“$110M Closer?” Dayton Loses Headline War of the Day

Your move, Mr. Dayton.
Today’s Star Tribune has headlines on the front page and after the jump declaring that Governor Dayton and Republican Legislature are “$110M Closer,” due to a compromise offer from the GOP yesterday.

Winning this headline is a big PR win for Republicans. For months, they’ve struggled to find a way to look like they’re compromising without actually, well, you know, compromising. Amazingly, they talked yesterday’s headline writers into it.

But does the headline carry the truth to newspaper scanners? The Republicans offer yesterday was that they would increase spending in part of the budget – education and courts – and decrease spending in yet-to-be-determined other areas of the budget. Now, that’s movement. But it’s movement on the budget recipe rather than the budget overall. What the Republicans did yesterday is like increasing the amount of chocolate chips in a cookie recipe and decreasing an equal amount of sugar, and then claiming they’ve made more cookies.

This headline would be accurate if the months-long debate at the State Capitol had been about the size of the education and courts budgets (i.e. more sugar or more chocolate chips?). But that obviously hasn’t been the source of the stalemate. The lengthy debate has been about the size of the overall budget (i.e. How many cookies?). For months, Dayton has said there needs to be bicameral agreement on an overall budget target, and that the compromise needs to be between his preferred target and the Republicans’ preferred target. There was absolutely no new movement on that sticking point yesterday, making it truly remarkable that the Zellers won the headline.

Think of it this way: If Governor Dayton holds a news conference today and offers to cut his income tax increase by $110M, while increasing a different tax on the wealthy by $110M, would this new “compromise” have brought the two sides “$110M Closer”?

I’m floored that they pulled this off. PR wizardry.

– Loveland

2 thoughts on ““$110M Closer?” Dayton Loses Headline War of the Day

  1. PM says:

    Maybe a better analogy–they are just moving the chocolate chips around in the cookies–a few more here, a few less there ( I always hate it when I get one of those cookies that have almost no chips in them).

    Do you think that Dayton should have come out and blasted them and said that this was no compromise at all? He basically agreed that this was a step forward.

    Maybe Dayton is trying to play good cop here–offer a carrot now and then? A bit of positive reinforcement?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      For negotiating vibe, Dayton felt he needed to say something nice to create some hope for progress. But for PR vibe, he clearly needed to come out stronger to explain what this offer was and was not.

      If the Governor wanted to stay with his football analogy, he could have gone with “They shuffled their line-up a bit, but unfortunately, the ball is still sitting at the 20-yard line and I’m waiting at midfield.”

Comments are closed.