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Dayton reportedly backing away from ‘tax the rich’ plan


Gov. Dayton is backing away from his “tax the rich” revenue plan, according to Politico’s James Hohmann: “Health care and education funding have emerged as the two biggest areas of disagreement in the dispute that shut down the state government last week. Already, though, Dayton appears to be backing off getting an income tax increase, a key part of his gubernatorial campaign last year and budget this year. He acknowledged that the proposal didn’t even come up during Tuesday’s talks. ‘Every time I suggest it, even on millionaires … it’s soundly rejected by the Republicans,’ he said. ‘They’ve got control of the legislature. If they’re not going to support something, then I cannot single-handedly get it passed.’ Dayton floated the idea of increasing the alcohol tax or making fewer products exempt from the sales tax.” You see, those taxes won’t discourage our “jobs providers.”

Tom Scheck’s MPR story includes another comment from former talk radio host, Dave Thompson: “Republican Senator Dave Thompson said Mondale and Carlson were in office at a time when government was growing too quickly. Thompson said he won’t vote for a budget plan that is much higher than the $34 billion plan that the Legislature passed. ‘Would I support a deal that costs $35 billion? I don’t think so, no. I have been pretty clear about that,’ Thompson said. Thompson doubts there are enough votes among Senate Republicans to support a budget plan that large. Dayton seems to understand that and is reaching out to moderate lawmakers from both parties for help to complete a deal.” I used to love listening to Thompson argue against the theory of evolution on his radio program. Clearly, his kind did not come from apes.

Rachel Weiner’s story for The Washington Post says: “GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty (R) took a shot at the [Arne Carlson-Walter Mondale] group and began running an ad this week in Iowa claiming he won the last budget showdown in 2005 when he was governor of Minnesota. ‘Walter Mondale ran for president against Ronald Reagan on a platform that called for higher taxes,’ Pawlenty said in a statement. ‘Arne Carlson supported John Kerry, Barack Obama and other Democrats. It should surprise no one that they both support more spending and higher taxes in Minnesota.’ ”

We really are stepping up in the world. Look, The New York Times editorial page took time to say nice things about us: “How far will Republican lawmakers go to protect millionaires? Those who think a default on the federal government’s credit seems implausible should take a sobering look at the ‘closed’ signs dotting Minnesota. The Republican Party there readily shut down the state’s government on Friday by refusing to raise taxes on the 7,700 Minnesotans who make more than $1 million a year. … Like Republicans in Washington, they have the delusion that they can balance the budget entirely from cuts. The governor proposed more than $2 billion in cuts but refused to slash billions more from education, health care and public safety programs. The Legislature also wanted new abortion restrictions and a voter ID law that Mr. Dayton had already vetoed.” I think I’ll have that framed and sent to my mom.

In fairness, I should frame and send this one, too … from the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page: “Government union members have been rallying at the state capitol chanting ‘tax the rich, tax the rich.’ But Minnesota already does that more than most states and out of proportion to most of its neighbors. It already has the sixth highest corporate income tax rate (9.8%), one of the highest death tax rates (8% to 16%), and the seventh highest tax burden overall as a share of income, according to the Tax Foundation. That hasn’t helped the economy, and over the last decade Minnesota has lagged the national average in job creation, domestic migration and personal income growth, according to a new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Mr. Dayton’s gamble is that taxing the richest 8,000 or so Minnesotans won’t hurt the economy, but that isn’t a smart bet when Iowa, the Dakotas and Wisconsin are reining in pension costs and other spending while cutting business taxes. In the South, where most of the new jobs have been created in this recovery, taxes tend to be even lower. Meanwhile, California, Hawaii, Maryland and Oregon have tried soaking the rich, and most of their budget problems have persisted. Experience shows that trying to balance a state budget by loading the tax burden on 1% of the richest residents is fairy-dust economics.” The American Legislative Exchange Council, you ask? Read here.

This was inevitable. Paul Walsh and Jim Anderson of the Strib report: “Vandals went wild at abandoned Minnesota state parks over the holiday weekend, wrecking buildings and driving around closed gates as the government shutdown drags toward its second week. The most serious damage was at Afton State Park, east of the Twin Cities, where 12 people were taken into custody after a burglary and vandalism spree at three buildings before dawn on Monday … Vandals also hit dozens of other state properties in Minnesota … ‘This is just exactly the type of thing we’re going to be seeing repeatedly as the shutdown goes forward,’ said Steve Morse, former lawmaker and DNR deputy commissioner who is now executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. ‘It shows once again how difficult it is to extricate the state from our lives, and the problems that are going to come to light once something like this happens.’ “

Dave Aeikens of the St. Cloud Times files on the new test of cameras in the courtroom: “This month, a two-year pilot project starts that loosens restrictions on the use of still and video cameras in some civil trials. The old rules required the judge, the defense and the prosecution to agree to allow cameras. County attorneys, judges and defense lawyers typically opposed them. The rules during the pilot project presumes an openness for allowing cameras in the courtroom for civil trials. Criminal trials, family court and commitment proceedings will remain off-limits to cameras. Most court action in Minnesota is in criminal cases. The pilot project is expected to provide a baseline that could help set future policy on camera access in Minnesota courts. For supporters of cameras in courts, it advances a longtime desire to loosen restrictions.” All we need now is an attractive young mother accused of murder and Nancy Grace.

If you’re inclined to suspect them all, here’s further proof that no state employee can be trusted. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes: “A longtime state clerical worker pleaded guilty this morning to 20 counts of offering forged checks with information she obtained at work. Terri Lynn Brennan, 47, of St. Paul made copies of real checks that businesses sent to the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration for fines, then used the information on them to create fake checks with payroll check-making software she installed on her home computer. She also bought special check paper on which to print them out. … Brennan said she and her husband made just one check at first, to see if the ruse would work. Dan Brennan took the check to Walmart and cashed it. ‘What did you do with the cash?’ Lamin asked. ‘We split it,’ Brennan said. They told a friend of Dan’s about the scheme. ‘He had lost his job as a garbageman and needed some stuff for his family,’ Terri Brennan said. That was Todd Windingstad of Oakdale, who was also charged in the case after Brennan made some checks out to him. Windingstad, 40, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of check forgery or aiding and abetting check forgery and was sentenced May 31 to 60 days in jail and five years’ probation.”

Finally, the state’s most reliably entertaining political character, GOP Chairman Tony Sutton, has, in true entrepreneurial spirit decided to accept a $100,000-a-year salary for his work on behalf of his party’s clients. Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie notes the report by the Strib’s Baird Helgeson, then launches into the curiosity of Chairman Sutton commencing his salaried employment the same day as the beginning of The Shutdown and wonders, “But that $100,000 has to come from somewhere, right? And the MNGOP didn’t just owe counties money for the recount, but a horde of other vendors as well, after the 2010 election. Why, back on June 1, Bluestem reported in From the fascinating FEC reports of the Republican Party of Minnesota: of counties, committees, and candidates, that there was even a sitting freshman state senator on the list of open receipts. Now Sutton began drawing a salary as well last Friday, coincidentially the same day that the shutdown began. Certainly this new expense, along with older debts, at the Republican Party of Minnesota headquarters creates an incentive for some aggressive fundraising on Sutton’s part.” And yes, The Chairman has asked tax-stressed GOP voters for contributions ‘to help us stop Mark Dayton and build for the next election. Our Republican majorities are all that stand between Dayton and his desire to raise taxes on the hard-working citizens of Minnesota.’ “

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Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Tom Rees on 07/06/2011 - 07:12 am.

    There is an interesting loop hole in Minnesota’s Campaign Finance laws: public officials are not required to report “consulting” income on their economic status reports. So, unless you dig it out of the reports no one would ever know.

  2. Submitted by Julie Horbach on 07/06/2011 - 07:40 am.

    yes this is America steal from the middle class and the poor and give to the rich who have been getting tax cuts all a long the middle class is going poor because of this and on top of that they want to tax the middle but not the top great move

  3. Submitted by Bridget Helwig on 07/06/2011 - 08:08 am.

    If I’m reading this correctly, according to Dave Thompson the Republicans won’t accept a 3% increase in their proposed budget in order to end the shutdown? I think delusional is one of the more moderate words that should be used to describe these zealots.

  4. Submitted by Sarah Nagle on 07/06/2011 - 08:24 am.

    Oh yes, Walter Mondale’s “tax platform’. But Timmeh only remembers half of it. Remember, Mondale said that both he and Reagan would raise taxes, but “he won’t tell you, I just did”. The start of mass amnesia regarding the fact that Reagan raised taxes four times while in office. You mention that to some people and they become apoplectic.

  5. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 07/06/2011 - 08:27 am.

    It’s nice to see that reporters are finally making the connections between the local strategies here in Minnesota (and Wisconsin) and elsewhere in the nation and in Congress. The wingnut strategy which seems to be working in Congress and elsewhere is to hold the power of taxation hostage to these demands for cutting spending rather than do the obviously right thing and tax the people who have profited so handsomely from the past ten years. I’m looking forward to the recall elections in Wisconsin this summer. Maybe that’s something people should be thinking about in Minnesota too.

  6. Submitted by Deb Reed on 07/06/2011 - 08:28 am.

    Republicans have to GO!!!!!!!!! Dayton I understand that you need the help to get the tax on the rich, and cannot do it alone… but the RECALL should help!!!

  7. Submitted by Deb Reed on 07/06/2011 - 08:29 am.

    3 comments?? Well think I know what side this page is on!

  8. Submitted by Lora Jones on 07/06/2011 - 08:37 am.

    Honestly, someone should point out to the WSJ Opinionistas that we started lagging as soon as The Body and T-Pay cut taxes. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

  9. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 07/06/2011 - 09:56 am.

    The “I Support Governor Dayton” Facebook page has acquired over 9,000 “likes” since it was set up on Friday.

    Thirteen of my Facebook friends have signed, and only two of them are government employees.

    The messages the 9,000+ fans are posting are full of admiration for someone who is finally standing up to the single-minded bullies in today’s Republican Party. (Today’s Republican activists disparage Arne Carlson, the last governor to have a genuinely balanced budget.)

    If the Politico report is correct and not just wishful thinking on the part of the Republicans, then Governor Dayton will immediately lose the respect that he has gained over the past few days by caving in to the Republican temper tantrum.

    The whole nation is watching Minnesota, just as it was watching Wisconsin a few months ago. We need to demonstrate that it’s possible to stand firm against mindless tax cutting and cruel and destructive budget cutting.

    I have a feeling that the future of the entire nation is at stake.

  10. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/06/2011 - 10:00 am.

    Funny, isn’t it, how so august a journal as that which claims the name of Wall Street seems to have NO knowledge of history (a knowledge sorely lacking in the current leadership of Minnesota’s Republican Party,
    as well).

    Our current budget crisis was planned and purposefully created, beginning with the Jessie checks and the massive tax cut to the rich in Minnesota a few years back.

    Those tax cuts were specifically designed in a time of national and local prosperity (as were the ones in Washington) to ensure that the next time there was an economic downturn our Republican friends could cry alligator tears as they proclaimed “we just can’t afford” whatever it was they had previously cut the taxes to pay for.

    They created this crisis. They planned for it. They FULLY INTEND to use it to shred the government and the quality of life of their fellow citizens in order to further enrich the (mostly idle) rich.

    I was fascinated to listen to two interviews on MPR, yesterday morning and this morning, in which,…

    Gov. Dayton (yesterday morning), expressed frustration and regret at the shutdown while at the same time expressing concern for all those being hurt by it, and repeating his determination to resolve the budget issues on the backs of those who will feel no ACTUAL pain or damage from small tax increases,

    and Mr. Zellers (this morning) who didn’t even mention those being hurt by the shutdown and had NOTHING to say but the endlessly repeated Republican talking points (i.e., the same old lies). He even lied about the previous Republican claim that they had pulled the offer of a further school aid shift “off the table” (in a fit of pique) after Gov. Dayton rejected it, saying Gov. Dayton, himself, “pulled it off the table BY rejecting it.”

    Are there NO moderate Republicans who care enough about the State of Minnesota and their fellow citizens to side step their dishonest, dysfonic leadership and work out a budget compromise?

    If such a compromise is not worked out with a few of the Republicans, and VERY SOON, the public will wipe their party off the map of Minnesota in the fall elections of 2012.

    Of course you, my moderate Republican friends, won’t hear that reality in the Maxwell Smart-style “cone of silence” echo chamber into which your party leadership has tried so desperately to lock you, but at least SOME of you took out your ear pieces and took of your money goggles (those “with ears to hear”) and heard it on parade routes and in public appearances of the 4th of July weekend.

    Your leadership is so dysfonic as to be completely UNABLE to consider the possibility of compromise, but there are members of your party who are FAR MORE functional. Are you willing to do what it takes to save the Republican Party from the outrageous excesses those who have taken it over are guilty of? $100,000 for Tony Sutton, who with his every public utterance loses you the support of more moderates and “undecideds?!”

    Will you really allow your party to go down to ignominious defeat in 2012 and remain irrelevant for the next thirty years or more? I hope not, because if you do, there will be no credible countervailing force to prevent the Democrats, over the coming decades, from doing what humans almost always do, going WAY to far in rehearsing their own favorite directions (some of which are also based on dysfunctions).

  11. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 07/06/2011 - 10:26 am.

    Sounds like Dayton is getting ready to cave just like the democratic legislature did for Pawlenty.

    The Republicans know that if they show they are willing to let the state fail or let people suffer for the sake of their “principles” then the Democrats will cave in for the sake of humanity.

    The movie Network was on the other night. At one point this guy is making this speech to Howard Beal about how there is no America, no China, no democracy, there is only ATT or ITT, etc. The corporate names have changed but the truth hasn’t. The rich run the world just like they did in the late 1800s before unions arose to protect the working class. Back then they marshalled votes by using people’s hatreds and fears of foreigners and “colored” people. Today the Billionaires create something called the tea party, they depress taxes until the government is close to bankruptsy and then blame high taxes for the deficit. They enlist the fools who get their news from Fox, the billionaire’s network.

    Corporate profits are better than ever. The incomes of the rich have gone up for decades while the rest of us go backwards. But people still believe that they are the “job creators” and government is our enemy.

    Remember the state that worked? Wendel Anderson on the cover of Time? We had comparatively high taxes and a Democrat run state government but our standard of living for the majority of Minnesotans was at the peak. Then the Republicans started playing on racial fears, saying poor people were moving here from Gary, Indiana (hint: black people) to get our generous welfare benefits. It has been one thing after another since then as we slip down toward Mississippi and those other poor southern states.

    I’m afraid the Republicans are right, Democrats won’t fight for their principles.

  12. Submitted by Matthew Levitt on 07/06/2011 - 12:24 pm.

    Most of these “legislators” will win re-election, Democrat or Republican. To think the Dems will win in a landslide in 2012 is about as delusional as current Republican thinking.

  13. Submitted by B Maginnis on 07/06/2011 - 04:33 pm.


    Sutton, a sturdy, white , married, ex-business owner who calls it the way he sees it, and is invariably on-target?

    Yep, “entertaining”.

  14. Submitted by will lynott on 07/06/2011 - 07:32 pm.

    No, they won’t. Minnesotans realize that something is seriously wrong here, and anyone who is paying attention knows who is to blame. Hint: they’re the ones who keep rejecting our Governor’s repeated attempts to find a way to compromise. They’re out in 2012.

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