The well-intended effort on the part of three seasoned political leaders to end Minnesota’s government shutdown seems doomed from the start.
A bipartisan commission’s ideas of how to fix the structural problems of Minnesota’s finances might have been useful at the outset of this legislative session but it’s too late in the game to be a factor now. It’s crunch time and the only people who can resolve this mess are the principal negotiators, Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Republican Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and former Republican U.S. Sen. David Durenberger, lent their names to the establishment of an ad hoc budget group made up of respected lawmakers and business people, but oddly, won’t serve on the panel themselves.
As the shutdown enters its second week we can’t afford to turn a deaf ear to any reasonable plan, but it’s unlikely our elected officials — particularly the Republicans — will pay much heed to the Mondale-Carlson-Durenberger group. Carlson, the independent-minded, two-term Republican governor was never a favorite of his party’s activists and his party has grown considerably more conservative since his tenure in the 1990s. Frankly, after supporting Barack Obama for president and the Independent Party’s Tom Horner for governor in 2010, Carlson probably couldn’t be elected precinct chair in the GOP.
The very least we can expect of our political leaders is that they “do no harm” to the people they govern. Republican leaders and the governor have violated this dictum by their stubbornness and failure to compromise. They got Minnesotans into this mess and it’s up to them to get us out.