We haven’t spoken much about the Tisei/Tierney race in MA-6. We’ve been all-consumed with the Senate race, and MA-6 has been slightly uncomfortable because of Tierney’s tax questions. And today a poll comes out showing that Tisei is ahead. Not surprising, actually.
But I think the choice is quite clear, for people who care about progressive things and for people who care about the 6th district: You gotta vote for Tierney.
Let’s deal with the ethical question first and foremost. I am not an expert on the Tierney tax case; I am not an accountant. I am happy to hear from, and be swayed by the opinions, of either. But as far as I can tell, there is no clear-cut case that shows that Tierney must have known that his brothers-in-law were engaged in illegal activity. Is it plausible that he knew? Sure it is. Is it plausible that he didn’t? Also yes. He can’t prove his innocence any more than his brothers-in-law can prove his guilt. The prosecutors didn’t try to nail him. So there you have it.
But the elephant in the room is control of the US House of Representatives, which is now in play. If Richard Tisei is elected, the first and most important vote he will take is for John Boehner as Speaker of the House and Eric Cantor as majority leader — which also means Republicans in control of House committees:
- Budget: Well, that will be chaired by Paul Ryan, if Romney loses and Ryan wins his Wisconsin seat. More attacks on Medicare and more “math” that isn’t math.
- Energy/Commerce: There will be no action on global warming, with a committee dominated by deniers and crackpots like Joe Barton of TX.
- Oversight: More crackpot investigations from that paragon of integrity, Darrell Issa.
And on and on. Tisei has doubtless said and will continue to say, “You’re not running against John Boehner and Eric Cantor; they aren’t on the ballot in Massachusetts.” Well, yes they are. And their proxy is Richard Tisei.
Furthermore, Tisei has not adequately distanced himself from the GOP’s national agenda. Like Scott Brown, he inexplicably wants to repeal the national version of the same health care law he supported in Massachusetts. That’s not moderate: The moderate line would be “mend it don’t end it”, not “repeal and replace” (and replace it with what, after all?). Tisei is also using Paul Ryan’s sleazy line that the new health law is paid for by Medicare cuts — when not reforming Medicare payment would make the program insolvent by 2016.
And unless Tisei makes it clear otherwise, we should assume that his victory will make government shutdowns and debt default more likely. Last year’s debt ceiling debacle hurt our fragile recovery. What would he have done in that situation?
I will stick my neck out and say that in a different year, this race wouldn’t be as critical. Back in the 1980′s and before, there was less ideological rigidity on the right. I remember hearing the story (apocryphal?) that Reagan’s White House sent NYC’s liberal Republican rep S. William Green a card saying “Thank you for voting with us when you could.” In 1994, Chicago voters sent their powerful but disgraced Congressman Dan Rostenkowski packing — to be replaced by an amiable moderate Republican, Michael Flanagan. (In 1996, Flanagan was replaced by … Rod Blagojevich.) One wouldn’t have known at the time that a vote for Flanagan was a vote to install Newt Gingrich as Speaker — and in the context of the 1994 wave, it wouldn’t have made any difference.
Tisei may be a nice moderate fellow. Or not. But it’s absolutely beyond question that he will vote for and enable people at the national level who are not nice or moderate at all. And if he’s not distancing himself now, he sure as hell isn’t going to do so when he gets to Washington.
Keep the crazies out. Vote Tierney.