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Want a fresh look at deficit? Change your language

Date Published: 12/02/2009


Colleague Dane Smith says here that tax cuts haven't delivered prosperity as promised, and neither will we get there by just raising taxes.

Urbanist Jon Commers says here that a structural solution to the state budget can starts with "efficient places."

And the ever-valuable Minnesota Budget Project says here that we must develop long-term solutions instead of relying "heavily on one-time resources, budget gimmicks and unallotment" to solve deficits.

I won't disagree with any of them, but I will caution all commenters on the latest bad budget news to try to refrain from too many tried and tired ways of talking about budget policy.

For example, Smith's formula evokes the binary tax and spend choices we've long been fighting over to no avail. La-la-la-la.

Commers attempts to put the three-year, $6.6 billion projected shortfall into perspective by saying it equals roughly $3,100 per Minnesota household. But that formulation is misleading in two ways. Very few households will pay the "average" amount, and our brains too easily equate that three year total with a recurring annual bill

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