Politics and politicians: for now, two 'sideways thumbs'
Federal government: It's been a big week for politicians across the country. President Barack Obama returned to the White House for another four years, and the Democrats and Republicans held onto their power in the Senate and House, respectively. But the fun is just about over. With another divided Congress, concern continues to grow over the "fiscal cliff" everyone is talking about - the $550 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts that will kick in on Jan. 1, 2013, unless the President and Congress do something about it. Both Obama and majority leaders have talked about the need for compromise, and that's fine, but talk, as we all know, is cheap. If the President and Congress want to earn their keep and prove they were right ones to lead this nation, they need to work together to modify tax hikes and spending cuts or at least agree to extend some of the Bush-era tax cuts - the alternative would put us back in recession mode. The Tax Policy Center estimates the "fiscal cliff" would hit 90 percent of U.S. taxpayers and would cost an average of $3,500 in extra taxes per household. Even the threat of the "fiscal cliff" is having an impact in this country, as businesses have started delaying spending since the deadly combination of tax hikes and spending cuts could hinder GDP growth by 4 percentage points. OK, Mr. President and leaders of the House and Senate, the ball is back in your court. Don't throw it away.
State government: As much as Republicans in Minnesota are smarting over Tuesday's election, all Minnesotans who are fed up with state politics should take solace in knowing that with a DFL-controlled Legislature and a Democrat governor, the odds of another shutdown are slim and none. Forget what party is in control of what chamber for a moment while you recall the devastating effects of last year's embarrassing state government shutdown. It hurt seniors, the disabled, people who rely on social programs. Even people who just wanted to enjoy a holiday weekend in a state park were affected since every state park in Minnesota was forced to close their gates for three weeks. You can disagree with Dayton's tax plan all you want, but the bigger picture here is that with one party running the show in St. Paul, we shouldn't have to worry about another shutdown for some time. The caveat here comes if Democrats in control let that power go their heads and they don't work with their Republican counterparts; even though there is strength in numbers, it would behoove them to work across the aisle - not just on things like agriculture and the environment, but on the issues that have, in the past, divided our elected officials to the point where they can't even see their colleagues on the other side of that aisle.
Good luck Tigers, Vikings and Blackjacks
THUMBS UP: Congratulations go out to the Marshall and Minneota volleyball teams on returning to the state volleyball tournament. The Tigers and Vikings both hit the floor Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. We also take our hats off to an area volleyball team that won't be going to St. Paul this year - the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights, who pulled off upset after upset en route to the Section 3A title match, which they lost to the Vikings, and to the Dawson-Boyd football team that played its way back to the state football tournament where it will look to defend its Class A title.