Explore Minnesota... some other time
July 1, 2011 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Last fall, Minnesotans elected a Democratic governor who pledged to tax the rich and a majority Republican legislature who swore by no new taxes, period. Their first major task? Craft a budget for the next biennium that addressed a projected $5 billion shortfall. Months passed, no agreement was reached, and this morning at midnight, the Minnesota government shut down. Citizens on both sides are not pleased.

Not everything is closed; Judge Kathleen Gearin was appointed to decide which state services are critical, mainly public health and safety. Special master Kathleen Blatz will hear additional funding requests today. Meanwhile, I hope you weren't planning a holiday weekend trip to our fine state, as everything from the highway rest stops to the state parks will be closed. Here's what's left.

Think you could solve the budget gap? Give it a try.

Full Star Tribune story
Shutdown FAQ
BeReadyMN (state contingency planning site)
Shutdown Shame (DFL site)
posted by Flannery Culp (92 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
“It’s a very sad day for Minnesota,” said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota .... “It’s a state that had a well-earned reputation for being well governed, where, at the end of the day, politics were done in a fair and efficient manner. And it’s now on the cusp of ungovernability. There’s a new ethic here that compromise is weakness.”
posted by blucevalo at 4:38 AM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Republicans nationwide are taking the Starve The Beast tactic started 30-odd years ago into high gear during this second half of Obama's first term. The rhetoric is exactly inline with that -- government shouldn't have any revenues at all because it means government spending; the only way forward is to keep from raising any taxes at all; if you have any revenue increases, it's going to lead to increased government programs and spending.

They're really taking all this into high gear now... why? Probably so the American people can feel the pinch of how horrible Obama's last two years in office are (regardless of whose fault that will be) and hopefully he won't be reelected.

Just wait until it all happens on the Federal level, only with the debt ceiling not being raised and we not only shut down the US government, but we default on our loans and actually turn into the third-world country we've been pretending we aren't.
posted by hippybear at 4:41 AM on July 1, 2011 [32 favorites]


This needs to happen all over the country so that the tea partiers and other selfish bastards can see exactly what no government looks like.
posted by photoslob at 4:42 AM on July 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Think you could solve the budget gap? Give it a try.

I think start by adopting the Westminster system...
posted by pompomtom at 4:44 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


A Democrat who will fight back. Amazing.

I'm sorry Minnesota has to go through this, but this isn't the governor's fault.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:50 AM on July 1, 2011 [26 favorites]


> Just wait until it all happens on the Federal level, only with the debt ceiling not being raised and we not only shut down the US government, but we default on our loans and actually turn into the third-world country we've been pretending we aren't.

I'm supposed to be on vacation in Michigan on Aug. 2nd, and I'm kind of nervous about it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:51 AM on July 1, 2011


Why don't they have an contingency budget system set up for this kind of situation? New York State almost never passes a budget before the deadline (I'm not kidding - they only made it on time 4 times in the last 30 years), and it sucks, but the government doesn't shut down, because as of 2005, they have a contingency budget plan set up. If the legislature fails to pass a budget, essentially the same budget as the previous year goes into effect.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:52 AM on July 1, 2011


Why don't they have an contingency budget system set up for this kind of situation

Why should they? If they can't reach an agreement, shut it down.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:54 AM on July 1, 2011


I mean, I'm glad the dems are refusing to cave, but this mess is eminently avoidable, and they should all be ashamed of themselves for screwing over their constituents.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:54 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, I'm glad the dems are refusing to cave, but this mess is eminently avoidable

Not really. Sides are refusing to budge, there is no way to compromise.

It'll be interesting to see how this shapes out and who wins.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:59 AM on July 1, 2011


Just wait until it all happens on the Federal level, only with the debt ceiling not being raised and we not only shut down the US government, but we default on our loans and actually turn into the third-world country we've been pretending we aren't.

obama may have the option of claiming the debt limit is unconstitutional

this game of "chicken" has gone on long enough - it's no way to run a government and i think obama needs to just authorize the government to offer the bonds and dare the congress to do something about it

and those politicians who don't believe in government shouldn't be serving in it
posted by pyramid termite at 5:00 AM on July 1, 2011 [36 favorites]


I'm supposed to be on vacation in Michigan on Aug. 2nd, and I'm kind of nervous about it.

Don't worry, man, that's a whole month away. By then there'll be systems in place for you to purchase temporary protection from New Wave gangs on heavily modified motorcycles. Just be sure to take plenty of shinestones and motorgas, and don't get mixed up with any mutant uprisings.
posted by No-sword at 5:06 AM on July 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Those politicians who don't believe in government shouldn't be serving in it.

Amen to that.
posted by smoke at 5:06 AM on July 1, 2011 [18 favorites]


At least if there's a showdown and the government shuts down, a broad swath of the citizenry is confronted with the taking away of government services that they absolutely take for granted.

If the "no taxes, cut spending" side won, only those most in need of government services would get screwed. And most of them probably don't vote anyway. (Don't think that's not part of the equation.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:13 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


At least if there's a showdown and the government shuts down, a broad swath of the citizenry is confronted with the taking away of government services that they absolutely take for granted.

That's a very logical view, but it doesn't follow that citizens suddenly see the light about the importance of government. They'll probably just be in "all of ya'll suck" mood. It's conceivable that the side that can say "We won't raise anyone's taxes" will win.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:21 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


obama may have the option of claiming the debt limit is unconstitutional

We're not raising the money we owe, we're increasing our FREE SPEECH™
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:22 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Think you could solve the budget gap? Give it a try.

As per normal, legalizing marijuana isn't an option. For God's sake, I know it isn't a cure-all, but it would save lots and lots of money.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:26 AM on July 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I like the Sacred College method of making hard decisions: you lock the relevant leaders in a room and give them less food every day until they come to an agreement or starve. In which case, new leaders, hooray! "No food until 2011 budget passes" will be my slogan for office.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:27 AM on July 1, 2011 [28 favorites]


As a proud Minnesotan, I have nothing but respect for our governor -- one of the only high-level politicians around who is willing to have an adult conversation and actually advocate raising *GASP* taxes on the the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans.

Right now we have no idea how this is going to work out, but let this be a lesson to all of us about the importance of statewide congressional races.
posted by Think_Long at 5:53 AM on July 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


They're really taking all this into high gear now... why? Probably so the American people can feel the pinch of how horrible Obama's last two years in office are (regardless of whose fault that will be) and hopefully he won't be reelected.

While I completely agree this is part of the plan, I can't help but wonder what the hell the Republicans think they will do after Obama loses reelection? What will they come-up with that might magically reverse the decline? They've pretty-much gotten their way on budget matters as it is, and look what's happening. All I can see is more extremism leading to an even deeper decline for the middle and lower classes. Do the Republicans really believe the answer is to further marginalize 70-80% of the population?

It's like that diagram where there's all these impossibly-complex processes tied to a big cloud labeled "then a miracle occurs."
posted by Thorzdad at 5:53 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do the Republicans really believe the answer is to further marginalize 70-80% of the population?

When you feel you have a moral imperative to decrease government, questions like the above don't matter and are not asked. If anything, they probably see it as a form of tough love. They're weaning your sickly body off the teat of government. Any pain you experience will be short term and in the end, for your own good. It will make you self supporting and you'll no longer need government to provide all those services.

All of that is a guess on my part, but I don't think I'm far off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:01 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyone notice how the governor proposed shutting down K-12 education but the judge overruled him? I'd hope they'll reach some compromise position where schools are "consolidated" meaning
sparsely populated (rich & republican) suburbs see their schools shutdown and their students bussed into inner city schools that're more equipped for overcrowding. lol

All this anti-tax sentiment likely originates with our tendency to effect social changes through tax loopholes, like the mortgage deduction, which people don't view as subsidies and don't get shutdown here.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:06 AM on July 1, 2011


I think Brandon Blathcher has it more or less right: During the Great Depression, elites could get a decent shoe-shine for pennies, and were generally received like aristocracy wherever they went. Being a top-heavy plutocracy and just sort of riding that out probably doesn't look so bad when you're on the top of the heap. When you're the Boss Man, even people who hate you behind your back will generally ingratiate themselves to you in person. Depressions look a lot different from the point of view of a big fat daddy war bucks.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:11 AM on July 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


Millionaires don't send their children to public school. Silly rabbit. :)
posted by Citrus at 6:11 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Governor's shutdown announcement is wonderfully consise indictment of the Republican's position, and it's one that I think applies to the Federal level as well:

We are One Minnesota. Our state’s greatness has been forged by generations of people who also worked hard for their money, yet willingly paid their fair share of taxes so that our entire state could prosper. It was once called “the Minnesota Miracle.”

It wasn’t a “miracle,” however. They earned it. They spent to achieve it by building excellent schools, colleges, and universities; good roads, highways, and public transit; and an exceptional quality of life helped by collaborations between the private and public sectors throughout Minnesota.


posted by Esteemed Offendi at 6:13 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Even as America tips over the edge and begins that long, slow slide into generations of barbarism, we can at least take comfort in the knowledge that the last piece of the U.S. Government standing will be the Transportation Security Administration.

Long after the economy sinks the airlines, indeed when people flying around the world in great metal birds is a fairy story that no one really believes anymore, and nobody's quite sure why the airports were built, the TSA will be there. All crops, game, and the occasional scavenged cans of SPAM will be collected at the old airports, and you'll go there and line up to receive food after having your balls fondled and a finger stuck up your ass by a TSA employee who has no idea why it's so important that he does it, but only knows that that's how it has always been.
posted by Naberius at 6:14 AM on July 1, 2011 [33 favorites]


If anything, they probably see it as a form of tough love. They're weaning your sickly body off the teat of government. Any pain you experience will be short term and in the end, for your own good.

Not even close. There's probably some scant random middling yes men that really do have this ethos. Everyone else is just getting thiers, fuck whatever happens to the rest.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:15 AM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can't help but wonder what the hell the Republicans think they will do after Obama loses reelection? What will they come-up with that might magically reverse the decline?
If Republicans come into power, they will:And that's just what they'll do to the budget.
posted by Flunkie at 6:19 AM on July 1, 2011 [38 favorites]


If anything, they probably see it as a form of tough love. They're weaning your sickly body off the teat of government. Any pain you experience will be short term and in the end, for your own good.

I'm Minnesotan, and I don't believe this for a minute. That's the line for the proles in the suburbs who can be persuaded to vote against their class interests. Every politician, banker and corporate asshole in this state has their hand out to the government all the time, for tax breaks and subsidies and new stadiums and new infrastructure.

Government is basically a machine for distributing benefits. In bad times, it's a machine to help the rich and strong take from the weak and powerless, whether they're directly taking taxes (rich people pay proportionately less here) or labor power (by weakening our ability to organize, taking away worker safety rights, etc...and especially by getting rid of unemployment benefits and social services). In good times, it's a machine that flattens out the inequalities.

There is no society where things don't get redistributed. Without either government or a level playing field PLUS strongly enforced norms, it's the rich taking from everyone else, by force if all else fails. The choice is how things get distributed, not "how can I keep 100% of what's mine and never take anything from anyone else?"
posted by Frowner at 6:20 AM on July 1, 2011 [19 favorites]


And if by next week it is clear that the majority of Minnesotans are blaming the Republicans is it possible that this could have an unintended positive effect by putting some pressure on Congressional Republicans?
posted by COD at 6:23 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


They will come to an agreement sooner or later. This is how democracy works. It is an ugly system, but the alternatives are worse.
posted by humanfont at 6:32 AM on July 1, 2011


[Republicans will]:
# Add tax loopholes for corporations
# Drastically reduce taxes for the extremely wealthy


Agree, but is there any reason why this wouldn't create a mass exodus of capital, investment, and jobs to other overseas locations? It seems the race to the bottom is unavoidable either way.
posted by crapmatic at 6:36 AM on July 1, 2011


(mass exodus = if those things were avoided)
posted by crapmatic at 6:37 AM on July 1, 2011


We're one step closer to living in Mad Max times. Yay!
posted by Renoroc at 6:40 AM on July 1, 2011


Agree, but is there any reason why this wouldn't create a mass exodus of capital, investment, and jobs to other overseas locations? It seems the race to the bottom is unavoidable either way.

Because not everything is immediately outsource-able. Minnesota has a fantastic medical research corridor (or had...it's getting trashed) with a great deal of state, corporate, federal and foundation investment; researchers from all over the world who worked primarily in English (which is a huge advantage for a US corporation); and access to all the research resources of the university and the Mayo Clinic. While there are many fine medical institutions worldwide, it's not just a matter of all these companies upping sticks and moving to India. Replicating the conditions here would be difficult, time-consuming and expensive, if possible at all.

Ditto for big local corporations like Target - Target has a close and extremely privileged relationship with the state, plus they've put a lot of time and money into purpose-building stuff here. That's not to say that they couldn't move - or that they haven't extorted all kinds of special privileges - but that moving is again, time-consuming and expensive.

Outsourcing certain kinds of manufacturing and services is easy. That's going to happen anyway - it's really not like any corporation which can move to Texas or Bangalore won't. But there's this perception that everything can be outsourced at little cost, which simply isn't true.
posted by Frowner at 6:44 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


They are backed into a corner, everywhere. That's what this summer is about.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:56 AM on July 1, 2011


Well, this is going to be an interesting vacation. I leave tomorrow morning for Duluth for a long weekend.
posted by desuetude at 7:01 AM on July 1, 2011


Tthe governors of Minnesota (state of my birth) and Rhode Island (my state of residence) are both proposing budgets that include cuts and taxes...and both are heading into heavy weather. Weirdly, the two legislatures are dominated by different parties. Could this not be a partisan issue, but perhaps a matter of crass politics?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:10 AM on July 1, 2011


Be careful to time the rest stops accordingly, desuetude.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:11 AM on July 1, 2011


They are backed into a corner, everywhere. That's what this summer is about.

Who is 'they'? I really can't tell since it seems like both sides are up a tree. Raising taxes has been such a specter of horror for both "sides" for so long. Really, we're all in the corner, and we're all suffering -- except for the elite who put us there.
posted by atlatl at 7:12 AM on July 1, 2011


Let's see this again:

those politicians who don't believe in government shouldn't be serving in it

Yeah, that's pretty much perfect.
posted by cooker girl at 7:16 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really, we're all in the corner, and we're all suffering -- except for the elite who put us there.

Make no mistake about it, we put ourselves there. We voted for these people to represent us. At the core of the problem is our failure to put responsible people in there.

"They" is the Republicans. And both parties have not been adverse to raising taxes--Clinton raised them, creating balanced budgets. And Obama's been pushing to raise them the entire time.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:32 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Today, Representative Thissen, Senator Bakk, and I made two proposals which contained revenues to be raised by increasing taxes only on people who make more than $1 million per year. The Department of Revenue reports that there are only 7,700 of them, less than 0.3% of all Minnesota tax filers.

The Republicans rejected those two proposals, as they have every proposal that involves raising tax revenues from any source whatsoever. Instead, they would prefer to protect the richest handful of Minnesotans at the expense of everyone else, even at the expense of a state government shutdown. As one Republican legislators told a member of my staff, “We’re friends with some of those guys.”
Jesus.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [21 favorites]


The Republicans aren't wholly against tax increases. They presented a compromise that would have allowed some limited tax increases in exchange for photo id for voting, an abortion ban, and a 15% cut in state workers.

So this will help you determine Republican priorities.

1. Abortion
2. Disenfranchisement of poor voters
3. Screwing public employees
4. Tax cuts
5. ???
posted by norm at 7:42 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


A Democrat who will fight back. Amazing. I'm sorry Minnesota has to go through this, but this isn't the governor's fault.

It's always the Democrats' fault. Why do they hate America?
posted by orthogonality at 7:46 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


And so, in their quest to reduce government spending, the republican legislature has caused a government shutdown which will cost state taxpayers millions of dollars for fucking nothing. This makes me so angry. If I had my druthers, there'd be a line in the state constitution that said if we get to this point there are general re-elections for everyone. If you are a legislator or the governor and we reach state shutdown you have fucked up in a way that would get you fired from any other job and it should get you fired here. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.
posted by kavasa at 8:03 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I had my druthers, there'd be a line in the state constitution that said if we get to this point there are general re-elections for everyone.

Then all the opposing party has to do is nothing and then they can force a re-election. That would be problematic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:08 AM on July 1, 2011


I just heard on the radio that the package of social issues presented in the Republican "compromise" also included agreeing to their redistricting plan and a criminal ban on stem cell research. So we can add that to the list.

That means they WOULD agree to raise taxes by 2% on millionaires.... as long as Dayton would agree to an abortion ban, criminalizing stem cell research, locking in all Republican incumbents until 2021, cutting state employees by 15%, and photo ID.
posted by norm at 8:37 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


why aren't democrats countering all this Republican bullshit by proposing cutting the defense budget by half and taking a HARD LINE on removing subsidies on the oil industry and factory farms? Why not grow some balls and show the Tea Party how the entire South is one big welfare zone subsidized by the North?
posted by any major dude at 8:39 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here is the GOP compromise offer outlining the list of concessions demanded for raising revenue.
posted by norm at 8:46 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I balanced the budget by taking an axe to HHS. Too easy.
posted by a3matrix at 8:47 AM on July 1, 2011


The Republican side has become so Alice-in-Wonderland-crazy that I'm more astounded every day that anybody buys it.

They are against social welfare. But corporate welfare is hunky-dory. Which do you think costs more?

They want small government, except in the bazillion of cases where they don't.

Democrats are socialists and want to enact sweeping changes and that's bad. Culture warriors on a mission from God are totally different and that's good.

Telling companies what they can and cannot do is bad. Telling people what they can and cannot do is bad. Unless it involves what they want to ingest, who they want to sleep with, or who they want to marry.

Want to complain? Group together and try it, and they'll pull out all the stops to stop you. But pile up billions of dollars and then it's protected free speech.

Holy fuck. Enough, already. A line needs desperately to be drawn. This is a first step.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:54 AM on July 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


The poor will feel the shutdown the most as several social services they rely on will no longer function. Some that need aid will not get it and will as a consequence suffer in ways such as being evicted from their homes.

The middle class will notice the shutdown as an inconvenience. Toll lanes that allowed them to drive in high occupancy lanes will not be available to them. The zoo will be closed. State parks will be closed. There will be no new fishing licenses. Certain permits and other services helpful to the middle class will not be obtainable. For now, that's about it.

The rich will perhaps notice the same things as the middle class, but they can avoid the discomfort easily enough. Some may have trouble with permits and registrations with the state to move their business interests forward. Those that were anti-tax will just point out how the world didn't end and whatever was left open is all that the government really needs to do in the first place (if even that much).

So, the Democrats are hoping that the Republicans look unreasonable and that inconvenience drives voters in their direction. Republicans don't expect the poor to vote for them and feel they have to stand their ground for their base. There is a good chance that it will take quite some time for anyone to flinch. In many ways, we might have been better off if even more of the government went dark and more of the middle and upper income earners felt the pain along with the poor.
posted by Muddler at 9:04 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if by next week it is clear that the majority of Minnesotans are blaming the Republicans is it possible that this could have an unintended positive effect by putting some pressure on Congressional Republicans?

I would like to think so, but I really don't think they care. They have been awfully good at seeing suffering, hearing pained, passionate testimony, and then smugly going along with the party line, claiming it's the fault of the Democrats for being unwilling to compromise.

But it isn't. They want to balance the budget on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the state so their "friends" don't have to give up their precious tax break. The proposed tax increase would be a minor inconvenience to a few people. Their proposed cuts could be a matter of life and death for some of the most vulnerable people in the state, and affect services that are used by everyone... the list goes on. I'm really angry.

My point is that it is thatthey will stand by the disingenuous claim that the Democrats were the ones who were unwilling to compromise, the press will back them up (fuck the Star Tribune) and people will buy it.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:12 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, some other state is being worse than California this week? What on earth is the world coming to?! *faints*

On a serious note, the Minnesotans have my sympathies, but it seems like this same battle goes on everywhere else all the time, so... argh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:24 AM on July 1, 2011


States that cut the most funding have lost the most jobs.
posted by Kale Slayer at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're really taking all this into high gear now... why? Probably so the American people can feel the pinch of how horrible Obama's last two years in office are (regardless of whose fault that will be) and hopefully he won't be reelected.

Last October, Mitch McConnell told Major Garrett: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

I can't see his owlish mug on TV intoning against Obama's obstructionism without taking that remark, which was probably the most unwittingly honest thing he's said in his entire life, into context. It's the GOP blueprint for everything that happens between now and November 2012. Nothing, and I mean nothing, that they say or do can be divorced from that blueprint.
posted by blucevalo at 9:50 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


On a serious note, the Minnesotans have my sympathies, but it seems like this same battle goes on everywhere else all the time, so... argh.

Other state governments have not out and out shut down and threatened the lives of people who depend on their services instead of arriving at a functional compromise, so, no, it doesn't go on everywhere else all the time. As bad as my state's governance is, it's not going on in my state.
posted by blucevalo at 9:53 AM on July 1, 2011


Effective tax rates for State and Local Taxes - Minnesota:

All Households: 11.4%
Bottom 10% incomes - 22.1%
Top 5% incomes - 9.7%
Top 1% incomes - 8.8%



Decile 2011 (est.)
First ($11,201 & Under) 22.1%
Second ($11,202 - $18,454) 11.2%
Third ($18,455 - $26,461)11.1%
Fourth ($26,462 - $35,169) 11.7%
Fifth ($35,170 - $45,349) 12.8%
Sixth ($45,350 - $58,040)12.5%
Seventh ($58,041 - $74,595) 12.5%
Eighth ($74,596 - $96,681) 12.1%
Ninth ($96,682 - $136,954) 11.9%
Tenth ($136,955 & Over) 10.1%
Total 11.4%
Top 5% 9.7%
Top 1% 8.8%



Source: MN Dept of Revenue.

posted by louche mustachio at 10:27 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"[T[he poverty rate for kids in this country will soon hit 25 percent. Those children would be the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression."
posted by saulgoodman at 10:28 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Effective tax rates for State and Local Taxes - Minnesota:

All Households: 11.4%
Bottom 10% incomes - 22.1%
Top 5% incomes - 9.7%
Top 1% incomes - 8.8%



Decile 2011 (est.)
First ($11,201 & Under) 22.1%
Second ($11,202 - $18,454) 11.2%
Third ($18,455 - $26,461)11.1%
Fourth ($26,462 - $35,169) 11.7%
Fifth ($35,170 - $45,349) 12.8%
Sixth ($45,350 - $58,040)12.5%
Seventh ($58,041 - $74,595) 12.5%
Eighth ($74,596 - $96,681) 12.1%
Ninth ($96,682 - $136,954) 11.9%
Tenth ($136,955 & Over) 10.1%
Total 11.4%
Top 5% 9.7%
Top 1% 8.8%


I went to my union lobby day at the state capitol and frankly, even the state government functionaries (not the repugs, the regular people) are pretty appalled by the state of taxation around here. I also learned that my household pays the highest rate of all!

I feel so baffled and paralyzed right now because, essentially, democracy has broken down. The politicians have figured out that they've 100% rigged the system so that they can do whatever the fuck they want, no matter what the electorate wants. What are we going to do? We're not at the storm-the-legislature-with-force stage yet, and there's absolutely nothing else that will make these politicians stop enriching themselves and their corporate cronies. And they've been clever enough to do most of it rather slowly - this is the rapid, final triumph over people who have been defeated in a long war. That means that citizens have just been shutting their eyes for years, getting accustomed to the state of things, so there's no will nor structure to do anything. If the legislature actually, say, had state troopers fire live ammunition into a crowd, that might delegitimize the government a bit - but just killing some diabetics who can't afford their care any more plus shortening the lives of any number of people who skip routine care...no one will even notice.

I feel such hatred and disgust right now. It's like being governed by swine.
posted by Frowner at 10:38 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


but just killing some diabetics who can't afford their care any more plus shortening the lives of any number of people who skip routine care...no one will even notice.

Someone should be or should start tracking this information.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:41 AM on July 1, 2011


but just killing some diabetics who can't afford their care any more plus shortening the lives of any number of people who skip routine care...no one will even notice.

I am a diabetic. I have been paying attention - for a long ,long time, now. The situation we are in - all of us who are not uberrich - is dismal and criminal. It's getting worse. Why half the country refuses to see it is beyond me. (Although I definitely understand why 10% of of the country refuses to see it.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:45 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


As I said in another thread, this is the end-game. Cripple government until it can no longer provide any service beyond, perhaps, law enforcement. The wealthy don't need social services. The middle and lower classes do, but the wealthy don't need the middle and lower classes anymore, either.

The Republicans are frighteningly close to tipping the country past the point where we simply won't be able to turn it around quickly or effectively.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


but just killing some diabetics who can't afford their care any more plus shortening the lives of any number of people who skip routine care...no one will even notice.

Just in case that's sarcasm - I have a friend who is a type 1 diabetic and who is on some kind of medical assistance that's been under steady threat for the past couple of years - he's a younger single guy and those are the folks whose benefits are politically the easiest to axe. He works, but he has never been offered and of course cannot buy health insurance. During the reign of that worthless, monstrous Pawlenty - may he rot in hell getting extra pitchforks - we were all trying to figure out if we could rally round and buy my friend his insulin and the tests that he needs to keep getting his prescriptions. It was pretty scary.

I'm sure the situation will be worse for para-diabetics - type 2s with few symptoms who mostly manage via diet (like my brother) - because it's tempting to try to manage solely on your own via diet when you can't afford meds or test strips etc.
posted by Frowner at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2011


That means that citizens have just been shutting their eyes for years, getting accustomed to the state of things, so there's no will nor structure to do anything.

I am a diabetic. I have been paying attention


I was thinking more that people have been focusing on individual solutions - belt-tightening, second jobs, etc - because if you're slowly losing ground it's easy to think "oh, I'll pick up an extra shift" and then later you think "I'll work a few hours at my cousin's bar too" and then you think "we can get rid of the car", etc etc etc. And then pretty soon you don't have the time or energy to do anything else, even if you have channels - unions, political activism - open to you. It's not people's fault.

Although honestly my union has been pretty abject under all of this. Our big slogan is "we want to work"....just like Oliver Twist, please sir can I keep my job? And we go to rallies and sing patriotic songs and pray for the cameras, like it's seriously realistic to out-nationalism and out-god the republicans. The republicans have a lock on that discourse. We need something else - "We keep Minnesota running", "Don't hate on my benefits - demand your own!" "We have healthcare and you should too", that kind of stuff.
posted by Frowner at 11:22 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in Minnesota and had to transfer a car title at the DMV yesterday. Man, that was a bad idea. Lines out the door as people were frantically trying to get passports, fishing licenses, drivers licenses etc etc. Two hours to get a number, then the wait began.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:43 AM on July 1, 2011


Last October, Mitch McConnell told Major Garrett: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

I can't see his owlish mug on TV intoning against Obama's obstructionism without taking that remark, which was probably the most unwittingly honest thing he's said in his entire life, into context.


Typical liberal lies here folks: Mitch McConnell doesn't have an "owlish mug". He's turtle-faced.
posted by orthogonality at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I completely agree this is part of the plan, I can't help but wonder what the hell the Republicans think they will do after Obama loses reelection? What will they come-up with that might magically reverse the decline

Easy peasy. Start another war!
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2011


people were frantically trying to get passports Post Offices still take applications, right? In 2007 they took them on weekdays only and you had to bring your own picture in. Maybe that has changed.

This all happened under Pawlenty as well in 2005 and that one lasted 8 or 9 days, but "Pawlenty did say Thursday that he wished the [2005] government shutdown would have gone on longer, suggesting that the state could have "gotten a better deal.""
posted by soelo at 12:17 PM on July 1, 2011


And then pretty soon you don't have the time or energy to do anything else, even if you have channels - unions, political activism - open to you. It's not people's fault.

What you fail to appreciate is that the rich believe the best environment for them to keep their wealth intact is to push the cost of labor as low as possible. Making sure no one has free time to meddle with things like unions and looking for a new job ensures minimal labor costs. So just quit whining.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:26 PM on July 1, 2011


I've lived in MN since the mid '70s, when it was a bastion of liberal thought and a high-service state. Parks were free and clean, streets were in good repair and no bridges collapsed. Schools were excellent, always rating in the top 2. Health care was first rate, nearly always rated number 1 in the nation. Crime was much lower than average, and our cultural opportunities abounded.

These days, I can't believe what we've become. Our electorate is so easily fooled by promises of tax cuts and getting the lazy off welfare. Those they elect then take a wrecking ball to the government's economics and subsequently blame the resulting problems on "tax-and-spend" libruls. The electorate then turns around and votes in more of these know-nothings.

Sigh.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Just in case that's sarcasm - I have a friend who is a type 1 diabetic and who is on some kind of medical assistance that's been under steady threat for the past couple of years - he's a younger single guy and those are the folks whose benefits are politically the easiest to axe.

At the risk of TMI, here's the kind of shit we're up against:

I'm a Type 1 diabetic. I wear an insulin pump. Without insulin, I die - it's pretty simple.

I am self-and-very-under-employed, so I am on my wife's employer-provided insurance, which we pay an obscene amount of money for. Up until 3 months ago, it wasn't an awful deal for me with regards to my insulin - I got my monthly supply of 3 vials for 10 bucks. However, two months ago my insurance kicked my insulin up to their "upper tier" and the cost jumped to 60 bucks. A 6000% increase, just like that. They said because "it's not generic". (There is no such thing as generic insulin, BTW.)

Then, last month, I went to get my insulin, and the pharmacist informed me that I could no longer buy my insulin from them, my insurance now required me to buy my insulin three month's worth at a time through a mail order order pharmacy. So now it's not 60 bucks at a pop (which is hard enough), it's 180 bucks a pop. And, it turns out, guess who owns the mail order pharmacy? My fucking insurance company! Why take just a slice when you can have the whole pie.

So I place my first order, and they send me 4 vials instead of 9, but bill me for the full amount. I called and spoke to a pharmacist who said he would fix the mistake (which he did), but when I asked him what had happened he replied, "Sometimes we change the prescription to what a "normal" supply is." So apparently, not only do they now own the market, they can override the doctor whenever they want.

This shit is out of hand. Conflict of interest. Practicing medicine without a license. Price gouging. All perfectly legal.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:46 PM on July 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


Something has got to break this downward spiral. I wish I knew what it was. I really feel the majority of people don't want things to be this way, but it's like an unstoppable machine run by sociopathic greed-junkies.
posted by atlatl at 12:48 PM on July 1, 2011


Benny...wait until the insurer starts requiring you to "check-in" with their call-center nurse to "evaluate and adjust" your medications, without any involvement from your actual doctor. It's a fucking racket.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:00 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something has to give. This is why Minnesota is in this situation, and I foresee other states going through it, too.

We are a snake eating our own tail in so many ways. Take my insurance example to its logical conclusion, for example. Because we chosen such a fucked-up path to (supposedly) make health care more manageable, we've now created a system where my (required) insurance company can also own a pharmacy and, by fiat - not the vaunted competition that's supposed to be our bedrock- can single-handedly remove business from other businesses. What happens to the Rite-Aid or CVS or Walgreen's that I was buying from. Lord knows I don't want to defend them, but what happens to the people they employ, and the vendors they buy from, and the local businesses that count on the incomes of everyone that works there? There's no way for that to go but worse and worse and worse.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:30 PM on July 1, 2011


My only hope is that Dayton et. al. do not back down. Let the Republicans stew in the juice they've made with their promises to their millionaire-plus friends.
posted by RedEmma at 2:35 PM on July 1, 2011


Well, from Huffpo: the state's $5 billion budget gap -- much of it left behind by GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, who declined to seek a third term in the 2010 election.. Anybody know how much is "much?" So did T-Paw create the deficits necessitating shutting down the state the same way Walker did in WI, by giving tax-cuts to the rich? Dayton points out the phantom "revenue" of the GOPs plan to loot the anti-smoking fund and school aid, but he doesn't say why MN is in this hole (6.2Bn), one of the
worst in the country. Has the starve-the-beast/people thing been happening for a while there?
posted by psyche7 at 2:50 PM on July 1, 2011


Pawlenty did inherit a deficit, but his fixes involved this-is-not-a-tax "user fees", one-time funds such as the federal stimulus money, and writing IOUs to the schools that would conveniently come due in the next (i.e. this) biennium, after he was out of office. Nothing sustainable.
posted by Flannery Culp at 3:02 PM on July 1, 2011


Benny: My wife is type 1, on a pump - I feel your pain. When we were with BC/BC of CA her insulin prescription was rejected every month until she called in to confirm that she was still diabetic. Apparently, BC/BS was aware of a secret cure for Type 1 diabetes, but they would never share it with us. I work for a very small company with a rather high age basis, so it is actually cheaper for me to have a private insurance plan, if by cheaper I mean paying a Mercedes payment each month for insurance with a $10,000 deductible. So I'm paying the insurance company rate for insulin and pump supplies, which helps, but it still costs a fortune. And don't even get me started on Medtronic using skeevy patents to bankrupt all the pump competition. 15 years later and there are still no competition for Medtronic pump supplies. It's fucking criminal.
posted by COD at 3:09 PM on July 1, 2011


I wish I would have thought of this before, but right now I kind of want to make up a bunch of t-shirts that just say "GIVE 'EM HELL, DAYTON!" and hand them out around the Twin Cities.
posted by COBRA! at 4:04 PM on July 1, 2011


That balance-the-budget test was fun. I even reduced it too much and had to distribute the excess among direct-to-people services. Rich farmers, police and military, big property owners and businesses will be REALLY upset, but hey: bring it on boys. The money ripped from the U. got to help the smaller schools.

Now, I need to get home ... hmmm, where's my bullet-proof limo?
posted by Twang at 7:30 PM on July 1, 2011


Last fall, Minnesotans elected a Democratic governor who pledged to tax the rich and a majority Republican legislature who swore by no new taxes, period. Their first major task? Craft a budget for the next biennium that addressed a projected $5 billion shortfall. Months passed, no agreement was reached, and this morning at midnight, the Minnesota government shut down. Citizens on both sides are not pleased.

Let me get this straight. So lets assume that the $5B was DISCOVERED during the elections (and there was no knowledge of this before...fat chance, but still). And the state senators or whatever state legislature could not, in that 6-8 month period till shutdown, agree on enough things to work this problem out. They just could not NEGOTIATE it out with their own statesmen?

This is high treason of the highest magnitude. Those motherfuckers need to go to prison. This is NOT an acceptable course of behavior for elected officials. Other politicians and even foreign countries need to know that American people won't put up with shit like this.

These guys just pantsed Lake Minnetonka and golden showered St. Paul for no other reason than "political disagreement". People of Minnesota will die because of this. That's not right.

Mofos gotta go!
posted by hal_c_on at 8:37 PM on July 1, 2011


Benny Andajetz writes "Conflict of interest. Practicing medicine without a license. Price gouging. All perfectly legal."

That is seriously fucked up Benny Andajetz.

COD writes "When we were with BC/BC of CA her insulin prescription was rejected every month until she called in to confirm that she was still diabetic."

This kind of shit should be illegal.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 PM on July 1, 2011


If the Bachmannite Republicans have a knife sharp enough to sever Minneapolis and St. Paul from greater Minnesota they would be best to show it now.
posted by localhuman at 11:56 PM on July 1, 2011


It's not a fair shutdown because the police are still their to protect republicans.
posted by uni verse at 3:57 AM on July 2, 2011


*there*
posted by uni verse at 3:58 AM on July 2, 2011


The comments to the article are a bit telling, in that they tell you what opinions are popular in Minnesota and which ones aren't. (They also indicate that newspaper readers are more progressive.)

Some of the most popular comments?

"Gov. Dayton compromised long ago, during the regular legislative session, about the amount he would accept to work with through tax increases affecting a tiny percentage of the uber-wealthy and through budget cuts. That the neoCONS in the legislature decided it would be fun to deprive people of our government's functions speaks volumes about who they answer to, and it's not Minnesota citizens, but their far right wing fringe allegiance to Grover Norquist and Tony Sutton. People, you have to finally figure out that Republicans in the legislature don't give a ____ about working men and women and their families in our state. Period. Never again vote Republican!"
----------------------
"Gov. Dayton didn't spend a whole session passing extremist social legislation while ignoring budget issues. He didn't spend last week posing for photo ops at the Stillwater bridge. He didn't make hysterical speeches blaming the GOP (which BTW is the majority party in the legislature). While there is more than enough blame to share, most of it belongs on the shoulders of the GOP legislators who sold out to rich billionaires like the Koch brothers. Because, even if they received no direct funding from them, they followed their agenda like compromise-blinded lemmings."
----------------------
"No pay for state politicians during the shutdown. No paying taxes while the State is officially closed. Sounds like a good plan!"
----------------------
""The people who pay the bills"? Of course you mean the majority of us. If 1000 people pay $500 in state taxes, but someone else(because they've taken advantage of public transportation, communications, etc) pays $5000 in taxes, are you actually suggesting that the second person should have more say? You're obviously not familiar with democracy or petty, infantile behavior (you know, the type you exhibit). If your position is that people that pay more money (although not as a percentage of income) should have more of a say in politics, why don't you just openly advocate for a return to the feudal system? Good Grief!!"

These kind of comments had the most support, whereas the "vote them all out", "third party", etc. type of comments also had overall support, but not as much.

Both parties are looking bad right now, but I don't think this issue is going to be as good for the Republicans as they think it will be...
posted by markkraft at 9:47 PM on July 2, 2011


Seeing the posts to this makes me realize that the bulk majority of MeFi readers are almost completely unaware that there's a hell of a lot of money coming in from taxes. What Minnesota needs to do (apart from collectively going and taking a leak on the Minnesota Vikings stadium) is realize that it's not necessarily a *bad* thing to cut funds from services that really don't need funds in the first place. For instance, not every Minnesotan thinks fully funding abortions for people who weren't smart enough in the first place to use protection (and, trust me, a $1 condom from a gas station restroom isn't hard to find) is something that the government should be doing. The governor wants to raise taxes on businesses. Cool. How many businesses will stay in Minnesota after this happens? I would gamble that there would be fewer businesses (and, dare I say it, fewer jobs) in Minnesota after this. Learn this, and learn it well. Businesses don't create products because you can have something. They create products because it gives them something. Mainly, money to produce more products.

If you want to go to a place that promotes creating something only so others can have something, I hear Venezuela is pretty nice, and has a wonderful, free society, in which you can say or do anything (unless you say something against the government, which could lead to your eventual demise).
posted by CountSpatula at 2:54 AM on July 3, 2011


What Minnesota needs to do (apart from collectively going and taking a leak on the Minnesota Vikings stadium) is realize that it's not necessarily a *bad* thing to cut funds from services that really don't need funds in the first place. For instance, not every Minnesotan thinks fully funding abortions for people who weren't smart enough in the first place to use protection (and, trust me, a $1 condom from a gas station restroom isn't hard to find) is something that the government should be doing.

That may be so. But every Minnesotan or other person with half a brain who gives a crap about the budget deficit will realise that the choice isn't between funding the abortion and doing nothing. It's a choice between funding that abortion and supporting that child. Keeping the mother out of work to look after it. Paying for the schooling. Benefits.

Now you can make a moral case against abortion. I don't want to derail the thread. But suggesting providing a service which saves the state a lot of money is something that the government shouldn't necessarily be providing and that you would cut to save money is just plain stupid.

And the rest of that comment is nothing without numbers. Businesses do their actual business where people are spending money. The poor spend a higher proportion of their income than the rich. And money spent by the state stays in circulation. You can overtax. But the period in American history with the highest growth rate had a top rate of tax in excess of 80%. But the money was being spent so the businesses had something to do (hint: the rich spend lower proportions than the poor). Why do you ignore that half of the equation? And if you want somewhere without government spending I hear Somalia is pretty nice. As for somewhere with it, try Sweden.
posted by Francis at 3:53 AM on July 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


For instance, not every Minnesotan thinks fully funding abortions for people who weren't smart enough in the first place to use protection (and, trust me, a $1 condom from a gas station restroom isn't hard to find) is something that the government should be doing.

However reasonable your position otherwise may be, that this is your example makes me give your comment no credibility whatsoever, if only because a) such payments are an incredibly tiny fraction of the budget and b) that's the kind of garbage the GOP talks about all the time; demonizing poor women and their health care choices to score cheap political points.

Also, in Minnesota there is a prevailing court decision requiring public funding of abortions for women on medical assistance, so your supposed common sense "solution" is really an advocacy for a much broader constitutional attack on poor women than you may even realize.

Keep your eye on the ball.
posted by norm at 6:00 AM on July 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


An interesting if disturbing wrinkle has arisen. The state of MN issues buyer's cards for liquor. Bars, restaurants and stores have to have these cards in order to buy liquor. These are renewed on an annual basis.

But with the state on strike, these cards aren't getting renewed, and liquor can't be restocked. A similar situation is also happening with cigarettes. Cigarettes need tax stamps issued by the state, and some projections have them running out in September.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:38 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


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