A telephone help line service for the elderly will not be ringing today in Minnesota.
Blind residents reliant on state funding for reading services will remain in the dark for as long as the government’s lights are turned off. Poor families who receive subsidies for childcare are on their own. The St. Louis Park Emergency Program’s food shelf will have bare pickings for those who depend on the program for sustenance. The Community
Action Center of Northfield will likely be forced to close down its homeless shelter without the state funding upon which it relies to house the homeless.
And yes, 23,000 state workers will be trying to figure out how to care for their families without a paycheck for the duration along with an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 construction workers who will be laid off as the state shuts down dozens of road and highway projects.
These are but a few of the consequences of the shutdown of Minnesota’s government.
At issue is how to close a $5 billion deficit in the state left by the previous Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, had tried to bargain his way toward an agreement by offering up massive cuts in state services. In return, he asked the Republicans to agree to a tax increase for the wealthier citizens of the state to make up the remainder of the funding required to close most of the gap in the budget.
But the Republicans held firm on taxes – even when Dayton made his final offer that would have placed an additional 3% tax on only those Minnesotans earning over $1 million a year, a burden that would have been placed on just .03% of all Minnesotans.
It’s not so much that the state’s GOP leaders had a violent, allergic reaction to those earning seven figures a year having to pay a few percentage points more in taxes. What appears to have ended negotiations were the
Republican demands that Governor Dayton agree to their social agenda issues, including Voter ID legislation and abortion restrictions, as the price for the Republicans allowing the very wealthy to pay a little more.
When the Governor refused to swallow the notion that the conservative social agenda should be used as a tool to resolve budgetary issues, the talks broke down and the lights at the statehouse were turned off.
So, you might wonder, how did the Minnesota GOP suggest that the gap in the finances be met even as they seemed to realize that there was little left for the Governor to offer on the cutting side of the ledger?
You won’t believe it.
The Republicans actually proposed creating more debt to close the gap.
The GOP proposed delaying another $700 million in payments owed to schools, which would add to the more than $1 billion the state already owes K-12 schools.
Republicans also offered to issue “tobacco bonds” of an unspecified amount to cover any remaining budget gap. Sources said Dayton considered the offer, but he criticized it as unwise borrowing late Thursday. Via The Star Tribune
I guess a Republican has to do what a Republican has to do when it comes to protecting the wealthiest in the state from paying a higher tax rate- even if it means creating more debt despite a GOP platform that, allegedly, abhors debt.
If you find the lessons of Minnesota disturbing, get used to it.
What you are seeing is simply the national debate playing out on a smaller stage. I suppose this is what Republicans mean when they suggest using the states as laboratories for what will and won’t work on the national level.
You can bet that every political player on the national stage will be watching to see how the Minnesota public reacts to their situation along with which party gets the lion’s share of the blame for bringing this blight upon their land.
If Governor Dayton caves and simply accepts the GOP budget, we can expect that our Congressional Republicans would take great heart in such an occurrence and be emboldened to stick with the plan.
If the GOP legislators begin to fear that their jobs may be in jeopardy as punishment for shutting down the state in order to protect a little more than 7,000 Minnesotans earning at least a million bucks a year, that too will be noticed.
Watch the polls in Minnesota over the next week or two. They may tell you everything you need to know about what is likely to happen as we move towards resolving the debt ceiling debate.
By: Rick Ungar, The Policy Page, Forbes, Junly 1, 2011
On the morning of July 3, 1776, John Adams, delegate to the Second Continental Congress from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, wrote his wife Abigail:
Yesterday the greatest question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony ‘that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all the other acts and things which other states may rightfully do.’ You will see in a few days a declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of confederation will be taken up in a few days.
When I look back to the year of 1761 and recollect the argument concerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which I have hitherto considered as the commencement of the controversy between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole period from that time to this, and recollect the series of political events, the chain of causes and effects, I am surprised at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. Britain has been fill’d with Folly and America with Wisdom, at least this is my Judgment.
Time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distressing yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices and an augmentation of our virtues or they will be no blessings.
The people will have unbounded power. And the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. I am not without apprehensions from this quarter, but I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.
In the evening, he sent a second letter, in which he wrote:
The second day of July, 1776, will be memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great Anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever.
You will think me transported with enthusiasm; but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph, although you and I may rue, which I hope we shall not.
Happy Birthday America.
By: Peter Roff, U. S. News and World Report, July 3, 2011