The dead end sitting in the middle of the road

Political centrists provide cover for the far-left agenda in Minnesota.

Tom Horner, the 2010 Independence Party candidate for governor, has an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune under the headline,

Minnesota’s future: Minnesota Miracle or Minnesota Mayhem?

That depends on whether policymakers make good governance a top priority.

Alas, the piece appears behind the Star Tribune‘s subscription paywall. But here are two excerpts from Mr. Horner.

In his latest piece, the famously centrist Horner does not object to the content of the most recent legislative session, dominated by Democrats. He merely hopes that the entire enterprise it better run.

Good governance, though, includes tasks that Democrats often have ignored, starting with the need to impose accountability on all state spending. Taxpayers deserve specific measures to track what can be expected from the enormous investments and to provide absolute assurances that every dollar is being spent wisely.

Likewise, Horner doesn’t object the billions of dollars in tax hikes imposed to fund it. He wishes those record-setting tax increases had been structured differently.

This year saw a mishmash of ad hoc increases in taxes and fees. Combined, they made Minnesota’s taxes more regressive and more complex. Equally significant, even with the new taxes passed in 2023, the state’s revenue isn’t likely to be enough to sustain the massive amounts of new spending…

In the end, that’s what they mean by “socially liberal, fiscally conservative”: going along with whatever the left desires, but making sure that there is enough cash to pay for it all. He objects neither to the scale nor scope of government growth, but rather the details of its design.

As an equal-opportunity centrist, Horner has criticisms for Republicans, too. He wishes that Republicans would get off the sidelines and push for more spending on their priorities. He urges Republicans to play the role of fiscal sherpas to the brave progressives in charge, telling the GOP, “They need to continue playing the role of effective opposition to help monitor and manage the state’s new programs.”

I borrowed the above headline for my piece from a post I wrote 10 years ago on the occasion of another Horner opinion contribution to the Star Tribune during the previous era of Democratic one-party rule.

The political layman expects that centrists are in the business of working within the moderate middle, expressing concerns that spending increases are a little too aggressive, and that the tax increases are little too high. No.

To quote myself from another piece in 2013, I wrote,

There seems to be a sizable element within our local media and among those who describe themselves as moderates that fiscal conservatism is solely defined by a willingness to raise taxes.

Specifically, about Tom Horner, I wrote 10 years ago,

In Minnesota, some quarters pine for the perfect moderate non-partisan politician. For example, former Republican Tom Horner ran as a third-party candidate in the 2010 governor’s race. As a public relations professional he was able to articulate a vision for Minnesota and he raised a respectable level of money for his statewide run. The quintessential fiscal conservative-social liberal, he was endorsed by the state’s largest newspaper. In the end, he received exactly 12 percent of the vote.

A decade later and nothing has changed.