Friday, February 13, 2009

Tim Pawlenty and His Self-Serving Agenda

The only good thing about Sarah Palen's introduction at the Republican Convention last year in St. Paul was that Tim Pawlenty had to stand by and watch his wish for a vice presidential nod go up in smoke. He continues to do nothing good for Minnesota and just looks out for the fat cats. I can't figure out if he is just living in his own little bubble or has zero compassion for people, or both. My guess is both.

As usual, Pawlenty's plan is just self-serving. He is setting himself up for his bid for president in the 2012 race. Reported in the Minnesota Independent News, Pawlenty's plan is a grim one:

"Under Pawlenty’s proposal, adults without children would no longer be eligible for state health insurance programs, while coverage for adults with kids would be limited to those earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($21,200 for a family of four). It’s estimated that 84,000 Minnesotans would lose their health insurance under the proposal. Despite these proposed cutbacks, the budget for health and human services spending would still increase by 9.6 percent over the next two years.

Higher education would also take a significant hit. The University of Minnesota would lose roughly $150 million in funding, while the the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system would be out $146 million. The cuts represent an 8.2 percent reduction in spending on higher education from the current biennium.

Pawlenty also proposed additional cuts to local government aid, which has been repeatedly slashed in recent years. Under the governor’s plan, such spending would be reduced an additional 5.4 percent, to $2.9 billion."

Comments from the community, posted on Minnesota Independent News, have been strong:

Pat Mellenthin, executive director of The Arc of Minnesota, on proposed cuts to health and human services:

"The Governor may try to paint this as simply reducing the growth in HHS spending, but let’s be honest. The projected growth in HHS spending is not intended to fund excesses. Those projected increases in spending are based on anticipated real costs and real needs of real people. The Governor can’t pretend that people’s lives won’t be seriously impacted by his proposed cuts."

Robert Bruininks, president of the University of Minnesota:

"Gov. Pawlenty’s budget recommendations today are just the first step in a long budget process. His proposal for the university’s budget carries with it enormous consequences. It will impact the quality and affordability of the education we provide. It will impair our ability to serve as a job creation engine for the state through research and development. And, it will have an inevitable impact on our workforce, tuition and our ability to attract research grants - just as it did five years ago when the state cut $195 million from the university."

Dane Smith, president of progressive think tank Growth & Justice:

"Minnesota’s shared prosperity and quality of life rest on a foundation of wise public investment in human capital and physical infrastructure. This budget plan threatens that already weakened foundation with a dubious and unrealistic cuts-and-shifts strategy."

R.T. Rybak, Mayor of Minneapolis:

"We recognize that the current financial situation needs a shared sense of sacrifice. However, it’s unfortunate for the taxpayers of Minneapolis that the Governor is looking to make the state’s lack of financial management another burden for our residents."

Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, on a proposed wage freeze for state employees:

"Our members earn on average $38,000 a year, and like most Minnesotans they’re struggling paycheck to paycheck and shouldn’t have to sacrifice alone while corporations see their taxes cut in half."

Dave Van Hattum, policy program manager at Transit for Livable Communities, on a looming $91 million shortfall for regional transit providers:

"Without addressing the transit operating deficit, the Governor will prevent people from reaching their jobs. This doesn’t make sense in this economic climate. At a minimum, maintaining public transit service must be part of a Minnesota budget aimed at advancing prosperity."

Jan Malcolm, CEO of Courage Center, a Minneapolis-based physical rehabilitation facility:

"While our services would be cut by almost $1.7 million under the proposed budget, the broader effects on the community would be far more severe. The Governor proposes to completely eliminate physical, occupational, speech and audiology therapies from all public health insurance programs for adults in need of rehabilitation."

John Van Hecke, director of operations and planning for progressive think tank Minnesota 2020:

"The Governor’s budget recommendations continue the tired conservative policies that failed middle-class Americans these last eight years. Slashing investment in health care, communities and colleges while handing out tax giveaways to large multi-nationals will not create good-paying jobs for working Minnesotans. This plan will only make Minnesota’s recession worse."

I work in social services during the day. I have seen cut after cut to this area. I have seen wonderful people with debilitating physical ailments and mental disabilities have more taken away from them, while the wealthy get tax breaks. Once again, Pawlenty is proposing cuts to people that have next to nothing. Is this man evil? This doesn't even touch on all the other issues mentioned that will really affect everyone.

One of my favorite quotes addresses compassion very well:

"How far you go in life depends on
your being tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged,
sympathetic with the striving and
tolerant of the weak and strong.
Because someday in life you
will have been all of these."

George Washington Carver

Remember this, Governor Pawlenty. You too might be in the same boat someday that some of these people are. Although I doubt you will be without money or the best of health care.

The idea of this man being in an even bigger office in the future is just plain scary. There is no compassion, just a self-serving agenda that involves getting ahead. He can only see the power and recognition he can get and the bottom line on the budget sheet.

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