Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Spotty channels TPaw . . .

From the July 20th StarTribune op-ed page:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty met with members of the Star Tribune editorial department on Monday to discuss the legislative session just passed and the unresolved issues it left behind. Here are excerpts of their conversation:

Q What have you learned about dealing with a divided Legislature that might assure Minnesotans that they won't again witness gridlock and a government shutdown on your watch?

A It can't happen again. The state went into uncharted territory with this partial government shutdown. It should not have happened, and should never happen again.

We tried hard this year to reach out to both sides of the aisle, but in a polarized environment, you have to adjust your expectations to reflect the reality of who's there and how far they can go in compromising. We set the bar really high on some things, and frankly, the Democrats did the same thing. We take our share of the blame for that.

We have 101 Democrats and 100 Republicans in a highly polarized political environment. Until that gets nudged one way or another, it's unrealistic for either side to think they are going to have world-changing reform.
[Jesus, Timmy, did you just say that? I must be crazy! Of course it can happen again, probably will happen again. Exactly the same people will be back next year, including me, posturing for the 2006 election. Well, these schlubs seem to be buying it; no follow up so far.]
Q You've set two budgets now as governor. Do you still believe that Minnesota is overspending?

A Given what we've been through [the 2003 revenue shortfall], the budget we just passed is appropriate.

We are going to remain a high government services state. That is who we are. The question that presents itself is, are we sufficiently prepared for the future? Is the 1970s model still appropriate for 20 years from now?

When demographics are changing, markets are changing, technology is changing, world economies are changing, it would be folly to say we're going to stay the same. That doesn't mean we're going to become South Dakota. But are we going to increase taxes $1.4 billion more, and plow money into various government programs, and call that the Minnesota model for the future? I don't think so.
[If Grover Norquist or Davey Strom read this, I am so dead.]
Q Are you arguing that it is necessary for the tax structure in Minnesota to be more regressive than it was in the 1990s in order for the state to prosper?

A It's not fair to say it's our policy to make the tax code more regressive. Look at the activities that are going to fuel future economic growth. I'm setting aside workforce development and education here. Clearly, incentivizing research and development [is important.] Having this be a place where people make capital investments and capital gains and are not punished for it [with taxes.] Marginal tax rates on both individual income and corporations are a cost consideration. As you don't make those things worse and try to make them better over time, it does disproportionately provide tax relief to upper-income wage earners.

Q What do you say to middle-income earners who now are paying a greater proportion of their income in state and local taxes than do the wealthy?

A If you are successful in growing the economy, then the proceeds of that can be deployed in programs that presumably will help lower- and middle-income people disproportionately.

Let's say you lower capital gains and marginal income tax rates and corporate income tax rates. In the interim it lessens burdens on high-income earners, but the net effect is to stimulate economic growth. You use that money for tuition assistance for disadvantaged families, or early childhood programs.
What is regressive again? Boy, I'm really glad I skimmed that rich people's feel-good classic Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand again last night. Those last couple of questions would have been tough without it. I suppose I could have also said that I don't want to tax success, but then some wise guy would have said "What do you want to tax, failure?"
Q The budget you just signed took $60 million more away from child care support, after $90 million in cuts in 2003. Does that serve Minnesota well?

A I don't think cutting child care is ideal, or that that's the direction we want to go indefinitely. There are budget realities. What we've said in this area is, while we recognize its value, we want to make sure we can pay for what we have now before we add new things. There's also a lot going on in child care that is not of high quality.
[While it may not be ideal, cutting child care is a helluva lot better than asking Bill Cooper and Brian Sullivan to pony up a little more in income taxes. Those SOBs are mean.]
Q If you had to do it over, would you take the "no new taxes' pledge?

A I would, in this regard: It's not about the piece of paper. It's what the pledge represents in a governing philosophy. In a highly taxed state, with revenues growing pretty well, should we, or do we need to be, talking about raising taxes? I would say no. That doesn't need to be a pledge on a piece of paper, but it does represent a policy perspective that I think is appropriate.

[For the future,] what I've said across the board is, I'm not signing anybody's pledge. I think I've proven my mettle on taxes. I've been around long enough that you can see my record. I don't need to be signing pledges.
[One self-administered political lobotomy is enough.]
Q Republican campaign strategists say they would like the gay-marriage issue front and center throughout 2006. Is that good for Minnesota?

A The idea of preserving marriage as between a man and woman is an important value. It's a relationship cornerstone for our society. We are already on record as being against gay marriage. We have a statute that says that.
[Good non-answer, Timmy. These people are pussy cats.]
Q Are you open to allowing civil unions between same-sex couples?

A There should be room for consideration of how you jointly own property, how do you pass it along intergenerationally, how do you deal with hospital visitation rights. Some contractual relationship between same-sex partners is worth exploring. But people who say, "Let's make it equivalent to marriage and we'll just call it something else" -- I don't support that.
[Michele Bachmann and Katherine Kersten are gonna claw my eyes out for that one!]

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