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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Strange Bedfellows?

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
Tennessee Williams (1914–1983), Blanche DuBois, in A Streetcar Named Desire, (1947)

And allies of business interests don't come any stranger than Speaker Sal DiMasi! "I believe that any of these proposals that put more of a burden on business are only going to be adversely affecting our economy, and right now we don't need that," DiMasi told reporters after speaking to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in downtown Boston. "I'm concerned about the growth of our economy in Massachusetts, and I'm not ready to take a step back."

DiMasi expanded his thoughts this morning on WRKO on the Finneran Forum for about half an hour. Ater some Speaker to Speakah cross-talk, Sally settled in to tell his side of the story with a friendly questioner, the frugal Tom Finneran.

The proposed cuts would save about $250 million in the next fiscal year. However, according to DiMasi, most of them were recycled from a bill filed by Mitt Romney to close the same corporate tax loopholes only last year! Additionally, in the course of the last four year, approximately $400 million in corporate tax loopholes have already been closed! Sal said, "We debated this only six or seven months ago; at that time, we thought it was foolish to pass an Economic Stimulus bill to lure businesses to Massachusetts, and at the same time pass a bill to tax them more heavily! We have just finished this debate, and the House does not intend to revisit it."

DiMasi - and Finneran - talked about the business climate in Massachusetts, and how the Legislature is out of touch with how the owners of businesses think. Porcupine is of the opinion that this is due to the fact that so few of them have ever met a payroll, hired, fired, paid UI , bought liability or ever functioned as a business principal in the Dreaded Private Sector. DiMasi spoke about how businesses, when looking at Massachusetts, make a five or seven year plan. "Moving into Mass., making that investment, and then having a new tax to pay that you didn't budget for is like signing a lease, moving into an apartment, and having the landlord raise your rent the next month! Who would move to a place like that?"

If the budget needs to be balanced, according to Speaker DiMasi, it will be with cuts to programs, not new taxes or loophole closing. While he did not entirely rule out the new tax on telephone poles in the Globe, he spoke at great length about rebuilding the Commonwealth's infrastructure and making it more business friendly, which leads Porcupine to believe that as a courtesy to Gov. Patrick, he is willing to consider the new tax. He just isn't willing to enact it.

So - strange times indeed when Sal diMasi, with his impeccable liberal credentials, the man who gave a leadership position to the inimitable Byron Rushing, turns out to be the bulwark of support for the business and corporate community.

And as we all should remember - all spending bill must originate in the House.


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