Monday, January 31, 2005

Rich must shoulder tax burden if democracy is to survive

In case you missed it, there was a very good article in the City Pages about democracy and taxation. NY Times Investigative Reporter David Kay Johnston knows more about the US tax code than just about anyone. He explains exactly who is paying more tax, who is paying less and why the richest 1% of America can get away with paying very little.
Beware. The article will infuriate you. But it also will give you the proper ammunition when Governor Pawlenty trys to prevent the repeal of those tax cuts for the rich.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fairness and the Gov's tax proposal

Here's an example of how you apply the "fairness" part of the DFL brand:

Governor Tim Pawlenty's tax proposals are not fair. They raise taxes on those who can least afford it and continue to give tax breaks to those who make the most.

Hold it. You said tax proposals? The Governor's proposals don't contain any taxes.

The Governor's proposal contains no proposal to change state income taxes. But the net effect of his proposal and the previous budgets he has approved is to raise property taxes and fees.

Assume for the moment that we pay about 1/3rd of our income in total taxes (Social Security, Income Tax, Property Taxes, Sales Tax, etc) and your property tax bill went up $200 last year. That increase disproportionally falls on those making the least.

The person making $40,000 pays nearly 4 times more in taxes as a a percentage of income or as a percentage of tax increase.

To sway public opinion the DFL needs to start speaking in these terms. Not just occasionally, but pound it home in every communication. Making people who make less pay more IS NOT FAIR and that's exactly what the Governor has done and is proposing to do.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A stronger DFL "Brand"

Last week at a DFL meet-up I ran into a very frustrated DFL supporter. He said something to the effect that people, including himself, don't know what the DFL really stands for anymore --that it's always reacting instead being pro-active. But listening to him talk about the issues led me to conclude that he really did know what the DFL stands for -- fairness, justice and honesty. The majority of people volunteering for the DFL know that.

The problem is our state party leaders either don't zealously embrace those principles, or they and their staff are not very good at communicating them or translating them into action. I don't know all of our state leadership well enough to know how zealously they embrace these core values. I know Sen. Mark Dayton is very passionate about these values. I know Paul Wellstone was very passionate about these values. I know Peter Idusogie who is running for DFL state director is passionate about these values.

Assuming for the moment that the DFL leadership, staff, and its candidates do embrace these values, it's safe to say they are not communicating them very effectively. The DFL needs be better at articulating the "brand" that its passionate volunteers represent so well. Action speaks louder than words. So passing legislation that reflected those values would leave no doubt about where the DFL stood. But for various reasons, that doesn't happen. One reason Democrats do not promote their brand as zealously as Republicans promote "no tax increases" is the DFL/Democrat brand has not been articulated and maintained properly. A well articulated, strong brand can give our elected leaders the political capital to take action. If every voter understood that our party stood for fairness, justice and honesty we would be the majority party instead of the minority.

It sounds like a bit of a catch-22. If the DFL/Democrats have a weak brand, they can't take action. But the only way to take action is to have a strong brand. We can break that cycle. We need candidates and elected leaders who have courage to take action. We need a state party leadership that sets the tone through internal and external communication articulating those core values. That is where you, I and other DFL volunteers can start. Hold our state party leaders accountable.

Sometime in February, the DFL State Central Committee will be electing directors that influence the course of our party for the next two years. Please support Peter Idusogie for State Director. He is going to demand these types of changes. Contact your Senate District chair and ask him/her to vote for Peter. Ask for the name and contact information of the other delegates from your district and urge them to do the same.

Michael McIntee
Precinct 18 Captain/ SD 38