There was a mismatch this morning on Esme Murphy’s program this morning. First, let’s start with the most outrageous thing Rep. Hilstrom said:

REP. HILSTROM: Yes, in 2005, I did have some booing prior to the shutdown. This time, that was not the case. I believe that the people of Minnesota understand what’s at stake here in Minnesota and we’re talking about whether or not we will balance the budget in a short-term way or a long-term way.

Rep. Hilstrom obviously doesn’t remember what Cathie Hartnett told Tom Hauser and Phil Krinkie:

HAUSER: No matter how this budget is resolved this year, can you guarantee that in 2 years that there won’t be another request for another tax increase, maybe on these same wealthy taxpayers?
HARTNETT: It could happen and it depends on what services we need.
HAUSER: At what point does this spiral end?

So much for raising taxes being the longterm solution. Let’s remember that State Demographer Tom Gillaspy said that raising taxes this year still wouldn’t prevent an oversized deficit in 2013.

Try as Rep. Hillstrom might, there’s no arguing the fact that raising taxes doesn’t solve Minnesota’s chronic deficit problem.

Next, I’d like to highlight Eliot Seide’s sad verbatim recitation of the DFL’s talking points. Here’s Seide’s recitation:

SEIDE: Well, the Republicans have failed to compromise with Gov. Dayton, who’s compromised repeatedly since this process began. And now we have the biggest layoff in state history; 23,000 state employees have been shut down and laid off.

If only the rich would pay just a little bit more, we could end this shutdown and prevent risky cuts to vital public services but people like Sen. Thompson, who you had on here earlier, said that there can’t be any new revenue, putting their ideology ahead of a practical outcomes for all Minnesotans.

What’s practical about raising taxes knowing that AFSCME, Gov. Dayton and the DFL will return 2 years from now for another bite at the ‘Tax-the-Rich’ apple?

Later, Seide puts his foot in it:

SEIDE: We see people like Sen. Thompson, who are saying there has to be an all-cuts budget. An all-cuts budget that the Republicans have produced will lay off or eliminate 30,000 public and private sector jobs. It’ll kick 140,000 people off health care. It makes the deepest cuts in Higher Education in the history of the state. It raises property taxes by $1,000,000,000. This is not necessary. We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.

I pray, pray, pray, pray pray that Eliot Seide makes his beliefs known far and wide. According to this KSTP-SUSA Poll, Minnesotans disagree with him by a gigantic margin:

Going forward, should Minnesota’s government increase spending? Decrease spending? Or continue to spend about the same amount as it has been?

8% Increase
60% Decrease
27% About The Same
5% Not Sure

You read that right; 87% of those polled said that spending should either be cut or kept the same. That’s 7 of 8 voters. If the DFL wants to stick with that position, that’s their right. It’s also a surefire way to get your political heads handed to you in 2012.

While Seide was reciting one DFL talking point after another, Esme Murphy sat there like a potted plant. She didn’t question anything Seide said. That’s particularly disturbing considering the fact that Sen. Thompson refuted most of the things Seide said. Here’s a transcript of some exchanges between Murphy and Sen. Thompson:

MURPHY: People are waking up to headlines like this one in the Star Tribune that spells out the additional costs of the shutdown, millions and millions of dollars a day on top of the economic and budget crisis we already have. What is the reaction in your district in Dakota County? I mean, what kind of feedback are you getting?
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, first of all, yes, there are costs associated with being shut down but there are obviously savings attached to the shutdown as well. We don’t know how all the numbers will work out.

The response that I’m getting, Esme, is that…obviously, we all have different districts with different demographic groups within our district but the sense is that most people believe that spending the same amount going forward as we spent the last biennium that just ended last Thursday is a reasonable number. So the feedback I’m getting is ‘We’ve gotta stop this spiraling cost of government so hang tough’ is the feeling I got.

Here’s another exchange:

MURPHY: Alright, in terms of a possible compromise, what kinds of additional revenue streams would you personally support?
SEN. THOMPSON: I am not supportive of additional revenue.
MURPHY: At all?
SEN. THOMPSON: Here’s my perspective. There’s two sides to this. There’s the revenue side and there’s the spending side. The reason we are where we are is we have put in place a system that structurally is to spiral the costs in a way that virtually everybody thinks is unsustainable. You’re seeing that internationally in Greece. You’re seeing it nationally in Washington, DC with the debt ceiling. You’re seeing it in California, Massachusetts, Illinois. So that’s why, at some point, I’m an irresponsible legislator if I support a system that I know will end up bankrupting my kids and grandkids. And that’s where we’re headed so that’s why I can’t sign up for that.

What’s interesting viewing the video is that Murphy was leaning towards Sen. Thompson. Her hand gestures were highly expressive, with her hands, at one point, almost in ‘prayer formation’. The signal it sent was that she wanted very badly to win Sen. Thompson over.

Fortunately, Sen. Thompson didn’t respond to the emotion but instead focused on whether legislators should agree with the DFL on increasing spending irresponsibly or whether they should do what’s right and sustainable.

What’s telling, too, is that Seide accused Sen. Thompson of being a blind ideologue for not agreeing to raise taxes. Based on Sen. Thompson’s detailed reply about what’s happening in Greece, in Washington, DC and in California, Massachusetts and Illinois, I’d argue that Sen. Thompson’s opinion is anchored in the horrifying facts that out of control spending is destroying countries and crippling big states.

That isn’t ideology-driven policymaking. That’s responding to the root cause of our current fiscal crisis. With Sen. Thompson, it’s about the trends and the numbers and figuring out what not to do.

Seide is the blind ideologue. His pleas for additional revenue are shallow enough. Still, they pale in comparison with his statement that “we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.” That’s a stunning statement. He even talked about “if the rich would only pay the same share of revenue as they did under Gov. Carlson,” we wouldn’t have this mess.

For the better part of 20 years, government got into the habit of increasing spending by 15% per biennium. It’s painfully obvious that that isn’t sustainable.

I wrote earlier that Cathie Hartnett admitted that raising taxes on “the rich” this year didn’t mean that the DFL wouldn’t return for another bite of that tax apple in 2013.

That means that the DFL’s budget is only sustainable with repeated tax increases.

That isn’t responsible budgeting. It’s like doing something reckless, then hoping for a positive outcome. That isn’t smart. It’s rather foolish.

What’s particularly insulting is Seide’s implicit claim that the money that’s currently being spent is money that’s being spent wisely. Frankly, that’s insulting in the extreme.

If Seide actually thinks that’s the case, he’s unfit for any leadership position in any organization. If he doesn’t think that, he doesn’t have the integrity to hold a leadership position in anything other than a corrupt organization.

The DFL’s arguments are being exposed. They aren’t playing well. 87% of poll respondents saying that spending should be frozen or cut isn’t what the DFL expected to hear.

Seide admitted that his stubbornness, along with Gov. Dayton’s, in holding out for a tax increase is hurting AFSCME workers badly. That isn’t doing what’s right for his workers. It’s doing what he and Gov. Dayton want.

Shame on Seide’s blind ideology. Shame on Rep. Hilstrom for mindlessly reciting the DFL’s talking points. Most importantly, shame on Esme Murphy for challenging Sen. Thompson, then acting like a potted plant while Eliot Seide recited other DFL talking points.

Thankfully, Sen. Thompson was a consummate professional. He was the only person who understood what the people of Minnesota wanted. He’s the only person who stood with Minnesotans in this fight.

He’s the one that said no to new spending rather than playing the ‘St. Paul game.’ His feet and his opinions stayed anchored in the real world.

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