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Michael A. Ross, Published March 10 2014

Letter: We send bumbling fools to Congress, statehouses

Predictably, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is crowing about the “dramatic improvement” and “great news” of the $1.2 billion budget surplus his state is now running (Forum article Feb. 28). This being an election year, he is careful to give credit to “our businessmen and businesswomen” and their “hardworking and productive employees.” Just the same, and being a politician, the governor added in a written statement: “By contrast, shortly after I took office three years ago, the February 2011 forecast projected a $5 billion deficit for the next biennium (FY 12/13).”

Moreover, Dayton projected a $2.6 billion surplus for the next biennium (2016-17) – sounds like the idiots in Congress in 2000-01 who set about planning how to spend many trillions of future surpluses based on a two-year, $300 billion surplus. Within two years we were again running record deficits. I sometimes think we search the land for the most inept, incompetent, bumbling fools we can find and send them to Washington and the statehouses to ruin our country.

Patting himself on the back for his three state bonding bills that borrowed hundreds of millions to fund construction projects, Dayton further took credit for creating 133,000 jobs.

When the state was heading into that $5 billion hole, it decided to go ahead with new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and Gophers, with another new one now in the works for the Vikings. Not five years ago, all three teams got by in the Metrodome. I guess that is the secret of the turn-around “miracle” – borrow millions and tax your “hardworking productive employees” to build entertainment venues.

Although Dayton joins many other governors in celebrating such surpluses, states have a cumulative debt of $5.1 trillion – this when every state has a balanced budget law. These laws, apparently, do about as much good as the federal debt ceiling statute. Speaking of the feds, $9.6 billion of Minnesota’s funds came as grants from Washington in 2012 (the last year that figure was available). That is 28 percent of the state’s funding. Do the math: $1.2 billion surplus minus $9.6 billion courtesy of Congress, the state is still running a whopping $8.4 deficit. All state governments combined receive 31.6 percent of their revenue in the form of grants from the federal government.

How does Uncle Sam fund these hundreds of billions in grants? By running trillion-dollar deficits. How does Uncle Sam cope with these deficits? By running the printing press at the Federal Reserve to the tune of $16 trillion since 2009 in the form of quantitative easing and bailouts.

At every level, state, local, federal, along with business and the consumer, America is hopelessly burying herself in debt. Any pittance of a “surplus” by Minnesota or any other is only smoke and mirrors.

Ross lives in Hawley, Minn.