Thursday, October 08, 2009

Bakk the highlight of DFL Fall Festival

I didn't make it to the McLeod DFL event in Biscay last weekend, but I did make it to the Meeker event and had a great conversation with numerous DFL Gubernatorial candidates, including on awesome chat with Senator Tom Bakk.

The McLeod County Chronicle had a very nice review of Bakk's remarks in Biscay earlier in the day.
While the other DFLers trotted out well-worn party planks - affordable health care, green energy, more money for education - Bakk seemed to zone in on the biggest issue of them all. Jobs. Good-paying jobs.

Pure and simple, Minnesota and the nation will not get out of the current recession until people are back to work, earning a decent living for themselves and their families. Working families pay taxes; taxes equate into revenues for the government.

Simply put, without jobs, the recession will not end.

While Bakk was short on specifics on how to generate good-paying jobs for Minnesotans, he was the most realistic of the field in addressing "the elephant in the room," the huge state budget deficit (estimated at $6.6 billion) facing the state Legislature in the next biennium.

He estimated the next budget deficit will be twice as big as the one just averted, and "Minnesota cannot tax our way out of this."

Wow, a Democrat who has enough sense to know more taxes are counterproductive. No wonder he stood out from the rest, and no wonder he is not likely to get the DFL nod. He makes too much sense and flies in the face of party dogma of spending our way out of a recession.

Bakk's realistic view of the looming budget shortfall was refreshing. He went on to say, "We can't raise taxes $6.6 billion. We can't get it done by taxes alone. Our biggest challenge is our economy. We don't have jobs. The deficit is a symptom of that bigger problem."

Well put.

At the same time DFLers were gathering in tiny Biscay, the state Republican hopefuls in the governor's race were meeting in St. Paul, where House minority leader Marty Seifert of Marshall won the straw poll vote. Tom Emmer, a House member from Delano, was second. Both are conservatives, and take a hard line on the budget deficit. They indicated to party faithful that only deeper cuts in state spending will address the looming budget deficit. They plan to carry on Pawlenty's conservative approach and then some if elected.

It looks as if whoever wins the nominations, both sides of the aisle will continue the deepening stalemate that has paralyzed state government for the past eight years. Bakk at least gives a sign that someone understands that the middle-of-the-road approach may be a solution.

Both sides appear to be digging in their heels instead of seeking that middle ground.

What all of these political hopefuls must realize is that Bakk is right on the mark. Until Minnesotans have jobs to go back to, this state's budget deficit will never improve no matter how many tax dollars are thrown at the problem (DFL) or taken away through deeper cuts (GOP).

Tax revenues are the lifeblood of this state's government. People do not pay taxes when they are not working. It's that simple.

Bakk seems to understand that. Do the rest of them?
He's right. Like the old Rudy Perpich sticker..."Jobs, Jobs, Jobs".

Dori and I had the pleasure of talking to candidates at the Meeker event. We both walked away extremely impressed with Senator Bakk, Speaker Kelliher, and Mayor Rybak, in a strong field of candidates.

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