A June 9 story on Minnesota Public Radio compared the different approaches the three DFL candidates for governor would take to balancing the state budget and erasing our approximately $6 billion deficit. Mark Dayton takes a Huey Long, soak-the-rich approach to the problem, bragging that he is the only DFL candidate with the stones to raise $5 billion through tax increases on rich people. He wants to add three new, higher income tax brackets, starting with couples making $150,000, and another property tax bracket also.
He would also collar those slackers who avoid Minnesota taxes by living elsewhere for six months and a day. ďI know where that money is. I know who has it. And I will get it if Iím your governor,Ē he declares with a thuggish gusto. Finding cuts and transfers for the remaining $1 billion deficit will be hard enough, he declares. Of course, if your approach to politics is buying votes from some people with other peopleís money, that will likely be your attitude.
Margaret Kelliherís running mate, John Gunyou, calculates that Daytonís plan will more than double state taxes on anyone making more than $75,000. He might also have pointed out that Minnesotaís income tax rates are already among the highest in the nation, the reason that so many people are choosing to spend six months and a day away from our fair state. And, that Daytonís election might well be motivation for them to leave entirely, while simultaneously discouraging others from starting businesses in Minnesota and thus putting themselves within the reach of such a grasping pol.
But it is easy to make a character like Dayton a figure of fun, fitting so perfectly, as he does, into the long tradition of looney lefty senators from Minnesota, now quite ably represented by Al Franken. Candidate Margaret Kelliherís approach is less wild-eyed. She deems it reasonable to cut one-third of the deficit by tax increases, but also thinks that those making $250,000 or more are not paying their fair share and, apparently, lack the mobility to leave.
The third gubernatorial candidate, Matt Entenza, wants also to take a balanced approach to the situation, with a combination of spending cuts and new taxes. He also would whack those stingy denizens of the $250,000 and over bracket with a big bump and would like the state to get a cut of Internet business in the form of a sales tax. He thinks Daytonís steep tax increases represent one extreme, while Tom Emmer, the GOP candidate, represents the other with his plan to eliminate the deficit with spending cuts alone.
But if it is reasonable to solve the budgetary problems of every recession with tax hikes, more or less, then sooner (Dayton) or later (Kelliher and Entenza) the state will arrive at a tipping point where there are not enough taxpayers to fund the government. Liberal thought does not seem capable of grasping the concept that it is private enterprise that pays for government, not vice versa, but it is so. Government does indeed create jobs, but it does not pay the salaries; that responsibility falls to the private sector, and the less capital left in those hands, the less they are able to create real jobs which generate real wealth.
The debt and crushing tax burden currently being generated by our governments, both state and national, make it more and more difficult for private enterprise to operate and provide jobs. That is why unemployment still pushes 10% despite the near trillion dollar stimulus package that was supposed to hold it under eight. Government can indeed finally run out of other peopleís money to spend, and when it does, chaos is the result. It is happening right now in Europe, and we do not know how much of, not if, that chaos will spread here.
In the meantime, we were treated to the news Friday that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has declared, in a stunning, giant step down the road to human perfection, that Ladiesí Night at your local tavern is illegal gender discrimination. What do you suppose it costs the taxpayers of this beacon-of-justice state to employ all of these wise people to hand down such diktats?
And does anyone really think that Minnesotaís budget canít be balanced with spending cuts alone?