Friday, December 12, 2008

What passes for economic policy analysis 

Next week the local public television station will carry a documentary on "Minnesota's progressive Republican tradition." Joe Kimball says it's a history project.
You wouldn't lump the current state Republican administration into the progressive camp, so they're talking more about the likes of former Govs. Al Quie and Arne Carlson, as well as retiring Congressman Jim Ramstad.

The show, called �Minnesota�s Progressive Republicans,� was co-produced by Growth & Justice -- the economic policy group headed by former Strib and Pioneer Press reporter Dane Smith ...
Al Quie, progressive? I listened to the talks at the Center for the American Experiment surrounding Mitch Pearlstein's new biography of Governor Quie, and I wouldn't have put him in the category of progressive. I guess if you ever supported a tax hike -- even one in a period where the budget deficit dwarfs the news -- you're a 'progressive'.

Not that this is necessary. Mitch mentions a proposal from Senator Geoff Michel and Rep. Laura Brod to privatize the airport. That's hardly progressive; its mother is Margaret Thatcher. The British took in $40 billion from privatizing state industries and council houses; the Japanese, $100 billion for just two state industries (airline and telephone monopolies were sold off.) Michigan, long suffering from overspending in its state budget, has 97 state parks, leading one group to suggest selling a few off. Now who's more progressive? Governor Pawlenty, who has fought for a new state park at Lake Vermillion? (Think he might like to have that $20 million back?)

But G&J seems to equate progressive with tax-raising. I wonder if this is because, when looking at their staff, economists are few and far-between at this "economic policy group".

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