On “Up and At ‘Em”, on the lesser talk station this morning, Ben Kruse said (I’ll paraphrase) if you left out the parts about Governor Dayton, this past weekend’s endorsement of the incumbent governor actually reads a little like an endorsement of Jeff Johnson.
And Ben had a point:
Johnson, 47, is gubernatorial material…Voters who want a state government that’s leaner and more trusting of the marketplace to solve public problems can opt for Johnson without concern that he is unprepared, excessively doctrinaire or temperamentally ill-suited to the office….Unlike Dayton, Johnson is unfettered to Education Minnesota, the teachers’ union.
[Remember the emphasized bit. I'll be making a return appearance]
He’s eager to pursue changes in teacher licensure and tenure rules that might strengthen the state’s teaching corps — versions of which Dayton vetoed…Johnson is also more open to changing the state’s tax code in ways that would better align Minnesota competitively with other states, by broadening the sales tax to more consumer purchases while reducing its rate.
All of that’s true.
But they went with
Governor Messinger Mark Dayton anyway.
Minnesota is back where it belongs. It has resumed its strong position among Midwestern states in employment, incomes, educational attainment and quality of life. Gov. Mark Dayton can’t take sole credit for the rebound from recession — nor does this modest leader make that claim. But the DFLer’s stewardship since 2011 has made a positive contribution to recovery, and his aims for a second term would continue that course.
That is, of course, the narrative that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has spent millions to establish in this state.
The truth, of course, is that most of the “positive contributions” happened in the first two years of
Messinger’s Dayton’s term. Since the DFL took unfettered control of state government, unemployment has dropped mostly due to people taking crummy jobs or leaving the workforce.
But we digress.
Like An Ink-Stained Nadia Comaneci: I originally entitled this piece “Our Senile Newspaper of Record” – but I changed my mind; it takes some mental chops to do the logical gymnastics the Strib goes through to get to painting Dayton’s term as a positive and Dayton as a capable leader:
State government stability is itself a competitive asset, one Minnesotans should not want to jeopardize again.
What the hell does that even mean?
The answer: whatever the narrator wants it to mean.
For example, the Strib would have you believe that before Mark Dayton, Minnesota was a cold Bolivia, apparently:
Dayton deserves credit for the fiscal stability that has returned on his watch. His push to correct the oversized income tax cuts enacted in 1999 and 2000 was important to that change, as was the discipline to enlarge the state’s reserves and repay more than $2 billion owed to school districts.
Dayton “paid back” the shift entirely because he delayed the GOP’s attempt to “pay it back” until the DFL could claim credit.
The Special Interest Drinking Game: Now – with a reminder from Jack and Ben’s show this morning – let’s read this next graf and go back to the Strib’s muted praise for Johnson:
The state’s stronger balance sheet leads a long list of first-term accomplishments justifying Dayton’s re-election. Also there: All-day kindergarten. Beefed-up funding for preschool for needy families. Same-sex marriage. Human services funding reform, saving Minnesota taxpayers an estimated $1 billion a year. A higher minimum wage. An end to a decade of disinvestment in higher education. Support for the Rochester infrastructure that’s crucial to Mayo Clinic expansion. A renewed partnership with local governments, slowing the increase in property taxes. Alternative teacher licensure and teacher performance evaluation.
If this were a drinking game – “Special Interest Shots”, where you took a drink every time the paper mentioned a bit of DFL special interest pork – you’d be dead of alcohol poisoning now.
Making History Out Of Nothing At All: Now – Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange is a disaster. Perhaps you’ve heard. It was in all the papers – for a while, anyway.
Dayton’s credits also include extending the benefits of health insurance to more than 250,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans, by embracing the federal Affordable Care Act.
This is simply false.
92% of Minnesotans were insured before MNSure - and every single Minnesotan that was involuntarily uninsured before 2012 could have been covered through one existing program or another.
The “250,000 previously uninsured” are insured today – at exquisite cost to the taxpayer – are there mostly because the law says they have to be.
Not because Mark Dayton did such a helluvva job.
I’ll give the Strib points for consistency. While their praise for his first term was a checklist of special interest sops, their outlook for the second term is…:
The second-term agenda Dayton outlines befits him. It’s substantial but not slick, and focused on jobs. He wants state government to be an ally of Minnesota’s high-tech industries by better meeting their need for highly skilled workers, and of the health care and medical technology industries by shoring up the University of Minnesota Medical School. He wants a literacy push to boost chances that children read proficiently by grade three, and he seeks more funding for early ed.
He also wants clean energy and robust infrastructure investments, including expansion of light-rail transit, to continue.
…more of the same.
Alliance? What Alliance?: Finally? The Strib editorial team apparently did their internships writing for Fidel Castro (emphasis added):
Dayton, 67, is making his sixth and what he says will be his last bid for statewide office. After a lifetime of public service, he’s a well-known quantity who is offering Minnesota something rare — a governorship unbound by calculations about how to win the next election.
Dayton’s governorship has never been bound by anything but the fact that he is controlled, no less than a marionette, puppet or organ-grinder monkey – by the special interests that floated his candidacy and call, via the “Alliance for a Better MN”, all the shots in his office.
We expect that will look a lot like what Minnesotans saw in Dayton’s first term. If it does, this state will be well served.
If Dayton is re-elected, Minnesota will deserve what it gets.
UPDATE: Fixed the link to the Strib piece.