The House has passed a budget. The Senate has passed a budget. But we’re not likely to get a budget, Congressman Michael Capuano told Monday’s New England Council breakfast meeting, because Congress is still kicking the can down the road, drifting toward the next crisis, probably this fall. The only difference between the majority party and the minority party, he asserts, is that, when the Democrats were in control, “at least we had serious debates about serious issues.” Now, he sees only pontificating and posturing.
Regarding the deficit, he told the business crowd, everyone got a little greedy. People wanted that $20 tax cut in their pockets, instead of having it go to Social Security. If you want Social Security, the WIC program, interstate highways, you have to pay for it. Too many people are afraid to tell the truth. If you want these things, you have to pay for them.
“I am a liberal Democrat,” he said. “I want to pay our bills. As Mayor, you have to balance the budget. It’s the law. The federal government doesn’t have to. But I don’t support excess debt.”
Capuano’s frustration becomes more evident each time he speaks to the Council. The former Somerville mayor reflects on how, when he ran in a 9-person race in 1998, he was viewed as a moderate to conservative. These days, and certainly in a national context, he’s introduced as an unabashed liberal. But, he says, “to have a good liberal society, you need a strong business climate.” The lesson any mayor can tell you is “there’s no liberal way to collect the trash.”
Positions like mayor or governor have their own challenges, but Capuano seems to miss his executive days when he could roll up his sleeves and not be dragged down by endless, highly partisan debates about non-issues, generating little more than hot air. Small wonder then that the Taunton Daily Gazette reported today, in a story filed by the State House News Service, that Capuano is mulling a run for governor. A decision could come soon.
The scrappy Democrat is passionate, liberal, and practical. He is informed by social justice and animated by the art of the practical. His years in Congress, living the big picture, and his years as mayor, handling the nuts and bolts of government, would make him a strong contender. He ran a primary race for U.S. Senate but lost to Martha Coakley, who, in the general election, well, you know. If Capuano had been the party’s nominee more than two years ago, he would, at a minimum, have run a more energetic race. He certainly has the capacity to run that kind of race for governor in 2014.
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