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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Oxymoron: DFL Leadership

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/22/07 15:16

by Christopher Truscott

Anyone who thinks elections matter and public opinion is relevant should take a long look at the Minnesota Legislature.

On the biggest issue of this session, a small tax hike on the super rich, DFL leadership folded. They had Tim Pawlenty on the ropes and then chickened out and let the governor off the hook.

So desperate were they to launch their "Blame Pawlenty" tour, DFLers failed to fight the battle that needed fighting. If you're not going to stand by it, a strong plan for property tax relief and education funding really doesn't mean anything.

This governor has made it abundantly clear that he'll stand with the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else. DFLers should've bludgeoned him with it rather than caving after the first round of vetoes. It was a stunningly gutless display from a newly empowered majority.

The party's big names will crow about ending the session on time, but they failed. They failed to lead, deliver and, even worse, they failed to launch a convincing fight.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at chris.truscott@gmail.com. He's taking a summer vacation from politics.
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Immigration Reform Needs Big-Picture Approach

Category: US Politics
Posted: 05/19/07 23:21

By Christopher Truscott

The immigration proposal forged by a bipartisan group of senators seems just fine and marks a decent starting point in dealing with this contentious and important issue.

But if we only focus on reforming bureaucratic processes and increasing border enforcement we're doing little more than treating the symptoms of a much larger problem.

If we truly want to reform our immigration system we have to play a leading role in breaking the cycle of unspeakable poverty in which millions from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn struggle to endure each day.

Absent that, no amount of border security, guest worker programs or pathways to citizenship will significantly stem the flow of northward migration ? illegal or otherwise.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Widespread poverty and concentrated wealth cannot long endure side by side in a democracy."

Certainly if he were with us today he'd say the people of the Americas cannot meet their full potential so long as just one-third prospers and two-thirds languish.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at chris.truscott@gmail.com. He thinks in the long-run places like Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay will be more important than Iraq.
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Minnesota Showdown Over Tax Fairness

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/17/07 12:33

copied from Progressive State Network newsletter....

Written by Nathan Newman

With a stroke of his veto pen, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty blocked one of the most progressive tax plans in the nation: tax cuts for 90% of the state's homeowners to be paid for by an income tax increase on the wealthiest 28,000 taxpayers in the state.

Analysis by the Minnesota Budget Project had shown that the wealthiest 1% of Minnesota households (those married families making more than $354,758 per year) paid only 9% of their income in state and local taxes, far less than the 12% of income paid by most middle class families in the state.

To rectify this regressive tax system (unfortunately all too common in states), the Minnesota legislature approved a budget that created a new income tax rate of 9% of income to be levied on incomes over $226,230 for single filers and incomes of $400,000 or more for married couples. This revenue would be used to limit property taxes to no more than 2 percent of family income, returning the difference in refund checks. Polls showed that 72 percent of voters favored the higher tax rate for the wealthy as a way to lower property taxes, but Gov. Pawlenty chose to protect his wealthy campaign contributors rather than allow property tax relief for the middle class.

Responding to Pawlenty's veto, the legislature is preparing a pared down budget without the income tax increase, but also without the property tax relief or planned increases for early childhood programs that had also been part of the program.

It's unfortunate that Minnesota had a chance to enact model tax fairness legislation, but instead will likely end up with a status quo budget due to the Governor's veto.
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