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Jason Lewis thinks nobody noticed budget cuts.  And taxes are “plunder.”

Date Published: 02/27/2010


We can't compete with Jason Lewis when it comes to  pushing hot buttons and provoking ideological flamers, left and right.  

Our Feb. 21 front-page Sunday Star Tribune Op-Ex commentary, making a reasoned,  pro-business case for raising taxes, to address our historic budget crisis and to continue investing in human capital and infrastructure,  elicited 36 comments.   Maybe we just weren't wild and crazy and intemperate enough to generate real excitement and panic.  In the piece, Charlie Quimby and I  allowed as how some business tax cuts also might make sense and that government needs to get serious about accountability and redesign. 

 Right-wing talk-show provocateur Lewis's response on Feb. 26, five days later and inside the paper at the bottom of the regular op-ed page,  drew 113 comments as of this morning.   We've gotten some requests to respond and I shared these rebuttal points with George Sundquist, a retired sheet-metal workers union representative  from Duluth, and George said he intended to write a letter to the editor.  So watch for that.  In the meantime, here are our main points in response to Lewis, which we also will post as comments appended to both our our op-ed and the Lewis article.

Lewis throws together a mishmash of selective statistics, including a relatively small gas tax increase two years ago, trying to make the case that government has grown.   But he failed to effectively refute the most important bottom-line fact we revealed: our state and local  governments are smaller,  and spending and taxes as a percent of our total personal income are considerably smaller,  than they were a decade ago.   

Among Lewis'  three most problematic assertions: One, Lewis cites a $6.6 billion gas tax hike in 2008 and forgets to note that this sum is a 10-year cumulative total, and that the state's business lobby led the effort to override Gov. Tim Palenty's veto, to make up for a 20-year lag  in transportation investment, a disinvestment crisis that  Pawlenty had acknowledged.  Two, Lewis says the Legislature


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