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Pawlenty Not So Good at Econ 101

February 04, 2009 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Governor Pawlenty isn't doing the reputation of the Economics department at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, any favors with his latest budget ideas.

Wasn't the first lesson in Econ 101 that when you're in the hole $5 billion you can't cut taxes and expect to balance the budget?

Conservatives want to argue that by cutting taxes, states grow jobs, but that won't happen in this economic climate. Even if a business gets a tax break, more customers won't just miraculously walk though the door we'd still be in a recession; and therefore, there'd be no need to hire more workers.

Smarter companies might sock that tax savings away and plan for the future. But, our "consume now" society has most business owners writing those savings off as personal profits and not reinvesting them.

For now, put all those arguments aside because the state of Minnesota doesn't have the federal government's luxury of trying out an economic plan and giving it a year or two to work.

Minnesota has to fix the budget deficit now, unlike Congress, which can carry a debt into the next fiscal year. If the budget isn't balanced by midnight June 30th, the state could shut down.

Remember a few years ago, at the height of tourist season, when state parks closed, police barricaded rest stops, and 9,000 workers went without pay and benefits while Minnesota lost valuable recreation revenue? That surely won't solve our budget woes.

What's wrong with all of us sharing some portion of this burden in the form of properly invested taxes?  Why must a few groups--especially those in need of health care--face deep funding cuts while those who can afford to bear more of the burden get special breaks?

When a tornado rips a town apart or a blizzard packs in half a neighborhood, the Minnesotans who were spared don't just walk away and say; "That a shame. I hope it all works out for them." No, we all dust off our snow blowers and shovels, take out our chainsaws and trash bins, and get to work making the neighborhood whole again.

Let's think of the economic crisis as major storm. If the majority of us dig into our pockets, the financial load for those hit hardest will be a little easier to carry, and we'll all recover from this storm as a stronger state.

Now is not the time for the governor to lighten the metaphoric shovel for those Minnesotans with the strength to help carry the load while heaping a giant pile of debris on the least fortunate.

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