Letter: Reader troubled by Hamilton's assertionsIn his letter published in the May 12 edition of the Daily Globe, Rep. Rod Hamilton offered no solutions to the state’s budget crisis, and didn’t even pretend to answer the questions raised in Mr. Larson’s letter.
By: Douglas Bauman, Brewster, Worthington Daily Globe
In his letter published in the May 12 edition of the Daily Globe, Rep. Rod Hamilton offered no solutions to the state’s budget crisis, and didn’t even pretend to answer the questions raised in Mr. Larson’s letter. In his letter, Norman Larson asked Rep. Hamilton to stop attacking budget solutions offered by others and instead to contribute something constructive. In his response Rep. Hamilton again failed to present solutions or ideas, continued his partisan attack and blamed his lack of ideas on his minority status.
While avoiding the question raised in Mr. Larson’s letter, Mr. Hamilton made two very troubling assertions that must be dispelled.
First, Mr. Hamilton maintains that the Republican Party produced a $2 billion surplus before losing control of the legislature. The surplus he refers to was constructed using the same smoke-and-mirrors accounting approach that ultimately led to our current financial crisis. The supposed surplus was based on phony budget calculations that included inflation in projecting state tax revenue but did not include inflation in determining state expenses. Another technique used to create an illusion of fiscal health was to shift costs from one year to another. Disingenuous approaches like these made it appear on paper as though a surplus existed, when in reality there was no real money.
The budgetary approach advocated by Rep. Hamilton and his party leadership shifted the state’s budget problems onto the backs of local governments and local property taxpayers. This strategy produces higher and higher local property taxes and fewer and fewer local government services. It was the budget strategy used by the Republicans then; it’s the budget strategy being used by Governor Pawlenty now.
Mr. Hamilton also maintains that Democrats are running roughshod over state programs in an effort to provide able-bodied workers with welfare benefits. This is not only factually untrue; it is mean-spirited. The program that Mr. Hamilton called welfare is actually a health insurance program called Minnesota Care, which gives working people the option of purchasing insurance if they can’t purchase healthcare coverage in the regular market. Minnesota Care provides coverage to people with chronic conditions like diabetes, to cancer survivors, to pregnant women, and to people who work for businesses too small to provide them with adequate employer-based coverage.
As a legislator Rep. Hamilton receives high-quality, affordable health coverage through the State of Minnesota. Why he would begrudge his constituents the same coverage and why he would mischaracterize those who purchase health insurance through a state-run program as welfare recipients is beyond me.