Democrats are already denouncing President Bush’s economic stimulus plan, which will be released Tuesday, as “tax cuts for the rich.” (See the plan? Who needs to see the plan?) So the Democrats’ trusty war-horse will be dragged out of the barn for one more trot around the pasture. Will it work?
Here in the formerly-liberal state of Minnesota, there is some encouraging news. Our governor-elect, Tim Pawlenty, ran and won on a no new taxes pledge, notwithstanding the fact that the state faces a projected $4.5 billion deficit over the next two years. (If you rely on mainstream media for your news, it is a closely-guarded secret that the amount of the “deficit” is almost exactly equal to the projected increase in state spending over the same period. So if taxes, spending and the economy are all flat, the deficit disappears.) Since the election, nearly all conventional media outlets have been promoting the need for tax increases; only local radio host Jason Lewis, along with the Governor-elect himself, have been holding the line.
This morning’s Minnesota Poll, published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, indicates that Minnesotans are squarely behind Pawlenty’s approach. Given six options for dealing with the state’s projected deficit, a whopping 76% chose “cut state spending.” (It is reasonable to assume that an even larger percentage would have supported “freeze state spending.”) The second-to-least popular choice, at 37%, was to “raise taxes.”
Pawlenty’s victory illustrates the principle that the messenger is as important as the message. Pawlenty is a tremendously talented politician, who at age 41 may have a future on the national stage. He is such a palpably nice guy that even the staunchly Democratic Star Tribune, in an editorial this morning, calls him a “leader of obvious intelligence and decency” whose ten years in the legislature “have shown him to be a person of substance and genuine commitment to public service.” (Of course, they’re trying to soften him up for their plea to raise taxes.)
There are obvious differences between the state and federal levels; for one thing, we’ve seen very little effort from either the Administration or Congressional Republicans to restrain spending. Still, the fact that the vast majority of Minnesotans have no wish to raise taxes to fund ever-growing government offers hope that the Democrats’ class warfare theme will once again fall on deaf ears.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
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