Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Give Tim Cahill the Paul Tsongas Pander Bear Award

Back in the 1992 Presidential campaign, then-candidate Senator Paul Tsongas (D-Lowell) gave the first-ever “pander bear” award to then-candidate Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas. The symbolism has been used by both parties to attack candidates who bend over backwards to ingratiate themselves with certain people or groups of people, irrespective of the merits of the issue. What they are pledging to the voters may be at odds with what is possible or, worse, contradict what they themselves believe. Today’s Pander Bear Award goes to State Treasurer Tim Cahill, who seems willing to say anything and do anything to pander to people’s frustration with government.
Cahill now panders to Obamacare opponents in charging that the Mass health reform law is bankrupting the Commonwealth. As Frank Phillips astutely pointed out in the Boston Globe, when Cahill went to the bond market just last month to sell more than half a billion in bonds, he made no such assertion that the near universal health law had thrust the state to the edge of fiscal ruin. Did Cahill deliberately mislead would-be investors or did he twist 180 degrees merely to hypocritically hustle the anti-government spending crowd that put Scott Brown in office?

Now we learn that Cahill was the sole member of the Municipal Finance Oversight Board to oppose state backing of struggling Lawrence’s ability to float $35 million in bonds. The state isn’t giving the money outright to Lawrence. If Lawrence defaulted on its borrowing, the state would pay and recoup the money from Lawrence’s local aid allocation. It’s a time out to give the beleaguered city a chance to get its act together, while being monitored.

Without the ability to borrow, as the Boston Herald pointed out today, Lawrence could go bankrupt this spring.  What’s really bankrupt is Cahill’s intellectual honesty. This is going to be a long campaign. We have real issues that deserve serious discussion and thoughtful solutions. We need to educate voters to the hard choices ahead, not cynically pander to their anger and frustration.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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