“Shadows of soldiers lay nearby. The dead ones finally reach a compromise.” – Tim Armstrong
As I have mentioned here before, when the Minnesota GOP came up with Tom Emmer as their gubernatorial candidate in 2010, I was not excited. If fact, I was disappointed. I knew, as everyone did (or should have) that Marty Seifert was much more electable. Seifert simply had a better chance to win, even if he was “T-Paw 2”. [Incidentally, the DFL made a similar mistake in choosing Dayton over Rybak or Kelliher, but that’s another story] Long story short, Emmer lost and here we are, amazingly, with the Republican majority in the House and Senate, while Dayton controls the executive branch. We made a mistake as a party, taking two majorities, but missing the third piece, and compromise is the punishment. This brings us to the current $1.8 billion difference and compromise is the price we pay for going 2 for 3.
Idealism is a funny thing. It tells many of us that we should not raise a single tax, not bring in a single dollar more of revenue to fix this budget problem. It tells us that this problem needs to be fixed with “cuts” only (of course we know they are not real cuts, but simply reduced increases). Our idealistic ways say that we would rather have a government shutdown than give in to Governor Dayton. The thing is, you can remain idealistic while tossing in a bit of pragmatism.
To do this, we need to look to the future. How can we fix this budget in a way that can get everyone on board, but still reap some benefits for the party and ultimately, the people of Minnesota? We can do it while satisfying one of the goals of the entire membership of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Eliminate business and individual tax credits. Call me crazy, but simplification of the tax code, if it is not one of our major party goals, certainly should be.
Now, I don’t have access to all the legislature’s budget crunchers or auditors and such, but it seems like this would be significant enough to fix the problem. And we eliminate as many as we need to make it work. Yes, it raises revenue, but look beyond that for a minute. Tax simplification gives the public a much better picture of what they’re actually paying and once the picture is clear, it would be much easier to reduce rates. Tax credits and deductions are not real reductions to tax payments or government revenue. They are methods of redistribution and social engineering. One of the simplest examples is the home interest deduction; we want people to own homes, so we take from everyone and give back to the homeowners. Why not just let everyone keep those tax payments in the first place?
Well, I’m sure you’re seeing the problem with that last question in this case. If we fix the budget by eliminating credits and deductions, we are not letting people keep that money. The government is keeping it. That’s true, but one step at a time. Pragmatism. We can’t get to flat, reduced tax rates in one fell swoop.
We take one step at a time on this path and, along the way, we fix this budget without raising tax rates or T-Paw-style user fees. It may not make everyone happy, but we can pass the budget and move on to the next battle. Compromise is not a bad word. It is a part of politics. If you don’t believe that, leave politics alone and go watch the Twins game. That’s your punishment.