Sunday, December 21, 2014

Learning From Fly-Over Country

For a couple of years now, I've been suggesting that we take our eyes off the coasts for just a while and focus on two states in fly-over country - Minnesota and Wisconsin. We might learn a thing or two about the results of Democratic vs Republican governance. About a year ago, Lawrence Jacobs did just that.
Minnesota and Wisconsin share much more than bone-chilling winters: German and Northern European roots; farming; and, until recently, a populist progressive tradition stretching back a century to Wisconsin’s Fighting Bob La Follette and the birth of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

But in 2010 these cousin states diverged. By doing so they began a natural experiment that compares the agendas of modern progressivism and the new right...

A month after Mr. Walker’s inauguration in January 2011, he catapulted himself to the front ranks of national conservative leaders with attacks on the collective bargaining rights of Civil Service unions and sharp reductions in taxes and spending. Once Mr. Dayton teamed up with a Democratic Legislature in 2012, Minnesota adopted some of the most progressive policies in the country...

Which side of the experiment — the new right or modern progressivism — has been most effective in increasing jobs and improving business opportunities, not to mention living conditions?

Obviously, firm answers will require more time and more data, but the first round of evidence gives the edge to Minnesota’s model of increased services, higher costs (mostly for the affluent) and reduced payments to entrenched interests like the insurers who cover the Medicaid population.
Excuse me for a moment while I humble-brag a bit - because I happen to live in Minnesota. Recent news weights that scale in our favor even more than it was last year.

First of all, the State's Department of Revenue announced that Minnesota's budget SURPLUS had risen to $1 billion. At the same time, our unemployment rate in November was the lowest we've seen since 2001 - 3.7%.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's budget DEFICIT sits at $1.8 billion and their unemployment rate is 5.2%.

I think its time to score this one:

Democratic policies - 1
Republican policies - 0

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