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It's Good To Be The King
June 16, 2009 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Unallotment. Minnesota, known for its colorful politics now adds today's announcement by Governor Pawlenty that he is using his executive power to unilaterally cut $2.7 billion dollars from the state budget. The list of impacted state projects includes heavy cuts to education, health and human services, and funds municipalities rely upon for their own local budgets. Lawsuits claiming Pawlenty is overreaching his executive power are likely. You are probably not from Minnesota, so why should you care? Well, in addition to bringing the 2008 Republican National Convention to the Twin Cities and co-chairing John McCain's presidential campaign, Governor Pawlenty recently announced he is not running for a third term - and it is widely speculated that he may become the 2012 presidential candidate for the "new" GOP.
posted by Muddler (80 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meet the new GOP. Same as the old GOP*.

*God Offal Party
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:55 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, that's not going to bode well for winning his home state...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 3:56 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like we have our Walter Mondale for the new millennium.
posted by nasreddin at 3:56 PM on June 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Remind me never to drive over a Minnesota bridge until that clown is fired.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:56 PM on June 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


Well, that's not going to bode well for winning his home state...

Assuming his home state voters don't like lower taxes.
posted by jsonic at 3:57 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. I thought the political stunts of the Governator were out there, at least Schwarzenegger is throwing these out there with the expectation that the legislators will counter with more reasonable terms. But pulling the Executive Power card to be the one-man slash-and-burninator takes balls like none other.

Truly, this new GOP is devoid of girly-men.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:58 PM on June 16, 2009


Would the legislature move to revoke his power to do that? This could be entertaining.
posted by XMLicious at 4:10 PM on June 16, 2009


Assuming his home state voters don't like lower taxes.

Assuming his entire home state is in the top 1% bracket of the country.
posted by djduckie at 4:13 PM on June 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


No way Pawlenty is the 2012 GOP nominee. By 2012, what's left of the GOP will not stomach nominating someone with a college education.
posted by Flunkie at 4:14 PM on June 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


Let's see if I recall how this went down:

1. Turned in a budget that there was no way the Democratic bicameral would approve.
2. Vetoed their budget.
3. Declared he wasn't going to run for an additional term
3. Used unallotment to slash many of the same programs that he would have slashed under his budget.

I think I got that pretty much right. What else?

Oh yeah. Claims he's not going to raise taxes, but, in fact, simply forces other people to raise taxes, particularly property taxes, by underfunding necessary services.
Says he won't raise taxes, but reduces tax rebates for renters, effectively making their tax burden higher.

Claims that states have to run their budgets like a family would, which economists responded to by declaring his understanding of economics idiotic. And, apparently, hat he meant was that, at the end of the day, dad sits down and decides what gets paid and what doesn't, and, sorry, adopted sister Sally, your health care need are just not daddy's issue.

Oh, and his "fix" to this budget crisis leaves everything that caused the crisis intact, meaning we'll just be dealing with it again in a few years.

I was out of town when he was elected. Tell me again why he's governor? Because we hadn't punished ourselves enough with Jesse Ventura?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:14 PM on June 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


Let us not forget his fondness for raising "fees", you know, because higher fees aren't the same as higher taxes.
posted by lucasks at 4:19 PM on June 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


(the added benefit is that fees are effectively a regressive tax... so they cost poor people relatively more!)
posted by lucasks at 4:21 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]



Would the legislature move to revoke his power to do that? This could be entertaining.


Well, the session's over, so it's too late for this year. The time period between Pawlenty announcing his 'unallotment' plans originally and the end of the regular session was only a matter of days. In theory, they could have passed something like that, sent it to Pawlenty, he'd veto it, it would go back to the legislature, where the DFL is in control but 2-3 votes shy of being able to override a veto.

(DFL = Democratic-Farmer-Labor party = Democrats, for you non-Minnesotans)

Then again, if the legislature was able to override a veto, they would have overridden the veto on the tax bill, and none of this would have happened to begin with.
posted by gimonca at 4:25 PM on June 16, 2009


Flunkie: "No way Pawlenty is the 2012 GOP nominee. By 2012, what's left of the GOP will not stomach nominating someone with a college education."

I was relishing the thought of what those debates are going to be like. Romney promising to put all of France in Guantanamo Bay, Huckabee saying Jesus entered Jerusalem on a dinosaur, Palin giving birth on stage...
posted by Joe Beese at 4:27 PM on June 16, 2009 [32 favorites]


Part of me is glad. Part of me says that we *need* to show people what "Shrink Government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub" really means. If they refuse to pay for services, they need to not have them.

Part of me is deeply afraid for the people of Minnesota who are going to be utterly fucked by this.
posted by eriko at 4:30 PM on June 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


From filthy light thief's link:

"This would return us to the era of Dickens — you'd have to go back to the 19th century to find a comparable proposal."

Pretty much sums up the GOP agenda right there.
posted by Xoebe at 4:31 PM on June 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


We're all just happy he's not cutting bridge improvement funding.
posted by ShadePlant at 4:31 PM on June 16, 2009


Pawlenty is one of the more clever Republicans I've seen in some time. He's going to run for president for sure. Right now, I would put my money on him for his party's nomination. However, we have over three years until then, and he's got Pawlenty of time to dirty his name real good, and he will.
posted by Flex1970 at 4:31 PM on June 16, 2009


Part of me is deeply afraid for the people of Minnesota who are going to be utterly fucked by this.

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
posted by hal9k at 4:34 PM on June 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Assuming his home state voters don't like lower taxes.

Yes, well, it's all fair game to question whether the taxes being paid are reasonable and fair. My problems are with national parties whose sole means of garnering plurality support are "Hey, look at all those taxes you pay. Wouldn't you like to pay less? Well, a lot of them go to pay lazy negroes to sit around while you work your ass off, so vote for me and I will cut your taxes by eliminating payments to foresaid negroes." Now, one can use surrogates to say the parts of that quote that are unseemly for a politician to say in public, but, hell, that's what conservative talk radio was invented for. It's a whole lot easier and more effective than trying to engage in rational discussion about what policies are desired and what a reasonable cost would be for those policies, and parties that try to do that have a much more difficult path and higher failure rate.

Now, we had a fairly well performing tax system in Minnesota before Tim Pawlenty came on the scene in the mid to late '90s. Good schools, well maintained infrastructure, cultural opportunities, and thriving businesses. Why, we even had rich folk paying the same marginal state tax rate as middle class folk. But we had a surplus for a couple of years and Pawlenty and his IR buddies used that to justify a) giving the surplus back, and, at the same time, b) radically cutting taxes, mostly for the well-to-do, so that now there's about a 2% difference between the median income tax rate and those for folks making over $200K/year. Now we have no margin of revenue in the event of an economic downturn and an inequitable tax system as the status quo. For the last nine years we have had constant state budget crises, our infrastructure is deteriorating, our schools and universities are chronically underfunded, business development has been dismal, and healthcare has been cut back for the underprivileged. In response to these growing problems, the Rebublican response has been to say that taxes are too high and so we can't raise them to fix any of the problems, not even back to where they were in the late '90s.

So, yes, the home staters like the lower taxes, at least a plurality that elected him twice (he's never received a majority). But "Don't take my money" is not a political philosophy of any coherence and, as the last regime demonstrated, mindless tax cutting does not a functioning society create. But, yes, they likes the lower taxes. Whatever.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:35 PM on June 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


I was relishing the thought of what those debates are going to be like. Romney promising to put all of France in Guantanamo Bay, Huckabee saying Jesus entered Jerusalem on a dinosaur, Palin giving birth on stage...

When I read about Palin, I just pictured the GOP doing a reenactment of La Pieta on stage, for some reason.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:38 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."

-- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
posted by JohnFredra at 4:42 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is a damn ballsy stunt to pull, considering the economy is complete crap right now- I would be afraid of being lynched.
Is this going to turn out like the 'structural adjustments' that wrecked Jamaica?
posted by dunkadunc at 4:43 PM on June 16, 2009


Two articles (slightly dated) on Pawlenty by one of my favorite local journalists, Britt Robson.
posted by antonymous at 4:46 PM on June 16, 2009


Just to hammer a point home: the assumption among DFLers in the legislature and observers in general was that the governor would call a special session to finish up business, because "that's what always happens". The whole unallotment thing was something Pawlenty sprung on people at the last minute. It was completely reasonable for the legislative leaders to handle things the way they did up to that point, because it was reasonable for them to expect a special session to be called to finish up business.

Instead, Pawlenty's answer was "I'm going to veto the tax bill, now there's no revenue to speak of, so I'm going to use unallotment to cut everything on my own". This may be contrary to the Minnesota state constitution, and may end up in court. DFL leaders are, needless to say, livid in general.

Even before this, Pawlenty used a line item veto to cancel GAMC, General Assistance Medical Care, which pays for basic medical care for the very poor and disabled. It's a brutal, brutal move that specifically targets a population that includes sick people in nursing care, the mentally ill, and people who otherwise can't take care of themselves. Word is that when the veto was announced on the floor of the legislature, there was an audible gasp. And with no Republicans willing to cross the aisle to override a veto, either out of ideology or out of fear, there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Now there's another issue facing Pawlenty, too: the matter of an election certificate for someone named Al Franken. Expectation is that the state supreme court will rule in Franken's favor before too much longer. That could include a court order for Pawlenty to issue the cert. If Pawlenty refuses, that could give an extremely angry DFL leadership in the legislature an opening to start the impeachment process. But if Pawlenty issues the cert, the national Republicans will be pissed off at him for being a traitor or wimp or whatever.

Incidentally, there's also a longstanding rumor that Pawlenty originally wanted to run for Senate in 2002, but the national Republican leadership called from their evil lair miles beneath the earth's crust and told him to move out of the way to make room on the ticket for....Norm Coleman. Coleman got elected only because Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash, Pawlenty went on to get elected governor with less than 50% of the vote in a 3-way race.

For that matter, Pawlenty has never broken 50% in a statewide election. In 2006, the DFL candidates for governor and lieutenant governor both made minor gaffes in the last few days before the election, the Independence Party candidate took away 15% of the vote, and Pawlenty squeaked out a win by a fraction of a percent. The actual winner wasn't known until well into midday the next day.
posted by gimonca at 4:56 PM on June 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


given the track record of Minnesotans who've attempted to run for president and scored epic fail (Harold Stassen, Hubert H Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale), you have absolutely nothing to worry about!
posted by kuppajava at 5:03 PM on June 16, 2009


eriko - Part of me is glad. Part of me says that we *need* to show people what "Shrink Government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub" really means. If they refuse to pay for services, they need to not have them.

Part of me is deeply afraid for the people of Minnesota who are going to be utterly fucked by this.


Mental Wimp - So, yes, the home staters like the lower taxes, at least a plurality that elected him twice (he's never received a majority).

While it's fun to revel in scheudenfraude, remember that it's not just those who shout "down with taxes" that will suffer.

Those who are shouting loudest often have nothing to fear from a loss in tax-provided benefits. Make enough money, and you can buy an all-terrain vehicle to get over unmaintained roads. Make enough money, and there is no concern about how to cover your own education, health, and welfare. Make enough money, and it seems like taxes are just stealing from you. But it's not just you, so you share a bit of your wealth so that everyone can be better off.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:12 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]



Now, we had a fairly well performing tax system in Minnesota before Tim Pawlenty came on the scene in the mid to late '90s.


No kidding. It was called the 'Minnesota Miracle', and it goes all the way back to DFL governor Wendell Anderson in 1971. The basic idea was that taxes would go into a pool collected by the state, and then be redistributed back to counties, cities and school districts, notably as LGA or Local Government Aid. The concept was that you shouldn't have such disparities between rich and poor communities when providing basic services like schools, police, roads, and such. This way, schools in far-flung farming and northwoods areas had a chance to be just as good as in wealthy Twin Cities suburbs, all parts of the state could have decent local roads, there wouldn't be weak gaps in local law enforcement, and on and on. And it worked, really well, for 30 years. It worked so well it got Wendy Anderson on the cover of Time magazine.

DFLers, Republicans, even Jesse Ventura worked with it. Pawlenty took it upon himself to try and dismantle it, because it ran counter to extremist Republican ideology, and it's all been downhill since.
posted by gimonca at 5:14 PM on June 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Looks like we have our Walter Mondale for the new millennium.

"Governor, I served with Walter Mondale. I knew Walter Mondale. Walter Mondale was a friend of mine. Governor, you're no Walter Mondale."
posted by blucevalo at 5:24 PM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


As someone who works in the realm of health care policy and also is a recipient of a public health care program, I cannot wait for Pawlenty to leave office for the rubber chicken circuit. The man has nothing but contempt for public health care programs and the people who benefit from them. But what keeps me up at night is that most of the Republicans lining up to succeed him are even further to the right. All the moderate Republicans have been banished by the no-taxes, evangelical wing of the party.

And the next person who tells me that we need to cut the fat from government programs is going to get a heaping serving of scorn from me.
posted by wintermute2_0 at 5:47 PM on June 16, 2009


I gotta say, I much prefer those "small government, low taxes" Republicans to the gay-hating, immigrant-bashing bigots the GOP has been collecting for the last decade.
posted by emd3737 at 5:49 PM on June 16, 2009


No kidding. It was called the 'Minnesota Miracle', and it goes all the way back to DFL governor Wendell Anderson in 1971. The basic idea was that taxes would go into a pool collected by the state, and then be redistributed back to counties, cities and school districts, notably as LGA or Local Government Aid. The concept was that you shouldn't have such disparities between rich and poor communities when providing basic services like schools, police, roads, and such. This way, schools in far-flung farming and northwoods areas had a chance to be just as good as in wealthy Twin Cities suburbs, all parts of the state could have decent local roads, there wouldn't be weak gaps in local law enforcement, and on and on. And it worked, really well, for 30 years. It worked so well it got Wendy Anderson on the cover of Time magazine.

That sounds like socialism to me! The problem with socialism is that it leads to people like Brett Stalin and the Nassau party who caused the invasion of Poletown.
posted by Mirror-Universe Optimus Chyme at 6:00 PM on June 16, 2009


Jesus. He's basically screwing his state just to appeal to the national conservative base. The legislature ought to impeach him.
posted by delmoi at 6:11 PM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's the 'magic pudding' approach to running an economy.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:19 PM on June 16, 2009


On the other hand, Minnesota already cut in half its US Senate delegation, what's a billion dollars here and there when you compare it to that.
posted by matteo at 6:30 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's too bad Virgil Goode lost his House seat in VA last election. I would love to see a GOP ticket of...

wait for it...

Goode and Pawlenty.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:32 PM on June 16, 2009 [9 favorites]



But it's not just you, so you share a bit of your wealth so that everyone can be better off.

Heh. Not if your a Republican.
posted by notreally at 6:45 PM on June 16, 2009


Much better than a GOP ticket of...

Palin/Schock.
posted by darkstar at 6:47 PM on June 16, 2009


The GOP doesn't understand that in times of economic crisis and massive unemployment, people want government to help them. This flies in the face of their Reagan-boners, but it's true.

And if the American economy has recovered a bit by 2011, which it should, in baby-steps, it's all moot anyways -- Obama wins in a landslide.
posted by bardic at 6:58 PM on June 16, 2009


Pawlenty said "the overall impact will be to have state government live on about 96 ot 97 percent of what it's living on right now."

So, this is what it takes to get a ~4% budget cut? Seriously? The legislature couldn't find a way to cut a measly 4% of the budget?

Put the Republican/Democrat thing aside for a moment and consider the fact that state governments across the Union cannot seem to grasp the fact that spending more than one makes is fundamentally unsustainable, moreso when the credit dries up.

We live in a world of unlimited wants and limited means. For some reasons, legislators across the nation don't think those rules apply to them...apparently, only to their constituents who have to balance their checkbooks every month.
posted by tgrundke at 7:04 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]



??Your??
posted by notreally at 7:07 PM on June 16, 2009


I didn't know he went to junior high and high school with Grant Hart.
posted by snofoam at 7:34 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Virtually every state (heck every household) is going to have to live on accounts receivable from now on. Get used to stories like this, we'll be seeing a lot more of them going forward.
posted by Scoo at 8:22 PM on June 16, 2009


Now, I'm no economist, but I think the thing that drives me most up the wall is that we already did cut programs to the bone during the good years leading up to the current fiscal shortfall, and now that there isn't enough tax income to pay for things, the answer is to cut even more? At this point I sort of guess it's the only politically palatable option, but how about we don't cut back so much during the good years, and hold that money in reserve for the lean years, like a responsible family? Or is that bad management as well? I honestly don't know, but I guess as long as we're throwing around family analogies, it seems pertinent.

(Over here in WI it sounds like the answer is going to be deep cuts _and_ increased taxes and usage fees.)
posted by Kyol at 8:38 PM on June 16, 2009


So, this is what it takes to get a ~4% budget cut? Seriously? The legislature couldn't find a way to cut a measly 4% of the budget?

I don't know if you read the thread, but they did. The legislature delivered a budget, he didn't like it and vetoed it. Then the legislature expected to be called back for a special session (which happens almost every fucking year in Minnesota, because our bumfuck legislature likes to bitch and squabble).
posted by graventy at 8:53 PM on June 16, 2009


Here in AZ, we've seen massive cuts (to education, health services, etc., natch) by the Republicans in the State Legislature. The ONLY silver lining about our severe budget shortfall is that with former Governor Janet Napolitano now heading up DHS, it leaves her Republican replacement, Jan Brewer, to wrestle with the boneheads in the state Lege over how to manage the budget. Brewer is having the same kind of problems with them that Napolitano did during her tenure.

The result is that it's shown that the years of dysfunctional relationship between the Gov and the Lege wasn't Napolitano's fault. In fact, Brewer just filed a lawsuit(!) against the Lege to force them to send her the budget they already voted to approve two weeks ago. The Lege has been holding the budget in order to run out the clock, so the Gov will be forced to capitulate. Brewer isn't having any of it. The State Supreme Court will be hearing the case next week.

I wonder if there will be more inter-branch lawsuits for other states when this gets ugly.
posted by darkstar at 9:01 PM on June 16, 2009


tgrundke hits the nail on the head, IMHO. As much as I disagree with what Pawlenty is doing, we are talking about a 4% cut. From my humble vantage point out here on the prairie, one thing that I've started to take notice of is how government employment and services at all levels (city, county, state, and federal) have been, for the most part, operating under the business-as-usual policy. Why is it that private sector employers have had to cut, but the public sector has not? Hang on to your wallets here, folks, because it's going to nasty soon on this question. We're already seeing the start of California v. Washington with today's announcement that the feds aren't going to bail out California. The only thing different about California's budget deficit is its size and you're going to start seeing more and more of this as the new fiscal year starts July 1st. Public sector revenue streams lag private sector due to the way taxes are paid/collected/spent and there are going to be plenty more Minnesotas and Californias coming down the pike. Like your road paved? Well, forget about it, we're doing gravel this time. Need to get divorced or probate Aunt Tilly's estate? Bring your own paper. Anecdotal? Yes, but part of a broader reality that's not been as widely noticed as the more immediate private sector downturns. Something is going to have to give and for public budgets it's either increase taxes/fees or cut services. The sooner the politicians stop being, um, politicians, the better. But that's probably too much to ask (see OP).
posted by webhund at 9:06 PM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


And to think, in the 90s we had a massive fight over the line-item veto. Who even knew this existed...
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:18 PM on June 16, 2009


Unallotment, according to Schultz, occurs because of the requirement in Minnesota to balance a budget every biennium. "After money has been appropriated, the governor has the power to rescind the money," he said.

Political strategy would suggest that its always in the legislature's interest to balance the budget, so they decide the cuts and not the governor. What's going on here?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:20 PM on June 16, 2009


The legislature couldn't find a way to cut a measly 4% of the budget?

Virtually every state (heck every household) is going to have to live on accounts receivable from now on.

The Minnesota state constitution requires that the legislature pass a balanced budget. Deficit spending is not allowed. It has been that way ever since Minnesota became a state in 1858.

Normal procedure during difficult years is that the legislature and the governor negotiate. The legislature sends bills to the governor, the governor may sign or veto them. If a balanced budget isn't reached before the scheduled end of the session, the governor normally will call a special session to allow more time to get the rest of the work done.

The legislature sent bills to the governor that were not totally balanced, but were closer to being in balance than the situation we're in now. Instead of continuing negotiations (as Anderson, Perpich, Quie, Carlson or Ventura would have done), Pawlenty signed the spending bill, line-item-vetoed parts of it, announced that he was going to veto the entire tax bill, going to use 'unallotment' to balance the budget himself without negotiating, and going to refuse to call a special session. He then sat on the tax bill and waited until the session was almost over to veto it, resulting in legislators trying to organize an override of the veto in the last hours of the session, but no Republicans would cross the aisle to vote for override.

Pawlenty refused to sign the tax bill because he's taken this "no new taxes" pledge that Republicans take as a matter of ideology. Among other things, the DFL bill included a new tax bracket on people who earn more than $250,000 (?) a year. I recall Margaret Anderson Kelliher telling reporters that it would cost wealthy families "the cost of a pizza per year", then someone came back and said it was more like an extra $114 per year, but whatever, it was too much for the Republicans. There were also extra taxes on alcohol and some other things. (Including a probably ill-conceived tax on Internet sales, IMHO, but that's ancient history at this point.)

Part of the problem was that the legislature had already sent the spending bill to Pawlenty, and he technically had already signed it, although he used line-item vetoes against chunks of it. Otherwise, the legislature could have withheld everything and forced a government shutdown, because there would have been no authority to spend any money at all.

Anyway, the legislature had sent bills to Pawlenty that were, off the top of my head, about $1 billion off, expecting to negotiate away the rest of the gap. Pawlenty refused to negotiate any further and vetoed the tax bill, blowing up the 'deficit' gap to more than twice the size it was in the DFL bills, and said that he'd "unallot" the rest.

The "unallotment" power was passed by the legislature back in the 1930s, intending to let the governor take emergency action later in the 2-year budget cycle if there were unforeseen circumstances. Pawlenty is doing someone that has never been done before, artificially creating the crisis and then in advance using this emergency unallotment power to push things back into balance.

There is an argument that this was not the intention of the legislature in creating the unallotment law in the 1930s, and according to the Minnesota constitution, the legislature is supposed to create the budget. The argument is that by usurping such power the governor is subverting the Minnesota state constitution and specifically violating the intent of the unallotment law. What I'm getting from following such arguments is that because nobody's done this before, there aren't any real legal precedents, so if you really want to know if it's illegal, it would have to be fought in court.

Again, the understood "rules of the game" over the last many decades was that Pawlenty was supposed to call a special session. He didn't, he acted in an unexpected and possibly illegal way, worsened the budget imbalance instead of working to fix it through negotiation, and unilaterally declared himself as the only person who would be making decisions as to how to close the gap.

Or, if you'd like a spicier, snarkier analogy, he set a budget "Reichstag fire" and used it as an excuse to use emergency powers.
posted by gimonca at 9:33 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


May I just offer a humble "Fuck You" to Pawlenty.

And no it is not just a 4% cut, it is a 4% cut that comes after additional cuts in other years. And Pawlenty has done jack-all to actually keep taxes low, he has done a wonderful job in keeping the State taxes low, which is what he'll crow about to the national GOP, as part of his 2 year slide to the Right in seeking higher office, but as to taxes-in-general Counties and Cities have had to raise their taxes to offset te State's abrogated responsibilities.

Pawlenty is playing hard ball, and refused to call a special session in order to negotiate with the DFL-ers after they put together a balanced budget that cut some spending and raised taxes (mainly on alcohol/tobacco items and the top 5% wage earners). This unallotment process is nothing but political hardball at the cost of those least able to bear it, and Pawlenty specifically engendered the situation he finds himself in. It does set up a dangerous precinct for the future for any Governor to go the same route.

So, Fuck Pawlenty, Fuck him right out of office the motherfucker.
posted by edgeways at 9:33 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Setting aside whether you agree with his ideology or not, the maneuver looks to have been quite a brilliant one. Strikes me as the sort of thing that really only works once, though.

I wonder if there'd be as much whining about the unfairness of it all, if it had been a Democrat governor cracking open the law books and using a long-ignored executive privilege to put one over on a Republican legislature. Somehow I don't think so. I think there'd be a whole lot of gloating.

At any rate, highly adversarial tactics generally seem to backfire on the party making use of them; Pawlenty seems to be tossing a grenade over his shoulder as he exits, presumably not just from the governorship but also from state politics in general. He gets points for style and good political theater, but he's leaving a hell of a mess for anyone who would try to be his successor.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:56 PM on June 16, 2009


Metafilter: This flies in the face of their Reagan-boners, but it's true.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:00 PM on June 16, 2009


Some of the other bits of background noise going on alongside this:

Last session around, the legislature wanted to pass an increase in the gasoline tax to pay for road construction and repairs. Given that we had recently had a whole interstate highway bridge over the river collapse into rubble, you'd think it might be a good idea. Pawlenty vetoed it ("no new taxes!"). The legislature actually overrode the veto; six Republicans crossed the aisle to pass the override.

Result: several of those six were denied Republican party endorsement in 2008 or faced challenges from inside the party and lost their seats. This time around, no Republicans crossed the aisle.

Another bit of background noise: there are Republicans in the legislature trying to push expanded state-sponsored gambling, notably a 'racino' proposal to expand gambling at the Canterbury Park horse track, as a way to get more revenue. Pawlenty himself seems to be opposed; if you'd like a positive spin on that, it's because he's standing on principle, if you'd like a negative spin, it's because he's allied with right-wing Christians who oppose 'sinful' gambling.

The rather obvious subtext to the 'racino'-type proposals, though, is that they would compete directly with reservation gaming, which is subject to a permanent compact between the State of Minnesota and the various Native tribes and not taxed. Regardless of the pros or cons of the 'racino' proposals, there's a "stick it to the Injuns" attitude among state house Republicans that I'd expect appeals to the Republican party base on a very, very lowbrow level.
posted by gimonca at 10:11 PM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there'd be as much whining about the unfairness of it all, if it had been a Democrat governor cracking open the law books and using a long-ignored executive privilege to put one over on a Republican legislature. Somehow I don't think so. I think there'd be a whole lot of gloating.

Presumably in the world in which the positions of the two parties involved were reversed, the (DFL) governor would be abusing the system to make sure an array of vital social programs received enough funding. He or she would be doing this because the (Republican-controlled) legislature refused to fund said programs.

Would it be unfair? Yes, in the sense that it would involve abusing the letter of the law and ignoring its spirit. That would be wrong.

But an additional sense in which Pawlenty's actions are unfair, where those of our imagined DFL governor would not be, is in the distribution of goods. I don't have a well developed philosophy on this point, but the reason I tend to vote for Democrats is that I have certain feelings about distributive justice. I believe it is important that all people have access to a certain minimum level of goods, regardless of their situation. Whether or not they contribute to the public good is irrelevant to whether they ought to receive part of it. Now, the imagined DFL governor would be acting fairly insofar as he/she is ensuring that each citizen has access to what have been deemed necessary care and services. By contrast, Pawlenty is closing off access to such care and services, and (I think) deserves an extra helping of scorn for doing so.
posted by voltairemodern at 10:42 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Alright, that's it!

My mother works in the state college system, and she's living on the margins because of some past financial trouble (no fault of her own, messy divorce). She has health problems, a crumbling house with a 60-year old furnace that works sometimes, and that state insurance is her lifeline. As it was mine, with my asthma, growing up.

This cuts straight to my family's LIFE. As in, bodily ability to continue breathing, walking, functioning, and stay warm. No. You don't do that. I don't know what I'm going to do from here, but I'm going to do...something.

Fuck you, you scumbag. Fuck you. I hope to god I'll see you in court.
posted by saysthis at 1:14 AM on June 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Does anyone want to see taxes at the level to cover present spending?

Does anyone have a plan to cut the spending?

Governor Pawlenty is doing his part to start lowering expectations.

(and somewhere along the line everyone is going to worse off as cheap oil goes away. The expectations are built on the back of ancient sunlight)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:56 AM on June 17, 2009


The "expectations" are built on a tax system that worked just freakin' fine, in fact, as was noted upthread, was called a miracle, up until Pawlenty sunk his nasty fangs in and shredded it like a wild dog tearing apart your favorite teddy bear.

And the "plan" was, y'know, the tax bill he vetoed and the special session he didn't call so he could play Ceaser with the budget.
posted by saysthis at 6:03 AM on June 17, 2009


How much does the Minnesota mess provide a glimpse of the cuts that California is going to have to make, now that hope for a Federal bailout is gone? Arnold is going to have to take out the knife and chop schools, roads, police, hospitals, etc., if there is no resolution.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:09 AM on June 17, 2009


I wonder if there'd be as much whining about the unfairness of it all, if it had been a Democrat governor cracking open the law books and using a long-ignored executive privilege to put one over on a Republican legislature. Somehow I don't think so. I think there'd be a whole lot of gloating.

What voltairemodern said. Further, for this to completely happen in the opposite, there would have to be an 'allotment' rule on the books, so I guess what I'm saying is that this is an incredibly bullshit argument that would NEVER happen.

Does anyone want to see taxes at the level to cover present spending?

I don't completely understand the idea that EVERYONE wants lower taxes. I don't. I want to be taxed to hell and back to pay for useful services that the state needs.
posted by graventy at 6:38 AM on June 17, 2009


Does anyone want to see taxes at the level to cover present spending?

...yes?

Wait, was that the wrong answer?
posted by enn at 6:46 AM on June 17, 2009


Is this something I could write to my senator about?

Oh wait, I live in Minnesota. I don't have a senator. Fucking hell.

The education cuts worry the hell out of me. Given that my wife and I both obtain our incomes from university jobs, neither of us are very happy right now. On a larger note, what kind of an imbecile cuts education funding?

Oh wait. Republicans. Because the poorly educated love to vote Republican... never understood why the people who were shafted the hardest by the Republicans were their strongest supporters.

And of course cutting education = reduction in persons trained to do skilled work = reduction in those available for high-paying jobs = reduction in future tax base in the state. Also, more poorly-educated persons = higher crime rate = greater need for increased police presence and jails = greater need to expand tax base to pay for the law enforcement increases. Wow, way to go, Mr. Governor, we fix the problem now by making it worse in the future. Thanks, asshole.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:13 AM on June 17, 2009


The "expectations" are built on a tax system that worked just freakin' fine,

Which is built on an economic system using a limited resource - cheap oil. Now, extracting 1 cubic mile of oil a year might seem like not limited, but oil is a limited resource.

Go ahead - take away the oil and see if the tax system works 'just fine'. See if the system works 'just fine' when the input to growth - energy - is shrinking.

This is just a 1st spasm in a de-energizing world.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:21 AM on June 17, 2009


It's too much power to give one person. Nevertheless, I wish something similar would happen in our state. The budget is a mess and the crooked pols continue to feather their own nests, fund their pet projects which benefit influential donors or constituent groups and essentially screw the rest of the state. For instance, a large percentage of the state budget gets allocated back to property owners as property tax rebates and to the cities as grants. You want accountability at the local level on taxes? Stop artificially masking the real effects with these rebates, make them raise taxes and face the public wrath.

Anyway, it is clear that Pawlenty is already campaigning for the nomination. This move will play well with conservatives, as will his refusal to seat Al Franken after he beats Norm Coleman in state supreme court. I am sure he is thinking, "To hell with VP, that boob McCain picked a bimbo instead of me for VP. If I want into the White House I am going to have to do it on my own."
posted by caddis at 7:24 AM on June 17, 2009


I want to be taxed to hell and back to pay for useful services that the state needs.

And what does 'the state' need? What is a 'useful' service?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:24 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was out of town when he was elected. Tell me again why he's governor? Because we hadn't punished ourselves enough with Jesse Ventura?

It actually is sort of Ventura's fault, especially Pawlenty's first election. After 98, there was always sort of a vestigial 3rd party hanging around, not powerful enough to win unless it was running a charismatic cult-of-personality type, but strong enough to siphon votes from the DFL. In 2002, Pawlenty was running basically against two DFL* candidates, Roger Moe and Tim Penny (Penny was officially either Reform or Independence, I can't remember what they were calling themselves back then; either way, it was Ventura's party). Penny sucked away enough support from Moe (it didn't help that Moe was a total stiff) for Pawlenty to pick up a plurality.

2006 was a little different- the Independence/Ventura Vestige dude (Hutchinson) only picked up 6% of the vote, but that's still significant, given that Pawlenty beat DFLer Mike Hatch by 1% (and still didn't break 50%). And even then, Hatch basically blew his own foot off by having a tantrum on tape right before the election, calling a reporter "a Republican whore."

So, basically, Pawlenty's never actually won a majority of votes, and both of his wins have come during unusual circumstances. It's true that every election has unique circumstances, and a win's a win, but it's really hard for me to see how the motherfucker thinks he has enough of a mandate to do a budget unilaterally. And it's also hard for me to understand how people pumping him up for a nationwide run think he's such an invulnerable star when the circumstances indicate luck and opportunism.

I'll say this for Sarah Palin: I loathe Tim Pawlenty, and a small, mean part of me loved the fact that it had to hurt him like hell when she got the VP slot over him.


*DFL= Democrats; in the 30s, the MN Democrats co-opted an insurgent Farmer-Labor party by adding their initials to the party name.
posted by COBRA! at 7:26 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is the complaint here that he cut spending? Or that he didn't raise taxes? Or that he is taking steps to balance the budget? Or that he didn't let the 'negotiations' drag out longer?

Honest questions. I'm not sure what everyone is upset about. Nobody likes to see benefits cut, but jeeze, don't these things need to be paid for?
posted by eas98 at 7:36 AM on June 17, 2009


Is the complaint here that he cut spending? Or that he didn't raise taxes? Or that he is taking steps to balance the budget? Or that he didn't let the 'negotiations' drag out longer?

The complaint is that he arrogated all of the budget-balancing decisions to himself, cutting the legislature out. In his position, with the session clock running down and no deal, he should have called a special session.
posted by COBRA! at 7:39 AM on June 17, 2009


> never understood why the people who were shafted the hardest by the Republicans were their strongest supporters.

What's The Matter With Kansas?
Deer Hunting With Jesus
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:51 AM on June 17, 2009


<off-topic>
I am consistently amazed at the apparent naiveté of the – what appears to be – overwhelming liberal majority of mefites (at least who respond to political threads) in thinking that the Democratic party is not just as evil/stupid/corrupt/personal-agenda-based/driven as the GOP. Especially amazed considering how above average, good looking, and strong they all are (well, at least the Minnesota contingent).

IMO: Both parties need a good kick in the head. Perhaps, two.
</off-topic>

To keep some thread-continuity, political stunts like this need to be met head on by the other entities that keep the balance of power in check. This goes for all states, but absolutely in this case. I do appreciate @gimonca’s insights as to why that is impossible in the short term, tho, and for the background info.

I say we start a national campaign to flood Pawlenty’s office with a few thousand cases of lutefisk.
posted by hrbrmstr at 9:19 AM on June 17, 2009


And what does 'the state' need? What is a 'useful' service?

Well, those sorts of question are usually answered by the legislature, but I guess now we just let the Dictator of Minnesota decide.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:07 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Regarding the cheap oil/"This is just a 1st spasm in a de-energizing world": some truthiness.

As for what's going down in Minnesota, d-oh. When one-note no-tax idjits are elected to power, WTF else can possibly happen? Yet time and again, voters vote with short-term, selfish thinking. It's like they want to be punished for their stupidity.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you can give us an example of the bipartisanship shortfalls you mention, hrbrmstr. I haven't seen anyone in the thread proclaiming that the DFL is Christ reborn.
posted by graventy at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2009


The legislature couldn't find a way to cut a measly 4% of the budget?

Isn't it amazing that when you're talking about cutting the budget it's "only" 4%, but if you talk about raising taxes it's "OMG-the-sky-will-fall" 4%. Kinda makes you go "Hmmmm..."
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:31 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Regarding the cheap oil/'This is just a 1st spasm in a de-energizing world': some truthiness."

Uh, this is long on guessing and short on facts. The spike in oil prices last year was due almost entirely to speculation. The hot money left the housing market and plunged into oil. Commodity prices plunged when the economy did, but also because the dollar became stronger for a while (compared to a basket of currencies). When the dollar goes up, oil goes down, and vice-versa. A lot of the increases in oil prices lately have been due to the drop in the dollar index, plus there is increased speculation in commodities due to signs of recovery (commodities typically recover first), though not as much as last summer.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:10 PM on June 17, 2009


<off-topic>@graventy Perhaps no deity-affining speech about DFL but "God Offal Party", "By 2012, what's left of the GOP will not stomach nominating someone with a college education" and "Republicans. Because the poorly educated love to vote Republican" comments are met with silence and are representative examples of much of the "substance" of these "debates" (at times).

I am very thankful for the likes of @COBRA!, @voltairemodern, @Kadin2048 & @gimonca who provide excellent information and well-crafted posts (even though I may disagree with some points). Name-calling on either side is never warranted and does little to foster a decent dialogue, unlike this post in the thread which acknowledges the "wrongness" of the mechanism used (regardless of which side would have perpetrated it using the tactics Pawlenty did) and articulately communicates the poster's point of view without mocking any other person or group.</off-topic>
posted by hrbrmstr at 12:21 PM on June 17, 2009


l33tpolicywonk: Why is it that private sector employers have had to cut, but the public sector has not?

Because when the economy goes into the shitter, there is MORE demand for public services. You have the equation exactly backwards. Note, for example, the increase in university enrollment this year, and try to reconcile that with the nationwide cuts in education funding.

You should be asking, "Why the hell didn't we cut and save when the economy was roaring so that the public sector was prepared to expand in the inevitable downturn?"

But that will never, ever happen, because it would take education and foresight on the part of both voters and politicians.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2009


Okay, but we've already discussed the problem of voltairemodern's post a bit above. We know what Pawlenty did was wrong, but it's foolish to try to claim his party affiliation had nothing to do with it.

If his party was innocent in this matter, they wouldn't be strong-arming legislator votes and grooming him for a presidential run.

Here's the deal: make a post about the DFL doing something equally stupid, and then maybe we'll get anti-DFL comments. Don't assume that everyone is slogging one party because we worship the other.
posted by graventy at 12:36 PM on June 17, 2009


I am very thankful for the likes of @COBRA!, @voltairemodern, @Kadin2048 & @gimonca

methinks someone tweets too much
posted by caddis at 12:38 PM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Uh, this is long on guessing and short on facts.

Indeed, krinklyfig. That is why I described it as "truthiness" and not "truth." And you seem to be hung up on a mainly irrelevant bit of that presentation. Why oil shot up in price doesn't really matter. Fact is, as oil becomes scarce, it will again skyrocket; and as oil becomes scarce, we're going to be screwed blue and tattooed.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:25 PM on June 17, 2009


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