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.
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.”