Friday, July 17, 2009

Beggar thy neighbor 

Mitch points out the complaint among the Minnesota Left that Governor Pawlenty left other states' money on the table in the unallotment strategy. It's of course a bit of a prisoners' dilemma problem: If Minnesota forgoes other states' money (or, as Mitch rightly abbreviates, OPM) there's no reason to believe other states won't spend Minnesota's.

But there's a better, more selfish reason for spurning government cheese: the cheese is temporary. It leverages state taxpayers in order to get a two-year benefit. When the stimulus is withdrawn, what will happen to the state's effort? We can just imagine the calls to "stop the cuts" paid for by government employee union dues in 2011 or 2012.

It's not just beggar-thy-neighbor between the states, it's beggar-thy-taxpayer within the state. Governor Pawlenty is smart enough to not fall for that shell game and leave his successor a battle to restrain spending more in the next biennium. One has to wonder why the DFL, already focusing on the size of the 2011-13 projected deficit, would want us to add $62 million or more to the next biennium's deficit and beyond just to get $72 million of OPM now.

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