Monday, July 18, 2005

Why can't we be friends?

Conservative groups near and far once lauded Gov. Pawlenty as a hero that stopped the DFL tax and spend machine. My, how things have changed. Now, these groups, like the Taxpayers League of Minnesota (see yesterday’s op-ed) and Americans for Tax Reform attack Pawlenty with a passion that one would think should be saved for the Democrats.

It all started when Pawlenty announced his plans to get a fair share of casinos in Minnesota as a means to solve the budget deficit. Pawlenty got flack from the Center for the American Experiment, a conservative think tank that likens itself to the Heritage Foundation, the Minnesota Family Council, and the Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota. David Storm, the head of the Taxpayer’s League has been battling Pawlenty ever since. At a staged town hall meeting between conservative and liberal opponents to gambling, Strom went as far as to say he’d rather see a tax increase than an expansion of gambling (Source: “Big Dealer plays divide and Conquer,” Star Tribune, March 22, 2005). Once Pawlenty’s cigarette fee was introduced, Strom had the audacity to run anti-Pawlenty ads on the guv's radio show on ‘CCO. Surprisingly, on his blog, Strom conceded to me that I made a good point about Pawlenty not having the votes. Maybe the times are a changin'.

The response from the Americans for Tax Reform was not as venomous. Ran by Republican power broker Grover Norquist, ATR was one of the first groups that started floating that GOP ’08 shortlist that included Pawlenty. Unlike Strom, Norquist started attacking Pawlenty after the cigarette fee came about. ATR one-upped Strom by purchasing television ads (Source: “Ad attacks Pawlenty cigarette revenue increase,” Star Tribune, June 15, 2005). But like Strom’s ads, they had little effect on the outcome.

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

What these groups seemed to have forgotten is that the DFL proposed an income tax increase on the top wage earners in Minnesota that would have been around a billion dollars. They also seemed to have forgotten about the gas tax that was passed by Republicans in the House and vetoed by Pawlenty.

I too will cede a point to Strom: Pawlenty needs to make nice with the base if he wants to get reelected by a wide margin. However, groups like the Taxpayers League need to meet Pawlenty half way on this and tout his conservative record, such as the veto of the gas tax and resigning of the conceal and carry law.

If conservative advocacy groups want Mike Hatch to be the next governor of Minnesota, all they need to do is keep attacking Pawlenty. Let’s save the scathing attacks for the smoke filled back rooms, and just be friends.


At 9:11 AM, Blogger crallspace said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Eightgun said...

I agree. Strom and his Taxpayers League are being unrealistic. They seem to have forgotten MN voted for Kerry in the presidential election.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Republican Minnesota said...

Mr. Crall-

You've hit the nail right on the head, I'll be sending in my donation to the DNC promptly. Ass.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger GOPWingman said...

Well said, Republican Minnesota.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Kevin from Minneapolis said...

David Strom and his little league would be absolutely nothing in Minnesota politics if it weren't for Tim Pawlenty. Strom should thank Pawlenty for giving strom the credibility to become a player in the statewide scene, then crawl under whatever bridge he came from.

At 1:54 AM, Blogger sd42webmaster said...

Let's try an experiment. Let's say that later this week President Bush does the unthinkable and appoints a Souter/Ginsberg clone to the U.S. Supreme Court. What would your reaction be?

(A) Would you say "Oh gee - he has an 'R' next to his name, so what he did must have been a good thing. We can't criticize him if he has an 'R' next to his name."

(B) Would you say "Golly - who cares about the Supreme Court anyway - look at all the great things Bush has done. Would you rather have John Kerry?"

(C) Or would you feel justifyably betrayed because everything he said about wanting a judge in the mold of Scalia and Thomas and supporting originalist judicial doctrine will have been exposed as a big fat lie.

Your choice - A, B, or C.

Why do you mistake betrayal for anger? Why do you mistake honesty for disloyalty?

You see, for some of us, words matter and issues matter. Just because one group of folks wears red colored jerseys doesn't make them good and those who wear blue colored jerseys are bad.

Yes, you're right, we need to pull together. We need to rebuild our house. But we also need to accurately recognize how the house got destroyed in the first place.

Because if he does this to us again (ie. if we get hit with Special Session #2 -- the infamous "hand over your wallets to big league sports" session), then Mike Hatch is going to get elected anyway. And all your Rodney King admonitions about "Can't we all just get along?" aren't going to fix it.

At 6:34 AM, Blogger Republican Minnesota said...

You still have yet to explain to me how the cigarette fee is a tax.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger sd42webmaster said...

Because any tax can be stylishly reworded -- I’m telling you that no one is being fooled by this. No one. I challenge you to go find ten random people and ask them if you added to the cost of ANY legal commodity and turned the money over to the state, is it a tax or a fee, they would (correctly) tell you it was a tax.

As Scott Johnson more eloquently puts it: “Calling the cigarette tax increase a "Health Impact Fee" is fraudulent on two counts. First, it is of course a tax increase rather than a fee. Second, according to every serious analysis I have seen -- preeminently those by Harvard Professor Kip Viscusi -- cigarette taxes already vastly overtax smokers relative to their consumpstion of government-paid health care services. They are net contributors to the government in part because they die early and avoid Medicare, Social Security, and nursing home costs for which taxpayers would otherwise foot the bill.”

It is also answered here and here and here and here and here.

Chad at Fraters Libertas says why stop at cigarettes? Why not have a Cheetos tax, an Oreos tax, a Diet Coke tax. My favorite Shelton’s post where he suggests that a property tax can now be called a “residential user fee”.


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