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Cow flops along campaign trail (05/04/2008)
By John Edstrom

Minnesota's bridge that fell down continues to pop up along the campaign trail. At a news conference on Wednesday, presidential hopeful John McCain opined that there had been plenty of money to fix the I-35W span, but it was spent on "wasteful, unnecessary pork barrel projects." He was half right in regard to the absurd fortune spent on light rail in Minneapolis, but wrong in suggesting the bridge came down for lack of money to spend on it. It is precisely this shabby canard that the Minnesota DFL loosed to provide cover for the huge new tax increase that they rammed through, the nasty piggies. (Remember this well when the 8 cents a gallon tax increase hits the pumps.) Nevertheless, they were shameless enough to excoriate McCain for "disgusting comments" and "politicization of the issue."

Our Governor Pawlenty, friendly fire whistling past his ears, had to issue a reminder that the bridge came down because of a catastrophic design blunder which specced half-sized gussets to anchor key joints in a fracture critical bridge -"Hold your fire big guy, some of those rounds are falling short!" Meanwhile, reports have it that Barack Obama has also been using the example of the bridge collapse to warn voters what they can expect should they resist paying more taxes.

And this brings us to a related issue here in Minnesota politics, the cow flop along the trail that Senate candidate Al Franken has stepped into regarding a lamentable failure to pay his taxes. The cowflop proved to conceal a board with a rusty nail in it, and Al's troubles have multiplied, to the point where the urban newspapers had to put them on the front pages Wednesday, albeit, in the case of the Minneapolis Tribune, under the kissy-face headline, "Franken admits big tax errors." A similarly friendly editor might have topped the article on Larry Craig's difficulties with, "Idaho Senator wrongfully entrapped while whizzing innocently."

Al claims he paid the taxes, but to the wrong governments. He hopes that Minnesotans will think, "Oh, I see the Frankens paid state and federal taxes on all their income and they tried to comply." (Al used to be a a simple TV comic.) Apparently not enough, for he now acknowledges a debt to seventeen states in back taxes and penalties totalling $70,000. He will not release his income tax returns, by the way. Senator Coleman released a statement sprinkled with such words as "troubled" and "troubling."

Buried deeper in the article are further troubling details. Franken failed to pay workers comp and disability taxes on New York employees from 2002 to 2005, which state officials there tried to collect for four years, finally filing a summary judgement against him in the state Supreme Court. Al was unaware of all this, he says.

When news of problems in California cropped up his campaign staff produced an unsigned letter on blank paper dated 2003 claiming he would "no longer be doing business in California." It now turns out that he owes that state $4,740 for failing to file there from 2003 to 2007.

It looks like Mr. Franken has made big errors in bunches, and news of a lot more will probably trickle out in the days and months ahead. He says, "Franni and I believe in paying state and federal taxes on all our income." It is certain that paying lots of taxes is a core belief of Franken's as well as other members of his party who worship at the altar of Big Government. Getting caught cheating on those taxes, then, is morally equivalent to a family values Republican nabbed trolling the public bathrooms for toilet sex. If he can weasle out of this, Al deserves a seat in the U.S. Senate.



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