seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Plenty of Pawlenty

Minnesota's Governor has announced he is not running for reelection. No real surprise there - political observers announced as much when Pawlenty announced his budget plan 6 months ago. They noted he was deferring and enlarging the problem, and would probably explode in a few years.

Here we have a governor who pledged not to raise taxes. A few years ago, he did raise taxes on cigarettes but he labeled it "a fee," so it didn't count. Nevermind that the gas tax is literally a fee that we pay to maintain the roads, he decided that could not be raised (fortunately, the Legislature overrode him - generating desperately needed revenue for our infrastructure).

Pawlenty even had my support a few short years ago. I don't know that I would have voted for him in most circumstances, but I praised him for not being a standard Republi-ostrich on global climate change. The times have changed - he has swung massively to the right on energy. Turns out he was all rhetoric and no action ... after groups he put together recommended actions to deal with climate change, he refused to implement nearly all of them.

He is the darling of the right-wing and entirely too many centrists because of his stand against raising taxes. Nevermind that we are talking about going back to the tax level from a few short years ago - when we apparently lived in a socialist country if you listen to the pundits. In a stronger economy, we cut taxes too far (particularly for the wealthiest). Now we have too little revenue for the government services passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.

This is the dirty little secret of Pawlenty - while he refuses to raise taxes, he also does not veto spending bills (unless there is a provision that would do something horrific like allow gay people equal rights or allow dying people to smoke a joint out of medical necessity). Like so many other Republicans, he cannot identify the wasteful or unnecessary government spending programs that we should eliminate to live within our means. As the Republicans have done since Reagan, he chooses to borrow and spend rather than ask the richest amongst us to give some more back to the society that allowed them to succeed.

I have a pretty good life - something that would not have been possible without all the great infrastructure that surrounds us and allows our markets to produce so many great goods. I have a good education because generations before me paid their taxes. I have no problem paying my share to ensure that future generations will have similar opportunities. Heck, I don't even mind that the urban area in which I live pays taxes that go out and build roads throughout the rural areas of the state (that could not afford to build their own because the tax base is too small).

But people like Pawlenty thrive by convincing millions that taxes are unfair and no one should have to pay anything to the government because big city liberals want to give your money to lesbians so they can get married and have abortions together.

I now find Pawlenty revolting. Not so much because of who he is, but because of the people who love him. Just as so many (even in the end!) could not see through the fraud of Bush, many of my fellow Minnesotans will love Pawlenty and never understand how his irresponsible brand of let-the-grandkids-pay-for-it-because-I-have-greater-ambitions-than-Minnesota has hurt our great state.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that I half want to see him do well in the Republican party because I am more afraid of the "Christian" fundamentalists that have been dominating that party even as the rest of American increasingly becomes rightfully skeptical of turning our republic into a theocracy. But I also want to see him fail because I'm afraid of what his brand of fiscal irresponsibility would do to our country -- as with Clinton, we need a few more years of healing the economy before we let Republicans in charge of it again.

Steve Perry published a "http://www.politicsinminnesota.com/2009/jun04/3275/pawlenty-he-got-out-while-getting-was-still-good">good roundup of Pawlenty's record on Politics in Minnesota. He finishes with a sad prediction:

Pawlenty saw it coming and knew it was his last chance to get out with high approval marks. There are still 19 difficult months to go, but he'll enhance his margin of error by backloading his unallotment cuts to year two of the upcoming biennium, which means the worst of them won't start hitting the fan until he's got only 6-8 months left in office. That's a riskier fiscal approach than frontloading the cuts, because it would only exacerbate the impact of any additional revenue shortfalls in year two of the biennium. But there's no question it's what's best for Tim Pawlenty.