Archive for the ‘DFL’ Category
Jay Kolls’ investigative report for KSTP highlights MnSure’s and the Affordable Care Act’s shortcomings:
Jennifer Slafter, and her family, are a good example of a set of circumstances making it tough for some to get the help they need through the state’s new health insurance exchange program known as MNsure.
Slafter along with her husband and two daughters found out their health insurance premiums were going up about 40 percent in 2014. Slafter’s husband was told by the owner of the small company where he works that Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) from the employer would no longer be allowed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because the company did not offer a health insurance plan to its employees.
Faced with a higher deductible and a much higher monthly premium, Slafter says she went to the MNsure website hoping to find a cheaper, or comparable health plan for the family.
Slafter tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she was told her options would amount to a much higher premium and higher deductible than the plan they already have.
Slafter says she called MNsure to see if those were the only options and she says she was told the only cheaper alternative was to put her and her husband on a private plan and shift their two daughters to a Medicaid plan. Slafter does not want to split the family up with different coverage.
The Slafters had a plan that worked well for their family’s needs. When the ACA was inplemented, their premiums jumped 40%. That’s quite the sticker shock. Unfortunately, that isn’t the full extent of their difficulties:
She adds, Fillmore County officials told her there are no Medicaid medical providers in her county, which means they would have to travel much farther to get their children the medical care they need and probably not with the doctor they currently use.
I’m curious how many other rural families are experiencing similar situations. How many rural Minnesota families are getting pushed into higher premiums rather than losing their doctors. How many rural families were told that their children would lose their doctor if they chose Medicaid plans.
This Our View editorial in the St. Cloud Times was intended to sound moderate and reasonable. It isn’t. This is a key sentence in the editorial:
The containment system PolyMet envisions has never been tried on this scale. And should it or other proposed mine systems fail, sulfide-laden waste materials could contaminate watersheds that feed both Lake Superior to the south and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the north.
Anyone who’s read a map knows this is part of the militant environmentalists’ propaganda. PolyMet is on the south side of the continental divide. Waters on the south side of the divide flow south. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, aka the BWCAW, is on the north side of the divide. It’s physically impossible for PolyMet drainage to reach the BWCAW.
I don’t blame the Times for not being experts on PolyMet issues. I blame them for not doing their homework to be credible. This paragraph doesn’t help the Times’ credibility either:
That debate, already simmering for years, hits new heights Friday when the state releases an 1,800-page environment impact statement about PolyMet Mining’s proposal to create an open pit copper-nickel mine about 10 miles south of Ely.
That’s BS. Here’s what the PolyMet ‘moonscape’ looked like this year:
Conservation Minnesota, the Sierra Club and other environmentalist organizations talk about disturbing the Iron Range’s delicate ecosystems. Does that picture look like a delicate ecosystem? Does it look like pristine wilderness? It definitely doesn’t look pristine by most people’s definition of pristine.
This paragraph is worth examining:
Dominating the rewards are likely 20 or 30 years of jobs and economic growth, mostly for the economically challenged Iron Range. Should PolyMet’s efforts prove successful, a dozen or so other companies stand ready to seek mining permits, furthering that growth and undoubtedly creating trickle-down growth across the state.
If the permits are issued, PolyMet and Twin Metals will become major employers in Minnesota. That isn’t speculation. That’s verifiable fact.
As for “the economically challenged Iron Range”, that’s an understatement. According to this information from the U.S. census data, the median household income for St. Louis County, the heart of the Iron Range, for 2007-2011 is $45,399. That’s a far cry from the statewide average of $58,476. That’s only part of the picture. One in six people in St. Louis County, or 16.0%, lives in poverty.
I’ve written before that precious metal mining isn’t the automatic ecological disaster that militant environmentalists insist it is. This post highlights the fact that it’s quite possible to mine precious metals without destroying the environment:
In 1936, Kennecott constructed evaporation ponds to store and evaporate mine water originating from the Bingham Canyon watershed. Over time, additional ponds were constructed to increase capacity, and the area became known as the South Jordan Evaporation Ponds (SJEP). The ponds were used for mine water until 1965 and for periodic storage of runoff water until 1987. SJEP use was discontinued in 1987.
Studies in the early 1990s concluded that there were elevated levels of heavy metals in the soil where the holding ponds had been located. Kennecott took responsibility for the impacts and agreed to reclaim and remediate the SJEP area. The removal work was undertaken pursuant to an EPA Administrative Order on Consent (AOC).
A massive clean-up operation began in 1994 involving the removal of pond sediment and six additional inches of underlying native soil. The material removed from Daybreak was permanently relocated to the Kennecott Blue Water Repository as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) clean up. At this time, some sediment, with a low concentration of lead and arsenic but an elevated sulfate concentration were consolidated onsite and capped with topsoil and re-vegetated. In 2001, the EPA issued a Record of Decision stating that the removal action adequately satisfied the remedial objectives and EPA determined that no further action was required. An Operation and Maintenance Plan (O&M Plan) was established to address
further management of the consolidation site.
Pursuant to agreements between the EPA, UDEQ and Kennecott, Kennecott began removing the remaining sediments at the consolidation site under the guideline of the O&M Plan. In 2006, Kennecott, the EPA and the UDEQ entered into an agreement solidifying the unrestricted residential and commercial use clean-up standards for the entire site.
In early 2007, the consolidated pond sediment removal project was completed. In 2008, the EPA and UDEQ issued a Consent Decree for the ground water cleanup efforts.
It’s time for people to ridicule dishonest environmentalist organizations. It’s time to move forward with precious metals mining. It’s time the private sector lifted the people of St. Louis County out of poverty by letting them flourish.
Thursday morning, Rep. Greg Davids sent a letter to Gov. Dayton about MnSure. Here’s that letter:
In the letter, Rep. Davids highlighted the fact that the MnSure Board of Directors was given authority to vote on something called Active Purchaser. This paragraph hits at the heart of what’s wrong with the MnSure Board of Directors:
The reality is that active purchaser gives seven unelected, unaccountable board members the powers to decide what constitutes a “meaningful choice” for hard working Minnesotans and small businesses.
Here’s what’s wrong with this model:
Shortly aftrer its botched launch, MnSure revealed its vision for active purchaser in response to questions about the lack of choices in southeastern Minnesota. A MnSure representative told an audience in Owatonna that the opportunity to deny carriers from selling on MnSure will result in more competition and reduced costs.
Rep. Davids highlights the foolishness of that type of thinking in the next sentence:
In southeastern Minnesota, reducing options to increase choice and competitiveness is a mathematical impossibility.
I’d modify that statement slightly. I’d argue that reducing options to increase choice and competitiveness is a mathematical impossibility anywhere in the United States, not just in southeastern Minnesota.
I’d oppose this type of board whether the governor was a Republican or Democrat, mostly because it usurps the power of the legislature. Also, that part of the statute is written with vague language and platitudes:
As you may know, the MnSure enacting legislation provided the Board with broad, ambiguous power to limit the number of plans offered on the exchange starting in 2015. This arbitrary authority is based on innocent-sounding, but subjective and easily manipulated terms, such as “quality and value” and “meaningful choices.”
Those terms are subjective to give the board almost unlimited authority over the companies that provide these plans. In short, it’s potentially a legally sanctioned extortion racket. Anyone that thinks that’s tinfoil hat thinking is kidding themselves about the condition of the human race.
Anyone that’s taken an honest look at Ted Kaczynski or Timothy McVeigh must admit that humans are capable of doing exceptionally wicked things.
Finally, Rep. Davids gave Gov. Dayton sound advice that Gov. Dayton will ignore:
It would be much wiser use of MnSure’s time to focus on enhancements to the consumer experience, user security, and the still unaccomplished task of electronically transmitting to insurance companies the application and payment information of those attempting to enroll through MnSure.
In short, Rep. Davids is advising Gov. Dayton to fix what isn’t working first.
I know that’s radical thinking to Gov. Dayton but it works in the private sector every day.
Another Fortune 500 company announced it’s leaving Minnesota. It’s explanation is starting to sound familiar:
“SpartanNash chose Western Michigan as its headquarters due to it being centrally located to the merged entities operations, the positive business climate taking hold in Michigan, including a more favorable tax environment, and the quality of life Michigan provides for its associates,” the company said in a statement.
That sounds familiar. Here’s what Cargill said when it moved:
Dan Dye, Horizon’s president and Ardent’s CEO-to-be, said in a statement that the decision “will allow us to offer great quality of life for employees, provide excellent service to our customers and position the business for long-term growth.”
If Gov. Dayton and the DFL are given 4 more years to implement their leftist vision for the state, Minnesota will be in worse shape than California and Illinois are in right now. Cargill cited their desire to “position the business for long-term growth.” Nash Finch, aka SpartanNash, talkd about “a more favorable tax environment.”
Implicit in both statements is their belief that the Dayton administration’s and the DFL’s anti-prosperity policies would hurt their companies’ ability to make profits and continue employing people. The leftists’ belief that profits are despicable is utterly wrong-headed.
I cited a single-payer health activist’s quote in this post:
There would be a removal of profit-motive in health care. The driving force behind the health industry would be patient care and not profit maximization.
This isn’t just a glimpse into the mind of hardline leftists. It’s who they are. That statement explicitly says that they think things would improve if profit-motives were removed from health care. The opposite is actually true.
Companies pursuing their own self interests are what make the economy stronger. The great inventions of the last 150 years came when there was an incentive, aka profit, to create and innovate. Milton Friedman once told Phil Donahue that the only economic system where “the masses escaped the grinding poverty you talked about” were in societies that appreciated capitalism and “largely free trade.”
SpartanNash and Cargill are exercising their right to enhance their profits by moving their operations. They’re moving their operations because Gov. Dayton and the DFL drove up the cost of doing business in Minnesota this last session. If Minnesota doesn’t reverse Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s policies, Minnesota will soon look like a ghost town.
Cargill and SpartanNash just implicitly said that Minnesota is that special that they wouldn’t leave. Will it be that much longer before other companies leave?
Don Davis’s article is this weekend’s must reading.
Overall, much of the $2.1 billion, two-year tax increase comes from the state’s highest earners and smokers. Dayton made the point that if property taxes rise 2 percent statewide, that would far less than the 83 percent they have gone up in the past decade. “I think that we did the job of delivering property tax relief,” House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said.
Democrats say that higher taxes usually mean better services.
That’s fantasy. Higher taxes usually means mayors feel less inhibited to spend significantly more money on things their cities don’t need. Considering the fact that the same Tax Bill that raised every Minnesotan’s tax bill was used to appropriate money for a pork palace for politicians. I’d love hearing Sen. Bakk or Speaker Thissen explain how higher taxes and shiny new office buildings mean more and better services for Minnesotans.
I’d also highlight the fact that higher taxes didn’t make MnSure more taxpayer-friendly. Despite the multi-billion dollar tax increase, MnSure still gets weekends and holidays off while Minnesotans scramble franticly to get insured.
“Any tax increase in inherently unpopular,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a Forum News Service interview. “But it will be a message battle. Republicans will try to say ‘largest tax increase in history’ and we will say ‘the people who have the most are paying it, and smokers.’”
The DFL, aka Democrats, will argue that they ‘taxed the rich’. Republicans will highlight the fact that the DFL also raised taxes on farmers, small businesses and chased a major part of Cargill’s operations to Colorado:
Why Denver? Dan Dye, Horizon’s president and Ardent’s CEO-to-be, said in a statement that the decision “will allow us to offer great quality of life for employees, provide excellent service to our customers and position the business for long-term growth.”
The Democrats’ policies are hurting Minnesota’s economy while piling additional tax burdens on farmers, blue collar workers and small businesses. Couple that with the DFL’s intent to dramatically increase the minimum wage, via constitutional amendment if necessary, and you’ve got the recipe for economic calamity.
Based on what we’ve seen thus far, the DFL’s claim that higher taxes equals better services is spin, not fact. Higher taxes just mean people have less money to spend.
Technorati: Tax The Rich, Property Taxes, Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, MnSure, Government Services, Tax Increases, Minimum Wage Increase, Constitutional Amendments, Recessions, DFL
This afternoon, a faithful reader of LFR alerted me to the fact that MnSure will be on the St. Cloud State campus to recruit young healthy adults for MnSure. Here’s what the announcement said:
A number of departments on campus are involved in a partnership to educate students about the Affordable Health Care Act and to assist students who are uninsured (or underinsured) get insured through MNSURE. Rolanda Mason, of the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Task Force and other staff from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid will discuss and answer questions to help students get the right health insurance. Please inform students about the upcoming educational sessions scheduled for November 26 and December 2. More details are listed below.
When it comes to campus advocacy organizations, the Women’s Center is among the most partisan organizations on campus. Think of them as the DFL’s on-campus tentacles. The Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Task Force knows that students under the age of 26 can be insured through their parents’ policy. That’s one of the Democrats’ favorite selling points.
What this means is that the DFL is using student-funded organizations on campus to sell health insurance. Like President Obama, the DFL knows that they’re in trouble if they don’t get lots of young healthies signed up through the exchange. The SCSU Women’s Center is complicit in selling that insurance.
The Women’s Center is funded by the taxpayers. Taxpayers have a right to expect the money to not be used for purely partisan purposes. Further, the event notice is condescending. Saying that “health care can be confusing” is the ultimate in condescension. These are college students, not third graders.
Riffing off of that point, these students understand their choices. If students aren’t purchasing health insurance, it’s likely that they don’t like their options. Telling them that the policy they purchase has to have ambulatory care doesn’t make much sense to a healthy 28-year-old.
The problem isn’t that health care can be confusing.” It’s that the options available through MnSure and the Affordable Care Act aren’t appealing. That’s what happens when bureaucracies collide with free market options. Free markets might take time adjusting but they wise up or they go bankrupt. Bureaucracies will take time and they won’t adjust. Unfortunately, they won’t go bankrupt for having stupid, unresponsive ideas. Each year, they know they’ll get a new infusion of cash to tide them over until the next year.
Rather than sending people to college campuses to sell policies kids don’t need and can’t afford, the Dayton administration should spend more time increasing sensible options for students. That way, they can buy a policy that makes sense for them rather than a policy that the government, in their inifinite wisdom, says they need.
The notion that taxpayers should fund an on-campus advocacy group is appalling. That this advocacy organization is helping implement a partisan policy is unjustifiable.
According to this article, Gov. Dayton is criticizing the construction of the Senate Office Building, aka SOB. That’s rather strange considering the fact that Gov. Dayton signed the Tax Bill that included funding for the new SOB:
Plans for a controversial new Minnesota Senate building that would include a reflecting pool, skylights and a fitness center drew a cool response from Gov. Mark Dayton Wednesday.
“Any new building should be functional and modest,” Dayton told the Star Tribune. “And if it can be built for less than the amount allocated, it definitely should be.”
Apparently, Gov. Dayton is attempting to pull off a President Obama bystander-in-chief chief executive act. He signed the Tax Bill that included funding for the SOB. That appropriation was for $90,000,000. Did Gov. Dayton give it a second thought at the time he signed the tax bill?
Let’s remember that Gov. Dayton could’ve line-item vetoed the appropriation without vetoing the Tax Bill. It’s important that we remember that including funding for an office building in a tax bill is likely unconstitutional.
New details of the gleaming, five-story building emerged after a two-day workshop last week. According to a draft design obtained by the Star Tribune, it would have many of the standard features of a modern legislative structure: offices for senators and staffers, parking ramps and hearing rooms.
But according to a report from the workshop, architects, designers and key legislators also debated elements such as roof skylights, the location of the gymnasium and a glass-enclosed walkway at street level.
In other words, Sen. Bakk’s initiative spends money taxpayers can’t afford on a building that’s more opulent than politicians need. Sen. Bakk’s actions shout that he doesn’t care about the taxpayers who’d pay for this building with their taxes.
Former Rep. Jim Knoblach has filed a lawsuit claiming that the appropriation of money for the SOB is a violation of the single-subject clause of the Minnesota Constitution, found in Article IV, Section 17. It’s likely that the appropriation will get thrown out because funding the construction of a building has nothing to do with setting tax policy for the state.
Sen. Bakk insists that including the funding for the SOB is appropriate. Then again, he insisted that putting a prevailing wage provision in the 1997 Tax Bill was legitimate, too. The Minnesota Supreme Court disagreed with then-Rep. Bakk on that one. Sen. Bakk doesn’t have much credibility about whether something is constitutional because he’s shown contempt for Minnesota’s Constitution before.
As for Gov. Dayton, he’s shown a willingness to sign accountability provisions into law when Republicans ran the House and Senate, then sign the repeal of those provisions the minute Democrats control the legislature. In other words, he’s an unprincipled man who won’t do the right thing if the spotlight hasn’t been shined on him. He certainly didn’t mind signing the farm equipment repair sales tax increase into law. It wasn’t until he got to FarmFest that he reversed course. Then he reversed himself again.
The reality is that Gov. Dayton and the DFL are the defenders of the special interests, not Main Street. This year alone, Democrats voted to raise taxes on the middle class and the working poor. In the bill that included the sales tax increases, they tucked in the funding for the Senate Office Building.
How fitting is it that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and the DFL used the Tax Bill to fund a luxury office building for themselves, then use the same bill to tax hard-hit farmers, the middle class and working poor?
The new building itself will cost $63 million, with the remainder for parking structures.
Amos Briggs, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a supporter of the project, said the plans are not yet final. “These drawings and models change day by day, based on cost limitations, tenant feedback and site restrictions,” Briggs said. A final design plan, he said, must be approved by House and Senate Rules committees.
Simply put, the SOB shouldn’t be built. These features shouldn’t be considered. They didn’t expand the number of senators, which means this office building is mostly about pampering the Senate. In this instance, that means pampering Sen. Bakk.
It’s clear that Sen. Bakk wanted to work in a taxpayer-funded Taj Mahal shrine. Those features didn’t just accidentally make their way into an architect’s proposals.
Recently, Rebecca Otto voted against approving exploratory leases for precious metals. This website, titled Dump Otto, was quickly created to show how upset the Iron Range DFL are with Otto:
Auditor Otto says that she and her family live “in a wind-powered, passive solar home they designed and built with their own hands” in ritzy Marine on St. Croix, MN, a Twin Cities exurb. She also says she owns a hybrid car. It may be news to Otto, but wind energy, solar energy and hybrids ALL depend on copper and nickel.
A single 3MW wind turbine needs 4.7 tons of copper. Where does Auditor Otto think that copper should come from?
Rebecca Otto stirred up a hornet’s nest by voting against these leases:
But the real issue is that an elected official who has received significant support out of Northeast Minnesota over her past elections not only voted against a generation of potential new mining jobs, but then she sent out a fundraising letter bragging about it.
That paragraph sounds like Iron Range DFLers are taking things a bit personally. They even corrected her for not telling the truth:
She says that copper mining hasn’t “gone well” anywhere it’s been done. That’s not true. She obviously hasn’t done her homework. She’s clearly never heard of the Flambeau Mine – right next door in Wisconsin. It operated for several years and has been totally reclaimed, and has been found to be in full compliance with all Wisconsin standards.
I’ve written about Flambeau in this post. In fact, I included these before and after pictures of Flambeau in that post:
This picture shows the restored mine site:
I just wish these Rangers would figure it out that the DFL is ruled by Metrocrats who hate mining with a passion. Theoretically, Sen. Bakk is from the Arrowhead but that’s more facade than truth. I looked at his campaign disclosure form last spring. What’s interesting is that he got a single contribution from northern Minnesota. The rest of his campaign contributions came from the Twin Cities. In verifiable terms, Sen. Bakk is a Ranger in name only. He, like Ms. Otto, is a Metrocrat who doesn’t fight for mining jobs.
This morning on At Issue With Tom Hauser, Matt Entenza made a fool of himself. Again. During the Face-off segment, Entenza tried defending the Affordable Care Act. He did as well as one could expect, which isn’t setting the bar high. After Andy Brehm said that the Affordable Care Act was a disaster that needed a major overhaul, Entenza got himself in trouble.
The trouble arrived when he said that, prior to the Affordable Care Act, “hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans” couldn’t get health insurance. That’s BS because, as recently as 2009, 93% of Minnesotans were insured, with another 5% of Minnesotans being eligible for state-subsidized health insurance.
Let’s do the math on this. Minnesota’s population following the 2010 census was 5,303,928. If 98% of the state either had insurance or were eligible for state-subsidized insurance, that’s 5,197,849 people. That means only 106,079 people weren’t insured or eligible for insurance programs.
That’s virtually universal coverage without a federal takeover of the health insurance industry. I triple-dog dare Mr. Entenza to top that percentage. In fact, I’d highlight the fact that the CBO said in scoring the bill that, after 20 years of the ACA, 30,000,000 people still wouldn’t be insured.
That’s right. The Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA, does a terrible job, especially compared with the fantastic job that Minnesota did without taking over the health insurance industry.
What’s more important is the fact that Matt Entenza knows this. It’s impossible to believe that the former House Minority Leader didn’t know that. Democrats prided themselves for providing health care. That’s before talking about the fact that his wife is Lois Quam, the former CEO of UnitedHealth Group.
Mr. Entenza isn’t ashamed of the fact that he lied. He didn’t hesitate in arguing against reality. The fact that he could be proven wrong this effortlessly didn’t deter him from lying about Minnesota’s leadership on health care issues.
Mr. Entenza is an affable man who won’t hesitate if he has to lie to defend the indefensible.
This Pioneer Press editorial exposes the DFL’s lie that property taxes would go down this year:
In July, Gov. Mark Dayton said that, for the first time in a decade, property taxes would drop by $121 million statewide in the year to come. But now, Minnesotans are staring at a potential $153 million increase in property taxes, instead, to a total of $7.7 billion.
Yes, that’s a preliminary estimate, and yes, it’s based on the maximum the various local entities could levy; some will come in a tad lower. But any property tax increase is hard to swallow given that legislative Democrats and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton cranked taxes up by $2.1 billion to cover spending increases.
The DFL knew they were lying about cutting property taxes when they made those claims last spring. That was their way of justifying the huge increases of income taxes, sales taxes and other fees.
Republicans repeatedly questioned the DFL’s lies, highlighting the fact that local governments and school boards levied property taxes. They, not the state, set property tax levels. Now that Republicans are being vindicated, what will the DFL do?
The answer is simple. They’ll do what they always do when they’re caught. Led by the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM, they’ll lie more blatantly. That’s what ABM specializes in. Without their unprecedented smear campaign in 2010, we wouldn’t have been afflicted by a Dayton administration.
Democrats knew when they were given the gavels in 2013 that they had lots of special interest allies to pay off, starting with big city mayors. The best way to pay them off was through massive LGA increases. Democrats knew they couldn’t sell that massive spending increase to Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester by telling the truth. They had to sell it as property tax relief.
With that determined, Democrats, led by ABM, said that raising LGA would lead to lower property taxes for Minnesotans. To use Jeremiah Wright’s phrase, the DFL’s chickens are coming home to roost. Few people will be getting bigger property tax refund checks. People living in the core cities of Duluth, Minneapolis, Rochester and St. Paul will see their city budget spending increase dramatically.
Some of that spending will go towards essential government services. Most of that spending will go towards paying off the Democrats’ special interest allies.
Most importantly, the business climate in Minnesota will have taken a turn for the worst. Small businesses will get hit with the higher income tax rates. They’re already getting hit with the B2B sales tax increases. The middle class and working poor are getting hit with cigarette tax increases and with higher prices caused directly by the Democrats’ B2B sales tax increases.
The DFL can’t survive without ever-increasing taxes. Without ever-increasing taxes, they wouldn’t have the taxpayer money they need to pay off their political allies with other people’s money. Anyone who thinks that the DFL is the taxpayers’ watchdog or that they believe in strict accountability of public funds is kidding themselves or intentionally lying to others.
There are some fiscally responsible Democrats. Unfortunately, they’re the exception, not the rule.