On June 26, the Pioneer Press published an editorial criticizing Gov. Dayton, saying that said a state government shutdown wasn’t needed:
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has attempted to position himself as interested in compromise. Though both sides have compromised, the governor seems to have had the better of the “I compromised and they didn’t” spin.
But it’s not that simple. Rather than work out differences and sign off on large portions of the budget on which agreement is within reach, Dayton has as of this writing refused to get deals done and preserve operations in those parts of government. This is not compromise. This is hostage taking.
The governor is threatening to unnecessarily shut down portions of government to have his way on other, more contentious budget matters. We understand his desire to bring the greatest possible pressure to bear on the Legislature in support of his promise to raise taxes on higher incomes. Politics ain’t beanbag. But the unnecessary infliction of pain is not consistent with an attitude of compromise.
The following weekend, they published this editorial:
Let’s be clear. The Legislature passed a complete budget and sent it to the governor. He vetoed it. Meanwhile, the governor has yet to put forward a full budget himself. Instead, he put forward a set of numbers without the details to back them up.
One thing the governor is very clear about, though, is taxing the rich. Please don’t misunderstand. We are not all that particular about taxing the rich. They won’t go hungry and they can go somewhere else if they don’t like it.
Problem is, taxing the rich is a Band-aid, not a solution. We already have one of the higher state income taxes in the nation, so clearly high income taxes don’t produce balanced budgets.
And if you think even higher income taxes in an already high tax state are the answer, take a look at how things are going in New York, California and New Jersey. Those states have even higher income taxes than we do and still have all the same budget problems, if not worse.
It would be much easier to get behind the soak-the-rich agenda if were working for other states, but it’s not. Or if the governor had a budget of his own and would explain to us how this approach will work not only in the upcoming biennium but in the one that follows and that one that follows that.
What’s the plan? Tax the rich, then tax the rich again, then tax the rich again?
Those editorials are pretty harsh medicine for the DFL. They’re making their position pretty much indefensible. If the Pioneer Press didn’t run another editorial on the subject, nobody would think that they agree with Gov. Dayton and the DFL. Instead of staying silent, though, they published this editorial. The editorial is pretty scathing in its own right. Check this out:
Gov. Mark Dayton is focused on the very tax category that is already projected to be up 17 percent to the prior biennium. According to MMB, nearly two-thirds of this increase is due to capital-gains increases based on the “extension of the special 15 percent federal tax rate on capital gains.” Which means the “rich” – the folks who tend to pay capital gains taxes – are paying significantly more in income taxes as a result of their capital gains tax rate remaining low. The obvious irony being that the rich are paying more because their tax rate stayed low, which is the exact opposite of the Dayton approach.
That information won’t make Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s jobs easier. In fact, it’s more likely to make it more of an uphill fight than it was a week ago. The bad news for Gov. Dayton and the DFL is that that isn’t the harshest criticism in the editorial. This is alot harsher:
With spending ratcheting up significantly faster than inflation, it’s hard not to sympathize with the “it’s a spending problem” line of reasoning. It may be possible to make it through one biennium’s unsustainable spending growth with a tax on millionaires, but in future years we may run out of millionaires before we run out of things to spend money on. At which point we will be back to tax the so-called “wealthy,” who make $130,000 and may or may not have any wealth to speak of. Wealth and income being very different things.
OUCH. If this continues, the DFL will be in a difficult political position. This isn’t the reaction that the DFL was expecting when Gov. Dayton unilaterally shut government down. They were expecting that the Potted Plant Media to protect them from reality.
Instead, the Pioneer Press is pounding on Gov. Dayton on a host of fronts, ranging from accusing Gov. Dayton of shutting state government down unnecessarily to criticizing Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s tax-the-rich scheme as “a Band-Aid” to now saying that Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s spending is unsustainable and their tax-the-rich scheme as bad policy.
If Gov. Dayton wants to keep government shut down because he isn’t willing to move away from terrible economic policy, then his intransigence will hurt his party in 2012. The unions think that cutting the state workforce by 15% isn’t popular with the folks. They’re wrong. They want spending cut or frozen. The unions are trying to villainize Keith Downey and King Banaian. They’re villainizing Rep. Downey for proposing a 15% reduction of the state’s workforce by 2015. They’re villainizing Rep. Banaian for his Sunset Commission legislation.
The Pioneer Press is siding with the GOP because their ideas merit serious consideration. That doesn’t say much for Gov. Dayton’s, and the DFL’s, agenda.