Talking Points: Let's roll with Tim and see what kind of leader we really have
Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave his final State of the State address and basically said that the way Minnesotans have been living isn't working any more.
Our quality of life is not sustainable under current economic conditions; there can't be "quality of life" unless people have jobs, the governor says, and so the Legislature should adopt his plans to reduce corporate tax rates, exclude taxes on 20 percent for small businesses, exempt capital gains on some investments and create incentives to invest in small businesses and attract more businesses to the state.
Of course, what Pawlenty proposed generally met with skepticism from legislative leaders, including one who is going after his job.
They're at it again. Tax cut Tim and the spendthrift Democrats will be at loggerheads once again as the legislative session is just getting underway and the state deals with deficits that could total almost $7 billion in the next three years.
Well, to be honest, I've had enough. Call me a quitter, but I say the governor's opponents in the Legislature should just throw down the swords and shields and say to Pawlenty, "You win. Do whatever you want."
For the better part of seven years, Pawlenty has believed his way is the best way. And he usually gets his way.
Take unallotment, for example. Tell the truth: You had never even heard the word, much less knew what it meant, until Pawlenty began wielding it in the last couple of years. That's because it's a power that almost never had been used before because it was intended for emergency situations only. Now, you can argue that the economic mess of the last couple of years constituted an emergency, but there are a lot of people who believe it does not. Very hard times, to be sure. But an emergency?
Unallotment was another way for Pawlenty to prove that it almost always is his way or the highway when it comes to compromise. Meeting in the middle to the governor means meeting in his middle. He sets his terms and you are expected to compromise back in his direction only.
Granted, it hasn't been easy working with the Legislature, especially the last few years. There are many lawmakers who can match Pawlenty, hard head for hard head. But it can't be said that lawmakers aren't doing their work. They sent him a budget at the end of the last session. Pawlenty didn't like it -- so much so that he didn't even bother to attempt to get the legislature to budge off its positions. He vetoed and unallotted. Again.
So maybe it's time to find out if the governor does have all the answers.
Let him have it his way.
Yes, we elect representatives to do our business in St. Paul. Yes, it might not sit well that we'd be telling them to not fight what we want them to fight for. But what's all the fighting gotten us in recent years? Just a governor and a bunch of legislative leaders bickering back and forth while little progress is made in fixing what ails us in the short term and long term.
And yes, it's true that if we give Pawlenty a free rein, he won't be around to reap what he sows, having announced that he won't be seeking a third term this fall.
But so what? It seems that what he's really trying to do is impress upon Republican Party leaders his qualifications for a possible White House run in 2012. So let's let Tim show them what he's got. Or what he doesn't got. If what he's proposing works, more power to him.
And if it doesn't work, how much worse off can we possibly be? Let's pick his path and roll with Tim. If it's clear sailing, great. If we run into bears, we'll find out if the governor will be standing in front of us or behind us.