Monday, January 23, 2006

 

Republican Minnesota kissing up to Pawlenty?

"In very broad terms the message is going to be that we inherited a crisis that we had to resolve and did," he said, referring to the state's budget deficit of recent years. "And now we need to focus on positioning Minnesota to compete and thrive in the economy of the future. We don't want to go backwards."
RM seems to think this Strib profile piece demonstrates Tim Pawlenty's street cred as an average Minnesotan. I've never met the man personally, so I can't technically dispute that he's a very intelligent, affable gentleman. What I can dispute is the above quote - we "inherited a crisis that we had to resolve and did"........ we did? The Governor made a campaign promise in 2002 to one of the most regressive, backward-looking organizations to get the endorsement of a man who would like to reduce our government to where he could "drown it in a bathtub". He was then faced with a huge budget shortfall because he refused to raise revenue by asking those most capable of contributing to the common good to do so. He then plugged that budget hole with a health maintenance fee (read: TAX) that the State of Minnesota most likely will not be able to collect on once the courts determine once and for all that it is unconstitutional.

I also challenge RM to prove that incrementally higher taxes lead to a net drop in government revenue. Also, which taxes are we discussing? Income taxes? Sales taxes? Property taxes? Business taxes? Please elucidate if you can, RM. But this is an aside, instead of the focus of this post. Onward.

Look, don't get me wrong. I am a strong proponent of smart fiscal policy. Not every social program can be solved at the state or federal level with a new spending program, and overhead costs tend to increase the cost to these high-level initiatives. But the conservative pillar of lower-taxes-because-taxes-are-evil needs to be updated. And fast. I acknowledge that there are government programs at the state level that need to provide accountability and results for the money they receive. But if you really want to lower taxes that strongly, you have to make sure you realize that you're starving our schools, you're starving the U of M and MNSCU system, you're starving our state of its ability to pay to keep our roads flat and our police and fire departments paid and supplied with the equipment they need to keep our communities safe. Government spending can be (and already is), with proper oversight and smart fiscal policy, a net benefit for the people and economy of Minnesota.

In a larger sociological sense, we cannot, must not say "you keep your family fed and safe and happy, and I'll do the same." That kind of Hobbesian, proto-Realist worldview simply does not work. We are all in this game together, as neighbors, as Minnesotans, and as Americans. When history books are written about our era, we will not be judged by how low we kept taxes so that the Richest of the Rich (a demographic which, contrary to common belief and several polls, most of us will never join) can buy another vacation home.

Rather, we will be judged by what we do to raise standards of living for the least among us - those who are willing to work hard for the promise America still has, but need to be able to speak the language, or learn new skills. We will be judged by the quality of our public education system, a hallmark of the American experience. We will be judged by the quality of our health care system, and whether we decide to declare that access to quality health care is a right and not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it.

And yet these are the things that the Lower-Taxes-At-All-Costs brand of fiscal conservativism in today's Republican Party would stand against. It can certainly be said that many Democrats have issues with clearly elucidating their policy on these points, but this is an area where many, if not most, Democrats are improving with zeal - because we Democrats know in our hearts that we're on the right side of history.

Comments:
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Blogger Tony said:
You should not be surprised that RM is sucking up to ANY GOP official. RM is a wanna be GOP elite and I bet that he thinks that sucking up will give him access.

I HATE party hackery.
 
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