The DFL and media (pardon the redundancy) have got a new buzz phrase, “quality negotiation”. It’s what they supposedly want out of the current impasse in Saint Paul.
Let me just say for the record that if the DFL aren’t whinging like a bunch spoiled ten year olds, it’s not a “quality negotiation”.
Speaking of which, the Strib adds to the “quality” of the negotiation – my definition of it, at least- with via Min this piece by one Brian Rusche, the “executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition”, a group that is to religious group what the association of chiefs of police or Alliance for a Better Minnesota are to cops and Minnesotans – a DFL pressure group.
Rusche apparently thinks his churches own the trademark on “princple”:
Minnesota’s legislative leaders are locked in a protracted dispute with the governor, not about the quantity or quality of government output, but out of devotion to a single number: $34 billion.
Legislative leaders insist that all other policy considerations must take a back seat to the singular goal of keeping general-fund revenues and expenses at that amount for the next biennium.
Bla bla bla.
This next bit is the irritating part, the part that needs to be refudiated with prejudice; the part where Rusche abuses his cachet as a “religious ” leader:
This is numerology without principle. It treats one general-fund number like an idol, a number to be prized above the concerns and needs of our citizenry.
This is a mind-numbingly, corrosively stupid statement.
The GOP is operating from set of principles. To be fair, these are fairly new to Minnesota government; government is our servant, not our master. Government needs to live within its means; it needs to prioritize, just like we taxpayers need to. If “citizenry” “needs” some parts of government, we need to cut back on the parts the “citizenry” doesn’t need.
Rusche illustrates – no doubt unintentionally –
Finding a worthy general-fund baseline number with which to base all policy decisions is very, very tricky. Minnesota has relied on one-time strategies to prop up general-fund revenues, especially during recessions.
We’ve drained reserves, cashed out the tobacco endowment and spent federal stimulus dollars in efforts to address a structural deficit that has haunted us for a decade. Add accounting shifts and gimmicks, and we’ve been able to disguise revenue shortfalls and delay a true reckoning, until now.
That’s because government has been run by people – Republicans as well as Democrats – who regarded government as a big fun machine with lots of levers and knobs to play with. A big huge benefit machine where, if you hit just the right combination of those buttons and levers, you’d get all sorts of good and wonderful things for the people.
And after a generation or two of that, we’re broke.
And the principle has changed. It has to. Government the way Arne Carlson practiced it – spending money like a crack whore with a stolen gold card during the cha-cha times, turning surpluses into permanent spending, and making up for it with taxes when things turn ugly – is utterly unsustainable.
And – are you listeniong, Mr. Rusche? – it’s immoral and stupid to carry stupid, thick-necked profligacy on the backs of the taxpayer.