This pattern of misleading statements and outright false assertions has gotten so bad that I feel we must aggressively respond to them in order to set the record straight. To do that, I have pulled together some of Baker’s false attacks along with the supporting data that shows he is wrong on the facts:
Baker’s False Statements on the Budget
Charlie Baker has criticized Governor Patrick for “spending away” a surplus handed to him by Governor Romney. The problem for Baker – there was no surplus. Both the Mass Taxpayers Foundation and the Associated Press (AP) have said that Baker is simply wrong on this issue. And the former State Budget chief seems to even confuse himself with this lie, claiming at various times the “phantom” budget surplus was $5 billion, $700 million, and $77 million.
Baker’s False Statements on State Spending
Charlie Baker has repeatedly criticized Governor Patrick for what he says is “out of control” state spending. The facts, however, show a different story. According to an analysis done for the Boston Globe by the Mass Taxpayers Foundation, state spending under Governor Patrick has grown at an annual rate of 2.4% – half the rate of growth as when Charlie Baker was the state’s chief budget writer as Secretary of A+F! That point was reiterated by Scot Lehigh in his recent column entitled “The Two Faces of Baker”, where he wrote that Governor Patrick has “hardly been a spendthrift governor. On average, since Patrick’s first budget, state spending has increased 2.4 percent per year, the taxpayers foundation says. On average, spending went up 4.81 percent per year during Baker’s time as Secretary of Administration and Finance.” And Baker continued this pattern as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, where he increased premiums over 150% on small business and working families during his 10 years in charge.
Baker’s False Statements on Management
One of Charlie Baker’s main attack lines concerns Governor Patrick’s management of state government – Baker has gone so far as to say it’s time to “bring in the adults.” Once again, the facts don’t match the rhetoric. All three national independent rating agencies have re-affirmed the states AA bond rating, specifically citing Governor Patrick’s strong responsible fiscal management during the global economic crisis. In fact, despite much better global economic conditions, a higher tax rate and revenue surpluses, the state’s bond rating is higher now than it was under Charlie Baker’s stewardship! Even Jeff Jacoby, writing back in 1996 for City Journal, wrote that “For all Weld’s talk of downsizing, his administration ‘upsized’ in every year save its first” In addition, Governor Patrick is the first governor to negotiate concessions from state employee unions to address our budget crisis, and has instituted a mandatory furlough program, eliminated 2,600 state positions, and put an end to long-running pension issues like “23 and out.”
This list goes on. On taxes, Baker has taken a “read my lips, no new taxes pledge” but his record as a Selectman in Swampscott shows that he voted to raise property taxes in two of his three years on the Board (he was absent for the one vote to reduce the property tax). And he was the single largest contributor to the campaign to override Prop 2 ½ in Swampscott. On reforms, Baker has said that he is the only candidate committed to true reform, despite the fact that Governor Patrick has successfully passed major reforms (ethics, lobbying, pension, transportation, auto insurance, education) that previous Republican Governor’s talked about but never delivered on. Baker also opposed the Governor’s efforts to cap health insurance rates for small businesses, and took the side of the police unions in opposing the Governor’s reforms on civilian flaggers and the Quinn Bill. In addition, he chose a LG candidate who has spent over two decades on Beacon Hill, publicly opposed Baker’s own support of a proposal to eliminate elected officials pensions, and collected thousands in per diems just to drive to work.
I think the people of Massachusetts deserve a honest debate on the issues, based on fact and not campaign spin. What do you think?