Baker’s sweet talk on health care

Do you get more with honey than vinegar?

That old adage is the framework for a Boston Globe editorial teeing up the challenge facing Gov. Charlie Baker in the unfolding health care debate in Washington. Baker is not a fan of the Republican plan to dismantle key parts of the Affordable Care Act, but rather than join with Democrats in railing against the replacement Trumpcare bill, he is sticking to his patented approach of measured moderation.

“Speak softly, but carry a big briefing book,” is how the editorial puts it, a reference to Baker’s preference for policy persuasion over indignant stem-winders.

In other words, he’s a honey man.

In January, Baker sent a lengthy missive to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy detailing concerns about the GOP legislation. This week, he wrote to the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation warning that the bill would mean $1 billion less in federal health care aid to Massachusetts in 2020, a figure that would rise from there.

The editorial points to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s gentle poke at Baker last week, when she said she’d like to see him apply “more pressure” on the health care debate.

Massachusetts, of course, occupies an important place in the health care debate. The state’s 2006 reform law, championed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney, set the table for the federal Affordable Care Act. Romney’s legacy is therefore under attack along with Barack Obama’s, writes Joan Vennochi — even if Mitt has disavowed the federal law.

The first crucial test of the Republican health care bill comes today with the scheduled House vote on the measure. As of this morning, President Trump and House GOP leaders did not appear to have a lock on passage and there was talk of delaying the vote until tonight while more pressure is applied to reluctant Republicans.

This is only the first act of what will be a long-running drama, so it will be a little while before a verdict can be offered on whether Baker’s approach — which is similar to that of some other Republican governors — helps shape a final bill into something more palatable at home.

The Globe, which crossed over from its usual Democratic preferences and endorsed Baker in 2014, sends a warning shot that the outcome of the health care debate in Washington could ripple its way into the 2018 race for governor in Massachusetts.

“If earnest persuasion doesn’t change any minds,” says the editorial, “voters might rightly wonder whether the state needs a more aggressive champion of its interests.”

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

They’re back….The Quabbin snake debate begins anew. (Telegram & Gazette)

Rep. David Nangle of Lowell again files legislation requiring larger nonprofits to pay taxes. (Lowell Sun)

KCST USA, the company hired to operate the state’s $90 million middle-mile internet connection, is on the verge of filing bankruptcy. (Berkshire Eagle)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia wants to terminate the city’s administrative agreement with the private Fall River Office of Economic Development so he can create his own economic development office. (Herald News)

Beverly projects that 364 housing units being built downtown will only add 10 children to the city’s schools. (Salem News)

Dennis selectmen voted to place a question on the town election ballot in May to ban the retail sale of marijuana. Dennis was one of 24 towns that voted no on the statewide referendum in November to legalize adult recreational sale and use. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Boston Herald columnist Adriana Cohen says yesterday’s terror attack in London reinforces the need for President Trump’s proposed travel ban — though details remain sketchy on the nationality of the attacker, with an AP dispatch this morning only saying that he is believed to be “British-born.”

The Republican health care bill is a big tax-cut for the rich masquerading as reform, writes Jon Kingsdale. (Boston Globe) Indications are there are not enough Republican votes to pass the measure, with conservatives wanting more and bigger cuts while moderates say if that happens, they’ll walk away because of the people who will lose coverage. (New York Times) Can Trump, the self-proclaimed master of closing the deal, deliver victory? (U.S. News & world Report) The Koch brothers are promising to spend millions to help defeat the GOP health care bill. (Time)

Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky signs a “Blue Lives Matter” bill into law. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

ELECTIONS

Boston city councilor Annissa Essaibi-George says fellow councilor Tito Jackson, who is running for mayor, seemed to be looking to score political points with recent criticism of Police Commissioner William Evans — though she said agreed with Jackson that the department could be moving faster to deploy body cameras across the entire police force. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

We should improve college and job-training program completion rates, but in a tight labor market lower-skill jobs with benefits in the growing Boston hospitality industry also offer a worthwhile opportunities for some, says Paul Grogan of The Boston Foundation. (Boston Globe)

Advocates and some shoppers are raising concerns that efficiency moves by Stop & Shop will lead to job losses for grocery baggers, positions that are filled by disabled workers. (Boston Herald)

A recent filing by Sears in which company officials admit they have “substantial doubt” on whether the iconic chain can survive in the current retail environment may sound the death knell for the department and catalog store that set the standard. (Greater Boston)

EDUCATION

A set of memos from the former UMass Boston finance chief to Chancellor J. Keith Motley provided to the Globe (in a move a reasonable observer might think is aimed at taking down Motley) show that she repeatedly warned him of the school’s perilous financial condition as far back as 2012.

The Boston School Committee approved a $1 billion budget plan for the coming year, despite protests from some that schools will be short-changed. (Boston Herald) Boston Teachers Union members rallied outside the school department headquarters calling for the city to settle a contract with teachers. (Boston Globe)

Hundreds gathered yesterday at Boston College for the funeral of Rev. J. Donald Monan, the college’s former president who oversaw the school’s transformation from regional commuter school to national name. (Boston Herald)

Max McCullough says Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is a threat to public education. (CommonWealth)

RELIGION

The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that some church property can be taxed if it’s not used for religious purposes. (Associated Press)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts is close to becoming the first state in the nation to reach the goal set by the American Cancer Society of 80 percent of older adults getting screened for colon cancer. (GateHouse News Service)

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital say they have developed a smartphone-based app that can measure sperm “concentration and motility” with 98 percent accuracy, a development that could provide an easy test for male fertility. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The state is moving forward with a plan to extend the South Coast Rail project through Middleboro to be ready by 2024, though Gov. Charlie Baker says running the line through Stoughton as well is still on the board. (State House News Service) State Sen. Marc Pacheco says he will consider filing suit to block the change if the service bypasses Taunton. (Taunton Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Barry Cadden, the former co-owner of New England Compounding Center, was convicted of fraud and racketeering, but was cleared of direct responsibility for the more than 60 deaths caused by tainted drugs from his company’s lab. (Boston Globe)

The LBGT community is the most frequent target of reported hate acts, according to Boston police data analyzed by the Globe.

Mao Oeur explains what it was like to be one of the first Cambodian-Americans to become a police officer in Lowell. (Lowell Sun)

The chief prosecution witness returns to the stand for the fourth day today in the double murder trial of former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez. (Boston Globe) Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham says we pay virtually no attention when lives are lost in homicides that don’t involve the rich or famous.