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Senator 1 Percent leads battle for the 99 percent

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There’s a certain irony in seeing the wealthiest man in the US Senate arguing against tax cuts for the richest Americans. US Sen. John Kerry stuck to the script as he and the rest of the not very supercommittee swept their unproductive deficit reduction efforts into the dustbin of history.

Kerry, who tried a Hail Mary pass to get the group to come up with a plan, laid the failure on the Republicans’ inability to set aside their ideological differences on taxation.  

The senator said in a statement: “We simply could not overcome the Republican insistence on making tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent. We would not give another $550 billion tax cut to the wealthiest. Shifting the tax burden to the middle class was not the way to reduce the deficit. This was simply doctrine for some of our Republican colleagues, even as many worked very hard in good faith to find a better way forward.”

The Cape Cod Times argues that the Democrats at least resisted making the Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.  As The Economist points out, the income inequality card may be the one of the few that the party has left to play going into the 2012 election.

As a small group of Occupy Wall Street protesters arrive in Washington from New York, the country will soon find out what happens when an irresistible force like the Occupy movement meets an immovable object like the 112th Congress.

The Boston Globe suggests that congressional Democrats, like US Rep Edward Markey, are co-opting the “us versus them” mantra of the Occupiers and making it their own, juxtaposing the plight of ordinary Americans against the ultra-comfortable circumstances of their wealthiest fellow citizens. Nothing plays to the party’s historic strengths on domestic issues like income inequality. If the Democrats can’t get traction against the “Party of No” on this issue, they might as well hang out a “going out of business” shingle.

There has been speculation that Kerry may eventually suffer at the polls for his role in the supercommittee meltdown. However, he isn’t up for re-election until 2014, which gives Bay State voters plenty of time to forget all about the supercommittee debacle.

The Boston patrician never compares favorably with the late Ted Kennedy for zeal on real people issues like health care or education. Louisburg Square, where Kerry lives on Beacon Hill, might as well be on the moon for all it has in common with Occupy Boston on the Greenway.

Nevertheless, when the Boston Herald’s Peter Gelznis asked Kerry what he was thankful for this Thanksgiving, he spoke about surviving Vietnam, the birth of his first grandson, his patriotism and concluded, “I’ll be with family for the holiday, and then I’ll come back to Washington and continue to push for a solution to this crisis. I simply will not quit on this.”

The opportunity for Kerry to channel his inner-Kennedy has finally dropped into his lap. He tried but failed to find common ground with a group of Republicans that even a master of compromise like Kennedy would have been hard pressed to broker a deal with. What fork will Kerry take at the crossroads he may face if President Obama wins a second term? Wait for his name to appear on a very short list for the more glamorous portfolio of Secretary of State or stay on the liberal lion perch in the Senate grappling with the distress of the 99 percent?  The answer will come soon enough.

                                                                                                                                                --GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

The casino race is on, as Gov. Deval Patrick signed expanded gambling legislation into law. In a characterization that Patrick desperately didn’t want attached to the moment, the Globe’s Frank Phillips calls it “perhaps his most significant bill signing since his election five years ago.” Before getting to the heart of his column -- handicapping the odds for various would-be casino owning moneybags -- Brian McGrory dispenses glibly with any lingering concerns over the state’s dive into the casino era by suggesting dead Puritans are the only ones who could possibly be unsettled by the development. A Boston Herald editorial says the most important work remains -- picking a stand-up gaming commission. Boston Mayor Tom Menino tells Fox 25 that he could “conceivably” support a casino at Suffolk Downs, but says he won’t back a stand-alone slot parlor because “slots are not good for the economy,” and “they attract the most vulnerable of our society.”

A New Bedford developer sues the state, claiming a provision benefiting Indian tribes in the new gambling law is an illegal “racial set-aside,” CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow and Jack Sullivan report.

State Transportation Secretary Richard Davey says he expects to float proposals for MBTA fare increases and service reductions next month to close a $161 million budget hole. Suburban bus service and nighttime commuter rail could be on the chopping block, the Lowell Sun reports. US Rep. Michael Capuano worries that the T’s Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford won’t break ground under Gov. Deval Patrick’s watch.

The Michael McLaughlin reign continues to add new entries, none of them good. The Globe reports today that the disgraced former Chelsea housing authority director once approved a $40,000 payment to a former authority employee to settle a sexual harassment claim filed against his top lieutenant. Patrick is forced to defend Lt. Gov. Tim Murray’s ties to McLaughlin, again.

Former House speaker Sal DiMasi asks for a prison assignment closer to Massachusetts; he had been sentenced to a facility in Lexington, Kentucky.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The state overseer in Lawrence says the city violated state and federal laws when it swapped 13 vehicles seized by police, including a Cadillac Escalade and a Lexus, for four Chevrolet Impalas owned by a car dealer with ties to Mayor William Lantigua, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Scituate’s community preservation committee will review 16 proposals valued at $2.2 million but the panel is coming under fire for its lack of affordable housing projects, building just a single unit from the $12.9 million the town has collected since 2002.

A plan to build a triage center for homeless people in Worcester gets an angry reaction from some city residents, NECN reports.

A Dorchester Reporter editorial calls on the Boston City Council to conduct an open search for a new city clerk and not hand the $100,000 a year job to their former colleague, Maureen Feeney, who is widely believed to be jockeying for the appointment. The editorial points to Lowell, where an open process generated a field of 120 applicants, which has been winnowed to six finalists.

A meeting between area residents and Fall River officials failed to find an agreement on what to do with the Watuppa Heights housing project with just 16 days left before a state-imposed deadline to come up with a Housing Improvement Plan.

A public records war flares up between the city of Cambridge and the Cambridge Chronicle.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The blame game in the supercommittee failure continues as committee member Pat Toomey, a conservative Republican senator whose offer of $250 billion in taxes was seen as a potential breakthrough several weeks ago, says Democrats refused to budge from their insistence of $1 trillion in new tax revenues.

Keller@Large wonders if either party can set aside the “permanent campaign” and actually do the job they were elected to do -- govern.

The July shutdown of the Minnesota state government had a minimal impact on the state’s financial outlook, Governing magazine reports.

MIT economist Peter Diamond gives some indication of why his nomination to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors was blocked by Republican congressmen: He just suggested a 70 percent tax rate on the super-rich.

To get out from under Chicago-dominated politics, two Illinois Republican lawmakers propose turning Cook County into its own state and the rest of Illinois into another.

ELECTION 2012

The National Review says all the candidates were winners in last night’s GOP debate but Newt Gingrich was the winner of winners.

President Obama tries to rev up supporters in New Hampshire, a state he won in 2008 but where he now trials Mitt Romney in a hypothetical match-up by 10 points. Obama’s revving had to compete with Occupy protesters, who interrupted his Granite State speech, NECN reports.

Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos tells Emily Rooney the New Hampshire primary could get closer but it’s hard to see Mitt Romney failing to win it. Romney unleashes an anti-Obama ad that makes Democrats howl, a reaction that makes Eric Fehrnstrom and Ron Kaufman giggle.

FISHING

You should have seen the one that got away: A New Bedford-based fishing dragger netted an 881-pound bluefish tuna -- a prize that could potentially put almost any fishing enterprise into the black for the year -- but lost it when federal officials confiscated the fish because it was caught in a net and not by rod and reel. The boat’s owner had the requisite tuna permit and even called the fed’s tuna hotline to report the catch.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Northeastern University’s Andrew Sum says the American Dream has been on hold in Massachusetts since 2000, CommonWealth reports.

On WBUR’s On Point, Tom Ashbrook reports on middle-class neighborhoods in retreat.

Big banks are in for another round of stress tests.

The hot new post-meltdown defense: My regulator made me do it! (In this case, “it” means “ruin the economy.”)

The annual toy safety report comes out. Heading the list is an Oscar the Grouch doll.

EDUCATION

Pittsfield High School students took the traffic problems near their school into their own hands and came up with a traffic calming proposal that has been submitted to city council.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Federal, state and local officials arrested 53 illegal immigrants, including a number of repeat criminal offenders, following a four-day statewide sweep. A similar sweep last month netted 111, the Lowell Sun reports. ICE is busy in Framingham and Milford, too.

In a court filing, federal prosecutors say Whitey Bulger girlfriend Catherine Greig should be denied bail because she has “an undisclosed bank account in her name with a substantial balance.”

A State Police captain was suspended indefinitely without pay after Saugus police stopped him and noticed alcohol on his breath, the Lynn Item reports.

MEDIA

The shrinking press corps at places such as the State House leads to a decline in accountability reporting, CommonWealth reports.

Carpenters union chief Mark Erlich reviews Pinched: How the Great Recession has Narrowed our Futures & What Can We Do About It.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Finally an issue everyone can agree on: The vast majority of Americans no matter what their political affiliation or race have a favorable view of Thanksgiving dinner.

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