While the Minnesota State Senate Tax Committee holds a hearing, examining Governor. Pawlenty’s proposed Spending Accountability Amendment to Minnesota’s constitution, conservatives will rally in support. Compounding one bad idea with another requires additional, organized enthusiasm.
The original bad idea, tax policy benefiting Minnesota’s wealthiest disguised as populist, anti-tax rhetoric, was encoded in state law in 2003. Using Minnesota’s $4.56 billion budget crises as political cover, Pawlenty deftly implemented what we now understand as the beginning of a concerted shift to regressive tax policy.
Today’s bad idea, proposed last month, reintroduces a hoary conservative trope: constitutional spending caps. Conservatives would force government contraction by constitutionally limiting spending.
To better understand this dumb idea, instead of limiting spending, let’s say that you’re sick. Your doctor says five doses of medicine are all you’ll receive. You may need six or even twelve but you’re getting five. There’s some small chance that you’ll improve but, odds are, you’ll get sicker. If you’re lucky, your long-term health will be compromised. Or, you might die. But, five doses somehow makes you a better person if not actually better.
Let the conservatives rally. Bad ideas, like cancer, fester best when they fester quietly; attention diminishes public support. Minnesotans know a distraction when they see one.