COL EDITORIAL BRIEFS Gutknecht leads on drug costs
irst District Rep. Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn., has run a bare minimum of a re-election campaign. He has not had to do anything more. His DFL challenger, Leigh Pomeroy, has not mounted a credible campaign.
Pomeroy is a strong party activist, but he is not a viable candidate. To be fair, Pomeroy agreed to run only after the DFL lost Joe Mayer to health problems. Still, Pomeroy has not made the case for why he should be awarded Gutknecht's seat.
Although Congress has been adjourned for barely two weeks, Gutknecht has used the days to spread a message of his accomplishments and future goals. A member of the House runs for re-election every two years and it means a congressman never really leaves campaign mode, Gutknecht said.
Gutknecht has been a vociferous opponent of excessive government spending. Yet, he has been a member of Congress that has presided over a record deficit caused by President Bush's tax cuts and a post 9/11 spending spree that would make even a Beverly Hills diva blush. "It happens," said Gutknecht.
Gutknecht does argue that spending is being brought under control. He says Bush's tax cuts were correct for the time because they were based on budget surpluses and projections for more of the same. Yet, even after the economy tanked and the tax cuts drove the deficit into the $450 billion range, a Republican-controlled Congress passed the newest corporate tax cut.
Gutknecht is right to talk about spending controls, but there is little proof his Republican Party has a taste for fiscal conservatism.
Gutknecht's major accomplishment has been on his much reported drug reimportation efforts. Here Gutknecht has been a real leader, pulling his party in the right direction. Gutknecht has stood up against opposition from the Bush administration and drug companies.
While Pomeroy says drug reimportation is a diversion from the real issue of poor health policy, it is not. Drug reimportation might not be a complete solution, but it is action that matters. Gutknecht took action.
Gutknecht's leadership on drug costs alone puts him head and shoulders above his opponent.
; Election means funding
God bless election time. It's when good ideas can quickly become mated to funding. Just like the definition of "political pork barrel spending" it's all in the eye of the beholder.
; Tax credit aids ethanol
President Bush has signed a jobs bill that contains tax credits that should boost ethanol production in southern Minnesota.
The bill has wide bipartisan support because it both fosters environmental gains and will act as a jobs stimulus.
Here in southern Minnesota, the ethanol tax credits could trigger added plant construction jobs, the actual production jobs and yet more markets for Minnesota farmers.
; Wetlands restoration
Southern and northwest Minnesota will have just over 11 square miles of wetland restored thanks to a $16.2 million program that has gained the support of the Bush administration.
Ducks and hunters are obvious winners, but cleaning up the environment is never a bad decision.
; Cleaner energy
President Bush has directed a $30 million grant toward a new electricity generation plant in northern Minnesota. It is needed.
This particular facility will be, if it comes on line, a new generation of plants that turn coal into a gas that results in far less pollution.