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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Voting: The Consent of the Governed

Category: Kurt Zellers
Posted: 04/22/11 11:35, Edited: 04/22/11 11:52

by Dave Mindeman

Our Speaker of the Minnesota House made the following statement on a late night radio show. He has since claimed that he "misspoke" when questioned furthur by a reporter, but it is still worth noting....

"When you go to even a Burger King or a McDonalds and use your debit card, they'll ask you to see your ID [to be] sure its you," Zellers said. "Should we have to do that when we vote, something that is one of the most sacred -- I think it's a privilege, it's not a right. Everybody doesn't get it because if you go to jail or if you commit some heinous crime your rights are taken away. This is a privilege."

That's a long train of thought for a misstatement. Zellers and his colleagues do not treat the right to vote with any sanctity. And that is because the Republican strategy depends on putting obstacles in the path of certain voting blocks.

In the old South, the Dixiecrats (Democrats who turned Republican when the Democratic Party would no longer support segregation), would put obstacles in the path of the poorer African-American population -- literacy tests, citizenship tests, or a poll tax.

Today the obstacles are more subtle. The Supreme Court has ruled all of these obvious obstacles unconstitutional, but the obvious has been replaced by intimidation and pre-voting requirements.

In Minnesota, we have a registration system. It is simple and straightforward and can be done on voting day if needed. It makes voting what it should be - easy and unencumbered.

But Republicans have success when the number of voters are reduced. In 2010, the Republican "landslide" was done with an offyear election reduction in turnout - around 50% nationwide. When you can win with 51% of a 50% turnout, then you are governing with the slimmest of majorities.

Yet, the GOP thinks that any win is a mandate. A reason to push through ideology and social contracts that only a minority of the minority favor.

To keep their hold on this usurpation of power, they need to manipulate one of our rights - the right to vote. Zellers tried to confuse that right while talking about voter identification. Because, deep down, no matter how he corrects himself, Zellers and his Republican friends don't really believe in voting as a right for everybody. They only believe in the electoral results of getting the right people to the polls.

Students, the urban poor, the homeless, and others in poverty are NOT the Republican constituency. And the GOP has shown their disdain for these groups with their governmental policies.

This country was founded on government by consent of the governed. And that consent is derived from everyone, not just those who have a picture on a card.
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Moving To Avoid Tax Hikes? Good Luck Finding State That Hasn't

Category: Kurt Zellers
Posted: 02/18/11 18:33, Edited: 02/18/11 19:29

by Dave Mindeman

Someday, a Republican is going to fact check what they say....but I'm not holding my breath.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch:

"This is an economic argument. This is a numbers argument. When you look at what governors in 49 other states are doing to make their states competitive, that's lowering taxes. That's improving the business climate."

MPR did a report on this and pointed this out.....

But those statements aren't exactly true. The governor of Illinois recently signed an income tax hike on all residents; the governor of Connecticut proposed sweeping sales and income tax increases; and Rhode Island's governor also says he'll propose a tax hike. And while the governor of California hasn't proposed a tax hike in his budget, he wants voters to approve an income tax hike and sales tax increase. And that's just this year.

MPR did an interview with Todd Haggerty with the National Conference of State Legislatures. He brought out the state statistics:

Numbers compiled by Haggerty's group showed that 12 states raised taxes by 1 percent or more last year. And in 2009, 15 states raised income taxes, 17 states raised sales taxes, 18 raised tobacco taxes, five raised alcohol taxes and 20 states raised corporate taxes.

Looking at that makes me wonder where all these people moving to avoid taxes are going to go.
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Yes, Rep. Zellers, Question Status Quo - the Last 8 Years Of It

Category: Kurt Zellers
Posted: 01/03/11 01:55, Edited: 01/03/11 01:56

by Dave Mindeman

In a kind of "warning" about what will happen in this legislative session, Speaker to be Kurt Zellers gave us his take on where we are and where we are going. A couple of lines in this Star Tribune Op-Ed stand out:

Incentives for economic recovery will require sacrifice. With a $6 billion budget deficit, some tough decisions will need to be made. Minnesota families have made changes in their spending habits to live within limited means. It is time for state government to do the same.

There is a problem with Rep. Zellers premise here. Sacrifice is in order to be sure, but what Rep. Zellers is telling us is that sacrifice does not fall on everyone. The ones who feel the strain of an economic recession are also the ones who must put forth the sacrifice.

Tough decisions will need to be made....yes, that is true. But the decision process implies that we will have all the choices on the table. In Rep. Zellers world, this is not true. We are being asked to make a choice as to who will feel the most pain, not who will help resolve the problems.

When Minnesota families make those changes in spending habits they do not make changes based on cut backs alone. Some of them have changed jobs. Some have worked with small raises. Still others have looked for second jobs or to families and friends for help.

Nobody assumes that their choices are limited to deprivation alone. Sure, the first thing you do is cut back on the items that you can live without for now. But what have we been doing in state government for 8 years?

In a recession our needs have increased....yet Rep. Zellers chooses to ignore that fact and tells us that revenue options are simply not available.

Zellers has more:

Government spending needs to come off cruise control. Our philosophy is to spend less through real structural reforms and innovation, steering government toward priorities and better controlling the speed at which it spends.

Republicans have been worshipping at the altar of this mysterious reform for years. Yet, it remains a solution always just out of reach....details always unknown. And in addition, priorities are proclaimed without any word on what they are.

There are real solutions out there. And they are well within our grasp. We can still take some cost cutting. Efficiencies have been found and more are probably available.

But a short term income tax surcharge could give back the schools the $1.4 billion we OWE them. Yes, it is in staute, Rep. Zellers. You signed onto it.

Racino funding isn't pleasant but it, too, is a possibility. And of course,Governor Elect Dayton has repeatedly offered solutions to the public. There were no mysteries involved here....he was clear. And he was elected on that basis. For Rep. Zellers to ignore that, is to ignore at least part of his "will of the people".

Zellers comes to a conclusion:

Citizens have entrusted us to question the status quo and make tough decisions that utilize taxpayer dollars for the core priorities of the state.

When you question that status quo, Rep. Zellers, let's consider the last 8 years of "status quo". Question that. Question all of it. Then maybe we can truly find that elusive consensus.
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