Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How do you fight a lie!

If someone says something about you that is untrue, how do you fight it? If they have a few more friends anxious to please the accuser, and support the mission for their own purposes, how do you present your case against the din of their uproar? The only weapon is truth and the only path is that which Elie Wiesel (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) describes
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Well I protest the statements of Governor Dayton and his acolytes the unions, most of the media, and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota.

Dayton supporters claim he has compromised on his "tax the rich" by changing who he considers "rich", moving from $150,000 to $250,000 to Millionaires. But the chanting "Tax the Top 2%" belies that by an order of magnitude. The 6000-7700 millionaires in Minnesota comprise about 0.2% of households, so he hasn't really changed from his straw man proposal. He claims he has compromised with a reduction of $1.8 billion, but from his Commissioner: Details for Governor Dayton's Budget "Proposal" Do Not Exist.  These are far from the only cases that cannot bear the light. The Pioneer Press further points out the less than meaningful art of compromise in Dayton's approach.
06/26/2011 "Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has attempted to position himself as interested in compromise. Though both sides have compromised, the governor seems to have had the better of the "I compromised and they didn't" spin.

But it's not that simple. Rather than work out differences and sign off on large portions of the budget on which agreement is within reach, Dayton has as of this writing refused to get deals done and preserve operations in those parts of government. This is not compromise. This is hostage taking.

The governor is threatening to unnecessarily shut down portions of government to have his way on other, more contentious budget matters. We understand his desire to bring the greatest possible pressure to bear on the Legislature in support of his promise to raise taxes on higher incomes. Politics ain't beanbag. But the unnecessary infliction of pain is not consistent with an attitude of compromise."

His acolytes play with unfounded hyperbolic statements about "the sick should just die already" (sarcastic comments from a blog). Or directly from Mark Dayton himself,
March 24, 2011 “Everything that’s being debated and considered and decided now, as extreme as it is, as drastic as it is, as cruel as it is, as draconian as it is, it has effects on real people’s lives,”

That's just over the top hyperbolic speech. Histrionics that simply polarize and stand in the way of truth. The truth is that the legislature plan made significant increases in health and human services over the prior budget.
The end-of-session budget passed by Republicans — and vetoed by Dayton — would have boosted HHS spending by 8 percent over two years. An increase, but substantially less than the 21.3 percent biennial growth that would occur if current policies were kept in place.
Dayton, by contrast, would increase the budget by 20 percent over two years — cutting spending by little more than 1 percentage point from the projected amount. Since releasing his March budget plan, Dayton has offered to make $1.6 billion in additional cuts in an effort to “meet Republicans half-way” — but he hasn’t detailed where he wants the reductions to occur across the state’s $34 billion to $37 billion budget.

But even some at the Pioneer Press has seen the light, they know that simply chanting "tax the top 2%" and targeting the other guy, will never solve our budgeting problems. Even though they would go ahead with it, just to follow the line.

07/03/2011 "Taxing the rich is an article of faith for the governor and his base of supporters, and he will do his best to see it through, breaking eggs as needed along the way.
And to repeat, we're not necessarily against increasing the taxes of the rich in an already high-tax state, except that it is largely besides the point. It's a Band-aid.
The real issue is the accelerating demographic shifts that, it would seem, defy solution via taxation. We urge Gov. Dayton to lead in this area by laying out his long-term vision for addressing the demographic trends that are upon us."

Margaret Thatcher said "eventually you run out of other peoples money". As evidenced by their persistent headlong dash to increase spending, no solutions are coming from, or will be coming from, Governor Dayton, the Unions, most of the media, or the ABM. Reform is what the legislature is trying to do. And we need real reform, real solutions to overcome the demographic tsunami approaching. If you think that lacks compassion, you are far from right. Is it compassionate to simply allow the system to run headlong into its demise for everyone? At least a demise as we currently know it. Or is it not better to try to reform it and save it so that the really vulnerable among us can continue to be cared for in their times of desperate need?  And assure our economy does not submerge beneath waves of debt, sinking all of us.

Lest you should think this might be hyperbolic on my part, here is what the normally very timid and cautious CBO says about the possible debt scenarios
Growing federal debt also would increase the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget and the government would thereby lose its ability to borrow at affordable rates. Such a crisis would confront policymakers with extremely difficult choices [read this as disaster and impossible choices] and probably have a very significant negative impact on the country.

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