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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kate Knuth's Town Hall Meeting - Pointless but Informative

I attended Representative Kate Knuth's Town Hall Meeting yesterday (Saturday 3/15) morning. Though I had decided after attending two previous ones last year that it would be pointless to continue going to these, I decided to check out this first one of the new session to see if Representative Knuth has modified the process or if it was still the same old same old.

As with the past events like this one I have attended Knuth began with some prepared remarks about the current legislative session and what she felt were key issues and accomplishments. From a political perspective, this is where she is at her best as she seems to be very good at regurgitating the expected DFL talking points and spin.

She faithfully worked in all of the patented DFL buzzwords, euphemisms and catch phrases along with the obligatory references to "tough decisions" that had to be made so far and in the upcoming weeks of the session. A lot of early St. Patty's Day blarney to be sure, but from the perspective of her supporters it was well delivered.

If you attend one of these events with others and plan to engage in a game of Buzzword Bingo you would do well to make sure your card contains words and phrases like "invest", "investment", "creating jobs", "quality of life", "difficult decisions", "reliable revenue stream", "new revenue", "appropriate", "common good", "desired outcome", "world class education", "young people", "transit", "partnership", "climate change", "create", "balance", "tools","difficult", "sensitive", "environment", "community" etc.

On the other hand, game cards with entries like "reduce", "cut", "tax cut", "spending cut", "non-essential", "pork laden", "sunset date", "bloated", "school choice", "home school", "illegal aliens", "President Reagan", "liberty", "second amendment", etc. are not likely to be winners.

As for a synopsis of what Representative Knuth apparently stands for and against and the stories she intends to stick to, I came up with the following:
  • The budget shortfall is because of the declining economy and years of Pawlenty "no new taxes" that have finally caught up with us, not because the legislature spent last years $2 billion plus surplus and then some.
  • The sacred cows of "Education" and "Human Services" are absolutely essential, probably still under funded, and will not be significantly touched by Knuth and the rest of the DFL.
  • The "Legacy Act" (an additional sales tax hike to fund the arts and other "quality of life" items) that will be on the ballot is the culmination of many years of work by coalition of many worthy (ie. liberal) interests and should be passed by the voters if they know what's good for them.
  • The bulk of the inflationary pressure on virtually everything was not caused by green legislation, ethanol mandates, government induced housing credit problems, etc. but rather by rising oil prices and the drop in value of the dollar in the international community.
  • She supports the recent pork-laden bonding bill as a starting point for negotiation and anticipates it will be much leaner by the time of the final vote.
  • Our "quality of life" and need for a "rainy day fund" makes balancing the budget primarily on spending cuts very unlikely. The rich will be "asked" to pay their "fair share" (as if the Minnesota Department of Revenue "asks" if you want to pay more taxes).
  • She opposes any move to penalize cities that declare themselves a "sanctuary city" for illegal aliens by cutting off LGA and other state goodies. She feels that immigration is a "very complicated" issue that will undoubtedly come up in this campaign.
  • Global warming is a serious problem that must be dealt with by the government. This claim is backed up by unbiased scientific sources like the UN and the "international environmental community".
Clearly Knuth is vulnerable to be painted in the upcoming election as the old time DFL big tax and spend liberal that she is instead of the up and coming "progressive" idea engine she claims to be. Knuth made some horribly bad decisions against the interests of those she represents and must be held accountable for them.

The District 50B House seat will be in play provided that the Grivna campaign is willing to play hardball and aggressively go after Knuth on her record and engage her in public debate on conservative issues. If the campaign is focused on unnecessary tax increases, wasteful spending, and government created higher cost of living Grivna will more than likely win.

Conversely, engaging Knuth on non-specific "feel good" issues or public policy esoterica could very well allow her to escape the box she and her party have placed her in by repeatedly changing the subject to topics that she is less vulnerable on (such as how much she cares about the environment or education).

As we will see in a future, hopefully not too distant post Knuth's vulnerabilities become very clear and are much more exploitable when she is forced to articulate original thoughts on the fly under even a small amount of duress.

Stay tuned.

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Blogger Mark said...

Good synopsis, Daria! I think you're right - Lori G. can beat her if she's willing to play offense. I sure hope Lori will do that.

3/16/2008 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Daisy said...

Thanks for attending, Daria.

3/17/2008 8:52 AM  

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