Globe editorial

Short Fuse

April 29, 2009
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Endowments: Keep this bad idea down
Taxing the endowments of the state's richest universities was a bad idea the first time Representative Paul Kujawski proposed it, last spring. It would have been just as bad this year, as an amendment to the House budget. So it's a relief that Kujawski withdrew the mischievous amendment yesterday. Sure, the 2.5 percent excise would have applied to only about nine universities in the state with over $1 billion endowments. But Harvard, for example, is already expecting its fund to drop in value by 30 percent, to $25.2 billion, and even Harvard would miss $630 million every year. Veteran Representative Angelo Scaccia of Boston objected to the amendment's withdrawal. "We're going to let slide those rich folk," he complained. Town-gown tensions are real, but they are no excuse to raid a cornerstone of the Massachusetts economy.

Specter's switch: And then there was one
Republican Senator Arlen Specter's decision to switch party allegiances yesterday didn't just radically alter his reelection fight next year. It also suggests that, as Democrats creep that much closer to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Republicans will dig in their heels even more in their efforts to hang on to a Senate seat in Minnesota. Unsuccessful so far in his legal fight in state court, Republican Norm Coleman is taking his battle against Democrat Al Franken to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has declined to certify Franken's victory. Further delays are inexcusable. Nearly six months after the election, Minnesota has only half the representation in the Senate that it deserves.

Murtha: Redefining corruption
US Representative John Murtha is a proud practitioner of the dark art of congressional earmarks. The federal largesse he's brought home to his southwestern Pennsylvania district easily tallies in the billions, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Meanwhile, firms benefitting from Murtha's earmarks have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign. This cozy practice has led a Washington watchdog group to label him "one of the most corrupt members of Congress." Now federal authorities are investigating a lobbying shop and several other outfits with close ties to the congressman. Murtha himself is unrepentant. "If I'm corrupt, it's because I take care of my district," he told the paper. It's time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to tell her close ally to clean up his act.

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