“Vacation, Vacation, Vacation” Trumps “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” At Minnesota Legislature

Republican politicians love to cite private sector experiences as their guiding compass in legislative matters. They puff out their pin-striped draped chests and declare (feel free to use a Foghorn Leghorn voice if you’d like):

“In the private sector, we do audits and cut the fat we identify.”

“In the private sector, we know how to create jobs by golly.”

“In the private sector, we demand accountability from our investments.”

These kinds of private sector references got a lot of traction with voters in the 2010 elections. To voters, the private sector expertise seemed key to producing the “jobs, jobs, jobs” that Republican candidates were promising, promising, promsing.

For now, let’s put aside the question of whether the private sector really is more lean, efficient, and accountable than the public sector. For today, I pose a different question. Can you ever imagine private sector fans making this boast:

“In the private sector, we set a goal of punching out super early with major projects unfinished, so we have more time to be at home.”

That’s not one I hear a lot. Yet according to an article in yesterday’s Star Tribune, those in the Minnesota Legislature who are most likely to start sentences with “In the private sector” are…

…edging toward a historically early end to the legislative session, potentially ditching dozens of prized initiatives in their determination to head home and hit the campaign trail.

The tulips are up, the bushes are budding and it’s time to go home,” said Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, amid buzz that next Friday’s targeted start for spring recess could instead become a final adjournment.

Senjem has been cajoling lawmakers into adjourning by the end of the week, more than a month before the constitutionally mandated end.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, would prefer to go till the end of April. That would still be the earliest adjournment in 14 years.

No jobs bill because of...
Really? When the going gets tough, the tough gets…gardening?

I ask you, do you hear old Bill Cooper, the CEO at TCF Bank, declaring to his Carlson School cronies, “The tulips are up, boys, so let’s punch out early and head to our respective mansions?” Hell no, Bill the Bankster makes sure they all stay until every last bank fee is raised. That’s the way they do it “in the private sector!”

But among the private sector’s champions at the Capitol, it seems their goals are mighty modest.

“As far as I am concerned, if we can block a whole bunch of spending in a bonding bill and get the photo ID bill done, that’s enough,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, who faces his first re-election.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see them stay in session into the summer, like last year. As Will Rogers said, “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

But I have to say, with all the issues Minnesota faces — schools that need to be paid back, chronically unemployed workers who need jobs, structural deficits that need fixing — the earliest adjourment in 14 years seems pretty lame to many of us “in the private sector.”

– Loveland

9 thoughts on ““Vacation, Vacation, Vacation” Trumps “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” At Minnesota Legislature

  1. PM says:

    See, joe, you simply do not understand the difference between these two fine institutions: The business of business is to make money, while he business of a legislature is to get re-elected.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Here’s what bugs me. Republicans believe that the kinds of jobs created by bonding bills — building and rehabbing community structures and infrastructure — are not worthy of public support. Fine. I would respect them a lot more if they had the guts to say that directly to unemployed Joes the Plumber, Joes the Carpenter, Joes the Excavator, Joes the Contractor, Joes the Electrician, Joes the HVACer, Joes the Landscaper, Joes the Mason, Joes the Paver, etc. To the collective Joes and their families, they oppose “government spending” in the abstract, but they rarely have the guts to say and “and I’m sorry, but my fiscal conservatism means there will be no work for needed infrastructure construction projects to keep your family afloat during this tough time.” The “jobs, jobs, jobs” rhetoric they trot out during campaigns to win middle class votes has almost no substance behind hit.

    2. Erik says:

      As an aside… with no particular axe to grind…. When you think anemic economy and Keynesian pump priming, you think physical infrastructure projects. So you then want to bond to get those projects moving… But I’d assert it’s different this time. Notwithstanding very little new construction, skilled trades people are not hurting for work. Bottom rung white collar people are hurting for work.

      This is not the basis of Republican recalcitrance. They seem to find Dayton’s bonding dubious for other reasons.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        I’m not sure it is accurate that “skilled trades are not hurting for work.” CBS News Moneywatch reports:

        One area that is still suffering, despite some increases in the last couple of months, is construction, where the rate of unemployment is nearly 22 percent.

        Since January 2006, the goods sector has lost 20 percent of its jobs, while the services sector has lost just one percent.

        Twenty two percent is obviously a huge number. Some of those construction jobs are less skilled than others, but skilled trades are in the mix. I have to believe that within that 22% are plenty of people who could have a role on the rejected bonding bill projects.

      2. Erik says:

        Yes, and construction was my express caveat. Add to that, I’m not sure we have a good definition of what it means to be a “construction worker”. Are these the road crew guys? The framers? The concrete pourers?

        Its been my sense Joe the Plumber, Joe the Carpenter, Joe the Excavator, Joe the Contractor, Joe the Electrician, Joe the HVACer, Joe the Landscaper, Joe the Mason, and Joe the Paver are pretty busy. YMMV.

      3. PM says:

        I was talking to a friend who owns a home building/remodeling business, and clearly this is one of the areas that was hardest hit in the recent recession. lots of the people in this area go back and forth between housing and infrastructure/construction employment–the skill sets are pretty compatible, according to him.. It does sound as if things are coming back, though–he is getting pretty busy, although he was really scrounging for jobs to keep his core crew together not too long ago ( i got a couple of calls from him offering big discounts to do minor stuff around the house, and he was also willing to have his guys work directly for me, cutting out any of his general contractor cut, just to help them keep working–his feeling was if the job was small enough, it was simpler just for him to facilitate so he could keep his core people around)

  2. Ellen Mrja says:

    But I have to say, with all the issues Minnesota faces — schools that need to be paid back, chronically unemployed workers who need jobs, structural deficits that need fixing — the earliest adjournment in 14 years seems pretty lame to many of us “in the private sector.”

    Great point, Joe. That’s why none of these fine public servants will be receiving one single dime from me this year. Nor will anyone in the Do-Nothing-Congress. In the private sector, would they even have jobs?

  3. Newt says:

    Do-Nothing legislators are far better than Do-Stupid-Things legslators.

    The work is done. Adjourn, go forth and be useful (away from St Paul).

Comments are closed.