I have a couple of suggestions as you continue your work after the Easter Recess.
It’s time to raise taxes. I really don’t give a damn whether you want to or not; whether you think you can or not; whether you’ve got the votes or not: just do it! Minnesota cannot cut itself out of the budget crisis (1). We’re going to have to raise taxes or accelerate our inevitable slide into the abyss. This may upset some wealthy campaign contributors to both sides of the aisle but it’s better for the state to have them upset and paying their fair share of taxes than continuing to make more attempts at squeezing blood from those who have no more blood to donate: the poor, the homeless, veterans, people with disabilities, the sick and infirm, the elderly, the jobless.
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Rescind the Ventura tax cuts, and tax all Minnesotans, even the wealthy, fairly. Emphasize progressive taxes like the income tax, not regressive ones like the sales tax, property tax, and “fees”. No one likes to pay taxes. But I don’t believe any responsible citizen wants what we’re getting by relying on budget cuts alone, thus making guaranteed investments in human misery. Failure to raise taxes now is going to make budget balancing even more difficult in the future than it is now by making it far more costly and upsetting. Consequently, no legislator or state executive who advocates budget balancing by budget cuts alone can be called a responsible steward of the state’s fiscal resources! Government budgets are a moral document. So far Minnesota’s budget has proven to be most immoral.
It’s time to take the gloves off and go after the seditionists in state government-and that includes the governor, the GOP, and conservative DFLers. Enough with the stonewalling; enough with the fear mongering; enough with pitting one side against the other; enough with the obfuscation; enough with the lies, falsehoods, and deceit; enough with the gamesmanship of unallotment, payment shifting, and other budgetary slight-of-hand and smoke-and-mirrors accounting. Today’s GOP-and even conservative DFLers–are not the loyal opposition. They are, rather, a group of seditionists (2) aimed at making state government an impossibility. Enough! Stop focusing on procedural ways to defeat them. Rather, take the initiative: get out there, frame the issues in terms the people can understand and identify with, and pull the rug right out from under them.
It’s time to stop playing defense and go on the attack. You can read the polls or you can lead the polls. It’s time to drop the Tweety Bird bit, complaining about how the big, bad puddy tat governor and his party are beating up on you, all the while enabling them to do it. (3)
Finally, no more GAMC debacles. That issue is far from being resolved fairly and can’t be until taxes are raised and the GOP and conservative DFL seditionists are sidelined. The GAMC failure is a symbol of the failure of state government to protect it’s most vulnerable citizens and, by extension, all of us; correcting it would be a symbol of state government’s ability to provide for all citizens, not just the wealthy (4, 5).
Good luck! I want to be proud of the work you do representing me!
1. Budget Cuts: A Ruinous Meltdown, Bob Hebert, New York Times
All states have been rocked by the Great Recession. And most have tried to cope with a reasonable mix of budget cuts and tax increases, or other revenue-raising measures. Those that rely too heavily on cuts are making guaranteed investments in human misery.
2. Guilty of Sedition? How the Right Is Undermining Our Government’s Authority and Capability to Run the Country, Sara Robinson, Campaign for America’s Future, in AlterNet
It’s time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of US government.
3. Why I Did Not Caucus with my party (DFL) on February 2, David Culver, Evergreene Digest
The next years are going to be about mediocrity, broken promises, and striving for second best. That’s not the MN I grew up in. And it’s not what I voted for, or was promised.
Do we continue as part of a political institution that we feel in large part is not serving us or the common good, or do we strike out towards something that we can participate in with integrity?
4. MN GOP, DFL Disgrace Themselves, the State, and 38,000 of Its Most Vulnerable Citizens, David Culver, Evergreene Digest
We once were a state that works; now we’re a cheap imitation of a third-rate banana republic.
For those of us (the majority) who believe that state government’s primary purpose is to take care of it’s people, and that there’s something wrong deep in the psyche of a person who doesn’t, it’s time to change course.
5. The GAMC Debacle: Hamstringing Minnesota’s Progress, John Van Hecke, Minnesota 2020
Late Friday (March 5) afternoon, Governor Pawlenty and State Legislative leaders announced a GAMC “rescue” compromise. Assistance recipients will not be whole-sale enrolled in Minnesota Care but will continue receiving care, albeit under new terms shifting financial responsibility away from the State of Minnesota’s general fund. Schools, communities and counties will recognize this maneuver.
This triumph isn’t as triumphant as policy leaders declared. It’s a short-term fix, pushing real health care reform’s hard choices into the next biennium.