy day fund, even as Republican governors demanded the money be used for tax cuts.