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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pawlenty Clarifies Stand On Health Care

During an appearance today, Governor Tim Pawlenty said "I don't support HillaryCare." After stating that he didn't support universal health care as reported, he added "I shouldn't have used the word universal -- that makes people understandably nervous."

In clarifying his position, Pawlenty said "We're for expanded health care coverage, that doesn't mean expanded government run health care."

Governor Pawlenty stressed that there are numerous opportunities to expand coverage without government controlling it. What government can do is offer health expense accounts and tax credits for buying private insurance.

The governor has been criticized for suggesting additional spending for 90,000 uninsured kids. But, as Pawlenty stated, there is a surplus in Minnesota's health care fund that must, by law, be spent on health care. In contrast, the DFL wants increase coverage for adults.

UPDATE: The Governor also declared that his veto pen is ready. It will help if we give him the support and encouragement that he may need to use it. I'm talking noise – lots of noise – from letters to the editor to phone calls to legislators (please be kind and civil).

[NOTE: Quotes are as close to verbatim as my short term memory provides.]


Blogger Right Hook said...

I'm glad he's not for HillaryCare, but put me down as "still skeptical".

Maybe the Gov is starting to get the message we conservatives have been hammering him with the past few weeks, but given his track record over the last few years he needs to earn our trust back over an extended period of time.

Just because there is a surplus in a fund doesn't mean that it must be spend on new programs or, worse yet, used to justify a new entitlement. This sounds too much like "it's for the children" to get me too enthused.

The fact that there is a surplus in the fund indicates that the goverment has collected too much tax which should be given back to the taxpayers in the form of permanent tax cuts. Funny how when the drug companies or the oil companies collect more than the government deems they should it is called "gouging", but when the government over-collects taxes it's called a "surplus". The State of Minnesota has been gouging taxpayers for years and it's high time a politician steps forward and calls it for what it is.

A good start would be to eliminate collection of the MinnCare tax. Governor Pawlenty should issue an executive order to stop collection on this bogus tax immediately and call for the legislature to repeal it. Obviously the DFL will not go for this, but it would go a long way for the Gov to start rebuilding his creds with his base.

12/09/2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger G-man said...

I readily acknowledge that I give the Governor the benefit of the doubt. Especially when his "accuser" is a reporter from the STrib.

Major media outlets revel in "quoting" Republicans in a negative light. More, they are quick to show Republicans presumably rejecting conservative issues. But, they are often wrong. I do believe that the STrib was wrong in this case too and that Pawlenty never did suggest expanding "universal health care" at a government level.

As to the surplus, it absolutely is an over-collection of taxes. Generally speaking, surpluses should be returned to their rightful owners – the taxpayers who worked for and earned the monies that were taxed. If memory serves, then-House Majority Leader Pawlenty supported a law requiring that surplus taxes be returned to taxpayers.

It is also worth noting – or reminding – that spending surpluses by increasing budget spending items is dangerous for it presumes that the same "surplus" dollars are collected each subsequent year. This is what Governor Jesse and the DFL Senate did that led to our $4 billion deficit in 2002. (Of course, 19 terrorists played a role as well.)

Regarding the health care surplus to which the Governor referred, he stated that this it is a surplus of specific taxes that, by law, must be spent on health care. It is not a matter of spending it "just because there is a surplus in a fund." This is similar to the transportation amendment that was (unfortunately) passed. All tabs and gas taxes will be spent on buses, trains, and maybe a few roads. I suspect that none of this could be returned should there ever be a surplus.

Still, there is a need to watch the legislature carefully. If MinnCare is funded in part from the general fund, then it only makes sense to use the "health care surplus" to return some of this money back to the general fund – where it can then be rebated to the taxpayers.

12/09/2006 6:51 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

I would rather see the money returned to the taxpayers as permanent tax cuts. Rebates as implemented by government too often end up being a wealth re-distribution mechanism where the rebate checks aren't proportional to the taxes paid by the recipient. They also tend to be portrayed as a "gift" from our friends in the government to entice us to vote for them.

If the state must spend the health fund surplus on health care then they have to do it, but they should at least cut the tax rate that created the surplus in the first place (and then repeal the stupid law that mandates the spending). Under no circumstances should the surplus be used to start another program or entitlement or to expand an existing program because, as you pointed out, the funding may not always be there in future years and entitlements never go away.

I'm also no fan of the biased reporting from the Star and Sickle, but the Governor has undeniably veered decidedly leftward since the first couple years of his administration and needs to be watched carefully and called on it if he starts going wobbly on conservative principles. Don't get me wrong--Pawlenty is orders of magnitude better than Hatch would ever be, but he is not a movement conservative and has shown a propensity to wander in the past.

I would really like to hear the Gov utter words like "tax cuts" and "we have a spending problem" rather than talking about seeking "common ground" with the DFL on issues like "health care" and "education". It would also be nice to hear him state that he will not hesitate to get out the veto pen if Democrats go on a spending binge.

12/09/2006 11:14 PM  
Blogger G-man said...

Agreed on all points. I used the word "rebate" too generically to say "give it back". A surplus indicates that we are collecting too much. Over-collected funds should be returned AND the tax rates should be reduced to prevent collecting too much in the future.

I, too, hope that the Guv openly, loudly, and frequently talks of tax cuts and a need to resolve a spending problem. I hope he and other elected Republicans use their bully pulpits to frame the debate for the conservative argument pertaining to issues of the day. It is my belief that their apparent silence in the past is what lead to Republican losses last month. Those who vote for Republicans want results. If the choice is between rhetorical fluff and more rhetorical fluff, then voters prefer the fluffiest – thus leading to Democrat victories.

There is one note of caution. When Republicans do make the conservative argument, it likely won't get reported in the STrib or the PiPress. Anytime the local MSM reports on a speech by the Governor, expect them to highlight that which will get Pawlenty in trouble with the Republican base. If Pawlenty stresses too much spending and tax cuts during his upcoming State-Of-The-State speech, I doubt that it will be reported by either of our two major papers.

12/10/2006 10:47 AM  

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