Last night, I briefly touched on the shutting down of Minnesota’s state government by an intransigent Republican legislature that values keeping the upper 2% from having to pull their own weight tax-wise over the public good. I also mentioned another factor that led to the breakdown of state budget talks: The state Republicans’ obsession with sticking their noses in our private lives, and especially our bedrooms.
As Sally Jo Sorensen notes over at Bluestem Prairie:
Though elected on promises of jobs, jobs, jobs, and cutting government spending, the new majorities in the senate and the house simply could not control their collective obsession with sex. Rather than hammer out a budget in May, they wasted time fetishizing marriage, passing a bill to chisel inequality into the state constitution, first in the Senate, then–on the final weekend before adjournment–in the House, where four Republicans had the good sense to be rational. (For the headline, I take the number of Republicans in both chambers who voted for the marriage amendment and who supported the no-compromise stance).
The other 105 Republicans couldn’t stop thinking, or at least listening to those who spend a lot of time thinking, about dudes kissing. And marrying. And-What-That -Might-Do-To-The-Children.
Meanwhile, their resolve hardened about no compromise on keeping the state running, since somewhere, a millionaire might have to pay higher taxes, a thought that terrifies many in today’s Republican party even more than the notion of butt sex.
Ditto with bringing abortion restrictions to the table. Though it made many uncomfortable, Gruenhagen put his finger more or less on the money of what troubled the caucuses. Someone, somewhere, was having some perverted fun, and one could blot out those thoughts by appealing to the consequences.
Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey makes the abortion theme the centerpiece of his article on the budget talks breakdown:
During budget negotiations the week before Friday’s government shutdown, Republican leaders pressed Gov. Mark Dayton to include a ban on abortions at 20 weeks gestation, a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions and a ban on some forms of stem cell research. Even as the shutdown of Minnesota government had begun, the principal anti-abortion lobby, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, continued to push its agenda.
On Thursday, as last-ditch efforts at a budget deal were being negotiated, MCCL pressed for a renewed ban on somatic cell nuclear transfer, a method used in stem cell research and a technique the group calls “human cloning.”
[Democratic state] Sen. Tom Bakk told Minnesota Public Radio on Friday morning that it was shameful that the GOP included “things like restricting a women’s right to choose, things like making it a crime for the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic to do stem cell research.”
“There was this huge list of things they just had to have to even borrow money,” he said of the final negotiations where the GOP wanted to shift education funding down the road and borrow from future tobacco settlement money.
He said that even former Gov. Tim Pawlenty demanded social policy be removed from budget negotiations during his tenure.
And this is where the state’s Democrats, led by our governor, the very grown-up and principled and intelligent Mark Dayton, have shown their wisdom in contrast to the Democrats in Washington, DC: Rather than letting themselves and the state be held hostage by Republican water torture of the “we’ll give you a few weeks’ reprieve if you agree to being partially hosed today so we can hose you even harder a few weeks from now” variety, they have made coming back to the bargaining table contingent on agreeing to work on a full budget deal, not a stopgap, and without an expensive special session where the Republicans can grandstand for the cameras.
It’s not surprising that the smarter, more restrained, more mature persons among the Republican legislative caucuses realize that their leadership is making them walk into a minefield. One Republican freshman legislator, Mike LeMieur of Little Falls, was quoted as follows: “I personally think the Republicans will probably be more damaged than the governor. The fact is that we’re all up for re-election again next year, and he’s not up for three years.”