Baker invokes small biz struggles in economic critique

Published on Tuesday, August 17, 2010


STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker blamed the state’s regulatory and tax structure Tuesday for driving small businesses into job cuts and bankruptcy, blasting Gov. Deval Patrick’s economic policies as out-of-touch. Baker said he would cut and simplify business taxes and curb the number of regulatory agencies that can oversee individual businesses. “There’s nothing beautiful about tax increases when you 300,000 people are out of work and you have a 9 percent unemployment rate,” Baker said, referring to Patrick’s remark Monday that “the beauty of the gas tax” was that it was earmarked for transportation spending. Baker said he would not raise the gas tax if elected governor, a pledge similar to the one Patrick uttered during the 2006 campaign.

Standing in front of the State House, Baker said, “This is fantasyland up here.” Baker stood with two small business owners who said they had been frustrated by what Baker called "this constant drumbeat from Beacon Hill over and over and over again that they are always open for business, as long as that open for business involves new taxes, higher taxes, higher fees and increased spending." The two men, Richard Greeley of Halifax and Joseph DiStasio of Braintree, are also Republican activists and frequent donors to GOP candidates. DiStasio said he had been forced to file for bankruptcy after state regulators from Attorney General Martha Coakley's office conducted an audit of his tree service business.

In a statement, Patrick campaign press secretary Alex Goldstein said, "We will not be lectured by Republican Charles Baker, whose Big Dig financing scheme is responsible for years of toll hikes and mountains of debt for future generations. Because of Governor Patrick's leadership in these difficult economic times, the Massachusetts economy is growing at twice the rate of the national economy and is coming out of this global economic recession faster and stronger than the rest of the nation. Just last week, Governor Patrick stood with dozens of small businesses who were grateful for the Governor's efforts to provide immediate relief from crushing health insurance premiums, despite health insurance CEO Charles Baker's lack of support." Baker was CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care after leaving state government, where he held top Cabinet positions in the Weld and Cellucci administrations.

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