As expected, Gov. Tim Pawlenty offered his response to President Barack Obama’s budget proposal Monday, and he didn’t mince words. Heck, he did the opposite of mincing, which would be, what, julienning? Reconstituting? Whatever he did, he was blunt about it, writing in Politico that Obama’s massive deficit spending amounts to a Ponzi scheme. We at the Daily Glean were curious to see if Pawlenty ever offered so scathing a critique of George W. Bush’s budgets — after all, as U.S. News and World Report demonstrates with a handy graph, the deficit ballooned under the former president. We were not able to track down any such criticism, despite searching for a while; if anybody knows of Pawlenty criticizing Bush for cost overruns, please let us know. Also, as Pawlenty identifies himself as a Reagan Republican, we’d be fascinated to hear that he criticized the Great Communicator, who, after all, was equally great at running up the national debt. But our searched produce a combination of zip, nada, and gooseggs, all of which might be quite delicious julienned.
Well, regardless, if Pawlenty’s criticism has merit, it has merit even if he hasn’t applied it evenly. But don’t ask Reagan domestic policy adviser and Bush 43 treasury official Bruce Bartlett; On the Capital Gains and Games blog, he offered a response to Pawlenty that no cooking term can encompass: His first paragraph describes Pawlenty as being “grossly ill-informed,” and then he goes on to say, “Like all Republicans these days, Pawlenty wants to have it every possible way: complain about the deficit while ignoring everything his party did to create it … illogically insisting that tax cuts are a necessary part of deficit reduction, and never proposing any specific spending cuts.”
While Bartlett concludes that Pawlenty is “not ready for prime time,” his criticism probably isn’t going to make many waves in conservative circles, as his recent embrace of Keynesian economic principles and his outspoken criticisms of George W. Bush has many on the right seeing him as a turncoat. But it might give local lawmakers some ammo in the forthcoming state budget smackdown, which Star Tribune writer Baird Helgeson describes as being “fraught with peril,” along with much of the forthcoming legislative session. Pawlenty has steadfastly refused to raise taxes, apparently thinking you can just keep paring spending down until the budget gets balanced, and Helgeson paints a pessimistic picture of what this might mean: “Balancing the budget solely through cuts would result in a menu of grim, politically unpalatable options. Roughly 75 percent of the budget goes to education, aid to local governments and health and human services. Cut health and human services, and the state can lose federal funding. Cut aid to cities, and property taxes rise. Cut higher education, and watch tuition soar.”
One of Pawlenty’s expected cuts will be in public works — he is expected to propose a $685 million bonding bill, and has threatened to veto anything larger. Unsurprisingly, as KARE11’s John Croman reports, local labor unions aren’t happy about this. The AFL-CIO has its own ideas about how to raise money, which involves increasing income taxes to the state’s highest earners, but as long as Pawlenty is in office, that’s about as likely to happen as a pig teaching himself how to fricassee.
Well, the local economy is due for one big boost thanks to Pawlenty: With him out of the running, for governor, things are about to get spendy. According to the Pioneer Press’s Bill Salisbury, candidates for Pawlenty’s job have already raised $3 million for their campaigns, and Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Scheck reports that this may be the most expensive gubernatorial race in state history.
And things are about ready to really ramp up. After all, as the Associated Press reminds us, precinct caucuses will be held today, which will, in its words, start “culling” candidates, which calls to mind the horrific scene in “Hud” in which diseased cattle are herded into a huge pit and gunned down en masse. The caucuses presumably won’t be so brutal, but they might be pretty lively: MPR’s Tom Scheck tells us that there might be quite a few local Tea Partiers showing up, and if they can be described in any way, it’s, er, vocal.
For political junkies, the gubernatorial race is like the Academy Awards of local politics, but for fans of cinema, the Oscars are like the Academy Awards of film. Today the Academy announced its nominees, and so begins the scramble on the part of the local media to point out Minnesotans who are on the list. We at the Daily Glean would like to be the first to point out that St. Louis Park natives Joel and Ethan Coen have been nominated for Best Original Screenplay for their script for “A Serious Man,” but we have a feeling we’re not even close.
Locals might also be interested in another award ceremony, the Minnesota Book Awards, which likewise has announced its nominees, apparently unaware that this makes them a bit like dramatist John Dennis, in that they were likely to have their thunder stolen. (Look it up.) We at MinnPost aren’t the sorts to have our heads completely turned by the Oscars, so Amy Goetzman has provided a list of nominees. It would be nice if folks ran out and tried to read every book on this list in the same way they strive to see every film nominated for an Academy Award, but, then, none of this year’s book nominees include giant blue cat sex on a Roger Dean floating mountain planet.
At least the Minnesota Twins can count on a healthy dose of attention, Oscars or no. After all, there’s a lot of speculation about Joe Mauer, and, as WCCO’s Heather Brown tells it, it’s got the fans all fidgety with excitement. The rumor: Mauer might sign a deal with the Twins for another 10 years, at the end of which time we can probably expect his sideburns to look like this.