5 Reasons MN GOP Has More To Lose In Shutdown

Tough sell: Shutdown govt to protect wealthiest 0.3% from sharing in budget pain.
“They’re all to blame!” That will be the dominant public outcry if state government shuts down tonight at midnight. Politically speaking, both Governor Mark Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature will lose public support. But here is why Republicans have more to lose:

NUMBERS. In Minnesota right now, there are more GOP legislators than DFL legislators. So if incumbents are voted out in 2012 because of frustration over the shutdown, Republicans simply have more seats to lose. It’s a numbers game, working against Republicans.

TIMING. Dayton doesn’t stand for reelection until 2014. Republican legislators have to face the voters in 2012, when memories of the shutdown will be fresher.

NATURE OF SHUTDOWN COVERAGE. News coverage of a government shutdown constitutes a sort of “Why Government Matters To Everyone 101″ class. Republicans work very hard to make citizens to think of “government” as a monolithic army of wasteful, overpaid and irrelevant paper pushers that doesn’t help anyone. A shutdown weakens their core message frame, because it spotlights essential and popular government services, and shows the more human side of the public sector.

INSTITUTIONAL MESSAGING DISADVANTAGE. A Governor has the executive branch’s famous “bully pulpit” to magnify his messages. Moreover, a Governor usually has a relatively unified message, because he is a single person with a single set of messages. That’s one of the reason’s Dayton’s approval rating is much higher than the Legislature’s. It’s much more difficult for a few hundred diverse Republican legislators to keep their message persuasive and unified. Because of this institition-based messaging advantage for Dayton, it will be more difficult for Republicans to win the shutdown message wars. Not impossible, but difficult.

UNPOPULAR BARGAINING POSITION. This is the biggest problem for Republicans. Polls show that the public overwhelminginly supports the approach Dayton is pushing – a balance of both spending cuts and a tax increase on the wealthiest citizens. It’s a 2-to-1 advantage for Dayton. The polls also show astoundingly low public support for the specific kinds of cuts Republicans are pushing most agressively – cuts of vulnerable citizens’ health care. Only 8% of Minnesotans support such cuts. Therefore, endless news coverage of the “cuts only” GOP position particularly hurts Republicans in the court of public opinion.

Again, no one wins from a shutdown. But Republicans have more to lose politically if an agreement isn’t reached.

– Loveland

33 thoughts on “5 Reasons MN GOP Has More To Lose In Shutdown

  1. Joe Loveland says:

    An excellent 3-minute video budget primer from Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) presents the substantive disagreement here. Wow journalism.

  2. Newt says:

    5 Reasons the GOP has nothing to fear:

    1) Dayton is the face of the shutdown. 99 out of 100 Minnesotans can’t name their legislators. Even fewer know who their GOP legislators are, much less name their GOP leaders. Dayton owns this “result.” The public associates HIM with the shutdown.

    2) This is the first weekend of summer, and a beautiful one at that. People have recreational pursuits to do. Apart from state parks (which are a microcosm), government is not at all what people will be concerning themselves with this next week.

    3) Dayton is harming his stakeholders more than the GOP is harming their own. AFSCME bureaucrats and dependents of the state are the DFL’s base. They soon will turn against Dayton when the stakes become too great.

    4) Class warfare isn’t getting traction with the public. This seems to be the Dems’ last card, and it is failing at the national level as well. “Corporate jet owners, blah, blah, blah …”

    5) The majority of Minnesotans will quickly learn that post-shutdown life is indistinguishable from pre-shutdown life. Only the media and DFL care. This is what frightens them the most.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      “In retrospect, if I were doing it all over again, we would consciously avoid the government shutdown,” he (then-Speaker Newt Gingrich) told the Los Angeles Times in 1996. “It was clearly wrong.”

  3. Newt says:

    I woke up this morning. Birds were chirping. The sun had risen. I drove to work without delay. I will golf, boat and picnic this weekend. Life is good.

    Millions of Minnesotans will do the same as me, all summer long.

    This the DFL’s worst nightmare.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        The alleged point, as always, is that a devout solipsist the likes of Newt feels unaffected, therefore, it’s all good.

  4. Katie says:

    I woke up this morning. Birds were chirping. The sun had risen.
    But I couldn’t drive to work because they shut down state parks, that little microcosm, that will still leave thousands of Minnesotans unemployed.

  5. Ola Nordmann says:

    Newt just continues to espouse the current GOP line: “I got mine; screw you all.”

    This is why there needs to be class warfare. But the classes aren’t Democrats versus Republicans; it’s the components of successful society (large, happy middle class) versus ultra-elite, super-wealthy oligarchs and their toadies who they have kept ignorant and/or misdirected (average Joes who vote Republican in knee jerk fashion).

    it’s a steep hill to climb to educate and enlighten the ignorant and misdirected. Human psychology is such that even in the face of facts proving them wrong, they just dig in their heels and more strongly hold and espouse their faulty and wrong ideas. I’m not sure what the solution is, but research shows that this fallibility does exist and is widespread.

    I just hope we can solve these problems before it degenerates to the “let them eat cake” followed by the guillotine method of fixing the problems.

  6. Newt says:

    Next what we’ll have another Greece – where wards of the bankrupt state are rioting because their government benefits aren’t generous enough.

    News flash DFLers – the candy jar is empty.

    You’ll have to eke it out with only a $2 BILLION increase in state spending (the GOP’s budget). How Draconian.

  7. Joe Loveland says:

    Is it really unreasonable to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share of the pain in this budget?

    MN State and Local Taxes
    Effective Tax Rates, 2008

    Poorest 10%: 32.5% (the folks also bearing most pain from upcoming budget cuts)
    2nd decile: 13.3%
    3rd decile: 11.7%
    4th decile: 11.8%
    5th decile: 12.1%
    6th decile: 12.3%
    7th decile: 12.1%
    8th decile: 12.2%
    9th decile: 11.7%
    Richest 10%: 10.3% (the folks bearing the least pain from upcoming budget cuts)

    1. Erik Peterson says:

      The poorest 10% has a 32.5 effective tax rate? BS. I’ll allow for a miskey.

      I’ve made this point before, but combined tax incidence is skewed by effects of the sales tax. The purpose of the income tax is not to mitigate distortions caused by the sales tax. If the sales tax isn’t working, then fix the sales tax.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        If you doubt the data, your issue is with the data crunchers at the Minnesotan Department of Revenue. See the link.

        Just as it’s foolish to judge the fairness of a leader by only looking at one decision out of career’s worth of decisions, it’s also silly and short-sighted to judge the fairness of a tax system with by only looking at one of many taxes in the overall taxation mix. You need to judge the overall tax mix, because that is what ultimately impacts citizens’ financial bottom line.

        And if the overall taxation system is regressive — and Minnesota’s tax system is regressive, as shown by this table — the way to balance it is by adjusting a progressive tax, such as the income tax.

      2. Erik Peterson says:

        I’ve looked. I still don’t buy it. It presupposes that a person in the lowest decile has property and thus a property tax bill of an average income tax payer. This occurs, yes, but not often. It’s BS.

      3. Joe Loveland says:

        Two thoughts about fairness:

        1) The issue with the 1st decile is interesting, and important to understand when thinking about this issue. But remember, the AVERAGE Minnesotan pays an effective rate of 11.5%. All Dayton is suggesting is that we ask people earning $1 million/year to pay something closer to the tax rate that the AVERAGE John and Jane Q. Minnesotan pays. That’s fairness, not punishment. That’s modest tax system calibration, not dramatic “Marxist” style leveling.

        2) Where is the squealing about “class warfare” on the cuts side of the equation? After all, both Dayton and the Republicans have already agreed to massive cuts in government assistance, cuts that will harm soem classes over others. I agree that some cuts are unfortunately necessary. But if some classes bear disproportionate pain (in terms of lost health care coverage etc. due to cuts.), it is fair for Minnesotans who are largely unaffected by the cuts to share in the pain a different way…by paying a modest amount more in taxes.

    2. Newt says:

      Thanks for reminding us, Joe … But there is NO pain. The GOP has offered a $2 billion INCREASE in spending. Thus, no need to gouge anyone further.

      Additionally, Dayton’s autopilot spending wishes are sending us into the side of the mountain, full throttle. And Minnesotans aren’t buying it.

  8. Jim Klein says:

    Erik – No, it’s true, but usually those of us who do campaign stuff advise folks not even to get into the argument over its significance. It’s a relatively meaningless statistic, because that bottom 10% is made up of some people who have little or no income and pay little or no taxes, and a segment of retired homeowners who have little or no income and pay quite a bit of property tax. It’s two very very different demographics, so it’s kind of a nonsense statistic – When you divide the tax amount by the INCOME amount (rather than the net worth of the individuals) you just get that screwy result. (And income, not net worth, is what the calculation of tax burden is based on.) But 32.5% really is the number you get – it’s real but not very meaningful. The 2nd decile is also skewed a bit by the retired homeowner demographic.

    The important data is the 9th and 10th deciles. I’ve also seen the 10th decile broken down into tenths, and tax burden just gets smaller and smaller the higher up you go within the 10th decile. Also significant is the fact that even in the 3rd-through-6th deciles, there is so little progressivity.

    Finally, these stats aren’t influenced only by income and sales tax. Property tax is a third major factor, and the methodology (if one is willing to slog through it…) is quite sophisticated – it accounts for the fact that renters actually face a tax burden from property tax and factors in that a part of their rent is in fact a “passed along” tax. In fact, I think it under-acoounts for that, which means that the total tax burden may actually be even more regressive than it looks from this table.

    If one wanted to make the total tax burden progressive, it would be almost impossible to do so by making any change to the sales tax alone – even abolition of it. The income tax is where the real leverage is.

    1. Erik Peterson says:

      Thank you Jim.

      I’m glad you stepped in with some insight, but I feel affirmed and not corrected. Re that low decile, if it’s so screwy as to be meaningless then I take that to mean my instincts are right. Its BS.

    2. Erik Peterson says:

      I dont think anyone wants to make the total tax burden progressive. This has been the nature of of my objection, ie, we don’t use the income tax to mitigate the flatness or regressiveness of other taxes. We have different taxes for different things

      The phenonomena of 10th decile incomes having a lighter tax burden as measured by tax incidence is caused by the sales tax. Lets presume, using some round number examples, that a person making $50k basically spends all of disposable income. Lets presume a person earning $150 a year does not. They can actually save money. Those savings are not exposed to the sales tax. Thus, the 10th decile person can have a lower overall tax burden while having a higher income tax rate already.

      Thats an awful poor reason to justify a rate increase, that a certain demographic group can actually save money, and that must be addressed / targeted. In principle, I’m for progressive income taxes, but find the DFLs arguments for them absurd.

    3. Erik Peterson says:

      Add to that, Dayton’s rate increase won’t fix the tax incidence distortion… so we’ll be free to have this argument again in a few years when its observed 9th and 10th decilers have a lower tax burden. Class warfare is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

    4. john sherman says:

      The point needs to be made that in preserving the existing income tax rates by cutting the LGA, the effect is to drive up property taxes. Besides being hard on retirees hoping to live in their homes, this is not doing a lot of small businesses any good either

  9. Another reason is that the Republicans, led by the boorish failed taco baron and failed Republican Party of Minnesota treasurer Tony Sutton, see Governor Dayton’s soft-spoken, courteous manner and think he’s both stupid and a pushover. Wrong on both counts.

    He’s definitely smart enough to deny them a special session to grandstand on the budget that they didn’t bother working on during the regular session because they were too busy passing anti-science and anti-gay bills and just generally sniffing around people’s private lives.

    1. Newt says:

      My predictions are coming true … Dayton’s recent news coverage makes him the face of the shutdown. It’s all him from now on.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        Is Governor Dayton the face of the shutdown? Yes, largely. But that also gives him the stage every day to make his case. And polls show that his case has been selling well.

        Are Minnesotans mad at Dayton too? Yes. But because Dayton isn’t up for reelection until two years after Republican legislators, he has much more time for political wounds to heal.

        As I said, everyone gets hurt in this deal. But I’d much rather have Governor Dayton’s hand than Speaker Zellers’ hand.

        If I were Dayton, I’d really be stressing the fact that the Republicans’ insistence on banning stem cell research led to the shutdown. That’s a politically toxic issue for them. The polls show 6-to-1 support for stem cell research.

  10. john sherman says:

    I think there’s a point being left out in apportioning blame. Maybe a week ago Tom Bakk was on MPR and he said just as it looked like they might get somewhere, the Republicans trotted out anti abortion, anti stem cell research and the photo voter id; I waited for Republican push back and heard none. Summing up the end of the session, the strib reported the same thing and again no push back. I’m assuming the Republicans think they can live with that narrative, but what’s going to happen when the media asks exactly how attacking stem cell research helps balance the state budget?

    There’s another question: How does laying of 22,000 state employees as well as unnumbered private sector employees working on everything from day care to road construction provide jobs, jobs, jobs?

  11. Newt says:

    How much longer are 22,000 laid off AFSCME workers going to stand by Dayton when the only thing that stands between them and their paycheck is Dayton’s lone signature?

    This is about to backfire hugely on Governor Pluto.

  12. PM. says:

    I continue to be struck by the parallels between the budget debate here in MN and the national debate over the debt ceiling in Washington DC.

    In both cases there is a Democratic Executive, and effective Republican control of the legislature (ok, so we won’t quibble about the Democrats still controlling the Senate in DC).

    And the story in both cases seems to me to be the same–there has been significant compromise on the part of the democrats/executives, and little or none on the part of the republicans/legislatures.

    Which, as Ezra Klein points out, are the Republicans actually capable of governing? Can they compromise? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/wonkbook-can-the-gop-still-say-yes/2011/07/05/gHQAfTqpyH_blog.html)

    How to explain this change? Well, another interesting article this morning by Michael Lind (http://www.salon.com/books/history/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/07/05/lind_three_fundamentalisms)
    suggests what has changed–the nature of conservatism. He refers to the three fundamentalism that dominate the Republican party of today–religious fundamentalism, market fundamentalism, and constitutional fundamentalism.

    The bottom line, for me, is that Republicans are no longer conservative, and Democrats are no longer liberals ( see this article on how far Obama has moved to the right, adopting Republican positions: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/can-the-president-be-bipartisan/2011/05/19/AGomlQsH_blog.html).

    And it all gets back to my basic question–when did the Republicans become the party of CRAZY? This is not conservatism, this is…..

  13. PM. says:

    Oh, how could i leave out David Brooks, who also agrees that this Republican Party is CRAZY.

  14. PM. says:

    But enough of all this depressing stuff. Time to get to the real world–Housewives of Minneapolis!

    (what–St. Paul doesn’t have any housewives?)
    See, journalism is alive here in the Twin Cities!!!!

  15. Ellen Mrja says:

    “Shoulders squared, hips away.”
    “Shoulders squared, hips away.”
    “Shoulders squared, hips away.”
    Damn. I’ve been doing that wrong for years. Who knows what life I could have now if I had known this.

    P.S. I am so embarrassed for these bimbos and for Mpls.St.Paul magazine. I can remember when it was a good magazine. At least, I think I can…wait a minute….(*sound of light bulbs turning off*) Um..What was I talking about??? OMG!!!! Oh yeah, now I remember:

    “Shoulders squared, hips away…”

  16. Newt says:

    As usual, my intuition and intellect were 100% right….

    State: Taxpayers didn’t feel financial pinch from shutdown
    Posted by: Baird Helgeson

    Minnesota’s historic three-week state government shutdown had essentially zero impact on the state budget, according to a report released Tuesday by Minnesota Management and Budget.

    The state lost about $49.7 million in revenue and spent about $10.1 million preparing for and eventually recovering from the closure. That was offset by $65 million the state saved in salaries from the 19,000 state workers who were laid off.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      You were correct about financial impact, Newt.

      Was I correct about political impact, the original subject of this post? Dayton’s approval is 52% and the GOP legislators are at 29%.

Comments are closed.