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Strib: State ‘paying the price’ for T-Paw economic policies

MORNING EDITION ALSO: High “negatives” for GOP presidential field here; stadium tax vote sought; Target neutral on marriage amendment; Cravaack’s car trouble; and more.
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Well … The Strib editorial page boldly goes where it rarely goes boldly. Responding to T-Paw’s big economics speech Tuesday in Chicago, the one where he essentially relieved the wealthy of being bothered with pesky irritations like taxes, the Strib writes:

“Pawlenty didn’t even try to support his central argument — that tax cuts and smaller government would spur astounding economic growth of 5 percent annually over 10 years — with evidence. That’s because neither economic research nor reality confirms his promise. In fact, data suggest that cutting taxes and government at the same time reduces growth. Pawlenty’s economic policies have been test-driven in the real world — in Minnesota — and the state is now paying the price. Under his legislative leadership, the state permanently cut income taxes in 1999 and 2000, which benefited high-income earners the most and cut state income tax revenue capacity by about 10 percent. Spending never decreased to make up for this. Instead, the state made a further spending commitment in 2001 to take more responsibility for education funding — a move that offered local property tax relief. The effect of all of this was an ongoing structural deficit that combined with an economic downturn to culminate in the $5 billion deficit crushing Minnesota today. The supposed revenue from tax-cut-induced growth — which was magically going to make up for lower income taxes — never materialized. … At its core, Pawlenty’s plan is a gamble that these revenues would somehow appear and that he’d be able to cap spending at a level not seen since the Reagan years and before, when there were fewer elderly, less debt (and its associated costs) and lower health care spending.”

By the looks of a new Public Policy Poll, President Obama probably won’t be spending much campaign time in Minnesota next year. “Obama’s approval spread is +7 but he leads the Republicans we tested against him by anywhere from 8 to 21 points. That’s because Obama’s strong early leads have less to do with him being popular than the GOP field being incredibly unpopular in Minnesota. Home state candidate Pawlenty has the ‘best’ favorability numbers but still comes down at a -13 spread (40/53). Next best is Herman Cain at -18 (17/35), then Mitt Romney at -24 (29/53), Michele Bachmann at -26 (33/59), Sarah Palin at -35 (30/65), and Newt Gingrich at -48 (17/65). Why are the Republicans all so unpopular? There are two themes running through their numbers. They are all considerably more unpopular with Democrats than they are with GOP voters. … The second theme is a bigger concern — these folks are all a big turn off to independent voters. Pawlenty has the best numbers with independent at a -6 spread, the nominal front runner at this point Romney has a -17 spread, and Palin who joins Romney near the top of the national GOP polling right now is at -34 with them. That’s something Republicans will have to find a way to overcome.”

Prior to last night’s meeting of the Ramsey County charter commission looking at the tax impact of the proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills, MPR’s Tim Nelson wrote: “Opponents on the 17-member commission say that sales taxes in Minnesota usually require voter approval, and that they’d like a referendum on the idea. ‘I believe the bill will try to circumvent both the provisions in state law that mandate a vote on a sales tax increase, and I think they’re going to try and circumvent the charter,’ said Rod Halvorson, a commission member and its former chairman. ‘That’s why I wanted us to get together for a meeting tonight and pass a resolution urging the governor and the legislature and the rest of the Ramsey County commissioners to not subvert the charter rights and the people’s right to vote’. The commission is only discussing a non-binding advisory resolution Wednesday. An actual referendum would require 28,000 signatures on a petition before the tax was put to voters.” Is 28,000 out of the question?

Hmmm, probably wise. Target is staying “neutral” on Minnesota’s sure to be hotly debated gay marriage vote next year. The PiPress story, by Tom Webb, says: “At its annual meeting today, Target chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel was asked about the company’s stance on the amendment, which would put a ban on same-sex marriage into the Minnesota constitution. ‘Our position at this particular time is that we are going to be neutral on that particular issue, as we would be on other social issues that have polarizing points of view,’ Steinhafel said. … After six shareholder questions on the topic, Steinhafel said, “Does anybody have a question relating to our business that’s unrelated to political giving? I’d love to hear any question related to something else.” No such luck. Steinhafel got a seventh question, and an eighth, then a ninth. He explained that Target has revised its donation policy since last fall, adding more oversight to the process and more input from employee groups. But he said Target would remain involved in making political contributions.”

So OK, we won’t be learning much from that gray wolf shot out at the Minnesota Zoo Wednesday. But according to MPR’s Dan Gunderson, black bears might teach us a thing or two about surviving heart attacks. “Despite starving for four to six months, a bear’s heart and other muscles remain strong and healthy, said Paul Iaizzo, a University of Minnesota professor who has studied hibernating bears for a dozen years. He is convinced that putting critically ill patients in the same sort of state of hibernation could save lives. … Researchers don’t understand all of what’s happening in a bear’s body during hibernation, but Iaizzo said they are focused on hibernation induction triggers. One of those triggers is an opioid called delta opioid agonist, which seems to allow muscles to live with lower oxygen levels. The hibernation induction triggers circulating in a hibernating bear’s blood are thought to protect its heart and other muscles during hibernation.”

$1,000 a month to lease a Chevy Equinox? Eighth District Congressman Chip Cravaack is getting the needle for the hefty tab on his taxpayer-subsidized car. Politico  started things rolling with a piece on the over-the-top spending of three freshman GOP legislators. When it got around to Cravaack, it wrote: “Minnesota Rep. Chip Cravaack, who unseated longtime Iron Range Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar, spent $1,700 on an automobile lease in March. His office said the price tag is inflated because of initial purchasing costs, but the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox AWD will cost taxpayers “roughly $1,000 [per month] for the remainder of the lease.” Congressional car leases have been a significant source of controversy in the past — Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) faced criticism for a $777 a month Cadillac lease a few years ago — but Cravaack’s office said he needs the car because of the size and climate of the district, frequent trips home and ‘an extensive mobile office constituent outreach program.’ ” And how many other Tea Party-talkin’ GOP freshman want to be compared to Charlie Rangel?

Really? Streetcars on Nicollet and Central Avenues? The Strib’s Steve Brandt writes: “Minneapolis is still moving toward a study of putting streetcars on Nicollet and Central Avenues, but it’s at the pace of a milk run, not an express train. Although the federal government awarded the city a $900,000 grant for the study last December, a consultant to conduct the analysis isn’t scheduled to be picked until November or this December. The study itself isn’t expected to be finished until mid-2013, a City Council committee was told this week.”

Tim Walz has sent a local veterans group the $3,000 he got from New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. The Strib note by Jeremy Herb, on “Hot Dish Politics,” says: “Walz was the second Democrat to return contributions from Weiner, following Ohio Democrat Rep. Betty Sutton. Walz received $1,000 from Weiner on March 27, 2007, and $2,000 on Nov. 16, 2009, according to Federal Election Commission records. Republicans jabbed at Walz on Tuesday in the wake of Weiner’s teary press conference, as the Republican National Congressional Committee sent a press release with the subject: ‘Will Walz Return Embattled Congressman Weiner’s Tainted Cash?’ Walz spokesman Trevor Vaubel said the Minnesota Democrat donated the $3,000 to a Minnesota chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. Walz declined comment through his spokesman about whether he believes Weiner should resign.” Here’s a thought: Walz could have given the $3,000 to the state GOP and let chair Tony Sutton pay off those recount bills.

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I think I know what this poll out of Wisconsin reveals, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves. Joe Taschler of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes: “Executives surveyed by Wisconsin’s largest business lobbying group overwhelmingly say the state is ‘going in the right direction,’ a near-complete reversal of sentiment from a year ago that comes against a backdrop of exceptional political animosity. The 2011 Economic Outlook Survey from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce shows that business leaders have shifted their views sharply in the aftermath of last year’s change of political control in Madison from Democrats to Republicans. That’s no surprise — WMC was a major supporter of Gov. Scott Walker and other Republican candidates. The swing in thenumbers is so big, though, it’s impossible to ignore. A year ago, 10% of the survey respondents said they believed Wisconsin was going in the right direction. This year, that number jumped to 88%.”