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POLITICS, The Great Minnesota Governor's Race 2010

The Great MN Governor’s Race 2010: Choices for Governor

One thing the “Choices for Governor” television ad supporting MN gubernatorial hopeful Tom Emmer (Tea Party Republican) says is true: “Minnesotans have choices have for governor.” After that first statement, the rest of the ad is an insulting oversimplification of issues that Minnesotans care deeply about. The ad continues, ” If you support Obama’s Healthcare plan… then your choices are Mark Dayton or Tom Horner.”

STOP RIGHT THERE. Minnesotans demand more than slogans and soundbytes, so here are some facts. Mark Dayton (D) has admitted that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Patient Protection Act”) has flaws, but does not favor taking away all the benefits that the Patient Protection Act provides, including the provision that allows young people to remain insured through a parent’s health insurance policy until the age of 26. Mark Dayton supports patient protection and health care affordability.

Tom Horner (a 30-year veteran of the Republican Party running as an Independent) told the St. Cloud Times that he supports the Patient Protection Act because it makes health care accessible to more Americans, but that we should “move to a system that rewards outcomes [and] good health.” Although his position on Patient Protection and Affordable Care is more in line with Emmer, like Dayton, Horner admits the Act has flaws.

Tom Emmer, by contrast, has vowed to repeal Patient Protection and Health Care Affordability in effect dumping thousands of kids who are in college, or recently graduated and looking for work, out of the health care system; allowing insurance companies to drop coverage of sick patients at the companies’ own discretion; and denying coverage altogether to patients with a pre-condition as defined by the insurance company – not the patient or his/her physician; and ending the tax breaks to small businesses that are tied to the Patient Protection Act..

Emmer’s actual “plan” for health care reform  is a desire to amend the state constitution, thus enabling health insurance companies to charge unlimited premiums, regardless of economic conditions — forever — and removing all the aforementioned patient protection, accessibility and affordability benefits of the Patient Protection Act. Even if Emmer had produced any kind of evidence that this was a good idea for individuals, physicians, businesses (other than health insurers) or the economy, uninsured individuals would continue to drive up the cost of health care for everyone. Furthermore, his ideas are deemed unconstitutional by lawyer and former U.S. attorney David Lillehaug.

THERE’S MORE: The ad goes on to say, “and [if you] think we should raise taxes to balance the state budget, then your choices are Mark Dayton or Tom Horner.” However, based on what President Reagan’s budget director, David Stockton, told 60 Minutes, a more accurate statement would be “and  [if you] understand we need to raise revenue to balance the state budget, your choices are Dayton or Horner.”

Both Dayton and Horner have proposed tax increases in their budgets because they plan to balance it. Dayton favors a progressive income tax which avoids burdening the middle class; Horner supports a more regressive policy which places a tax on goods like clothing and caskets; and services such as haircuts, funerals and legal fees.

Emmer doesn’t really address balancing the budget with any specifics other than promising to reduce income taxes, and to reduce or eliminate corporate taxes. He often reiterates a sound bite indicating that the reduction of taxes creates jobs but offers no evidence – empirical or historical – that this is the case. There is some evidence, however, that lowering taxes creates jobs overseas, which does nothing to help  unemployed Minnesotans.

According to the Financial Times (September 14, 2010):

“Our own examination of US non-residential investment indicates that the reduction in capital gains tax rates failed to spur US business investment and failed to improve US economic competitiveness.

The 2000s – that is, the period immediately following the Bush tax cuts – were the weakest decade in US postwar history for real non-residential capital investment.

Not only were the 2000s by far the weakest period, but the tax cuts did not even curtail the secular slowdown in the growth of business structures.”

The “Choices for Governor” ad is paid for by “Minnesota’s Future as an Independent Expenditure Without the Approval of any Candidate nor is any Candidate Responsible for it” – a vaguely named group which has been sued for “failing to detail the full extent of donor information required by law in their last finance report. According to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, the group has shifted its behavior.” (Minnesota Independent, November 1, 2010)

Visit the Minnesota Secretary of State website to find your polling place and see a sample ballot.

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