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January, 2003

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DFL Dispatch

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Mike Erlandson, Chair
255 East Plato Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55107 www.dfl.org
Phone: 651-293-1200 Toll Free: 800-999-7457 Fax: 651-251-6325

DFL Dispatch: In Session
Legislature, Congress sworn in this week with daunting tasks at hand
In this issue (January 8):

- Outrage of the week: State House DFLers criticizes Pawlenty Administration for placing bureaucratic hurdles in terrorism fight, local funding

- Bush economic "stimulus" plan widely criticized as ineffective give away to the top 3%. Bush scheme does nothing for middle class economic stimulus, jobs creation. Sen. Dayton offers real stimulus plan

- Bush renominates Judge Pickering; lesson of Lott apparently lost on Bush, GOP

- Minnesota prison space problems pose serious questions for new legislature

_________________________________________________________________ MINNESOTA DFL LAWMAKERS GOT RIGHT TO WORK THIS WEEK as legislators were sworn in on Tuesday. House Democratic leader Matt Entenza called the Pawlenty Administration on the carpet for "imperiling the security of our Minnesota communities." Eighteen months after the events of 9/11, the Pawlenty Administration is proposing to pull cops, firefighters and other first responders off the street because of cuts to local aid, a move that will threaten the security of Minnesota communities. The average expenditure for police and firefighters by Minnesota cities is about 50% of their budget. In addition to the risk to security, the drastic cuts to Local Government Aid being considered by the administration as one way to balance the budget would also lead to higher property taxes.

Entenza notes that, "If you're slashing the local government aid for greater Minnesota communities or Minnesota suburbs, you're also cutting police and firefighters. We need to make sure that our communities aren't forced to pull cops off the street or firemen and EMTs out of the local firehouse. In many communities, particularly in Greater Minnesota, state aid is anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of city budgets. Common sense tells that if we cut that aid too drastically, we're going to force communities to reduce police and fire services at the very time we need them the most."

Unbelievably, before qualifying for funding, cities, counties and medical responders are being by the Pawlenty administration to fill out a 7-page report that lists the names of all the groups in their area that pose a potential terrorist threat, assesses whether those groups are planning to use weapons of mass destruction-including nuclear devices-and then calculates the number of casualties that such an attack could produce.

Instead of creating more bureaucracy, the Pawlenty administration should be focusing on ways to balance the budget and keep cops on the street. This is simple common sense.

Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum lashed out at Entenza and House Dems saying they are exaggerating the situation. It's tough to exaggerate the importance of good public safety in a time of terrorism, Mr. Speaker. * * *

REMEMBER THE DEVASTATING DEFICITS THAT REPUBLICAN "SUPPLY-SIDE ECONOMICS" CREATED IN THE 1980S? Remember high interests rates and passing our bills on to future generations? Over intense Republican opposition, the Clinton-Sabo deficit elimination and economic revival plan of the early 90s set the stage for the greatest economic expansion in American history. The latest round of Bush tax cuts targeted to the very highest incomes and the federal deficit exploding, it's like déjà vu all over again.

- EVEN THE CONSERVATIVE PIONEER PRESS OPINION PAGE PANNED THE BUSH "STIMULUS" PLAN AS INEFFECTIVE, FLUNKING ECONOMICS 101. It is an economic no-brainer that any economic stimulus plan must revitalize consumer spending.

- Economist Paul Krugman takes Bush to task for proposing a "solution" that he must know will not help the middle class and the economy grow. And the Star Tribune notes that, "[P]resident Bush said he wants to stimulate the economy, spur business investment and help the average citizen. But the centerpiece of his plan - eliminating the individual income tax on stock dividends - would do none of these three things, and it is astonishing that the White House expects voters to believe otherwise."

- Fortunately, OUR OWN SENATOR MARK DAYTON PROPOSED AN EFFECTIVE, COMMON SENSE ECONOMIC STIMULUS PLAN. Dayton's plan is fast acting, fair, and fiscally responsible, and would actually help the economy get moving. The Dayton plan helps create jobs and focuses on the job market, not just the stock market. Dayton's plan cuts taxes for farmers, small businesses and working Americans; curbs corporate tax abuses, and freeze rates for the wealthiest earners at current levels.

- DAYTON: "The tax and economic stimulus proposals which President Bush outlined offer relatively little tax relief for most Minnesota families and almost no help with our state's budget crisis. Only 15% of the President's package, which will eventually cost the federal Treasury $674 billion, would take effect this year to help stimulate an economic recovery. His package is really more of a re-election stimulus than an economic recovery stimulus.

"Like his earlier tax proposal, this one would move our country further toward a society in which the richest Americans pay relatively little in taxes, while the rest of Americans, almost everyone earning less than $120,000 per year, will face increasing burdens. This proposal adds a new bias: It favors unearned income - income produced by wealth - over earned income - income produced by work. And it again calculates that giving many American taxpayers small tax cuts will provide the political support for giving enormous tax breaks to the few richest taxpayers."

Well said Senator!

* * *

LESSONS OF LOTT UNLEAERNED? Unbelievably, President Bush sent the renomination of Judge Charles W. Pickering to the Senate this week. As an attorney, Pickering has defended bans on interracial marriage, as well as defending racists charged with cross burning. Bush and Republicans will - again - have to explain why they support a judicial candidate who is hostile to civil rights (by the way, federal judges have life tenure and are paid with our tax dollars, even after they retire).

The renomination of Pickering shows that when it comes to understanding the real concerns of African-Americans, Bush just doesn't get it. Republicans can't expect African-Americans to show trust towards Republicans when you continue to make appointments and create economic policies that are harmful to African-Americans, as the President has done. * * *

SAY IT AIN'T SO NORM: "I wouldn't be here without the support of the president." -Norm Coleman

After failing to speak out strongly on Senator Lott's racist comments, Coleman summed up his Johnny-come-last opposition to Lott, "I think it is certainly very clear where the winds are blowing on this." Norm's leadership for lackeys - always waiting to see which way the wind blows - was not a good start in office. So, keep your eyes peeled for Coleman's vote on Judge Pickering. Here's hoping Norm can find the wind when Judge Pickering's nomination comes up in the Senate.

* * *

STATE WILL RUN OUT OF PRISON SPACE BY JULY - The state's prison population is rising unexpectedly fast and Minnesota will run out of prison beds as soon as July. Department of Corrections officials say that new projections have the state's prisoner population increasing so sharply the state could fill two new prisons by 2010. The prison problem poses serious questions: tax, cut, let felons go free? * * * LEARN MORE AT www.dfl.org !

  

Mike Erlandson
Minnesota DFL Chair
  
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