Ben and Kurt in happier times - Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune
by Steve Timmer
Jun 7, 2017, 10:30 AM

Ring. Ring. Hullo, Ben here

Hullo, Ben here.

Well, that blew up in your face.

What? Who is this?

I Am that I Am.

Oh, Kurt, it’s just you. I mean, Mr. Speaker. And I’m not the face of the Republican legislature.

Well, not yet, anyway.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Nothing. Never mind. But we have a problem with your little gambit, Ben.

Which one?

The poison pill defunding the Department of Revenue if the governor vetoed the tax bill.

You thought it was a good idea; you bragged about it.

Yeah, that was before I figured out that the governor would learn something from it.

Who could have predicted that?

Gee, I don’t know, Ben, maybe somebody hired for his political acumen, and somebody who was around when Governor Gutshot was in office, exercising line item vetoes left and right.

If the governor had vetoed the tax bill, we would have had him!

But he didn’t, Ben. He just zeroed us out instead. Now we’re the chumps hiring lawyers.

Don’t blame it on me.

Why not?

Because it isn’t fair.


Well, okay. But I told Coolican that in court we’d be in like Flynn, and that the court would order the governor to pay us, and that maybe we’d fire the DFL staff, too.

Straight from your lips to Coolican’s pen, eh? Your hoping and dreaming to Coolican won’t make it so.

You always were a dreamer, Ben. Here’s what’s going to happen: Doug Kelley is going to stand up in front of a judge, and huff and puff about the unconstitutionality of the governor exercising a power set forth specifically in the Minnesota Constitution, and the judge is going to say: Your client, the Legislature, thought that it was constitutionally appropriate to defund the Minnesota Department of Revenue, a rather important department in the Executive, even for your client, if the governor didn’t play ball with you on the tax bill. Why is it then impermissible for the governor to defund a group, that can still meet, although in the dark and cold, and is, let’s be honest, less important to the day-to-day operation of the government than the Department of Revenue?

And then, Ben, Doug Kelley is going to hem and haw, and scratch his nuts, and then sit down. And he’s only charging $325 an hour to do it.

The governor has a better case that we would have had.

I never thought of that.

No, you didn’t, Ben. But we look like idiots, don’t you think?

Well, maybe. I wouldn’t put it that way, necessarily.

How would you put it, Ben?

Can I get back to you? But at least you have Erick Kaardal trying to make sure you get paid.

Oh, Ben. Erick The Bridesmaid is just trying to figure out how to insert himself into this. You don’t really think he cares a rat’s ass about legislators’ salaries, do you? Even you are not that naïve. I mean, Jesus, he probably made up his client.

So, do I take a fall?

Only if one is needed, Ben.

You need to remember I helped get rid of Ron Erhardt. You bragged about that, too, at least privately.

With the hacked up video and the demonstrably false voice over you supplied to that woman? That’ll probably come back to bite us, too. Ben, I tell you what. Let’s have lunch at Moose Country. You know where that is, right?

UpdateThe letter of the day in the Strib accused Governor Dayton of setting a “rotten precedent,” although those exact words were probably the work of a headline writer. If you read the imagined dialogue above, though, you’ll see that the writer has it exactly backwards. By adopting the poison pill, the Republican-controlled legislature was trying to deprive the governor of his constitutional authority to veto bills. That would be a rotten precedent.

When you recognize all of the policy provisions in the budget bills that could not stand by themselves if subjected to an honest application of the constitution’s single subject rule, it becomes obvious that the governor was protecting the office of governor, not only for himself, but future governors, too.

The governor used the constitution, and the line item veto power in it, to prevent an end run around the constitution by the legislature. Good on Mark Dayton, I say.

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