Right vs. left in battle of economic theories in Minnesota, Wisconsin


An opinion piece that ran in the Sunday edition of the New York Times is generating some buzz in Minnesota.

On a football-rivalries weekend when the Packers played the Vikings and the Gophers took on the Badgers, University of Minnesota political science professor Lawrence Jacobs penned a piece that conjured up a border battle between Minnesota and Wisconsin in an examination of economic theories.

In a nutshell, Jacobs pits the tax-the-rich policies of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton against the anti-tax, anti-union, less-government philosophy of Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state's GOP-controlled Legislature.

Which state wins? Jacobs admits more time and data are needed, but he argues the Minnesota model is faring better, noting that the Gopher state is besting Wisconsin in areas that include job creation and economic growth.

"Higher taxes and economic growth in Minnesota have attracted a surprisingly broad coalition," Jacobs writes. He adds, "By contrast, Mr. Walker’s strategy limited Wisconsin’s ability to invest in infrastructure that would have catalyzed private-sector expansion, and he cut state funding of K-12 schools by more than 15 percent."

MinnPost's Eric Black calls the column a "must-read." Dems and liberal pundits trumpeted the article.

But conservative critics howled. The blog True North calls it the "perfect storm of the Times' liberal bias and Larry Jacobs' incoherence." It adds: Reading the Times is akin to playing Where's Waldo. Look really hard for the only relevant fact, and the meaning of the article will completely change. Here's the relevant fact about comparing Minnesota to Wisconsin, which Jacobs obfuscates: The legislatures of both states were controlled by Republicans from January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013."

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