Vaccines become campaign issue

The editorial pages of the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal rarely agree on anything, but on Tuesday both newspapers criticized parents and politicians who think vaccines are potentially dangerous and should be voluntary.

The issue has come to the fore with the recent outbreak of measles at Disneyland in California. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus spread through the air. The disease was once considered eradicated in the United States thanks to vaccines, but now the number of cases is starting to rise, presumably because some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

Sally Kohn, in an article for The Daily Beast, said she was one of those parents until she realized her “mistake.” She said the vaccination issue is a yuppie thing. “In the past, it was thought that low vaccination rates were due to low-income families lacking access to doctors and medical care,” she writes. “Now, low vaccination rates appear more often linked to well-off families opting out.”

Vaccines have quickly become a presidential campaign issue. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, on a trip to England, said parents should have “some measure of choice” when it comes to vaccinating their children. His office later backtracked and said all children should be vaccinated for measles.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, during a CNBC interview, said parents, not the state, raise children. He seemed surprised at being questioned on his stance that vaccinations should be voluntary. “I guess being for freedom would be really unusual,” he said. “I guess I don’t understand the point — why that would be controversial.”

Hillary Clinton made her case via a tweet. She said: “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The editorials in the two newspapers both sided with Clinton. The Journal editorial said “the real public health problem isn’t a lack of parental choice but a lack of common sense about vaccines, and politicians should do more to promote the latter.”

The Globe’s editorial, filled with useful facts, said vaccines are not a freedom issue. A parent’s concerns for his or her children are understandable, but the fears about vaccines are simply irrational,” the editorial said.

BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

The Big Three — Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Stan Rosenberg — are in agreement that capital gains tax revenue above $1 billion should not go into the state’s rainy day fund and instead should be used to offset the current $765 million budget shortfall, CommonWealth reports. Baker last month said about $200 million would be available, but the Boston Globe reports the number is somewhere between $320 million and $340 million. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundationsays the number is around $122 million, WBUR reports.

After many experienced a commute-from-hell yesterday, which was pegged as a regular work day for state employees, Gov. Charlie Baker has proclaimed Tuesday a late-start day for non-emergency executive branch workers, who are to report to work by 11 am.

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas suggests House Speaker Robert DeLeo pushed for an end to term limits on his job because it gives him more time to burnish his Probation-tarnished image.

More than 10,000 state employees now earn more than $100,000, a number that has increased significantly in recent years, the Globe reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera proposes a $710,000 fix-up of 24 of the city’s playing fields, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Boston’s transparency when it comes to Olympic documents may be a little wanting (see below), but residents can find out all they’d want to know about the progress of snow plowing in their neighborhood on a new city website.

OLYMPICS

Mayor Marty Walsh, who has vowed to lead a transparent process that allows full public scrutiny of a potential 2024 Boston Olympics, is refusing to release copies of host city contracts for the 2020 and 2022 Olympics that he reviewed before signing Boston’s host city contract with the US Olympic Committee. His office says he is prohibited from sharing the documents.  [This entry has been corrected to say that the mayor’s office refused to release host contracts from other cities that he reviewed in order to understand what Boston’s responsibilities would be in hosting an Olympics. The city has released the Boston host agreement the mayor signed.]

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim is pushing for four Olympic-related advisory questions to appear on the fall municipal ballot. No word yet from Walsh on whether he would sign a measure to do so if it gains the necessary majority support of the City Council.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likes to exude an everyman aura, but a New York Times report finds he travels like a king on other people’s dimes.

President Obama unveils his $4 trillion budget with something for everyone. Literally.

The MetroWest Daily News argues that the medical device tax should remain in place.

ELECTIONS

The Republicans made strong gains and took control of Congress last year, but the numbers seem to favor Democrats in the next presidential election, CommonWealth reports.

In the Jesuit magazine America, Robert David Sullivan walks readers through some recent history to explain why he thinks a Bush vs. Clinton 2016 general election match-up is exceedingly likely.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The New York attorney general has ordered four major chains —Target, Walmart, GNC, and Walgreens — to stop selling some herbal supplements and remove them from their shelves because the products contain none of the listed herbs and several potentially dangerous ingredients that aren’t identified.

The choice for new director of the Brockton 21st Century Corporation, the quasi-public economic development arm of the city, has a history of suing past employers, including a $9 million federal suit against the town of Plymouth that was tossed out.

Three small life sciences companies launched by a Boston venture capital firm have turned to gold.

A 200-room boutique hotel is being planned for the Ink Block development at the former site of the Boston Herald.

Google may be developing its own ride-sharing service to compete against Uber, Bloomberg News reports.

EDUCATION

A study from a progressive Washington think tank concludes closing the education gap between the races and classes could lift the nation’s economy by increasing tax revenues and spurring economic growth.

HEALTH CARE

Leaders of the Health Policy Commission raise concerns about cost containment efforts, the State House News reports.

As assisted living residents get older, the facilities where they live are struggling to keep up, CommonWealth reports.

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA Red Line continues to have troublesome breakdowns as more than 50 passengers had to be rescued off a train after being stranded for two hours Monday evening between Braintree and Quincy Adams stations when the third rail went dead.

James Aloisi bucks the media tide and urges no increase in the gas tax.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

One of the two companies that won bidding rights to develop offshore wind projects south of Martha’s Vineyard said the company would use the island as its main staging area but could use the state-funded terminal in New Bedford.

MEDIA

Two former Telegram & Gazette journalists are planning to launch the Worcester Sun, an online newspaper with a printed Sunday edition. The two journalists plan to compete with their former employer, recently bought by GateHouse Media, according to Gabrielle Gurley in CommonWealth and Dan Kennedy on his Media Nation blog.