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Pawlenty rips Bachmann for ‘nonexistent accomplishments’

MORNING EDITION ALSO: T-Paw talks about gays; shutdown reactions and budget numbers; many legislators still getting paid; Bachmann’s pledge; and more.
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T-Paw was on “Meet the Press” Sunday. The Strib excerpts him talking about Our Favorite Congresswoman: “ ‘I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I’ve campaigned for her, I respect her,’ Pawlenty said. ‘But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It’s nonexistent. And so we’re not looking for folks who, you know, just have speech capabilities, we’re looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that, she hasn’t.’ ” And is there anyone denying he “drove” Minnesota to a “conclusion”?

A better back and forth was T-Paw, a self-proclaimed Lady Gaga fan, being asked if homosexuality was a choice or genetic? Benjy Sarlin at Talking Points Memo writes: “NBC’s David Gregory asked the presidential candidate if he thought gays were, in fact, born into their orientation. According to Pawlenty, the answer is above his pay grade. Pawlenty told Gregory on Meet The Press that when it came to whether homosexuality was a choice or an innate part of a person’s character, ‘the science in that regard is in dispute’ and that it was unclear whether it was ‘behavioral or partly genetic.’ ‘There’s no scientific conclusion that it’s genetic,’ he said. ‘We don’t know that. So we don’t know to what extent, you know, it’s behavioral and — that’s something that’s been debated by scientists for a long time. But as I understand the science, there’s no current conclusion that it’s genetic.’ As if he hadn’t distanced himself from gay rights activist Lady Gaga enough already, he added that he was only ‘subjected to’ her music by his teenage daughters, although it has some ‘good qualities.’ “

With The Shutdown starting to feel like the lazy brother-in-law getting comfortable in your Barcalounger, the challenge to reporters is to find some kind of angle that qualifies as news. Monica Davey in town for The New York Times writes: “Leaders in Washington disagree on what passing an August deadline without raising the debt ceiling would really mean (it has never happened), but some experts say it could result, along with devastation to the nation’s ability to borrow and to the broader economy, in a confusing, partial halt to some programs as the government has to pick and choose what it has enough cash to cover. In Minnesota, carrying out a shutdown — and a relatively ordinary one, as these things go — has turned out to be a whole new, time-consuming government function, including convening the special hearings to weigh exceptions to the shutdown rules. The costs of closing (who knew it cost money to halt spending?) are themselves swiftly rising. And, puzzlingly enough, the shock of a shuttered Capitol, of 22,000 laid-off state workers and of barricaded state parks in the heart of Minnesota’s camping season seems, so far, not to have introduced urgency to the political negotiation.”

The AP story, picked up by the Los Angeles Times, says: “Instead of sending Minnesota’s elected leaders into a frenzy of activity, the nation’s only state government shutdown has deepened the political paralysis that led them to their budget standoff. Top Democrats and Republicans have given no sign when they will talk again about how to resolve the stalemate. After blowing May and June deadlines to agree on a budget, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders have met only twice — once for less than 30 minutes — and have made no apparent progress since most of state government closed July 1.

GOP Sen. Claire Robling writes a commentary for the Prior Lake American. In it she says: “It is the belief of many of my colleagues, and I agree, that Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators planned to make this shutdown as painful as possible in order to force the Republican majority to his position quicker. That strategy not only puts pressure on legislators, but it negatively affects thousands of others who are caught in our dispute, such as Canterbury Park, which is unfairly shuttered because of this shutdown. I think that’s shameful. Although I support cutting projected growth to balance the budget, I’m willing to support some additional revenue, including a racino, to get a compromise. I do not support increasing income or sales tax rates because I believe that can have a negative impact on economic development, and we can’t afford to hamper that during an economic recession when we need job creation. Minnesota is already ranked 50th in the nation for business tax climate by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, with only the District of Columbia being worse. We need to make the climate in Minnesota better for business if we want to grow our economy and get our folks back to work. There are case studies showing that a tax increase on high-income individuals, like the one proposed by Gov. Dayton, will drive those that pay that tax out of the state. For example, when Maryland increased taxes on the wealthy, the state lost one-third of those taxpayers in one year.” That business about Maryland — originally from the Wall Street Journal —- gets handed around a lot. Naturally, there’s a lot more to it.

Bill Salisbury of the PiPress gives the basic numbers involved in the face-off another shot. In the spirit of avoiding conflict by not directly identifying “who,” I like this part: “Some legislators and their supporters contend general fund spending in the last biennium was $30.2 billion, not $34.4 billion, and technically they are correct. But their number is incomplete. It doesn’t include the $2.3 billion in federal stimulus money the state spent nor the $1.9 billion it, in effect, ‘borrowed’ from school districts by delaying state aid payments. As Minnesota Management and Budget, the state finance agency, noted, ‘Apples-to-apples spending comparison recognizes federal stimulus funding that directly replace general fund spending in FY 2010-11, as well as the one-time reduction in K-12 education spending artificially generated by the school payment accounting shift.’ ” But what if we’re comparing apples to cow-plop?

And in the event you have time to make some calls, Warren Wolfe of the Strib prints the names of the 138 legislators still taking pay. “After Gov. Mark Dayton announced that he would not accept pay during the state government shutdown, 14 senators and 48 representatives followed suit. That leaves 52 of the current 66 members of the Senate (79 percent) and 86 of the 134 members of the House (65 percent) who collected July paychecks. (Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park, died in June.) Put another way, shutdown pay is going to 65 percent of the 92 DFLers and 72 percent of the 108 Republicans.”

An opinion piece from the Old School conservative Economist, reprinted in the Strib, says: “For now, the dispute is only affecting a small minority. But the longer it lasts, the more severe the consequences will become. Dayton seems to be banking on the fact that the entire Legislature is up for reelection next year, whereas he will not face the voters again until 2014. But that may not prove the spur to compromise he imagines. The last time any Republican legislators went back on their word and voted for a tax rise, in 2008, they were ostracized by their party. Only one of the six state representatives in question won the party’s endorsement at the subsequent election, and only two ended up keeping their seats. In Washington, too, many Republicans are more worried about a primary challenge than they are about the general election.”

Forests are falling for all the pledges GOP candidates are signing. Brett Neely of MPR writes: “To bolster her support among social conservatives, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann has signed a pledge sponsored by a Christian group that asks candidates to oppose gay marriage and support other social issues. Bachmann is the first GOP candidate to sign the pledge from the Family Leader, which is based in Iowa and run by an influential evangelical leader, Bob Vander Plaats, who was the state chair for Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign. Huckabee won the Iowa caucus that year in part thanks to the support of evangelical voters. In addition to gay marriage, the pledge asks them to oppose pornography, vow ‘personal fidelity to my spouse’ and reject ‘Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control.’ The pledge also asks candidates to commit to ‘downsizing government’.” So what happens if the next guy demands she sign a pledge promising unconditional support for Free and Independent Thinking?