Democrats often tell us that one critical difference between the two parties is that the Democrats are more giving and compassionate. I’m not sure if that’s true in general, but it’s true in at least one important respect: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is giving Republicans a huge political issue.

The State of Massachusetts faces a severe budget shortfall, and Governor Patrick is using nearly $1 billion in porkulus cash and reserve funds to keep the state running a few more months. Yet despite being in dire fiscal straits, Patrick is giving free cars to welfare recipients:

In Gov. Deval Patrick’s Massachusetts, if you’re on the dole, you may be eligible to get a free car. So much for the budget Armageddon they keep talking about at the State House.

Let the taxpayers worry about those billion-dollar deficits. If you’re on welfare, come on down!

Nice enough that the layabouts get a free car – plus the state picks up the tab for insurance, excise tax, title, registration, inspection, and approved repairs. The absolute frosting on the cake is a free AAA membership…

Supposedly, these free welfare cars will enable the non-taxpayer to get a job. If they lose the job, the state comes down hard on them – we the taxpayers will not reimburse the cost of insurance after the first six months. If the client quits work or is laid off during the first 12 months, all transportation benefits end, but the client will still keep the car.

If I didn’t check to confirm this is true, I would have thought it was a joke. How can Massachusetts justify such handouts while it’s unable to pay its bills? It seems that one answer is the federal ‘stimulus’ bill, which is allowing the state to overcome the shortfall and continue to provide programs like this one.