Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A week well worth watching

Most Bay State residents are beginning their day today thinking about what they did over the past three-day weekend and looking forward to an abbreviated workweek.

But as we begin this week, we think it's worth spotlighting some profound events that will transpire over the next few days.

The first event will take place today, as Congress begins debating the repeal of last year's health care reform bill. We honestly don't know where this will all end up. But, we do know it will be the first test of how Democrats and Republicans work together in the new Congress, and it will show us how strong the Republican majority is in the House.

This will probably also serve as a starting off point for what will happen one week later, on January 25, as President Obama delivers his State of the Union message to Congress.

For the President, the main challenge will be to explain to the American people how he will reduce the size of the $14 trillion national debt, what his plan is to finish our engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what his vision is to get America back to work.

Interestingly, this is the same challenge Obama faced a year ago. Here are some of his opening remarks from his 2010 State of the Union address:

"One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted -– immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who'd already known poverty, life has become that much harder."

- President Barack Obama, 2010 State of the Union Address
January 27, 2010

Not much appears to have changed since then – except that now, one year later, President Obama has lost the benefit of having a friendly Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

The second event will happen the following day, January 26, as Governor Patrick files his first budget recommendation of his second term. (Expect details to be leaked by then Governor's Office between now and then.)

The biggest challenge for the Governor will be to come up with a plan to successfully bridge a multi-billion dollar budget gap – preferably in a way that does not increase taxes or place vulnerable populations at risk. With the disappearance of many one-time funding sources this year, this task will require large-scale cuts and innovative ways to reform government so that essential services are delivered more efficiently. We look forward to seeing his plan, which will frame most political debate here in Massachusetts through the spring.

Like most Americans, Bay State residents don't have another year to wait to see these problems addressed successfully by political leaders. Now is the time for decisive action.

Will this next week be the start of it? Only time will tell...

1 comment:

  1. Concerning the budget, we need to be realistic. Things are out of control on Beacon Hill. There needs to be a substantial cutback in programs and spending rather than just hand wringing. Big question...can the newly increased minority, with Brad Jones at the helm, fight hard enough to get people to really take notice. If the Minority Leader cannot really FIGHT hard and get in the faces of Beacon Hill business as usual pols, then it is time for a replacement. How about he start with a program that eliminates ALL earmarks for local uses in this coming budget?


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