A new tack in tax wars
In 2009, Tea Party activists used the federal tax filing deadline to stage a series of rallies that catapulted the protest movement into national prominence. Tax day started a wave that crested in conservatives’ 2010 midterm shellacking of congressional Democrats. A routine event — collecting income taxes that fund the federal government — became a political metaphor, and created electoral opportunity.
Three years later, the Tea Party is scuffling, and the Obama campaign is co-opting tax day theatrics for its own political purposes. Congressional Democrats seized tax day yesterday. They unsuccessfully pushed a vote on the so-called Buffet Rule. The measure would set a 30 percent minimum tax rate for millionaires, and it met universal opposition from Senate Republicans. And everybody knew the vote was doomed anyway. (Look nonetheless for Scott Brown’s anti-Buffet Rule vote to figure in the campaign against him.)
But as the Senate was fighting for a Buffet Rule vote, the Obama campaign unveiled a sparkly new tool on its website. It’s a Buffet Rule calculator, which lets voters stack their estimated tax rates up against Mitt Romney’s. (Spoiler alert: Romney’s rates are way lower.) And then there’s a magical Buffet button, which, upon being clicked, gives the satisfaction of seeing wealthy venture capitalists’ rates move way up to 30 percent. “It’s not about class warfare, and it’s certainly not about some arcane policy disagreement,” says an Obama campaign email. “It’s about common-sense fairness.”
The Obama gambit may help cement a campaign caricature it’s trying to drive home, of Romney as a detached plutocrat. It may fizzle into nothing. But it’s a sign of how drastically things have turned that Obama’s advisers can take a symbolic day that, just three years ago, was draped in conservative deficit-busting, anti-federal activism, and turn it into a referendum on income inequality and tax fairness.
Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins worries about overcrowding if the habitual offender bill becomes law, the Lynn Item reports. The Gloucester Times reports that talks between the House and Senate on resolving differences between their versions of the bill are stalled.
Familiar names decide not to run for the Senate seat vacated by Steven Baddour. First was Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini and now former Senator James Jajuga, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
The House’s new budget proposal contains no new taxes, but retains a lot of tax breaks, CommonWealth reports.
If every state has one, is the bet on casinos a good one? WBUR’s On Point discusses the issue.
Experts predict the tribal set-aside in the state’s casino law will create a legal quagmire and delay the siting of a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts for years.
A casino supporter in Foxborough faces charges after allegedly threatening a town selectman.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, head of the Massachusetts Mayors Association and labeled a rising star among Democrats, spoke with Keller@Large about the challenges facing mayors around the Bay State.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse will ask the city council to establish a director of art, culture, and tourism, reports the Springfield Republican.
City officials are holding out for a hotel on a parcel whose owner says residential units are what make economic sense, CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow writes in the Globe.
Massachusetts cranberry growers and dairy farmers could take big hits with the expiration of more than 30 programs set to occur by fall if Congress fails to act.
Colorado takes a play from Moneyball as it attempts to use data to figure out why some children succeed after leaving school and others don’t, Governing reports.
Hindsight Dept.: Barney Frank says President Obama should have thrown his weight into financial reform, not health care.
The Washington Post overhears small portions of Romney’s plan for paying for huge tax cuts, and is not impressed.
The Christian Science Monitor outlines the reasons that Ron Paul is remaining in the GOP nomination race.
Long-time Mitt Romney aide Beth Myers will lead the candidate’s vice presidential running-mate search process.
Severe conservative Mitt Romney huddles up with conservative leaders. The National Review likes what reporters overheard Romney telling some rich donors, even if his campaign says it was just off-the-cuff musings.
Joe Kennedy III’s big haul has been greatly helped by the Kennedy family’s vast fundraising network, the Globe reports.
Congressional incumbents Niki Tsongas and Bill Keating are also piling up dough.
US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren promises more aid for college students at Lowell Cambodian festival, the Sun reports.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for a breakdown of where Warren and Scott Brown are raising money from; rules governing reporting of Senate campaign fundraising are practically from the era of ledger books and inkwells.
Herman Cain’s Capitol Hill rally flops.
Abington High School has had its full accreditation restored by the New England Association of School and Colleges after being placed on warning three years ago because of budget cuts.
Massachusetts gets a “C” in a national report grading how well states do at making public the causes of child deaths and near-deaths due to abuse and neglect.
Partners HealthCare is getting back in the merger business, says Globe columnist Steve Syre.
The weekend of 100 tornadoes raises questions about the role of climate change, Time reports.
The US has a natural gas problem: Too much of it, reports NPR (via WBUR).
A new ordinance in Fall River will create a program to annually remove dead and diseased trees and replant scores of new ones to increase the tree canopy in the city’s neighborhoods.
A Cape Cod Times op-ed highlights the environmental damage done to the area’s waters by a recent explosion in residential development.
Massachusetts farmers have mixed feelings about the early warm weather, reports the North Adams Transcript.
Environmental groups hope the improving economy will also mean a recovery for donations to green causes, reports the Springfield Republican.
A murder in Southie has the neighborhood on edge.
The MetroWest Daily News profiles two participants in yesterday’s marathon raising money for cancer research.