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Minnesota’s Miracle

Learning from the Government That Worked

2012
Author:

Tom Berg

Minnesota’s Miracle

The “Minnesota Miracle” as seen from the inside—a lawmaker’s account of how government and politics can actually work

A firsthand look into the political and personal mysteries and realities that make real differences in people’s lives, Minnesota’s Miracle is a civics lesson and legislative primer that is both rollicking and relevant. Tom Berg’s behind-the-scenes view of the “Minnesota Miracle” is an account of living history that offers suggestions and hope as well as hard truths and cold facts.

Minnesota’s Miracle makes this point clear: ‘While human nature may give rise to factions and political parties, it also allows friendship and commonality to grow and foster some level of goodwill and cooperation.’ That is Berg’s summary of the ‘Minnesota Miracle’ and it can be ours once again.

David Durenberger

Social upheaval, political gridlock, and controversies over taxes, the environment, and an unpopular war: the state of Minnesota in 1968 was a lot like the state of America today. Tom Berg, a lawmaker in Minnesota during the 1970s, was a witness to—and a participant in—the deal-cutting, arm-twisting, and just plain hard work that led to historic political shifts. His account of the making of legislative history at the state level and relationships with federal and local governments has much to tell us about where we stand as a nation and how change happens.

A firsthand look into the political and personal mysteries and realities that make real and significant differences in people’s lives, Minnesota’s Miracle is a civics lesson and legislative primer with a rare kick—it’s as rollicking as it is relevant. Berg tells the stories behind changes made in legislative policies and programs during a critical decade, describing the key players, their emotions, the politics they employed, their electoral wins and losses, the impact of national politics when Walter Mondale was elected vice president, and the role of important court decisions. It was a time of partisanship, high emotions, violent protests, heated controversy, and outright political fights over issues that continue to haunt us; but it was also a time when government functioned well, in what Time Magazine called “A State That Works.” Berg’s behind-the-scenes view of the “Minnesota Miracle” is an account of living history that offers suggestions and hope as well as hard truths and cold facts.

Minnesota’s Miracle

Tom Berg is a Minneapolis attorney who was a member of the Minnesota state legislature from 1971 through 1978. He later served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Miracle

Minnesota’s Miracle makes this point clear: ‘While human nature may give rise to factions and political parties, it also allows friendship and commonality to grow and foster some level of goodwill and cooperation.’ That is Berg’s summary of the ‘Minnesota Miracle’ and it can be ours once again.

David Durenberger

In today’s divisive political arena, we have a lot to learn from the legislators who worked together across the aisle in Minnesota. For a glimpse into the inner workings of Minnesota’s government, read this book.

Walter Mondale

In view of public dissatisfaction with government today, this is an especially welcome examination of a state where government did work and of legislators who dedicated themselves to making it work.

Alan Rosenthal, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University

A timely and readable book showing how federalism can be made to work today. Berg’s vivid examples and sound recommendations show how federal, state, and local governments can again develop and implement common goals.

William Pound, Executive Director, National Conference of State Legislatures

A gem of a book on 1970s legislative policy-making, and Minnesota' golden age of bi-partisan problemsolving, progressive reform, public investment and innovation . . . Careful and lively, [and] sprinkled with delightful anecdotes.

Growth & Justice

Berg is an expert in describing the way relations between governments changed during this period—between the feds and the state and also between the state and local governments.

Minnesota History

Minnesota’s Miracle

Contents

Preface
Introduction: Breaking Out of the Holding Pattern

1. Forming a More Perfect Union
2. The Pendulum Begins to Swing
3. Life in the Minority Caucus
4. Legislating a Miracle
5. A Truly Historic Election
6. Breakout Session
7. Presidential Politics and Musical Chairs
8. It’s More Complicated Than It Looks
9. The Minnesota Massacre, 1978 Version
10. Where Do We Go from Here?

Acknowledgments

Appendix A: Selected Significant Legislation in Minnesota, 1967–78
Appendix B: Members and Committee Chairs of Minnesota Legislature, 1973–74
Appendix C: Minnesota Governors, 1951–2011

Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Minnesota’s Miracle

UMP blog - Next steps in health-care showdown will be states' opportunity to shine.

8.8.2012 - One result of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already coming into play.

A thoughtful discussion of federalism and the role of the states in providing healthcare for millions of low-income Americans is under way in all 50 states. This discussion will likely continue not only through the presidential election, but through the next year and a half as Congress and each one of the states address certain Medicaid aspects of the ACA decision and its scheduled implementation in 2014.

Read the full article.