Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category
This weekend was a bit uncomfortable at the Gross household. Saturday afternoon, the water heater stopped producing hot water. At first, I thought it was just that the pilot light had gone out. My amateur diagnosis turned out to be wrong so I called St. Augusta Plumbing to set up an appointment for this morning. They got here at 9:15. It took them just 15 minutes to diagnose and fix the problem.
The serviceman was professional. The price was relatively cheap. The water heater is heating water again as I’m typing this. Life is good at the Gross home once again. The point is that there are other more high profile plumbers in St. Cloud. They’re also more expensive. Thanks to the small businessman who runs St. Augusta Plumbing, my water heater is working again and I got it fixed for a price that I wouldn’t have gotten it at had I went with a higher profile big company.
I’m not the world’s best predictor but some things aren’t predictions. They’re sure things. I wrote this post to lay out the statistics indicating that the Dayton-DFL cigarette tax increase would hurt Minnesota’s convenience stores. That prediction took less than a month to come true:
“Petro Serve USA” CEO Kent Satrang says the shift to North Dakota was almost immediate. Satrang says the convenience store industry lobbied the legislature for a smaller tax increase.
I wish I could say that these businesses weren’t getting hurt but I can’t. Thanks to the Dayton-DFL cigarette tax increase, they’re getting hurt. Don Davis’ article highlights the situation:
Recent news reports of cigarettes being smuggled into Minnesota come as no surprise.
Dale Erickson, general manager of Henry’s Foods in Alexandria, told Governor Mark Dayton in a March 2013 town hall meeting in Moorhead that a proposed cigarette tax increase would mean Interstate 94 “will become a black market highway” as cigarettes taxed at a lower North Dakota rate would show up in Minnesota. “There is no way to trace the cigarettes,” Erickson said.
Erickson and convenience store owner Frank Orton told Dayton that they would lose business to Fargo, North Dakota stores that collect smaller taxes. “Minnesotans could drive across the bridge to Fargo and buy their cigarettes for $18 less per carton,” Erickson said.
The Dayton-DFL ‘solution’ is as foolish as their tax increase is hurtful:
[S]tate officials say they need $1 million to improve their tobacco law enforcement. Officials say cigarette smuggling costs the state $2.6 million in tax revenues.
Repealing the cigarette tax would help these small businesses that are getting hurt. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option with the DFL. Republicans should refuse to spend a penny on additional “tobacco law enforcement” by saying that we don’t need to tie up the courts with these prosecutions.
Friday night, Collin Peterson collided with Torrey Westrom in a debate. Here’s the video for the entire debate:
Saying that it was contentious is understatement. It was also inspirational and infuriating. This clip fits into the infuriating category:
Here’s what Collin Peterson said in defending his decision not to vote for Obamacare:
PETERSON: I didn’t vote for this bill. The reason I didn’t vote for it — the reason I didn’t vote for it is because I actually read the bill, which a lot of people didn’t.
That’s the first time Peterson said he’d read the bill prior to passing it. That runs contrary to what then-Speaker Pelosi said:
Here are her infamous words:
But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.
The key point in all this is that, if it’s true, Collin Peterson knew what was in the bill but didn’t criticize the ACA. It’s one thing to stay silent on a bill you mildly disagree with. It’s almost justifiable if you think it might work. There was nothing in the ACA that suggested it would work.
For instance, if Peterson actually read the bill, he would’ve known that people couldn’t keep the plans they liked. Sitting silent while that abomination hits the American people is despicable. Edmund Burke got it right with this famous quote:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Collin Peterson did nothing. As a result, people in the Seventh District are getting bad news. Torrey Westrom is definitely speaking up about it:
“All you need to do is travel the district and talk to the small business owners that are getting renewal notices from their employees,” Westrom responded. “They’re seeing 40, 50, 60, 80% increases. I just talked to a person in my home county two weeks ago at the coffee shop, and they said they’re seeing a 100 percent increase because of Obamacare. That is a critical, a big concern, and why I am pushing that we need to repeal Obamacare, different from the congressman.”
Torrey Westrom’s closing statement was inspirational. Here’s that closing statement:
Saying that he returned to bailing hay on the family farm just a year after permanently losing his sight is inspirational. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I appreciated Westrom’s statement that “even I can see that Washington is broken.”
Torrey’s sense of humor, combined with Torrey’s can-do attitude speak to one thing: that Torrey will be a positive, powerful force in Washington, DC.
To the surprise of nobody, the St. Cloud Times in endorsing Joe Perske and Al Franken. What’s surprising is that the Times admits they’re biased:
Central Minnesotans should back Sartell Mayor Joe Perske in the 6th District House race and incumbent Al Franken in the race for U.S. Senate.
Republicans will immediately call “liberal bias” with the endorsement of two Democrats. The truth, though, in both these races is no matter which major-party candidate wins, the victor is going to seldom cross party lines and compromise on major issues.
Before anyone gets their undies in a bunch, it’s clear that the St. Cloud Times thinks they’re fairly impartial. The truth is that they aren’t impartial. Here’s proof:
Voters need to elect the person who can begin to restore district credibility while improving the return district residents get on the tax dollars they send to Washington.
The soft-spoken, blue-collar-leaning Perske is a better choice than Republican Tom Emmer. While Emmer is the likely favorite because of the district’s conservative demographics, voters need to seriously consider whether his political persona will help the district. He’s similarly conservative to Bachmann and he is known as a political bully, which makes his House strategy is “building relationships” a tough sell.
The Times’ logic behind endorsing Joe Perske is that he’s a “blue-collar-leaning” kind of guy and that Tom Emmer’s a “political bully.” That’s stunning in its lack of seriousness. There’s this though:
Voters need to elect the person who can begin to restore district credibility while improving the return district residents get on the tax dollars they send to Washington.
I won’t insist that the Sixth District’s credibility is untattered. That said, the Times Editorial Board’s animosity towards Michele Bachmann is extensive and well documented. Another thing I’ll say is that it isn’t just about “improving the return district residents get on the tax dollars they send to Washington.” It’s about whose policies will strengthen central Minnesota’s economy and Minnesota’s economy.
One of the things Tom Emmer will jump right into is cutting the federal government’s wasteful spending. He’s spoken frequently about his admiration of Sen. Tom Coborn, the man who put together a series of videos on sequestration.
In not endorsing Al Franken in 2008, this board cited Independence candidate Dean Barkley as being most in touch with local, middle-class voters. Franken objected immediately and vowed to show it. In six years, and in a highly polarized Capitol, he has, and he deserves re-election.
Again, noting neither he nor Republican challenger Mike McFadden will stray far from their respective party’s line, Franken still stood up for Main Street over Wall Street, for a reasonable farm bill, and for better matching people with employers through education.
That’s insulting. The Times didn’t mention the fact that Sen. Franken signed onto letters that oppressed his president’s political opponents while ignoring the Bill of Rights protections of citizens. The Times ignored the fact that Sen. Franken signed onto a letter to the IRS directing the IRS to apply additional scrutiny to TEA Party organizations.
As for Sen. Franken staying in touch with Main Street, he’d pass with flying colors if Main Street was defined as a union hall. If staying in touch with Main Street is defined by holding town halls in profitable businesses, Franken would get a D-.
Republican Jeff Johnson seized Thursday on new insurance data to accuse Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton of lying about how much health premiums will increase for coverage next year.
Johnson said the Dayton administration is lowballing the medical premium estimates for political advantage. Dayton shot back that Johnson is ignoring that people are free to shop around for the best deal and said his charge demonstrates a rival who “gets more desperate by the day.”
Gov. Dayton’s response was predictable. In fact, I predicted it. Gov. Dayton’s dismissive attitude won’t sit well with Alycia Reidl. Here’s what she told the MNsure Board of Directors:
“You’ve got to remember, the majority of consumers who have individual health insurance policies did not buy them through MNsure,” says Alycia Reidl of the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters. “Most of them are outside of MNsure at this point, and they haven’t received their renewals yet. As they start to receive them, they’re going to understand they have significant increases facing them.”
Reidl made that point to the MNsure Board at their first meeting since the new MNsure rates were announced. She told them many Minnesotans now have the mistaken notion their rates will go up only 4.5 percent. Instead, Reidl says they’re likely to get “sticker shock” when they see their increases. “The increases that are happening are putting our clients in a really difficult situation which is putting us in a difficult situation as the bearer of that news,” Reidl told the MNsure Board.
Gov. Dayton’s dismissiveness is only exceeded by his dishonesty. The Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters are experts on the size of rate increases because they’re working with it every day. By contrast, Gov. Dayton has shown that he doesn’t know what’s in the bills he’s signed. If I’m forced to choose between Alycia Reidl or Gov. Dayton on the issue of trust, that’s an easy decision. Hint: I wouldn’t trust the sitting governor of Minnesota as much as I’d trust Ms. Reidl.
The administration’s 4.5 percent average leaves out PreferredOne, a dominant player in MNsure last year that isn’t selling policies through the exchange this year. Details that surfaced Wednesday show its customers could see up to 60-percent premium increases if they want to keep their policies and buy them away from the exchange for 2015.
Gov. Dayton is fond of saying that PreferredOne “‘misjudged the market'” last year by offering lower costs than bigger competitors in an attempt to gain market share.” Whether that’s true or not, the reality is that PreferredOne’s rates are going up in a big way. Minnesotans will experience sticker shock when they get their renewal notices.
Commissioner Johnson should be asking Minnesotans who’ve seen their new rates for 2015 if they’re feeling the Dayton-DFL middle class squeeze. I’d remind people that Republicans didn’t vote for MNsure, which means the double-digit increases they’re seeing are Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s fault. They passed it. They own this disaster.
Gov. Dayton can make petulant child-like comments insinuating that Jeff Johnson isn’t being honest. What Gov. Dayton can’t do is hide from MAHU’s well-documented numbers. Those numbers show how expensive health insurance is through MNsure. Gov. Dayton’s hissy fits won’t change those facts because facts are stubborn things.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, MNsure, Temper Tantrum, Health Insurance, Insurance Premiums, Rate Increases, DFL, Alycia Reidl, Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters, Jeff Johnson, MNGOP, Election 2014
Recently, I got another smear campaign mailer from the DFL smearing Jim Knoblach. It isn’t shocking that the DFL is into smearing Republicans. It’s that the DFL’s mailer has a picture of a senior citizen with the caption “Tell Jim Knoblach to keep his hands off our Social Security and Medicare.”
It’s painfully obvious that the DFL knows that state legislators don’t have anything to do with Medicare or Social Security. Just because the DFL is without character and can’t be shamed because they don’t have a conscience, that doesn’t mean that they’re stupid.
They’re just disgustingly unprincipled and utterly without virtue.
While it’s true that Jim Knoblach supported giving people the option of putting a portion of their FICA taxes into a government-approved equity account when he ran for Congress in 2006, that’s utterly irrelevant in this race. Jim Knoblach, if he’s elected, will never cast a vote on Social Security or Medicare because they’re federal programs.
This DFL’s intent with this mailer is to scare senior citizens into voting for Zach Dorholt. If’s apparent that the DFL doesn’t care that it’s fearmongering at its worst. It’s important to remember what Howard Dean said after being elected chair of the DNC:
It’s a battle between good and evil…and we’re the good.
In Dean’s mind, the ends justified the means. If that meant smearing people with lies, that’s the path he’d take without hesitation. That’s the mindset that Ken Martin brought with him from ABM to the DFL.
In Martin’s mind, the only thing that matters is winning elections and checking items off the DFL’s ideological checklist. It’s irrelevant if it helps Minnesotans. It’s only relevant if it makes their special interests’ lives better.
The DFL insists that it’s for the little guy. That’s BS and it’s verifiable. The Metrocrat wing of the DFL, made up mostly by plutocrats and elitists, has done everything to prevent PolyMet from getting built. If the DFL cared about Iron Range voters, they wouldn’t say that building the mine is important but dragging the regulatory review for 9 years is more important.
If the DFL cared about the little guy, they wouldn’t have shoved forced unionization onto child care providers.
Zach Dorholt voted for the forced unionization of child care providers. He voted for major business-to-business sales tax increases and the Senate Office Building. After the session, he caught hell from St. Cloud businesses for creating these new taxes. These businesses lobbied him hard during the session. He ignored them then. It wasn’t until after the session that he started listening to these businesses.
Dorholt is chair of the House Higher Ed Committee. That’s a position of authority yet he hasn’t lifted a finger to investigate the wasteful spending at MnSCU’s Central Office nor has he looked into the financial mismanagement at SCSU. Despite the fact that SCSU is facing $8,000,000-$10,000,000 of budget cuts this year and despite the fact that the Potter administration hasn’t published a budget report yet, Zach Dorholt hasn’t looked into these issues.
All he cares about is whether he can report that he increased spending on Higher Education.
How does that qualify as helping the little guy or middle class families? That’s before asking Mr. Dorholt how the Dayton-Dorholt-DFL budget is creating part-time, low wage jobs helps grow the economy from the middle class out?
The truth is that the DFL doesn’t care about prosperity. They don’t care about great jobs throughout the state. They don’t care if public institutions foolishly spend the taxpayers’ money. How dare they send out mailers that frighten senior citizens while smearing a great policymaker.
Technorati: Zach Dorholt, Smear Campaign, Special Interests, Forced Unionization, Medicare, Social Security, Tax Increases, Higher Education, Ken Martin, ABM, DFL, Jim Knoblach, Small Businesses, Prosperity, MNGOP, Election 2014
Sen. Franken is more than justified in looking over his shoulder in his race against Mike McFadden. This poll shows the race tightening:
From the Magellan Strategies memo:
Q 8: If the elections were being held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were Mike McFadden,
Republican and Al Franken, Democrat or Steve Carlson, Independent?
Mike McFadden 42%
Al Franken 48%
Steve Carlson 4%
The race for U.S. Senate has tightened with independent voters being the largest segment of undecided voters.
Currently, 14% of independent voters remain undecided (12% among independent men/17% among independent women). Among independent voters, McFadden leads by 6 points (43% McFadden/37% Franken/7% Carlson/14% undecided).
That isn’t the worst news for Franken. This is:
Among undecided voters, Franken’s image is an abysmal 21% favorable/66% unfavorable with 100% name recognition. This leaves him with little room to grow.
That’s pathetic. Saying that Franken has “little room to grow” is understatement. Franken doesn’t connect with people who aren’t his base.
That’s why Franken doesn’t do public appearances. If you don’t meet with potential voters, you won’t get their vote.
By comparison, McFadden is travelling all across the state, meeting with people in diners in southern Minnesota and with miners on the Range. Simply put, he’s accessible and personable. As his name recognition grows, he’ll have the opportunity to close that gap further.
I hope the McFadden campaign will cut through Franken’s clutter of bipartisan this and anti-war that. Sen. Franken’s votes haven’t strengthened the economy. Corporations are doing well because the Fed is artificially propping up the economy with ‘Monopoly money’ but families are getting hit hard with higher health insurance premiums and higher out-of-pocket health expenses.
Franken has supported an economy where high-paying full-time government jobs and low-paying part-time private sector jobs are the norm. That’s foolish. Sen. Franken hasn’t voted for the things that families need to get back on their feet. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is artificially low by way too many part-time, $10-an-hour jobs.
Minnesota needs tons of high-paying full-time private sector jobs. That’s an area where Minnesota stinks. Another thing that Minnesota doesn’t need is a rubberstamp for President Obama’s failed economic policies. Instead, Minnesota needs someone with job-creating experience. Sen. Franken fits the description of the former. Mike McFadden fits the description of the latter.
Finally, this won’t help Franken:
Undecided voter’s attitudes and opinions regarding Obama and the direction of the country are more in line with a typical McFadden voter than Franken’s supporters. Void some seismic shift in the political environment; expect undecided voters to break in large part toward McFadden.
In late July, I wrote this post to highlight the fundraising disparity between Jim Knoblach and Zach Dorholt. Dorholt’s fundraising totals are pathetic, which is why I said this at the time:
What’s interesting is reading Mr. Dorholt’s campaign finance report. The reason it’s interesting reading is because it has a lengthy list of out-of-state special interests contributions. That begs the question of who Mr. Dorholt represents. Does he represent his district or does he represent the DFL’s Metrocrats? At this point, there’s little question that Dorholt represents Speaker Thissen’s wishes. He voted with Speaker Thissen 99% of the time on issues of importance.
Now that it’s crunch time, Dorholt’s special interest masters are spending on his behalf:
At the bottom of the lit piece, it says that it was “prepared and paid for by the Working America Minnesota Action Fund, 815 16th St. NW, Washington, DC in support of Zachary Dorholt. I decided to visit Working America’s About Us page:
Together, and in solidarity with working people across the country, we fight for our common interests—good jobs, affordable health care, education, retirement security, corporate accountability and real democracy. We want to ensure our kids have a quality education, our grandparents don’t have to decide between paying for their monthly medication or paying for food and that we will have a secure retirement when our working days have ended.
This lit piece was part of a door-knocking effort recently. It was given to a loyal reader of LFR, who then asked if I’d like to write about it. I didn’t hesitate in saying yes to that opportunity. When pressed by this loyal reader of LFR, the person doing the door-knocking said that he was an independent. When questioned about how independent he really was, the door-knocker insisted that he was truly independent.
That’s intellectually insulting.
Working America isn’t a Minnesota organization. It’s a national organization. How did they find out about Zach Dorholt? It’d be one thing if they were a Minnesota organization. It’s a different story because they’re a national organization.
This is just a hunch but I’m betting he got recognized for voting against in-home child care small businesses and for AFSCME and the SEIU in 2013. I’m betting that Dorholt got their attention by voting for raising Minnesota’s minimum wage, too.
At this point, it’s fair to ask who Dorholt represents. When I checked Dorholt’s campaign finance report, nobody living in his district had contributed to him. In fact, 2 people from Minnesota and 2 people from North Dakota had contributed to his campaign. Five people from California, 2 people from Ft. Lauderdale and 2 people from Pennsylvania contributed to him but nobody from his district.
It’s totally legitimate to ask who Dorholt represents because nobody supports him locally. His local BPOU hasn’t even supported him. Then again, his BPOU has virtually nothing in their checking account. If Dorholt’s neighbors won’t support him, why should we think he’ll represent this district?
It’s pretty clear that he’s bought and paid for by the progressives’ special interests.
Sunday morning, Ember Reichgott-Junge repeated the chanting point she recited Friday night. On @ Issue With Tom Hauser, Ms. Reichgott-Junge characterized Minnesota’s economy as strong, which it clearly isn’t.
An economy that just saw 4,200 jobs disappear in July isn’t strong. An economy where revenues came in 6.6% short of the state’s projection isn’t strong. An economy where the unemployment rate for an entire region of the state is 64.3% higher than the statewide average isn’t a strong economy.
This confirms the DFL’s metrocentric focus. It also confirms the fact that the DFL’s policies are designed to promote metro growth, not outstate growth. Twin Cities businesses don’t worry about regulations. Rural businesses, however, worry about regulations every day. Regulations are what’s suppressing the Iron Range economy.
Ms. Reichgott-Junge hasn’t factored those things into her calculations. The Twin Cities’ unemployment rate is 4,92%. It isn’t surprising that she either didn’t know or didn’t care that Grand Rapids’ unemployment rate for January was 11.6%, that February’s unemployment rate was 11.9% and that March’s unemployment rate was 11.2%. That’s more than twice as high as the statewide average.
I triple dog dare a DFL politician to explain how that type of chronic unemployment is proof of a vibrant, expanding economy. For the last 3+ years, the unemployment rate has been next-to-worthless as a benchmark of economic vitality. That’s because millions of people (literally) nationwide have quit looking for work, thereby artificially lowering the nation’s unemployment rate.
Another reason why the unemployment rate has become unreliable in terms of how strong the economy is is the number of people who’ve had their hours cut thanks to Obamacare. These are known as 29ers.
Minnesota hasn’t been immune from these trends. There are lots of people who’ve quit looking for work. The workforce participation rate is on the verge of dropping below 70% for the first time since October, 1980. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, aka DEED, the percentage of people who are underemployed is almost 50%.
When people quit looking for work, that’s proof the economy isn’t vibrant. If they’re working a part-time job in the hospitality industry after being a manager in a manufacturing company, that’s proof that the economy isn’t producing the high-paying jobs Minnesotans need to pay their bills.
Gov. Dayton and the DFL chanting puppets will undoubtedly keep chanting that Minnesota’s economy is strong. That’s their choice. It just isn’t the truth.
The workforce participation rate is proof of a stagnant economy. The fact that Minnesota’s economy has created only 2,900 jobs in 2014 is proof of a stagnant (or worse) economy. The fact that a major part of the state (the Iron Range) is suffering through a higher-than-normal unemployment rate (8.02%) is proof that the policies passed by the DFL legislature and implemented by Gov. Dayton aren’t working.
The revenues that Gov. Dayton and the DFL need to come in to balance the budget aren’t coming in. In July, revenues fell $69,000,000 short of projections. Thus far this year, revenues have fallen short of projection in 5 of the 6 months we have statistics for. The Dayton-DFL economy is heading towards the Dayton-DFL deficit.
Gov. Dayton and the DFL are satisfied with an economy where unemployment rates are artificially low and stagnant wages and part-time jobs are real.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Unemployment Rate, Workforce Participation Rate, Part-Time Jobs, Iron Range, Chronic Unemployment, Budget Deficit, Chanting Puppets, Ember Reichgott-Junge, ABM, DFL, Election 2014
Friday night at the Great Minnesota Get Together, Larry Jacobs offered his predictable commentary on the various races throughout most of the Almanac Roundtable. Then Prof. Jacobs said something so ridiculous that it must be challenged. Here’s what he said that’s questionable:
But, within the states, such as gubernatorial races, the dynamics are a little different. For instance, in Minnesota, the economy is doing very well. People feel much more optimistic than they do nationally and that’s probably going to create a little different dynamic.
It’s insulting to hear a person who’s one of the go-to political gurus in Minnesota say something that assinine. I’m tempted to start a petition telling Prof. Jacobs that there’s more to political punditry than regurgitating the DFL’s chanting points.
Further, later this weekend, I’m going to send Prof. Jacobs an email telling him that he isn’t helping his credibility to ignore DEED’s (Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development) monthly jobs reports, which he’s obviously doing. If he’d been reading those reports, he’d notice a couple things that won’t help Gov. Dayton.
First, DEED’s latest jobs report showed that a) Minnesota’s economy shed 4,200 jobs in July and b) DEED revised June’s jobs report downward by 3,600 jobs. Next, if Prof. Jacobs had paid attention, he’d see that Minnesota’s economy created a wimpy 2,900 total jobs thus far this year.
HINT TO PROF. JACOBS: Creating dozens of jobs a month isn’t proof of the economy “doing very well.” In most parts of the state, that’s considered rather pathetic.
Had Prof. Jacobs looked at the top 5 cities in terms of job creation for the past 12 months, the Twin Cities led the way with 46,339 jobs create, followed by St. Cloud with 2,894 jobs, then several cities with 1,000-1,200 jobs created each.
That means cities like Alexandria, Brainerd, Fairmont, Little Falls, Moorhead, Owatonna, Redwood Falls and Thief River Falls and regions like the Iron Range essentially didn’t experience job growth. Doesn’t Prof. Jacobs think that those cities and regions should have prospering economies? If not, why not?
I get it that most nonagricultural jobs are in the Twin Cities. I’ll stipulate that it’s probably been that way since the Perpich administration left office. I won’t stipulate, however, that that’s the right economic model for Minnesota. It isn’t right that Gov. Dayton’s economic policies haven’t created economic opportunities in outstate Minnesota.
Prof. Jacobs has spent too much time in Minneapolis. It’s time he started paying attention to cities outside the Twin Cities. Those cities deserve economic prosperity, too.
Yes, I was being sarcastic when I asked if Prof. Jacobs was a DFL operative. Still, I’ll start respecting Prof. Jacobs more when Prof. Jacobs starts paying attention to the world outside the Twin Cities on a consistent basis.
Minnesota’s economy isn’t “doing very well.” It’s time that the Twin Cities pundits figured that out.
Technorati: Larry Jacobs, Economy, Great Minnesota Get Together, Almanac Roundtable, DEED, Monthly Jobs Report, Unemployment, Alexandria, Brainerd, Fairmont, Moorhead, Thief River Falls, Little Falls, DFL Chanting Points, Election 2014