Citing lessons from hospital stay, Boston Mayor Menino writes Obama, Boehner on fiscal cliff

Mayor Thomas M. Menino cited lessons from his lengthy hospital stay in a letter to President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, urging them to keep the country from going off the “fiscal cliff” and not to cut health spending.

“The fiscal cliff is bad for our country, and so is any remedy that guts funding for discovery, for health care training, and for healing,” Menino said in the letter, dated Saturday, which is posted on the city’s website.

Menino, who has been recovering from a variety of ailments since late October—first at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and now at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where he is regaining his strength—wrote that he “just spent a month in one of our world-class health care institutions and am writing you from another. So, yes, my perspective on the big budget debate happening in Washington is unique.”

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He asked the two national leaders to “talk differently to the American people. ... Show us opportunity. Sell us on progress.”

He also implored them to “tell us the truth, especially on taxes.”

“Brian, my nurse, doesn’t come to my room in the morning to say, ‘Mayor, if you just sit here, unburdened by taxing exercises, free from our rehab rules and regulations, you will get stronger.’ He tells it like it is. You can, too,” Menino said.

He also urged the leaders to “tell those who can do more, to do more. In a hospital, it gets real clear real fast about what real fortune is. We need more ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ and less, dare I say, ‘I built that.’ ”

“Outside of Washington, we don’t spend all day on your potential ‘Grand Bargain.’ Here, the term sounds like the frozen smoothie Brian offers me in exchange for another go at the stair machine. But if it means you’ll come together for the American people, do that. We’ve had enough Democrat- and Republican-speak for a while,” the letter said.

President Obama and the Republicans are at odds over a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, a combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending cuts that are the result of prior failures of Congress and Obama to forge a budget deal. If a compromise is not reached, the cuts will go into effect, a scenario that many economists say could send the fragile economy back into recession.

Menino has been in the hospital since Oct. 26. His ailments have included an upper respiratory infection and a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his lungs. He also suffered a compression fracture in one of his vertebrae, and doctors discovered he had an infection in his back. The mayor has also being diagnosed with diabetes.

He was transferred to Spaulding last week, where, doctors said, he needed to regain strength before returning to his normal routine.

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