Monday, April 30, 2007

Memo to DFL: No Capitulation

By Christopher Truscott

As the legislative session nears its decisive moments there’s bipartisan consensus that the big issues are education, property tax relief and transportation.

But beyond the harmony between DFLers and Republicans as to which issues are most important, there is a very critical difference.

DFLers have offered a comprehensive plan to fund the critical items, while Republicans are content to say these issues are important, but remain unwilling to do anything substantive to move our state forward.

Leadership means making tough decisions. For the time being DFLers are doing this with plans for a higher gas tax to pay for pressing transportation needs and a small income tax hike on the wealthiest Minnesotans to fund real property tax relief and pump desperately needed revenue into public schools after four years of sub-inflationary investment.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his allies in the Legislature have made it clear they’re determined to stand with the super-rich at the expense of everyone else. The failed policy of “no new taxes,” rejected overwhelmingly in last year’s elections, is apparently good enough for the surviving Republicans. They’re hoping against hope that the people don’t notice they’re offering no vision for Minnesota’s future.

With so much on the line, it’s imperative the new DFL majority not fold in the face of the governor’s veto threats. Selling out the future, the most important issues, for the sake of short-term political considerations is an act of unforgivable cowardice that transcends party labels.

The message is simple:

DFLers want to deliver for people in all corners of our state and Republicans are determined to defend the status quo and the richest 1 percent of Minnesotans.

DFLers are being honest with the public while Republicans are, once again, promising something for nothing.

DFLers want progress while Republicans say stagnation is just fine.

Pawlenty and his backers in the Legislature absolutely cannot be let off the hook. Politics as usual got us into this mess. Resolve and political courage will lead us to salvation. People are waiting for leadership. They’re sick of the self-congratulatory deal-making that produces sub-standard results year after year after year.

There is more at stake in the next few weeks than merely winning a political debate and positioning for the next election. What happens between today and the end of the session matters not just in the here and now. It will also have dramatic effects in the years to come.

It’s time to decide whether we will continue as a great state or accept something less than exceptional in the future.

Elections certainly have consequences, but even more important is the work of political leaders in the weeks, months and years after voters go to the polls.

It’s time to stare down the dwindling minority determined to stop change at every corner. Their moment has passed. The future belongs to those willing to embrace it and work to fulfill its promises.

This is a time for action, not capitulation.

It’s time for progress, not rhetoric.

It’s time to deliver results, not excuses.

It’s time for courage, not timidity.

It’s time to lead, not follow.

Anything less is unacceptable.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at chris.truscott@gmail.com. No jokes today. Sorry.

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