Rachel Stassen-Berger, writing in the Strib yesterday:
Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer is all over the new Republican theme — Democratic candidate Mark Dayton doesn’t have a complete budget plan.
Emmer hammered the point, made by supportive Republicans repeatedly during the past few days, on a Tuesday spot on Minnesota Public Radio.
“Let’s start talking about the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge. Sen. Dayton has proposed a plan that is billions of dollars short,” Emmer said. He went on to suggest that Dayton will have to increase taxes more folks than he’s specified — couples making taxable income of $150,000 and singles earning $130,000. “How far are you willing to go?”
Let’s extend that thought for a moment: Mark Dayton is not a dumb guy. And he’s got people on his campaign staff who are even smarter. They don’t own a supercomputer – but they don’t need one to put together the broad outlines of a budget. Their campaign isn’t short of staff or funding, obviously.
So if you think the only budget that the Dayton campaign has is the one that’s on the website – the one that grins a big dumb grin and says “we’re $890 million short” with the same seriousness of a junior high kid saying the dog ate his homework – then I have to say with all due respect that you’re beggaring reason. Either the campaign is incompetent, or they know where that extra $890 million is coming from, and would rather the electorate not know.
And if you assume Democrats and Dayton aren’t just plain stupid, that leaves you with only “b”
Stassen-Berger links to my Twitter account, as well as my “AWOL Media” piece yesterday. I wouldn’t use the phrase “accusing of negligence”, really – it’s got a legalistic tinge to it that’s a little unseemly for free speech.
It just seems that the media, which six weeks ago were hot to get all the details of the Emmer budget, has suddenly gotten incredibly incurious. And yet now that Dayton’s budget has a large, suspicious hole – and there really is no solution but to jack up taxes on the middle class – suddenly it seems that the people don’t have a “right to know”, accorinding to our regional political media.
I mean, did you see Esme Murphy?
She might as well have been giving the Senator a massage. “Do you have any plans?” Er, nope. And it ended there!
Did you hear Keri Miller’s interview with Tom Emmer? Back before Emmer released his budget? She went after him like a barracuda after Charlie the Tuna.
Does the public – especially us middle-class schnook taxpayers – still have a right to know now that it’s the favorite son of Minnesota’s political “elite?”
Dayton has acknowledged that his budget plan comes up nearly $1 billion short. That’s in part because his income tax plan won’t bring in as much money as he had hoped. He has specified how he would make the cuts he’s found, although some are estimates and others have been deemedunrealistic. But he admits a “gap,” which leads opponents to believe he’ll raise more in taxes.
…I’m a complete schlemiel as a “reporter”, and even I see that these are some huge, valid questions!
So David Brauer – who’s never covered up his lefty sympathies, but seems to try to do a decent job anyway – asked via Twitter:
He links to a this Rachel Stassen-Berger story in the Strib, and a Doug Grow piece in the MinnPost. Stassen-Berger did, indeed, note that Dayton’s budget comes up short – but there’s no evidence that I’ve seen (I’m willing to be corrected!) that she’s gotten up at a Dayton presser and said “OK, Chauncey Fauntelroy, if you don’t have to hit the middle class, who do you have to get the $890 million? We’ve got all day, Yale boy” (Those might be my words rather than Stassen-Berger’s).
Grow makes the valid point that…:
…no governor, no matter how popular, will be able to zip a budget package through the Legislature without major changes. In this case, whoever is governor likely will not be elected with a majority of the vote, meaning there will be little chance to claim any mandate, so you can expect nasty legislative fights.
…while basically claiming a pox on all their fiscal houses.
And, most importantly, both of these pieces were two weeks ago. Juuuuust about the time that the non-wonk class – all those actual voters – started thinking about the election.
Which was why I took exception to Brauer’s followup tweet:
@mitchpberg Fair question. Would venture Dayton’s gap is well-known, covered and acknowledged. For many weeks, Emmer seemed to be ducking.
Well-known to whom? Political reporters and political junkies and fire-breathing political bloggers? Sure!
The average voter – especially the ones who start paying attention to politics sometime between the first and fifteenth of October?
Hell – I’ve talked with candidates for the State House who haven’t read anything about this yet.
So while I’m not going to say that our assembled mass of journalists are “negligent” for not asking, I’m still curious; when the public has a right to know, does it imply they’re supposed to exercise that right by developing a jones for research?
Look, journos; if your line is “all three of the candidates’ budgets leave questions”, then ask them. That’s what you get the big bucks for. Hell, I’d do it, if any of them (but Emmer) returned my calls! And since neither of them do, I – and, more importantly, we, the entire body politic – have to depend on y’all, Tim Pugmire and Tom Scheck and Bill Salisbury and Rachel Stassen-Berger and Pat Kessler to do it.
Thing is, so far in the race, it’s Emmer that’s been getting the questioning; Dayton seems to be the only one who can get away with saying “I’ll get back to you on November 3”.
Am I wrong?
What say you, Tim and Rachel and Tom and Bill and Pat?