With Republicans trained like parrots to repeat the word “overreach” and DFLers repeating the word “progress,” political reporters are reporting that the public is giving the session “mixed reviews.”
As far as the 2014 state legislative elections are concerned, that leaves things in the hands of swing voters. What staunch partisans on both sides conclude about the 2013 session is not particularly important, because those activists were never likely to change their minds between now and November 2014. They are not the biggest electoral variables.
Middle-of-the-road swing voters –principally moderate Republican, independents and conservative DFLers – are the voters who will swing the 2014 elections. What do they make of the 2013 session? Swing voters I know are saying: “I like what the Legislature did on (a service improvement), but I don’t like what they did on (tax or fee to pay for the service improvement).” For example, “I like what the Legislature did on education improvements and closing the deficit without all those gimmicks and shifts, but I don’t like what they did increasing taxes.”
These kinds of response are often characterized by political reporters as being “moderate,” balanced” and “thoughtful.” Personally, I’d go with “weenie,” “intellectually lazy,” and “intellectually dishonest.”
This is reality: If there aren’t new taxes, we can’t build up the education and eliminate budget gimmickry and shell games, unless there is a political consensus about what services to cut, and public opinion surveys clearly show that no such consensus exists. Therefore, to state the obvious the “balanced” moderates’ position simply do not balance. Mathematically speaking:
Improved services + No new taxes ≠ A balanced budget
You can’t simultaneously be for those three policy goals and be said to have a balanced or responsible position. I have much more respect for much maligned Republican “extremists” who say “taxes are too high, so no new taxes and fewer services.” or ridiculed DFLers “extremists” who say “we need better services, and that means we have to raise taxes.” Those two groups are taking positions that balance mathematically and are therefore fiscally responsible and intellectually honest.
Swing voters who are looking for more services without more revenue are taking positions that don’t offend anyone, but they also don’t add up.
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