Paul Scott: GOP legislators are wasting their time, our money

I saw something in the paper the other day that got my hopes up. "We are going to have to compromise," GOP Senate Taxes Chairwoman Julianne Ortman told the Star Tribune. "We are going to have to work together."

Wow! That sounded like a reasonable statement about the nature of representative government. Having seen "School House Rock," I know a few things about that subject. In government, two parties with differing ideas get together and hash out a compromise — sort of like me and the very reasonable Phil Araoz did on this page last month.

In fact, if Ortman were making that statement on TV, this would be the perfect spot within her quote for Jon Stewart to hit the pause button and start commenting.

"Really?" he’d say. "The GOP is willing to compromise in settling the budget? How great is that! I didn’t realize they would accept the fact that, when you count the votes given to Tom Horner and Mark Dayton, 56 percent of Minnesotans — a virtual landslide — voted for a gubernatorial candidate running on a mix of cuts and new taxes to solve our budget deficit. Heck, if the GOP is willing to compromise, this budget business should be a snap. Now let’s hear the rest of what she had to say!"

"But we will not compromise," Ortman continued, "on the goal of not raising taxes."


Well. That's sort of the only issue holding things up, isn't it? Maybe the GOP is going to compromise on the color of pen the governor is allowed to use in signing their all-cuts budget.

We are going to compromise, the GOP says.  Except that we aren’t.

I wish I could live my life like that. "Hey honey," I could tell my wife, "Marriage is a partnership, and I am going to start helping out around the house. But I will not do laundry, dishes, lawn care, childcare, repairs, cleaning or shopping. It’s a matter of principle."

Anyway, I’d rather not spend the rest of this column beating up on the GOP and carrying water for the DFL. It's just this: I have noticed that it appears to be a fine use of time for our local legislators Benson, Drazkowski and Davids.

All three have recently weighed in with columns made up of nine parts DFL-bashing and one part GOP-praising.

The state house is a demanding job. But apparently it’s not so demanding that our guys at the controls can’t still find the time to turn the P-B op-ed page into a sounding board for the seemingly bottomless GOP hunger to prevail in the message wars. Note to Reps. Davids, Benson, and the impressively prolific Drazkowski: The election’s over. You don't need to try so hard to win us over to your version of the truth. Your job is to get bills passed.

To be fair, I am told that DFL legislators did the same thing last year, weighing in on this page in high-handed language about the wrongness of the Pawlenty budget position. Surely that is true. I don’t doubt the Democratic office holders have used their once-a-monthers here to beat up on the other side.

But I doubt they did so in such a seemingly spin-coordinated fashion — by repeating the same focus-group tested terms. Take this one:  "job-killing tax increases." Rep. Davids used some version of that phrase three times in his last op-ed. Funny, though. He never offered any research showing that tax increases kill jobs.


Maybe that’s because that research doesn’t exist. Consider the reverse: Under Pawlenty, famously a time of no new taxes, the state GDP fell behind. Even the Los Angeles Times knows that. In a recent piece about Pawlenty’s legacy, it reported that "'The last nine years reversed a roughly 40-year trend of Minnesota getting better and better,' said Louis Johnston, an economist at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University in Minnesota, who is working on a book about the evolution of Minnesota's economy since 1850. He found a continuous economic expansion for Minnesota relative to other states until the year after Pawlenty was elected. ‘Starting in 2003, the rest of the country grows faster than Minnesota,’ he said."

Nor have DFL representatives used their time on this page touting the outcome of meaningless votes staged purely for the purpose of political theater. We are told that time is of the essence in St. Paul, but at least two local GOP representatives told you that the House and Senate voted near unanimously to reject the governor’s budget. What they didn't tell you is that the governor told his party to vote against his budget bill under consideration, because it was incomplete and based on outdated numbers.

Is this really the best use of your time? Or ours?


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