Love the fee you're with
Too much brouhaha is being made out of Tim Pawlenty’s cigarette “fee.” I really don’t see what the big deal is. I’m a good Republican. I go to my prescinct caucuses, I’ve written letters to the Star Tribune that have yet to get published, and I hate the idea of government getting bigger. But the way I see it, us Republicans got off pretty darn easy this past session.
Face it; we got spanked in the state House races. This was due mostly to Rep. Matt Entenza writing a $300,000 check to a 527 that campaigned under the radar against Republicans. For those keeping score, the state Senate, as it stands, is 36-31 with the DFL in the lead. For the House, it’s pretty much a dead heat with the Republicans holding a slim majority. Now, the GOP majority in the House is essentially a
First we had Rep. Dan Dorman of Albert Lea. He was a moderate that was given the task to head up the bonding bill conference committee. Dorman let the power that came with the position, as well as the media attention, go to his head. Soon there were stories in the newspapers on Dorman and his rebellious attitude:
State Rep. Dan Dorman has bucked his Republican governor and House caucus on cuts in state aid to local governments and schools, made common cause with DFLers in a demand for a bigger state budget and broken with conservatives by supporting a minimum-wage increase. Lately he has hinted that he might not support Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plans to expand gambling unless there is compromise on other matters.
Dorman was actually a primary sponsor of one of those income tax cuts, but he said he went "off the reservation" early in the 2003 budget crisis, when he perceived that Pawlenty's proposals would disproportionately deprive rural and property-poor cities of Local Government Aid. He started speaking out against it and has gotten louder since.
Dorman's lonely fight since 2003 has made him "increasingly uncomfortable with my caucus but increasingly comfortable at home," he said. And he's not going to let up, he said.
"I see my role as the voice of moderation, the voice of Greater Minnesota, and there is no question that we are a bit more dependent on government."
Source: “Dorman relishes central role; 'Crazy tire dealer' in House bucks the GOP,” Star Tribune,
Dorman was the straw that broke the majority’s back. Soon to follow was Rep. Ron Erhardt from
The gas tax, as you may recall, was passed by the Republican controlled House and DFL controlled Senate. Luckily, Gov. Pawlenty vetoed it faster than you could say “Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota.” Pawlenty took a lot of heat for this, including from the conservative-leaning Chamber of Commerce. With all my economics courses I took in college, I still can’t figure out why business persons would want to pay more for shipping costs and other costs related to transportation.
Career-minded Republicans like Erhardt and Dorman were spooked by the DFL’s gains in 2004 and thought it best to play it safe by trying to appear moderate in order to keep their jobs. These two and other supposed Republicans like them made it very difficult for Pawlenty to get his agenda passed.
As the end of the session came about, Pawlenty obviously had no choice but to pull the cigarette fee out. There wasn’t a chance in hell that the likes of Dorman or Erhardt would’ve supported Pawlenty's proposed cuts in state subsidized health care.
So, fellow Republicans, before attacking Pawlenty, the most conservative Republican governor in ages, make sure you direct your anger at those who deserve it: the DFL incumbents and moderate, career-minded Republicans.
The best part about the cigarette fee is that it is actually a fee. All the money goes into a fund to pay for state subsidized health care, and roughly covers the cost of smoking related medical costs incurred by the state. And if that doesn’t work for you, here’s some advice from classic rocker Stephen Stills:
And if you can't be, with the pledge you love,
Love the fee you're with.