Mark Dayton stepped right in to the Minnesota Gubernatorial race at a press conference held at the State Capitol. I don't think there was any speculation that he wouldn't run; he's just made it official.
During his speech, former U.S. Senator Dayton spoke about his background as a Minnesotan and public servant, criticized former Governors and their policies, and introduced his theme, "A Better Minnesota."
The thing that stood out most about his speech was his dedication to--if he becomes Governor--taxing the rich. I guess it's safer for him to say it than it is for other candidates; after all, Dayton is rich. He is an heir to the Dayton's department store fortune and spends millions of his own dollars on his various political campaigns. I suppose it's kind of like the unwritten rule in which a comedian can tell jokes or disparage people of his own race or creed and not get into trouble for it, whereas if you don't belong to a certain group but disparage it, you could be in big trouble. Dayton is talking about taxing himself and his peers, the people he grew up with and went to school with at Blake, isn't he?
Well, he called for taxing the wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans. But the definition, as published in the table on page 58 of the Minnesota 2009 Tax Incidence Study, of the wealthiest 10 percent shows their household income for 2011 is projected to begin at $136, 955. Does that figure fit your mental picture of a family rolling in so much excess dough that they should pay disproportionately high taxes to fund Dayton's programs? Not so much.
Besides taxing the rich, his other plans for Minnesota include throwing a lot of money at K-12 education, pre-school and lowering college tuition; retrofitting state buildings with heating and cooling methods using alternative energy to reduce "their carbon footprints;" highway construction and transit improvements; "affordable health care for all Minnesotans;" and several job creation programs.
He implied these spending increases and new spending projects will all pay for themselves. Oh, and the money from taxing the rich will help as well.
But what stands out most glaringly about his speech is that in the midst of all his ideas for "A Better Minnesota," he spoke not one word about cutting spending, eliminating wasteful spending, or saving money in any way. Just spending it. Spend, spend, spend. Because we all know that throwing money at things always fixes problems.
Completely ignoring spending cuts reveals an interesting difference about Mark Dayton, Gubernatorial candidate, as compared to his fellow candidates. As I said before, he's rich. So he thinks like a rich person. If something's broken, buy a new one. If there aren't enough staff to do the job, just hire more. There's no need to think about saving, because money is always abundant.
Which begs the question: Can Minnesota afford to have a rich man in the Governor's office during a deep recession?