Shutdown? (5×8 – 2/14/11)

Grab the air guitar. Here’s the Monday Morning Rouser. The theme is “everybody cut.”


This is a big week for budgets and showmanship. Gov. Mark Dayton is releasing his budget plan on Tuesday (I’ll live the blog the announcement). Today, President Obama is releasing his dead-on-arrival budget. But it’s all a dance. Congress and the president are arguing about 15% of the budget — discretionary spending — while keeping hands off the “third rail” parts of the budget, like Medicare and Social Security.

There was a fine segment on Sunday evening’s All Things Considered in which one analyst predicted a government shutdown, and noted that we love some government services, but not government spending. A shutdown shows us what government does and forces us to calculate whether we can or want to do without it. National parks? Do we need them? Home heating assistance? Is that our problem?One economist tells MPR’s Mark Zdechlik that lawmakers in Minnesota and in Washington are playing the economic version of whack-a-mole:

“Most of government spending is employment, and if state and local governments cut spending that means they’re going to be laying off teachers, they’re going to be cutting back on Medicaid spending,” David Wyss said. “All of that means lost jobs. If you raise taxes it means the people in the state cut back on spending which is going to cost jobs too. So either way it is going to hurt.”

The truth? The days of cutting someone else are probably over. What do you think you’ll have to live without?


It wasn’t long ago that cities like Phoenix, Detroit, and Las Vegas were synonymous with the nation’s housing problems. Those cities are stabilizing now, the New York Times reports. Now another city is popping up whenever there’s a national dialogue on housing basket-cases: Minneapolis.


What’s the famous last line from “Back to the Future”? “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Like Lake Superior…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve suggested readers send me a single picture that describes “winter.” Kate Gereats sends along a perfect example of the weekend’s “transition” from one season to the next…



Residents of Brainerd are waking up with a startling picture today. It’s a man in a bed with a patch over one eye and bruises around the other. The man is African American, which is why he’s a bed with a patch over one eye and bruises around the other.

“I’m a black guy, I’ve got an education and I came to Brainerd to make a better life for myself. I know I’m not running from nobody but I didn’t come here for no problems. This doesn’t make sense. It’s 2011 and you get treated like this?” Willie Navy told the Brainerd Dispatch.


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Medical facilities and businesses are starting to deny employment to smokers, both to promote healthy lifestyles and to hold down their own health-care costs. What policies should health-care facilities set for employees who smoke?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Mubarak is gone, but many questions remain for Egypt. How long will the Egyptian military govern the country, and what does new leadership mean for the country’s relationship with the United States?

Second hour: Rick Steves believes a life devoted to thoughtful travel can change your assumptions and broaden your perceptions. He joins Midmorning to talk about how people can gain a better understanding of the geopolitics of the world through travel.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Chris Farrell on money.

Second hour: Stephanie Curtis on romantic movies.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Jennifer Vogel will have the story about how Red Wing is using volunteers to replace eliminated city services and the way some communities — Maple Lake and Annandale for two — are collaborating to deal with cuts to programs and services.

Sandbagging operations begin in Fargo, which is asking local companies to provide volunteers to fill sandbags. MPR’s Dan Gunderson will report.

  • jon

    @ #1. americorps – Looking to have it’s funding cut, though since most of the overall budget is as you pointed out, employment, and this particular group (at least the sections I’m familiar with) rely on volunteers, who give up 1-2 years of their lives to get paid a living allowance (read government work around to justify paying them less then poverty lines while expecting 40 hours of work.) And still they get people to do this work.

    These are things like working for the national park services, working with prisoners that are about to be released to ensure lower remittance rates, among other things. Basically the peace corp for the states, and it costs next to nothing, but is being cut because it might be “Obama’s secret army” according to faux news.

  • V

    If the Minneapolis housing market was considered stable, I hate to see what at-risk is. (Actually it would have been nice for the NYT to have a little more Minneapolis info to back its assertion.)

  • Jamie

    // ” If you raise taxes it means the people in the state cut back on spending which is going to cost jobs too. So either way it is going to hurt.” //

    This is just echoing the popular Republican MYTH. There is no evidence that raising taxes will cost jobs. Think about it. Small biz owner X has to pay, say $2,000 more per year in taxes on his/her $280,000/yr. income. S/He wouldn’t have hired another person with that $2000 anyway. And independently wealthy person Z has to pay an additional $10,000 in taxes on $5 million/yr income from investments. S/He doesn’t hire people anyway, except maybe a gardening service which s/he can still EASILY afford.

    I had a way to calculate real numbers before, but I don’t have that formula any more. It was based on what Mark Dayton was proposing during the campaign. But the numbers I use above are roughly the kind of amounts that would result in raising taxes on the rich as he proposed, if I remember correctly. In any case, it’s a myth that it would cost jobs.