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The Mass Media

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A Glimpse of the Potential Candidates in Massachusetts’ Special Senatorial Election


Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) speaks out against the Republican’s plan to cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting at a press conference in Washington on February 16, 2011. 



Just when the torrid season of political campaigning seemed to be over, Massachusetts residents will once again be inundated with a fresh wave of bumper stickers, attack ads, debates and the common accoutrements of a high-profile political contest.

Longtime Massachusetts senator, John Kerry, has been tapped by the Obama administration to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. His all-but-inevitable assumption of this position creates a vacancy that will be filled by a designated replacement, to be chosen by Governor Deval Patrick, until a special election in May.

Until then, residents of the bay state will endure an acrimonious and nationally relevant political campaign for the third time since 2010.

The race is a potentially interesting one, with high-profile names mulling runs on both sides. For the Democrats, popular U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz has formed an exploratory committee. Folk singer James Taylor may be considering a run as well. On the Republican side, recently defeated former senator Scott Brown and former governor Bill Weld are thought to be early front runners.

At this early juncture, the only candidate to have officially declared candidacy is Congressman Edward Markey, a Democrat who has represented Massachusetts’ 5th district since 1976. Markey is not a nationally recognized name and has not been involved in a truly competitive race in more than three decades, but his experience and progressive record ought to give him a considerable advantage.

Rep. Markey’s tenure in the house has been marked by a vociferous support for environmentalist causes, culminating with his chairmanship of the House committee on energy independence and global warming. Because of this, energy and the environment will likely be his primary concerns in the upcoming election.

Whoever the Republican opponent of Rep. Markey is, he would be wise to point out that “clean energy” policies are detrimental to the very people progressives claim to be standing up for. Attempts to replace traditional energy, such as petroleum and natural gas, with “green” alternatives such as wind or solar power, have done nothing but raise the price of energy. Energy price increases are tantamount to an across-the-board price increase, as the movement of materials becomes more expensive and companies are forced to compensate for rising production costs. People with homes heated by wind or solar-generated power will generally find themselves paying higher utility bills, disproportionately affecting those with lower incomes.

A state-funded wind turbine in Princeton, MA, has been operating at a loss since it was opened in 2010, costing Massachusetts taxpayers a total of nearly $2 million. Customers of the Princeton Municipal Light District paid, on average, 36 percent more on energy utilities than the rest of Massachusetts residents. Government-funded firms like solar panel-maker Solyndra have failed spectacularly and wasted millions more. As a Senator, Rep. Markey would likely support legislation that sponsored green energy boondoggles at the expense of the public.

A common criticism of many Republicans in Washington is their adherence to Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes. As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Markey is dedicated to an even more restrictive and exponentially more damaging pledge: To refuse to cut any spending on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Not only are these three entitlement programs the greatest source of government spending and the largest drivers of the $16 trillion national debt, but each are currently on unsustainable financial trajectories that can only be corrected by spending cuts.

According to the Economics21 website, Social Security will be financially insolvent by 2033 if current benefit schedules and payment levels are maintained. This means that those with jobs right now will not receive the same in Social Security benefits as they are currently giving through our payroll taxes, if any benefits are maintained at all. Without spending cuts in the very near future, the long-term outlook of the program is very bleak. As a Senator, Rep. Mackey would attempt to thwart any effort of reform, even middle-ground policies like cutting benefits for wealthy retirees.

For Rep. Markey, the ideologies of environmentalism and welfare statism are more important than the financial security of the average American. Massachusetts residents should reject the hypocrisy of Rep. Markey, who has proven himself to be an unoriginal acolyte of a failed brand.