The governor is a one-hit wonder

Published 9:38 am Friday, June 15, 2012

Column: Phil Krinkie, Guest Column

Phil Krinkie

The term “one-hit wonder” is often used to describe a person or act known only for a single success and is most often used in the entertainment industry. It is used to describe an artist who performs only one hit song. One-hit wonders are usually the result of a fad or a novelty, such as the disco boom of the ’70s or new wave music craze of the ’80s. Perhaps even a blockbuster movie soundtrack can bring an unknown artist to the top of the music charts with their featured song. The song’s popularity is usually short lived, but often holds nostalgic value. On the top of the one-hit wonder songs are tunes like; “Who Let the Dogs Out” by the Baha Men, “Macarena” by Los del Rio and “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies.

You have to wonder why these seemingly talented artists don’t have the staying power of music legends that have been able to stay relevant and produce hits that transcend generations. A clear difference is one-hit wonders hold tightly to the one hit that brought the artist fame, refusing to change despite the fact the beat has grown stale and no one is listening. While true musical artists grow with their experience, their music evolves over time and becomes a reflection not only of themselves as an artist, but of the people who buy their music and keep them on the billboard charts.

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Although the term is typically associated with the music business, the one-hit stigma isn’t reserved for just singers. There are one-hit wonders in the world of politics. After all, it has been said that politics is just show business for ugly people.

A prime example of a one-hit wonder in the political arena would be Gov. Mark Dayton. During his first term in office as our U.S. senator he gave himself a failing grade and decided not to seek a second term in 2006. But Dayton reemerged on the political scene in 2009 to campaign for governor with the old nostalgic tune of “Tax the Rich.”

Just like an old musical artist who returns to the stage with hopes of regaining fame by producing a cover song of a once famous hit; Mark Dayton returned to the political stage with the old liberal mantra of “Tax the Rich.” In 2010 Dayton was able to best his two DFL opponents with his rendition of “Tax the Rich” in the gubernatorial primary. He went on to edge out two more contenders in the general election with the same tune and he hasn’t stopped singing it since.

During the campaign in 2010, ABC World News released a poll that found 84 percent of Americans defined themselves as either working or middle class. Is it any wonder why his refrain of “Tax the Rich” was such a big hit? It’s such a simple tune – tax someone else so I can benefit. Someone else should pay more because they can. It’s not fair that someone else has more than I do, so the government should take it from them and give it to me. This is the rationale for why government should take from those who have and give it to those who don’t. These are the lyrics for “Tax the Rich” and Gov. Dayton repeats the words every chance he gets.

Regardless of whether Minnesota has a budget surplus or shortfall, Dayton continues to cling to his hit single that put him in the political spotlight. Just last week at the DFL convention he again took to the stage with a chorus of “Taxes would be fairer if millionaires would pay their fair share.”

This just after he succeeded in pushing a taxpayer funded Vikings stadium that subsidizes a billionaire and will cost taxpayers more than $1.5 billion. He also accomplished increasing the states debt by $550 million, bringing our total state debt including previous bonding commitments to well over $5 billion.

In addition to more debt, Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would have started to pay the $2.4 billion in payments to school districts the state owes. With a projected billion dollar budget shortfall in the next biennium, Gov. Dayton has succeeded in creating a spending crisis.

To date, he has shown little concern for how the state will meet its spending obligations. But there is little doubt that by the time the legislature convenes next January the old crooner will be singing his favorite tune “Tax the Rich.” His calculation is that if he can put the state deep enough in debt, more and more people will join him in his favorite refrain of “Tax the Rich.”

When it comes to political one-hit wonders; Gov. Dayton tops the charts. The good news for taxpayers is that fewer people are buying his old tune. It is clear that “Tax the Rich” may be a great campaign song but it’s a failure when it comes to governing and growing Minnesota’s economy.


Phil Krinkie, a former eight-term Republican state rep who chaired the House Tax Committee for a while, is president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota.