An analyst from the National Council on State Legislatures painted a dire picture of the consequences to Minnesota and the nation if nothing is done to avoid the "fiscal cliff" imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Taxes will go up 19.6%. Municipal bonds will lose their tax-exempt status, eliminating the ability of local governments to borrow money. The cost of unfunded mandates from the federal government will go up. The Alternative Minimum Tax will hit millions more people. Payroll taxes will go up. Unemployment benefits will drop. Funding for state programs will dry up.
The International Monetary Fund has said that the US economy will contract by 4% or more. The Federal Reserve has said that nothing they can do will soften the huge blow to the economy. Standard and Poor's downgraded the US based upon the Budget Control Act.
It is, in short, impossible to overstate the huge impacts if the fiscal cliff isn't avoided before December 31 of this year--and Congress has had over a year and a half to deal with it. Instead, they have recessed to campaign. They will be back in the middle of November.
Kurt Bills attended the briefing and held a press conference afterwards. Not one word about the hearing or the subsequent press conference was printed in the Star Tribune delivered to subscribers or on newsstands. The web site of the paper prominently features a story on what Bills' campaign manager said weeks ago. Buried deeper in the web site is a blog post about the press conference; it fails to mention the briefing, its dire warning, or that Klobuchar has repeatedly pointed to the Budget Control Act in debates as evidence that she wants to reduce the deficit.
Instead, the paper features a huge picture of Mark Dayton celebrating Paul Wellstone, who tragically died in 2000. Also a big story about a controversy in a Halloween parade. It's as if there is not an election for Senator, nor important issues facing Minnesota due to malfeasance in Washington DC.
"The Star Tribune, and for that matter almost all the mainstream media, are simply not doing their job of informing Minnesota about the important issues. It's pathetic, simply pathetic," said Mike Osskopp, Bills' campaign manager.
"My campaign has been about solving the problems facing this state and this country," said Bills. "My opponent dishes out talking points that mean absolutely nothing. She has done nothing but make our problems worse, and the press gives her a pass," said Bills.
"Analysts from across the political spectrum all agree that our economy is speeding toward a fiscal cliff. Ben Bernanke, the International Monetary Fund, the National Council on State Legislatures, State Economist Tom Stinson, Senator Al Franken, Governor Dayton, and just about everybody else all say a calamity is upon us. I am basing my campaign on solving the very problem that Amy Klobuchar helped create, and as far as I can see only one reporter has even asked Klobuchar's campaign about the issue. How pathetic is that?" asked Bills.
"The media is more interested in what I said as a campaign manager than what Amy Klobuchar did as a Senator. They don't even cover the news that Minnesota state and municipal governments will be creamed by the federal government is a month and a half. They won't mention that 90% of Americans will see their taxes skyrocket by $3500 a household because of what Klobuchar voted for. They refuse to mention that unemployment benefits will evaporate. None of that matters, apparently, as much as Amy Klobuchar visiting Iowa last month. They covered that, but not this," said Osskopp.
"Not one word in the printed version of the Star Tribune. Not one. Page one top of the fold? Lance Armstrong, who is a retired bicyclist. Page one local news? Hunter shoots wolf to save dog," said Osskopp.
The Pioneer Press buried the story on page 5 below the fold, headlined "Bills Ramps Up Criticism of Klobuchar," as if a candidate criticizing his opponent is the news, not the fiscal cliff and the dire situation.