The Free Press, Mankato, MN


May 2, 2014

Our View: Taxpayers want value not cliches

Why it matters: While campaigning seems to have started in earnest, candidates would do well to consider dropping the clichés and adding value

Gov. Mark Dayton’s State of the State address was billed by his Republican opponents as the defacto kickoff of his re-election campaign disguised as the constitutionally mandated report.

Republicans weighed in with their criticisms that took familiar themes from their own campaigns.

But Democrats and Republicans as they plan election strategies should consider telling taxpayers not what they offer in terms of feel good policies, but what they offer to taxpayers as the value they get for their hard-earned money.

Democrats tend to describe their successes by how much more money they’ve “invested” as “spending” is a term to avoid. Republicans take the opposite tack, and measure their success by the restraint on spending or lack of spending or as Democrats would say lack of “investments.”

Both sides play to personal values as well. Democrats want to help the middle class get ahead, women get fairness and children get educated. Republicans echo those sentiments but talk of helping individuals get free from government interference in how they spend their money, how they choose their doctor and how they raise their children.

We doubt taxpayers look first to their elected leaders to get them these things that mostly come from their own efforts and choices, no matter what the government is doing.

We would like to see Democrats and Republicans talk about how they’re going to give taxpayers more value for the dollars they are already investing. If teachers are going to be better teachers with more money and more students will graduate, Democrats should be willing to make that case.

If teachers are going to be better being evaluated with the same amount of money, Republicans should be willing to run on that.

If we’ll save money later by fixing crumbling roads now, Democrats should push for that and make it their platform, whatever the tax and spend rhetoric coming from the other side might be.

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