Americans who have become weary of Washington’s endless battles over spending and taxes — and the stagnating economy that stalemate has produced — got a chance to hear about a different path on Tuesday night.
President Obama’s message in the State of the Union address was clear: It doesn’t have to be this way.
The country doesn’t have to get bogged down by demands for endless austerity and government contraction.
It doesn’t have to defer investments in education and public works. The poor don’t have to remain on society’s lower rungs, and the middle class can aspire to do better.
–New York Times editorial following the State of the Union, 2013
The President challenged Congress to act on these principles last night. We support him. We also note that his challenge fits just as well in the context of our Massachusetts Legislature.
Massachusetts has been operating under the principles of austerity and cutting budgets to the bone, and communities have suffered – all because of ill-conceived tax cuts, back in the go-go 1990s. We need to fix that.
Proposals, such as the Governor’s introduced at his State of the Commonwealth and the bill “An Act to Invest in Our Communities,” introduced to the Legislature this session, responsibly re-center our out-of-balance ledger–by making sure the wealthiest pay their share. Currently, they are not:
The wealthiest in MA pay the least in total state and local taxes. From Mass Budget and Policy Center.
But we know — and we see it playing out now — that our elected representatives will not act unless we make them. Decades of anti-government and anti-tax propaganda — funded by conservatives like the Koch Brothers — have had an effect. Many lawmakers — from Congress to the Legislature — are afraid that they will be labeled “tax and spenders” and be punished at the polls (or by the special interests that bankroll their campaigns) – even for just supporting the imminently responsible and fiscally sound proposal of funding the services, infrastructure and innovation that we use and that our economy needs.
So we must show them the way — and give them a nudge if they need it.
The President has laid down the challenge; it is up to us to act. Help us advocate for responsible revenue. Organize your community to support “An Act to Invest in Our Communities” and other proposals for progressive revenue reform (like the Governor’s).