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LETTER: Paulsen 'Failed to Lead' on Fiscal Cliff Deal

Former DFL candidate Brian Barnes said Rep. Erik Paulsen has a 'repeated record of failure when it comes to true bipartisanship and problem solving.'

As a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, I learned to live by a simple creed “Acta Non Verba,” or Deeds not Words.

Too often, we see few deeds and far too many words coming out of Washington. It seems to take a crisis before anyone in Congress will lift a finger, except to point it at the other side.

Having barely avoided the Fiscal Cliff, many politicians want to hide their career-long failures by posturing--proudly standing up, pounding their chests with conviction, and talking about the broken ways of Washington.

They express outrage, frustration, and contempt. They blame others and complain. The Fiscal Cliff was avoidable. Both the House and the Senate had more than a year to settle the issue. Yet, ultimately, these career politicians refuse to hold themselves accountable.

When confronted with the notion that they are responsible for their role in the Fiscal Cliff debacle, they gyrate and scoff wildly.

Unfortunately last week, Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District Representative - Rep. Erik Paulsen decided to join the ranks of these career politicians when he disingenuously expressed his outrage with the behavior Congress exhibited.

Rep. Paulsen said in his own press release on Jan 2, 2013, “It’s unconscionable that the Senate chose to give hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to industries like Hollywood and NASCAR but chose not to stop the devastating new tax on the life-saving and life-improving medical device industry.”

Sadly, on July 18, 2012 when Rep. Paulsen had the chance to strip NASCAR of subsidies through the Kingston Amendment (H.AMDT 1380) in H.R. 5856, he voted against it.

What’s truly unconscionable is Rep. Paulsen's repeated record of failure when it comes to true bipartisanship and problem solving—specifically with the medical device tax.

Rep. Paulsen had the chance, in June of 2012, to repeal the medical device tax and make up for the loss in revenue by closing antiquated subsidies to mature markets like Big Oil. This solution would have had bipartisan support and given the 3rd District a victory we so desperately needed.

With 35,000 medical-device jobs potentially on the line, what did Rep. Erik Paulsen do instead? He put party line politics and his political ambitions ahead of the needs of our district.Now Rep. Paulsen wants to pound his chest and claim that Washington is broken. Well, he’s right. And he should know - he's been part of the political machine for more than two decades. He helped break it by failing to take responsibility for his actions and relying too often on words instead of deeds.

Rep. Erik Paulsen failed to lead.

Brian Barnes
Edina, MN

David F January 08, 2013 at 01:59 PM
The hard reality is Paulsen has very little power in Congress having very limited seniority. If he doesn't follow party leadership his committee assignments will be limited. Congress is not a democracy, it runs by seniority. Paulsen is not one to make waves and upset his party leadership.
Tom Garneau January 08, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Time for him to make waves and compromise.
Kelly January 08, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Well said, David. Hence proving the point that he is failing to lead. Leadership means having the courage to forge a new path if the current one is failing, not keeping in lockstep because it's dangerous. I don't understand legislators who campaign on positions that they later are too afraid to take not because they are wrong, but because they are unpopular with their party leaders. They then run for re-election with the same set of positions, or even new ones, promising that they will get something done. I'd rather vote for a one-term legislator who fails because they chose the difficult path their convictions presented rather than someone who does what he or she is told so they will gain or retain party favor.
Natalie Rosen January 08, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Well said Mr. Barnes. Paulson is definitely not a Paul Wellstone.
stephanie perron January 09, 2013 at 03:44 PM
Thank you Mr. Barnes for being the voice on this. I too was thinking the same thing, and sent his office a letter voice my concerns on his leadership.

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