Rick Green, the only Republican candidate for the U.S. House seat in the Third Congressional district, sat down with the editorial board of the Lowell Sun last week to talk about his credentials and his priorities.
The first priority he mentioned? Infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure. Massachusetts, Green reported with alarm, now “ranks 50th out of 50 states in terms of functionally obsolete bridges.”
What didn’t come up? How the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, an organization he founded, has contributed to our cellar-dwelling position.
Green established Mass Fiscal, as it’s known, six years ago, taking over the corporate charter of Empower Massachusetts, a voter-suppression group, and he served as its board chair until recently. The self-described “non-partisan government watchdog group committed to holding the line against taxes,” Mass Fiscal has, in each electoral cycle, targeted 20 or so Democratic legislators and waged direct-mail campaigns against them, using inflammatory and factually-challenged accusations with nativist overtones, along the lines of: did you know that your lawmaker favors spending your tax dollars on immigrants who are in this country illegally rather than veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation?
In the 2014 election, Mass Fiscal also supported the ballot question to repeal a law designed to raise transportation revenues by indexing our state’s gasoline tax to inflation. They supported the repeal — not because our transportation infrastructure was in fine shape without any additional funds — but only to impugn lawmakers for trying to raise taxes indirectly (and to add that “some politicians who voted for the increase also receive taxpayer funded reimbursements for their trips to the Statehouse in Boston”). The repeal succeeded, leading Michael Widmer, then-president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, to predict that lawmakers would soon need to “make a series of very tough choices because they’re going to find out quickly enough they don’t have enough money to fund basic maintenance of roads and bridges, never mind expansion.”
Sure enough, when the House passed its annual road-funding bill earlier this month, Transportation Committee chair William Straus, observed: “There’s no question when it comes to transportation needs and the status of the roads and bridges of the Commonwealth, the need is greater than our resources. There are greater unmet needs but the resources are finite in order to take care of municipal roads and bridges and those of the Commonwealth.”
So when candidate and Mass Fiscal founder Rick Green points to transportation infrastructure as a big problem that our lawmakers have failed to solve, he sounds a little bit like the boy who, having murdered his parents, calls on the court for mercy — owing to his being an orphan.