For Those Tired Of That “Smoke Up Their Skirt” Feeling.

Daytonomics - a noun, referring to economic conditions that look rosy on the surface, but worse and worse the more one examines them.  See also: “Potemkin”.  

The DFL is running the bulk of their state campaigns – the Legislature, the Constitutional Officers and Governor – on the notion that two years of Daytonomics have left Minnesota an economic powerhouse.

Like squatters who move into an “Architectural Digest” house, there’s still some zing in the state’s economic elevator pitch – leftovers from ten years of at least partial GOP stewardship.

But under the surface?

There are three signs that the various editorial boards are doing their level best to avoid, or at the most downplay:

  • State revenue keeps falling short of projections.  It’s lagging because personal income tax withholding is slowing down.  They’re slowing down because personal income in Minnesota is not keeping pace with expectations as of the last budget session.  The fact that it means we’re heading for another deficit is the least of the issues; the economy isn’t that damn good.
  • Along those same lines?  The Minnesota Zoo is laying people off. Costs are up – thanks, Barack Obama! – but attendance is also down.  4.5%.  The Zoo – especially the Minnesota Zoo, which is a pretty spendy day out for a family – is something people do when they’re feeling flush, and feel like showing the kids a good time.  You’ll note that attendance at the Como Zoo – which is free, unless you’re a Saint Paul taxpayer – isn’t hurting.
  • Oh, yeah – after a year or so of bragging about Minnesota in comparison to Scott Walker’s Wisconsin that Minnesota is dead last in new job creation in the Midwest.

Wanna see the interesting part of this last story?  Look in the graph comparing the states in the Midwest.  Check out the historical job numbers:

  • 10 years ago, when Tim Pawlenty and a GOP House ran the show?   Booming economic growth.
  • Five years ago, when Tim Pawlenty at least held the line on DFL spending?   At the depths of the Great Recession, no less?  We were among the region’s leaders!
  • Two years ago, at the end of the GOP’s control of the Legislature?   Still good.

Today?

Dead last.

Dead.  Last.

Last.  Dead.

This is Mark Dayton’s economy.

Throwback Thursday

Governor Dayton says “the buck stops” with him in re MNSure:

— Gov. Mark Dayton [said] that he ultimately feels responsible for the success or failure of [MNSure].

Dayton apologized for problems Minnesotans are having on the state’s health care exchange. The governor is promising to fix multiple website problems, as soon as possible.

“I apologize to those Minnesotans who have been seriously inconvenienced or are distraught by the failures of MNsure. It’s unacceptable,” Dayton said Thursday.“Did I cause? I don’t think I caused the problems at MNsure and I did everything I could to prevent them,” he said. “Ultimately the buck stops here.”

Oh, yeah – you read that right; the story came out last December

Before MNSure’s current woes – the cratering of the code, and Preferred One’s bailing out of the whole debacle. 

So – when Governor Dayton says “the buck stops here”, does he mean it like he did…:

  • during the Vikings Stadium fiasco, where he committed the state’s taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars, then told the Legislature to “deal with it”, a la Michael Scott?
  • during the Minimum Wage fiasco, when signed a deeply flawed bill, and then publicly wavered a few months later when his spawn told him they were having trouble making ends meet at their posh Minneapolis restaurant?
  • during the last Budget session, when he served as an untrained mouthpiece for the public employee unions that put him in power?

Because none of those, nor his behavior in re MNSure, involve actually stopping any bucks.

All That DFL Happy Talk About The Economy…

is baked wind.

 Minnesota lost 4,200 jobs in July, and is adding them at an anemic pace year-to-date:

State officials said Thursday that Minnesota employers shed a seasonally adjusted 4,200 jobs in July. Meanwhile, they also revised June’s numbers downward by 3,600 jobs.

That means that, year-to-date, Minnesota has added a meager 2,900 jobs, or about 400 per month, on an adjusted basis.

During July, the education and health services sector lost 5,300 jobs. Information shed 1,000; construction, 700; financial activities, 200; and government, 100.

The sectors that added jobs: trade, transportation, and utilities (up 1,600); manufacturing (700); leisure and hospitality (600); and other services (200). Logging and mining, and professional and business services held steady.

Look for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s lie machine to fabricate a lot of phony economic happytalk in the next ten weeks; as we discussed earlier, they’re off to a running start.

No – a lot.

Solution!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The legislature raised the minimum wage law.  Now the Governor says it may need to be fine-tuned.  Why the change of heart?

His sons own restaurants.  The minimum wage increase will hurt their business.  He should take a page from President Obama and issue an Executive Order exempting favored businesses from the law. 

Joe Doakes

It would at least be honest…

It’s The Minnesota Way!

So you want to effect some change in Minnesota politics?  Perhaps right a wrong that you see?

What’s the best way to do it?

Spend years mustering supporters and changing public opinion?  Like the Tea Party?

Or sit in tents out on the sidewalk, warmed only by relentless NPR coverage, like “Occupy?”

Nonsense.  Just have a plutocrat father who had his office bought for him by your stepmom!

During an interview with the Post-Bulletin’s Editorial Board last week, Dayton said his sons Andrew and Eric Dayton have been making the case that tipped employees should be treated differently. His sons own the Minneapolis restaurant “The Bachelor Farmer.”

“It may be that we have to fine tune it. I understand my sons’ frustration with the tip credit issue. They make a very articulate case,” he said.

During the legislative session, the Minnesota Restaurant Association had pushed hard for a tiered tipped employee system. Under that proposal, an employee whose wages and tips equaled at least $12 per hour would be paid at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Dayton said his sons have said that the minimum wage increase means their wait staff will be making significantly more per hour than the dishwashers and other staff.

Wait…

…I seem to remember a governor’s race four years ago.  Where a candidate suggested exactly that.  And was pelted with pennies, to the gleeful tittering of the local media and left (ptr).

So the next time you’re a liberal dilettante and you find your hobby restaurant is being financially stressed by the DFL legislature’s innumerate noodling in the labor markets, just make sure an assembly of oligarchic plutocrats gets Dadders elected!

Problem solved!

SUPPLEMENTAL QUESTION:  By my count, this is the third or fourth law that Governor Messinger Dayton had to sign to know what it’d do.

Blowing In The Wind

Winston Churchill once said “I’d rather be right than consistent”.  I’ve always agreed with this; I don’t personally care if I – or someone else – changes their mind on an issue, as long as the mind gets changed in the right direction. 

Turns out Governor Messinger Mark Dayton knows that quote too.

Of course, as MPR’s Tom Scheck notes, if you simultaneously take every position on an issue – say, medical marijuana - you can be right no matter what. 

Right?

Here’s a sampling of what he’s said since January.

Sponsor

• “I told law enforcement groups when I ran for office four years ago that I would not support medical marijuana over their strident opposition, and they are still stridently opposed.” — TPT Almanac, Jan. 31

• “I’m told by law enforcement that you can buy marijuana in any city in Minnesota. We have the distribution system already set up. It’s extra legal. It’s basically not a crime, excuse me a very minor crime, for people who possess an amount for personal use.” — conference call with reporters, March 13.

• “The real goal is to help as many of these kids as possible. The experiment is part of the framework of it but our real goal is to help people and to relieve suffering and pain.” — news conference, March 21.

• “Absent the interests of the authors in accepting something that can be supported more broadly, I don’t think there’s anywhere to go this session.” — MPR News interview, March 25.

• “I’ve said all I’m going to say about medical marijuana. You had statements. You asked questions. I’ll give you another statement. I’m just not going to discuss it further.” — news conference, March 28.

And as Scheck notes, it’s far from the first time Dayton has tired to play all sides of a fractious issue; Taxes, Zygi WIlf’s real-estate improvement handout…the list goes on. 

My thesis – Dayton is going to bounce around like a blind overcaffeinated ferret in a daycare playroom on any issue where Alita Messinger and Carrie Lucking haven’t affirmatively told him what to think.

Governor Choom Nasty

First, Governor Messinger Dayton says he won’t back a medical marijuana bill that doesn’t have the support of law enforcement – which is a little like saying you won’t back a seat belt bill unless it has the support of realtors. 

Then, Governor Messinger Dayton tells the mother of an epileptic kid to go buy illegal weed while the Legislature muddles through debate on various medical chiba bills.   The penalties, even if she’s caught, would be pretty minimal, after all (unless some cop or prosecutor gets it in her head that mom is dealing, which could result in a SWAT team beating down her door, shooting her dogs, and leaving the family handcuffed on their lawn while their house is ransacked and then forfeited to the police department long before any trial would occur - but let’s not get bogged down in details).

And now, Governor Messinger Dayton is using the DFL’s pals in the media to undercut the parents who went to the media in the first place. 

Or to try to, anyway:

Dayton’s account of the meeting is simply not true, say two activists who were there. One of them, Patrick McClellan, 47, who has muscular dystrophy, told PIM early Friday afternoon, “I was sitting right next to him when he said it. He said that driving back from Colorado is not like going out of the country, there are no checkpoints with drug dogs at state lines.

“I said that bringing the drug back from Colorado would be a federal offense, and he said, ‘I live in the real world, and no one would prosecute someone who was just trying to help their child.’

McClellan continued: “He told me, also, to get it on the street. His logic was, it’s just a petty misdemeanor. I told him that if I had more than an ounce and a half, it would be illegal for me to try to use a medical defense for that possession. He snapped at me that I was just making up hypotheticals.

“I have an uncle who is a retired judge in Fremont, Nebraska, and I told him what the governor said [about transporting marijuana or marijuana derivatives from Colorado]. He said he couldn’t believe that the governor of Minnesota was encouraging me to break the drug laws in his [the uncle's] state.”

Never mind what you think about marijuana laws (I think pot should be legalized, but so should maceing hackey-sack-playing, Dave-Matthews-listening, hemp-wearing stoners) – this is not the behavior of someone who belongs in, er, high office.

Chanting Points Memo: The Head Fake

Joe Soucheray got fooled.

The entire Twin Cities media has either been fooled, or is playing along.   I vote “playing along”.

Governor Messinger Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Bakk aren’t “fighting”, or “at odds”, or “in a conflict” over the DFL’s so-called “tax cuts” (which, let’s not forget, “cut” less than 10% of the four billion dollars worth of tax hikes the DFL jammed down back in 2013).

This is all theater.   And it’s about as spontaneous as a porn shoot.

Signs the DFL planned this from the ground up?   Ask yourself this; why is Governor Messinger Dayton, who is up for re-election this year, “in conflict” with Tom Bakk – who is not up for re-election this year – and not Paul Thissen, who is?

The entire “story” is a carefully-manicured charade designed to make Mark Dayton – who signed four billion dollars worth of tax hikes last year with little more thought (and perhaps little more knowledge) than he’d use signing a credit card receipt at the Oceanaire – look like a “tax cutting moderate” compared with the Senate (who are utterly safe for the next two years, and for whom the media will help engineer something in two years anyway), but heaven forbid not the House, who are, mirabile dictu, not involved in this particular fracas.

What Minnesota Deserves

Knowing that the media will never allow it to amount to anything serious, Governor Dayton “takes responsibility” for the MNSure fiasco:

Dayton reacted Thursday to a report from Optum, a unit of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group. The report found MNsure’s problems are widespread and cannot be solved by the March 31 federal deadline for most people to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Optum said the state could try to fix the current system, which could take up to two years, or try to get it minimally functional for 2015 enrollment while building a new system from scratch.

Both options are exquisitely expensive.  There’s an old software engineering saying; “Fast, Cheap, High Quality – you can have two”.

And that’s at best.

And we’re not going to get “at best”.  Why?

Emphasis added:

“Those are the decisions that the new management is going to be making, and obviously the Legislature will be involved and the board and I’ll have my say in it too,” Dayton told reporters.

Even in the private sector, “designed by committee” is a synonym for “Bulgarian goat rodeo”.

Healthcare is impossibly complex; politicians operate entirely in the realm of oversimplification, and that’s even if they have a general sense of “what is right”, which our DFL-dominated legislature does not.

Politics is the worst possible way to allocate scarce resources and solve complex problems.

“But we’re going to fix it. We’re going to improve it. I’m determined we’re going to give Minnesota what it deserves.”

Minnesota already got what it deserved when it swept the DFL into power.

Will it deserve better this fall?

Open Letter To Alliance For A “Better” Minnesota”

To:  Carrie Lucking, “Executive Director”, Alliance for a Better Minnesota
From: Mitch Berg, uppity peasant
Re:  Chain Of Command

Ms. Lucking,

The “Special Session” to deal with disaster relief teed up a few hours ago.

Just a hint; it might behoove you to copy your audioanimatronic marionette “Governor” Dayton on any legislation that gets proposed, or especially passed.  The vision of your audioanimatronic marionette our “Governor” proclaiming shock at legislation that the DFL has jammed through embarasses this state makes your chain of command look “not ready for prime time”. 

It’s pretty simple; route things from Governor Ms. Messinger, to you, to handler “Chief of Staff” Bob Hume, to Mr. Dayton.  And spend some time making sure he really knows what’s getting written into law. 

You’re welcome.

That is all.

Scope Creeps

As Gary Gross notes, the DFL seems at the very least to be floating as a trial balloon that they’re doubling down on the warehouse tax

It’s outside the scope Governor Dayton Messinger wanted for the special session. 

I’m torn on this one.

On the one hand, I think that if the warehouse tax goes into effect, it’s going to be a disaster.  And the DFL, and its Praetorian Guard, the media – will spin it – the job losses, the dislocation, the businesses heading across the Saint Croix, the Red, and Duluth Harbor - as a Republican problem because…well…because Gay Marriage, for the Children.  Or something like that. 

On the other hand, this absolutely is the Democrats’ fault.  “Governor” Dayton signed it, I suspect, without even bothering to get Bob Hume to Ask Carrie Lucking to ask Alida for permission to read it reading it.  Being a Democrat, and a couple generations removed from the generation of Daytons who knew anything about running businesses, it didn’t matter to him. 

This is the sort of issue that conservatives – Republicans – should win big, provided that we’re in a party that has the equipment and expertise to fight a message war.

So can you see why I’m worried?

The Mulligan Session, Part II

The same DFL employees who gave us “E-Pulltabs” as a means of supplying “the state’s share” of an extorted payoff to an out-of-state billionaire for his real-estate upgrade (which fell 95% short of predictions, as predicted by certain right-wing bloggers) are going to try to take a mulligan and get it right on the second try, says this piece from the MinnPost’s James Nord:

The governor’s proposal would increase the cigarette tax from $1.23 per pack to $2.52 per pack – a larger jump than the 94-cent target he’d earlier proposed — and would require retailers and wholesalers to make a one-time payment on existing inventory that would funnel $24.5 million into the stadium reserve account, solving the shortfall there.

Where have we seen this before?

Oh, yeah – cigarette taxes never, ever raise the money they’re supposed to.  They rarely get 2/3 of the way to their goals.  Ever.

And a “one-time tax on existing inventory?”  Look for a fire sale on smokes the week before the tax goes into effect, and for chain convenience stores to shuffle inventory out of state pronto.

Then, if electronic pulltabs or linked bingo games fail to produce the revenue necessary to fund the state’s appropriation bonds for the stadium ["if" - heh.  Ed], the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget would have the authority to direct revenue from a closed corporate income tax loophole toward the stadium.

Frans said that closing the “tax avoidance loophole” would prohibit the current legal practice of some Minnesota companies that avoid paying full corporate income taxes on sales they make by shielding themselves through a subsidiary in a different state. He said more than 20 states have similar regulations in effect.

Dear Mr. Nord:  Not that I’m going to tell you how to do your job, but did you happen to ask Mr. Frans what states those were?  And how they’re doing in terms of business climate?  How well “closing” that particular “loophole” worked?

Remember – these are the same people who said “E-Pulltabs” would…y’know…work.

That measure is projected to bring in $26 million in the first year and roughly $20 million annually after that, although those totals could change as the conference committee works out the specifics of their compromise.

Frans said with the new contingency plan, which would also be backed up by current taxes on suites and memorabilia if for some reason it doesn’t perform, officials are ready to close the book on the shaky stadium funding issue.

“We believe it’s reliable, it’s consistent,” he said.

The Messinger Dayton Administration ”believed” a lot of things that didn’t turn out to be true.

If only we had an institution, with printing presses and transmitters and websites, staffed by people who see themselves as part of a truth-seeking monastic order, whose job it was to tell the public about these things.

He Knows What Matters

Mark Dayton apparently thinks he was elected pope.

I say that because of his style of interacting with the public; he pokes his nose out of his office, makes a pronouncment – “get this stadium deal done!” or “don’t shut down the government” or whatever it is he’s saying – and then disappears back into the office.  He couldn’t be any more pseudo-papal if he built a balcony outside his office overlooking the Capitol Mall.

And that’s fine – he’s probably used to having absolute doctrinal authority in interpreting Alida Messinger’s revealed word, so it fits.

But if there’s anything striking about Mark Dayton as governor, it’s his time management skills.  The guy just knows what matters.

So when he emerges from his sanctum to render a comment for his Praetorian Guard the media, you know it’s about something that matters deeply for all Minnesotans.

A Tale Of Two “Incidents”

Governor Messinger Dayton responds to a little laughing and just about the mildest heckling in the history of face-to-face politics:

Contrast:  Tom Emmer responds to having a bag of 2,000 pennies dumped on him by an ofay young stooge acting with the full approval of the entire DFL:

I played hockey…and that actually got me to jump a little bit” 

And that was it.

(Not that whinging like Governor Messinger Dayton would have done any good; the DFL approved of young Robert Espinosa’s little stunt, and thus so did the media).

Note to Governor Messinger Dayton: we’re not your butlers and maids.  We pay the taxes – and those of us who pay attention notice that you and your idiot party are asking a lot of us to pay way too much.  For more and more people every day, it’s way more than this state is worth.

Anyway – I hope that noticing that people aren’t amused by your distracted noodling while your lieutenants and the special interests that put you in office gut the economy and our personal savings doesn’t scare you off from appearing in public (outside the Twin Cities metro, anyway); I’ve got some tough questions for you too.

“Heckling”, I believe you and your praetorian guard call it.

What Could Go Wrong?

Take a governor who rarely sets foot in front of the public, and usually leaves the “dealing with the proles” thing to his press secretary Katie Tinucci and his ex-wife’s consiglieri Carrie Lucking.

Put him in front of a crowd that hasn’t been carefully screened for obedience, with some spectators who are fighting and losing the battle to stay in the state they, for whatever reason, love – and are losing, with taxes and fees and regulations slowing eating first the ability to start a business, and finally the impetus to live here at all.

Let one of them heckle His Excellency.

What could possibly happen?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I imagine King George felt this way about his peasants, too, right around 1775 or so.

 

 

Joe Doakes

He’s referring to this bit of video:

The Associated Press, in its capacity as part of the governor’s media Praetorian Guard, wrote:

The room apparently erupted into heckling and interruptions when Dayton was trying to explain his belief that state lawmakers should get a raise in pay.

 

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a Republican political committee working to unseat Dayton next year, recorded the meeting and publicized the governor’s comments.

Check out the video – or go to the piece that Joe linked, which has the longer version of the video.  Tell us if “the room erupted”.

It’s preposterous.  The crowd laughs when Governor Messinger Dayton tells them the Legislature is underpaid; a heckler points out that the legislators get a little over $31K a year for a “part-time” job – which it is (40 or more hours a week for about half the year). Dayton insults the audience.

It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with these meetings in the future.  If they happen, look for the first several rows to be pre-filled with adoring fans.  That’s what the legislature tried to do during the gun hearings, and that’s my fearless prediction.

March Madness Speculation

Because it’s never too early to start the campaign season.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman’s announcement last week that he would forgo a challenge to incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton may be remembered in hindsight as the starting gun for the 2014 election cycle in Minnesota.  With Democrats holding all the offices of note, the only real interest among political junkies is which Republicans will make bids for statewide office.  Having only won two cycles in the past decade (2002 & 2010), the GOP cupboard is sparse, with many of the party’s once rising stars now out of office.

So who’s left to run for governor in 2014?  In the spirit of the upcoming NCAA Tournament, we’ve made our brackets (sort of) and started the ball rolling towards months of endless chatter on who should or could lead the MN GOP out of the statewide office wilderness: Continue reading

Defaulters, Frauds, Liars: The DFL Has Never Said The Shift Was A Gimmick, Winston!

Let’s take a quick jaunt through history.

Spring 2011: Governor Dayton proposes a budget with a school payment “shift” – a delay of payments to schools until after an arbitrary date, the end of a fiscal year, to “move” the spending from one budget to another – of something well over $2 billion dollars.

May 2011:  The GOP delivers a balanced budget that includes a shift of a little over a billion dollars.  The DFL whinges that the GOP is “using a gimmick” to balance the budget.  Notwithstanding the fact that Governor Dayton had himself proposed a “shift” twice as large as the GOP’s.

June 2012:  The GOP proposes a bill to completely “repay” (i.e., pay before the arbitrary date) the existing “shift”.  Governor Messinger Dayton, incomprehensibly, vetoes it.

DFLers muttered that paying back the shift would have been  irresponsible, although they never really said why.

Election Season, 2012:  The DFL relentlessly beats the GOP over the head with its chanting point about “Short-changing the children!”, notwithstanding the fact that the GOP had made an effort to fix it, only to be thwarted by Governor Messinger Dayton.

At this point, to the DFL, the “shift” is a campaign bludgeon.

Mid January 2013:  The DFL proposes a budget that proposes paying back half of the “Shift”, but in a bill that – notwithstanding that the flood of other new spending and the tsunami of new taxes – has no funding mechanism, so the whole proposal is vapor.

Late January 2013:  A DFL legislator says the shift “is just another tool”.

Summary:  to the DFL, the “shift” has gone from “Irresponsible to pay back”, to “a fiscal assault weapon aimed at our children!” to “just a tool“.

Seriously.

Conclusion:  The DFL defaulted on their promise “to the children”; they defrauded the voters by saying they’d pay “the shift” back, and they lied about the Republicans’ plans to do the same. 

Discuss.

Special discussion point:  why haven’t Rachel Stassen-Berger, Tom Scheck, Tim Pugmire, John Cronan, Pat Kessler and the rest of the elite capitol press corps reported on this?

CORRECTION: First two grafs were 2011, not 2012.  Time flies when you’re fighting rapacious spendthrifts, doesn’t it?

Gov. Messinger‘s Dayton’s Budget: One Dry Well After Another

A few months back, those of us who figured Zygi Wilf should pay for his own real estate improvements rather than plunder the state treasury were vindicated when turned out that the “mechanism” (read: gimmick) the state planned to use for its share – “electronic pull tabs” – wasn’t going to deliver anywhere near the planned revenue.  If things didn’t turn around fast (note: they will not), the state’s “contribution” to Zygi Wilf’s investment the Vikings stadium will have to be paid for by all of us taxpaying ripe sucks out of the general fund.

That’s bad enough – and it’s just to cover a putatively fixed bill.

Now, Governor Messinger Dayton has started coming out with budget proposals.  And along with some of those proposals (although, notably, not the one to repay part of the education budget “shift”) come some “mechanisms” to pay for them.  Gimmicks, if you will.

Minnesotans, being virtuous in a passive-aggressive sort of way, love “sin taxes”; tobacco is a common public policy kick toy in this state.  And Messinger Dayton intends to jack up the price of cigarettes by 94 cents a pack.

It’s not going to work, of course.

For starters:  cigarette taxes never, ever deliver the kind of revenue that their proponents expect.

Despite fanciful claims to the contrary, many tobacco tax hikes across the country have failed to produce the promised revenue. In 2009, Washington, D.C. raised its cigarette tax from $2.00 to $2.50 per pack. The District projected the new tax would generate $45 million in revenue, about 20 percent above 2009 levels. Instead, revenues came in $12 million below projections and $4.2 million lower than before the tax was imposed. Similarly, New Jersey reported a $52 million shortfall in tobacco tax revenues after it raised its cigarette tax by 17.5 cents in 2007.

The reason for this?  Addiction notwithstanding, cigarette smokers are people – and people alter their behavior to avoid paying taxes on discretionary things like smoking.  If a tax increase jacks up the price of a pack of smokes by 10%, then all other things being equal, people cut their spending.

“Yay!” say the tax’s proponents.  ”10% of people quit smoking!  Or they smoke 10% less!”.  Some do.  Others switch to cheaper cigarettes, or buy from the black market that always, inevitably burgeons whenever government cracks down on something people want; at any rate, people avoid paying the tax as best they can.  It’s Econ 101.

(Indeed, the public health benefits of taxing smoking seem to have stalled over the past twenty years)

But government can’t seem to avoid the spending that was to be based on all that tobacco money, and goodness knows no DFL administration would ever roll back an expenditure that we can’t afford.  Which means:

Due to these declining revenues, states often turn to broad-based tax increases to pay for an overspending problem. A recent NTU study also showed that 41 of 59 state tobacco tax increases from 2001-2006 were followed by more expansive tax increases within two years, as states attempted to make up for tobacco revenue that never appeared.

Just like the Vikings stadium; they’ll be after us to fill in the shortfall.

Oh, yeah – and for all of Governor Messinger’s Dayton’s palaver about making the rich pay their “fair share”, it’s worth noting that the cigarette tax is the most regressive tax of all – according to that noted conservative tool, Governor Mark Messinger Dayton.

Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d assume the Governor‘s ex wife was just saying things to get elected…

Gary Gross has also been covering this.

Open Letter To Governor Dayton

To:  Governor Messinger Dayton
From: Mitch Berg, Peasant
Re:  A Time For Choosing

Governor Messinger Dayton,

I have  a couple of questions for you.

  1. Do you support President Obama’s declaration that legal gun ownership by the law-abiding citizen is a dangerous condition that needs monitoring?  I’ll ask you not to equivocate; yes, or no?
  2. If you support it, please make sure everyone knows.  You’ve never been shy about using the media that serves as your praetorian guard, and the lavishly-funded apparatus that your puppeteer ex-wife owns, to get the message out before; please don’t stop now.
  3. If you support the President, could you please prevail upon Minnesota’s DFL legislators to publicly declare their support as well?  Very, very publicly?  Maybe in a big press conference on the Capitol steps?

You ran as a “pro-2nd-Amendment” candidate in the 2010 election.  I’ve always suspected that you did it more out of memory of what happened to Ann Wynia (and the rest of the Democrat majorities) in 1994, or to the DFL’s majority in the House in 2002, than out of any sincere care for civil and human and rights…

…but I’m willing, if not expecting, to be surprised.

I mean, one way or another, it’s time for a big profile in courage, isn’t it?

That is all.

Get Well Soon

Governor Dayton is apparently out of surgery for his back.  It apparently went well.

But the Strib gave us a late Christmas present yesterday, in announcing the appointment:

Minnesota Gov. Dayton heading to Mayo to undergo spinal surgery that will briefly sideline him

He was sidelined from his grueling schedule of reading instructions from Alida and periodically emerging from his office to gargle demands at the Legislature?

You Were Warned – Really!

Last March, conservative bloggers – Gary Gross, me, and others – warned you that the Dayton Administration’s plan to use gambling revenue to build the stadium was pure vapor, and that Ted Mondale (of the Sports Facilities Commission) was blowing smoke up Minnesota’s collective skirt, since gambling revenues have been shrinking, not growing.  Charitable gambling revenues have been falling off for years; the Administration’s plan involves having gambling receipts double.  Immediately.

Yesterday we noted that the Administration is starting to walk back the shell game.  And now we’re discovering that the main venue for the electronic pull tabs that the Administration is counting on – veterans clubs – just aren’t adopting the new toy.

Dave Thul, writing at True North, is on the story:

 So the question is why Legions and VFW’s are so unlikely to move into E-tabs? The answer is complicated, but boils down to three main reasons. First, demographics. The average gambling manager and post commander is over 60 and set in their ways.

Most post officers and bookkeepers are volunteers, so they don’t get paid for running the gambling operations. But they are financially liable for any mistakes they make, meaning a simple gambling system is a safe gambling system.

Second is technology and a bit of Luddite-ism. Despite efforts to get younger veterans involved, the majority of VFW and Legion posts in Minnesota have internet access only for email or transmitting legally required gambling reports. E-tabs require a high speed always on internet access. E-tabs are also 100% dependent on technology; a power outage or a computer virus means no gambling. Paper pull tabs can be opened by candle light if necessary, and bar staff are familiar with the possible ways to scam the system. E-tabs need additional plug ins, charging stations, always on wireless internet connections that are secure against hackers, and a big investment in training time for bar staff.

The third reason is survival. The smoking ban that took affect in 2007 was a devastating blow to VFW’s and Legions across the state, and resulted in a fair number of posts being closed. Ever increasing taxes, ever more burdensome regulations (remember most bookkeepers are volunteers) and a recession that is dragging out into a fifth year are all taking a toll in posts statewide. Faced with all of these issues, bringing E-tabs into a post is simply a bridge too far for most to consider.

Beyond that?  The actual game machines; the state isn’t approving them for use in the state, even if bars and clubs do start turning out wanting them.

So how much are the people going to have to cough up to pay for Zygi’s Real Estate Upgrade “The People’s Stadium”?

We’re not going to know for quite a while.

 

Media Lip Prints on Mark Dayton’s Butt, Part III

Yesterday and Monday, we went over the chronology of the last-minute negotiations and back-and-forth leading up to the State Government shutdown, which started seventeen months ago last night.  The abbreviated time-line:

  1. On June 29, the GOP made an offer.  It traded giving some ground on revenue for some movement on social issues.
  2. On the morning of June 30, the DFL leadership – Dayton, Senate minority leader Bakk and House minority leader Thissen – demanded $1.4 billion in new revenues.
  3. Much discussion ensued.  It ensued under the “cone of silence”; the participants really didn’t let on much about what was going on.
  4. At noonish on the 30th, Dayton – without Bakk and Thissen – made an offer that dropped most of the revenue demands, and was pretty close – almost dead-on – with the GOP’s letter.  The letter mentioned no social issues – because they were off the table at this time.
  5. More discussion.  More cone.
  6. Mid-afternoon, the Legislature sent its counteroffer, including revenue from the “school funding shift” and the tobacco bond money.  This should have settled it – and indeed, was substantially the same as the offer that Dayton finally accepted to end the shutdown.
  7. Late-afternoon, the DFL ratcheted back to their morning demands.
  8. More cone.
  9. At 10PM, the Governor essentially claimed that he was shutting down the government because the GOP had rejected the offer in 7, above, and was unwilling to compromise.

And that was that.

———-

In the hour or so after the shutdown, the GOP Caucus released the contents of the letters that had transpired on the 29th and 30th.  The release included pages 2-4 of this document here:

All Offers

No mention of social policy in there.  it was not an issue.

So the government shut down.  DFL and media narratives aside, it was a disaster for the governor.  Government actually saved money; hardly anyone outside of government missed it; the people largely were apathetic, as the Governor learned on a tour of the state to attempt to rally support that drew nothing but dispirited SEIU goons.   He returned to the  Capitol, and returned to the GOP’s last offer.

And not long after, he gave this talk in WCCO-TV with Esme Murphy – which we’ve featured a time or two:

Dayton lied:

I was unaware on June 30, in fact I was clearly aware to the contrary, that all these social policy issues, from banning stem cell research and everything else, and just really reactionary social policy, was taken off the table.

Esme Murphy let that line pass without comment – as, in fact, she always does, as her mission seems to be to make sure DFL pols get a nice massage on the air.

But nobody else noted the contradiction; of course he was aware.

  • The GOP mentioned no policy issues in its June 30 proposal!  As we noted above, it was nearly identical to the governor’s previous offer, differing on a few fiscal tweaks!
  • His rejection of that offer mentioned no social policy issues.  Because they were off the table.
  • Read the speech he gave as the shutdown started.  Nary a peep about social issues.
No, “social issues” only came up well  the shutdown was settled.

Mark Dayton was shot down completely on the shutdown.  And yet the media have allowed him to carry on with the “social policy” canard.

Why?

If I were a cynic, you’d think it was because the media was in the bag for Dayton, and wanted to give him cover.  You’d also think the media were even more in the bag for the DFL – and chanting the governor’s version of the shutodwn is a key part of the DFL’s attempt to retake the legislature, which a good chunk of the media (at least at the management and editorial-board level) clearly wants.

And I am a cynic.

Because the alternate explanation is that the media just isn’t as smart and attentive to details as I am.

And that just beggars the imagination.

So when will the media start “fact-checking” Dayton’s story?  Or their own, for that matter?

Media Lip-Prints On Mark Dayton’s Butt, Part II

Seventeen months ago yesterday, in the midst of negotiations about the budget, the GOP-led Legislature sent Governor Dayton a proposed budget.  It offered some concessions on revenue, and asked for some ground on social issues.

First thing the next morning, June 30 – 17 months ago today – the DFL came out with a counter-offer.

Labeled the “Dayton-Bakk-Thissen Compromise Budget Proposal”, it demanded $1.4 billion in new revenues.  It was a further negotiation, just like the Legislature’s letter the day before.

And – this is important – it had all three DFL leaders on board.  Governor Dayton, Senate minority leader Bakk and House minority leader Thissen all signed off on this proposal.

We’ll refer to this as “The Morning Letter” from now on.

And as the government coursed toward the midnight shutdown, that apparently was where things stayed.

The rest of this article uses this Scribd file, originally from Dayton’s chief of staff Bob Hume, as its source.

All Offers

It’s been popping up around the Twin Cities media off and on ever since the shutdown.

The Morning Letter

Now, much of what went on over the next 6-7 hours is shrouded in mystery; it took place in off-the-record conversations and phone calls and communications that aren’t available to the general public if they’re recorded at all.

Noon: Dayton’s Offer

But the upshot of those conversations – whatever they were – was that at 3PM on the 30th of June, the Governor – alone, without Thissen or Bakk – released a proposal that dropped all tax increases.

There were three significant things about this letter, which we’ll call “Dayton’s Offer”.

One was that Dayton dropped demands for tax increases, in return, Dayton proposed a 50% shift in school funding to the following biennium – the “borrowing from the children” that the DFL and media have worked so hard to pin on the GOP this past year.   It was a major concession by the Governor.  According to sources on Capitol Hill familiar with the negotiations, this was seen by the GOP majority in the Legislature as a key step toward reaching a “lights-on” agreement to prevent the shutdown.

But the other two significant things were actually things missing from the proposal:

  1. Bakk and Thissen:  Their names had been on the Morning Letter – but were absent at 3PM.   Sources at the Capitol indicate that that’s because – well, Bakk and Thissen didn’t support it!
  2. Any mention of GOP policy proposals:  The Dayton Offer includes no reference to GOP “Social Policy” proposals – because Dayton knew at noon on the 30th that the GOP had taken them off the table.  This is an inference, both by my sources and myself.  It’s also the only logical conclusion.

So as of a little after lunch on 6/30, the Legislature and the Governor – but not Bakk and Thissen – were in basic agreement; no tax hikes, no social policy concessions.

The 3PM Letter

A couple of hours later, at 3PM, the GOP sent a counter-offer.  It involved two tweaks to Dayton’s proposal:

  • Cutting the size of the education shift (at the recommendation of Dayton’s Education Commissioner)
  • Making up the difference with tobacco bonding

This letter – we’ll call it “The 3PM Letter” – involved accepting the concessions in The Dayton Offer with a few on the GOP’s part.  Otherwise, the two offers were just about identical.

As of 3PM, then, it looked as if the Governor and the Legislature were in agreement, and the shutdown could be averted.

The 4:06PM Letter

Dayton responded about an hour later, at 4:06PM.  Dayton accepted the changes to the education shift – it was his administration’s idea, after all – but tossed the tobacco bonding proposal and renewed the demand for new taxes…

…that he himself had taken off the table earlier in the afternoon!

The GOP’s response expressed dismay at the sudden – I believe the term of art in the Age of Obama is “unexpected” – flip-flop on Dayton’s part – and proposed a “lights-on” bill.

So To Recap…

Just to make sure we’re clear, here:

  1. The DFL – Dayton, Bakk and Thissen – demanded $1.4B.
  2. Negotiation ensued under the “cone of silence”.
  3. Dayton offered to drop the tax demands, and by omission showed that the GOP had dropped their social policy demands.
  4. The GOP accepted this proposal, with a few fine tweaks, including one from Dayton’s own administration.
  5. Dayton spun on his heels and rejected that offer – ignored it, really – and countered with a flip-flop on taxes.

The “cone of silence” remained in effect for the next five or six hours.  Nobody exactly knows what transpired on the way to Dayton’s big speech at 10PM.

Dayton’s Presser at 10PM

Just in time for the 10PM news, Dayton called a press conference.  Here’s the transcript.

It’s full of prevarications, and one outright lie:

  • Therefore, a $1.4 billion gap remains between our last respective offers.”  But the GOP’s proposal on the 29th offered to compromise with the DFL on revenue.  The conservative base – myself included – would have howled at this, but the GOP was clearly looking to keep the government open.
  • Republicans have offered only to forego their $200 million tax cut and add that amount of spending. While welcomed, $200 million is only a small step toward resolving a $5 billion deficit.”  The 3PM Letter shows that the GOP was willing to go along with some sort of revenue hikes.
  • Today, Representative Thissen, Senator Bakk, and I made two proposals which contained revenues to be raised by increasing taxes only on people who make more than $1 million per year. The Department of Revenue reports that there are only 7,700 of them, less than 0.3% of all Minnesota tax filers.”   Well, no.  Dayton made two offers; Bakk and Thissen only participated in the first one.

The Administration started out demanding tax hikes; the GOP expressed a willingness to compromise.  The Administration then flip-flopped and went back to their first set of demands, ignoring the GOP concessions (for purposes of presenting the media a narrative), with Dayton contradicting himself in the process.

And Here’s Where The Media Tush-Smooching Comes In

The Governor contradicted himself and rejected a proposal that was one minor tweak removed from his own, Bakk-And-Thissen-less offer (“Dayton’s Offer”), leading directly to the government shutdown.

And yet today, 17 months later, the DFL’s PACs and pressure groups refer to it as “the Republican shutdown”.  It’s a Big Lie.  But nobody’s countering it.

I’ve often wondered; what if our society had an institution, maybe even an industry, with printing presses and transmitters, staffed with people whose job and training involves checking up on things that government officials say – and maybe even holding them accountable for the things they say and do?  Heck, even allow this institution to see itself as an aescetic elite who “comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted”, in exchange for, you know, actually comforting and afflicting.

We could use this in Minnesota.

Remember where we started yesterday – with Esme Murphy giving Mark Dayton her usual deep-tongue-kiss on her Sunday Morning Show:

Notwithstanding the contradictions in Dayton’s own proposals that are part of the public record timeline of the negotiations on June 29-30, Dayton runs with the “Social Issues” canard.

The Strib also served, then as now, as Dayton’s de facto stenographer in their “coverage” of the chain of events.

The Star-Tribune also bought Dayton’s line – that the “requested concessions” brought on the shutdown – completely uncritically, without noting the evolution, and then abrupt de-evolution, on Dayton’s position.  The Strib mentioned not a word about the “flip-flop”.

Tomorrow – appropriately, Halloween – the way the shutdown went down, and conclusions about “journalism” and Governor Dayton.