Looking for a better idea

Lauding Linc; Pining for Jersey Shore ; the new First Couple; fighting for students' rights
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  July 21, 2010


P+J aren’t sure how many Vo Dilunduhs caught Matt Bai’s story on Linc Chafee in last week’s New York Times, but BeloJo political columnist Edward Fitzpatrick certainly did and, in his Tuesday column, he decided to do a little follow-up with the other gubernatorial candidates.

Bai wrote about Chafee’s proposal to raise money through the elimination of many of the numerous exemptions to the state’s sales tax. The former US senator and Warwick mayor says that the elimination of these exemptions, for food, clothing, and the like, would raise about $100 million for the state’s coffers (a number that has been vetted by a few independent sources and found to be fairly accurate). Bai notes that most politicians could never be “persuaded to embrace even modestly painful solutions in an unforgiving political environment.”

Needless to say, Linc Chafee is not “most politicians.” We recall another politician, a sitting governor in fact, who a few decades back acknowledged that the state was up against the wall and that it, sadly, had to establish a state income tax. This the governor did with great reluctance (he had, for years, been opposed to such a tax) and it turned out that it was his undoing. Governor John Chafee, Linc’s dad, was defeated by the underdog anti-state income tax challenger, Frank Licht. Before the end of his two-year term, Licht acknowledged that we did, indeed, need to establish an income tax.

Bai explains that Linc and all the candidates agree that the “ultimate answer for a state like Rhode Island is to raise more money principally by creating more jobs” and that his proposal to eliminate the exemptions is a short-term way to deal with an extraordinary situation. Chafee’s challenge to the other candidates is to “give me a better idea.” So Fitz-patrick canvassed the other candidates for a “better idea.”

None of the other candidates got too specific about exactly how much money they’ll be able to come up with and where, the exception being GOP candidate Victor Moffitt whose proposal is to “cut the entire state budget by 5% a year for the next eight years.”

P+J say, one way or another, Vo Dilunduhs are going to have to eat something that will taste very bad and will be tough to digest. All the candidates know this too but, to date, only Chef Linc Chafee has had the courage to reveal what kind of bad food is on his menu. The rest are chickenshit, preferring to cover their asses and not get too specific.


Sitting around Casa Diablo last week, your superior correspondents came to a rather depressing realization. In our endless efforts to describe the cultural and political landscape of our beloved Biggest Little, we all too frequently miss the “Big Picture,” i.e., what’s going on among the really important and meaningful people in the world.

We’re sure it was on your mind as well: will the cast of Jersey Shore receive well-deserved pay raises? And we wondered not just because one of their number is a guy from Johnston (future United States Senator Pauly D). No, there was something bigger at stake here: the people of Jersey Shore represent all that is good about the US of A. Really, can you imagine those skinny Middle Eastern terrorists licking the likes of “The Situation” in a posedown? No way! These kids have earned their keep. (And they did, in the end, get their raise.)

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