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Tina Liebling’s most recent e-letter update is a portrait of the DFL’s hysteria. I first noticed Rep. Liebling’s hysteria when I spotted this hysterical tweet, which said “House GOP passed plan to let insurance companies sell junk insurance w/o coverage for things like cancer, Lyme disease, autism.”

Rep. Liebling didn’t like it when I challenged her by saying “We’ll determine what’s junk & what isn’t if you don’t mind. Your record of predicting what’s good for us isn’t exactly inspiring.” Rep. Liebling’s reply to my initial tweet said “If you get cancer and your insurance policy doesn’t cover cancer, it’s junk.” I followed that up by saying “Why think that people, consulting with their physicians, can’t figure this out? Catastrophic policies are great for young people. Your thinking seems based on the theory that people can’t figure these things out. Shame on you for thinking that!”

Rep. Liebling’s I-know-what’s-best-for-you thinking continued in her e-letter update:

Republican legislators are also taking the opportunity to help corporate insurance companies. They are proposing sweeping and risky changes to the insurance system–including allowing for-profit health insurance companies to operate in Minnesota. Changes to the insurance system could potentially cause even more instability and rate increases next year, but the GOP in both House and Senate have rushed them through committees. They refuse to pass relief for consumers without their other proposals. This is holding hostage the over 100,000 Minnesotans who need insurance in place before the end of open enrollment–January 31.

Republican legislators have said that they’re tying reforms to the relief because they don’t want to have to revisit this DFL-created crisis next year. This is what Speaker Daudt said in this statement:

“Our plan provides emergency premium aid while preserving access for life-saving care for thousands of Minnesotans struggling under the effects of Obamacare,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “Minnesotans know we need to start fixing this problem now so we don’t find ourselves in the same situation next year. Republicans have and will continue to lead on this issue and offer concrete solutions to fix the health care mess Democrats created.”

It’s clear that Rep. Liebling just wants to spend money without fixing this crisis. Speaker Daudt has put a higher priority on fixing this DFL-created crisis.

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John Croman’s article reads like a DFL propaganda piece. That’s mostly because that’s what it is. The article starts by saying “Minnesota’s top budget official warned Monday that the Republican health insurance premium relief plan will significantly delay aid payments to those facing sharp increases in 2017. Commissioner Myron Frans, who heads the Minnesota Management and Budget department, said the rebate program envisioned in the GOP legislation would required creating an apparatus to receive and vet applications for aid, which could involve hiring an additional 100 staff in his agency. ‘Our first take is that this is going to cost a lot of money and it’s going to take a lot of time. And if we’re going to go down that road it’s going to make it very difficult to get this implemented in 2017,’ Commissioner Frans told reporters.”

My first question for Commissioner Frans would be why this wouldn’t apply to Gov. Dayton’s plan. Wouldn’t they need to verify that applicants’ income is truthful? Or would Gov. Dayton’s system run on the honor system?

The Republican plan, by contrast, calls for people to apply to the state for aid. The state would review the applications and issue State checks directly to the insurance customers. The Legislative Auditor would conduct the audits, if this plan passes and is signed into law.

I don’t know that that’s true but let’s stipulate that it is for this conversation. Couldn’t the DFL offer an amendment to change that part of the legislation?

The main question that hasn’t gotten asked is why Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t offered a plan to fix all the things that are wrong with Minnesota’s Obamacare health care system. Why haven’t the media asked Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk or Rep. Hortman where their comprehensive health care reform legislation is?

Does the Twin Cities media think, like Gov. Dayton and the DFL, that these skyrocketing health insurance premiums are a one-time thing? If they aren’t a one-time thing but are caused by systemic flaws, why haven’t the DFL written legislation that would fix that situation?

Commissioner Frans can complain all he wants about not getting the rebate fixed but the truth is that Minnesotans are worried about other parts of Minnesota’s health care system. Further, if Gov. Dayton vetoes premium relief, the DFL will wear that like a cement block during the 2018 campaign.

Anders Koskinen’s article on Gov. Dayton’s tax ‘relief’ bill is enlightening in that it proves that Gov. Dayton still hasn’t learned that sending money to cities and counties doesn’t shrink families’ tax burdens. It just adds to those cities’ and counties’ spending.

The key part of Koskinen’s article is where he writes “the proposal ends up seeing the state spending $1.60 in subsidies for every dollar of direct tax relief. Dayton’s proposal includes $21 million in middle class tax cuts, $61 million of child care tax credits, and $34 million of property tax credits for farmers. A further $186 million, however, is a series of subsidies.”

Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith adds “Our tax bill would provide significant relief to farmers by buying down the cost of local school district levies. I urge the Legislature to provide this needed tax relief for Minnesota farm families this session. In 2013, the DFL majorities in the House and Senate passed a bill with the same promises. It failed miserably. I wrote about those failures in this post and this post.

Despite all the DFL’s claims, property taxes skyrocketed anyway. While it isn’t shocking, it’s more than a little disgusting.

The DFL theory is that sending money to cities and counties should reduce the need for raising taxes. The reality is that it increases cities’ and counties’ spending. That’s been proven repeatedly. That’s why I called the DFL’s tax relief proposal a theory. It certainly isn’t verifiable fact.

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I’m getting tired of having to factcheck professional ‘factcheckers’. The worst ‘factchecker’ is Politifact but others are ‘gaining ground’ on them. Shortly after my computer returned from the shop, I saw this factcheck, which is critical of Donald Trump’s tweets about the ACA.

In Factcheck’s article, they cite this tweet from Gov. Dayton where he said “The ACA has provided quality healthcare to +20M Americans. Its problems could’ve been corrected if GOP had tried to improve, not destroy it.” That’s a myth that’s being peddled by Democrats in their propaganda battle to prevent the repeal of the ACA.

Betsey McCaughey, one of the foremost experts on health care, highlighted the reality in an op-ed that I wrote about in this post. McCaughey explained “Will 20 million lose coverage? Not even close. Sixteen million of those who gained coverage are enrolled in Medicaid, the public program for low-income residents. Obamacare allowed states to expand who could sign up for Medicaid, with the federal government covering the tab. Repeal could result in less federal funding. But no one is pushing to abolish the nation’s health safety net. And states that just expanded Medicaid are unlikely to do a 180 and shrink it. The 16 million are likely safe.”

Any factchecking organization that doesn’t do basic research like that isn’t trustworthy. That doesn’t mean that they might not occasionally stumble into the truth. I’m just saying they can’t be relied on to consistently be accurate factcheckers. Finally, factchecking tweets, then saying that they pulled quotes “on ACA Out of Context” is a bit absurd. It’s impossible to provide detailed context in 140 characters.

Here’s the transcript of what Gov. Dayton said about the ACA:

Gov. Dayton insists that Republicans took him out of context but here’s what he said:

But ultimately, I’m not trying to pass the buck here, but the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people. And Congress, which has been totally deadlocked in terms of making any necessary changes or improvements, is going to have to step into this in January with the next administration, and make the kind of changes such as, if … the federal government [provided] for catastrophic health care occurrences – you’d bring the rates down very significantly. …

And the subsidies that the federal government provides, the tax credits, are going to need to be increased and expanded to, again, reduce the cost burden on those who are buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

So I mean, there are a number of things that need to be done, federal, and there are some things we can do at the state. But the magnitude of this problem, Minnesota is not alone in this. There are many other states that have experienced significant increases, our increases are higher on a percentage basis because our base rates were lower, previously – but still very drastic increases and there are other states where providers, like in our case Blue Cross Blue Shield, have left the market entirely.

In other words, the ACA is affordable … if the federal government provides massive subsidies to 90% of the people. Gov. Dayton later said that “there are a number of things that need to be done.” That’s proof that President-Elect Trump’s tweet didn’t mislead with Gov. Dayton’s statement.

To: Speaker Daudt, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka
From: Gary Gross, uppity peasant
Subject: Health insurance premium relief

Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, I’m sure you’re well aware of Gov. Dayton’s insistence that you pass his health insurance premium relief plan, aka passing his wimpy political relief proposal. According to this article, he wants you to pass his wimpy proposal virtually immediately.

As a loyal conservative activist, it pains me to say this. I’m asking you to follow his direction (with an asterisk.) I know that the GOP plan includes premium relief. I know that the GOP legislation isn’t the same as Gov. Dayton’s wimpy proposal. (Thank God for major miracles, right?)

Please pass the GOP legislation ASAP, then send it to his desk. When it’s passed, I’d recommend that you hold a major press conference right at 6:00 pm CT that night so that each of the Twin Cities TV stations is forced to cover the press conference/celebration announcement. Also, circulate this comparison table to the media:

Highlight to Minnesotans that the GOP legislation that you’ve passed in the opening days of the regular session includes extensive premium relief that Gov. Dayton insists get passed. Then highlight for Minnesotans that it also includes plans to improve access to care, competition & choice and make provider networks more family friendly.

Dare Gov. Dayton to veto your legislation. Dare him to explain why he didn’t work with you on these issues that would improve Minnesotans’ lives. Dare him to explain why he vetoed a bill that’s attracted significant bipartisan support.

Highlight to Minnesotans that you’re fighting for them. Highlight to Minnesotans that Gov. Dayton’s fighting for … well, who knows what he’s fighting for these days.

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It isn’t a secret that there’s a major fight looming between Gov. Dayton and Republican leadership on the issue of health care. I’ve written about the difference in the details between Gov. Dayton’s proposal and the Republicans’ proposal before. (Here’s one of the posts.) Saying that the difference between Gov. Dayton’s proposal and the Republicans’ plan is significant is understatement. Honestly, this article doesn’t outline the differences.

The third paragraph says “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he wants to see the Legislature immediately pass his plan, which would provide a 25 percent rebate for people who wouldn’t be able to get other help with their surging premiums. About 121,000 Minnesotans are facing steep health insurance premium hikes, but make too much to qualify for federal tax credits.”

What’s needed to do this debate justice is a side-by-side comparison of the competing plans. Actually, it isn’t fair to call Gov. Dayton’s proposal a plan when compared with the Republicans’ plan. This graphic is worth thousands of DFL words:

The first question that people should ask Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislators is this: why doesn’t your plan fix all the things that are broken with the MNsure/ACA system? The other question that I’d ask is this: If you aren’t going to make a substantive counterproposal, why aren’t you supporting the Republicans’ comprehensive proposal? Is it that you think rural Minnesotans have too much access to health care? Are rural Minnesotans’ networks too robust?

Unfortunately, it’s clear that Gov. Dayton is digging in his heals on MNsure/ACA because, in his mind, reforming it would hurt his legacy. Isn’t it time for him to, just once, do the right thing for rural Minnesotans?

Minnesotans rejected Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s agenda this past November. They want to move in a different direction. (More on that in a future post.) They aren’t happy with the direction Gov. Dayton and the DFL have taken Minnesota in.

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Gov. Dayton is the gift that keeps giving fantastic quotes to Minnesota’s bloggers. This article provides another such gift.

The second paragraph of the article says “In an interview with The Associated Press, Dayton said he expects Twin Metals Minnesota and its supporters to try their hardest to persuade President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to reverse the Obama administration’s decision this month not to renew the federal mineral rights leases needed for the underground mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely in northeastern Minnesota.”

The third paragraph continues by quoting Gov. Dayton as saying “I don’t think it’s ever dead. It’s stymied at present. And if the Trump administration doesn’t intervene and override what President Obama has decided, it’s not going to go forward.”

That’s pretty amazing considering what Gov. Dayton said about Twin Metals last March:

If Gov. Dayton thinks that killing the project is the same as it being stymied, then I might buy into this fantasy. Otherwise, I’d recommend that his staff buy him a dictionary. If he isn’t interested in using the dictionary, then I’d simply tell him to start telling the truth.

Thus far, he hasn’t done a good job with that.

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Minnesota’s story of the year is simple. In fact, the top 2 stories of the year are intertwined. When Gov. Dayton stated that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable” to growing numbers of Minnesotans, jaws dropped because they knew he’d just issued a death sentence to DFL legislators in November’s elections. Though he tried rehabilitating their campaigns with this op-ed, pundits knew that it was too little too late.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Dayton’s statement was Minnesota’s Story of the Year. That was so straightforward that even Gov. Dayton figured it out.

The highlight of Gov. Dayton’s op-ed was when he wrote “I ask you to vote for two years with DFL majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate, to fulfill my pledge to you: A better Minnesota.” Not only did Minnesotans reject that request, they voted for a bigger majority for Speaker Daudt in the House while flipping the Senate from a DFL majority body to a GOP majority. You can’t send a clearer, more unmistakable, message to Gov. Dayton.

Voters didn’t just reject Gov. Dayton’s request. They sent the message that they were rejecting his hard-left agenda. They sent the message that the pressure is on him to abandon his my-way-or-the-highway negotiations.

Frankly, Minnesotans are tired of fixing Gov. Dayton’s messes. They’re tired of his constant giving the environmental activist wing of the DFL everything they want while shafting the blue collar workers of outstate Minnesota.

If Republicans get popular things done the next 2 years, they’ll keep their majorities in the House and Senate and elect a real governor. Not getting everything they want done over the next 2 years isn’t failure. It’s success because that gives voters motivation to elect a Republican governor in 2018.

Gov. Dayton admitting that President Obama’s “signature issue” is a failure was Minnesota’s story of the year. Minnesota voters’ resounding rejection of Gov. Dayton was Minnesota’s next biggest story.

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Earlier this week, Speaker Daudt told reporters that his relationship with Gov. Dayton was “damaged.” The key question that the Twin Cities media hasn’t asked is why their relationship is damaged. The AP’s Kyle Potter opened his article by saying “Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt will enter 2017 with a ‘damaged relationship,’ the Republican speaker said Monday, foreshadowing difficulty at the Capitol when the Legislature is charged with passing a two-year budget and address other key priorities.”

Let’s re-examine what happened since mid-October. On Oct. 12, Gov. Dayton admitted that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for an increasing number of people. We’re going to need both state and federal governments to step in and do what they need to do to remedy these problems.” Since then, Republicans came up with a plan to fix the affordability part of the ACA/MNsure crisis. This chart shows the differences between the Republicans’ plan, which addressed affordability, access and other important factors, with Gov. Dayton’s bare bones proposal:

There’s no disputing the fact that Gov. Dayton is upset. What’s in question is why he’s upset. Is he upset that Republicans put together a serious plan that would fix each of the major problems with the ACA? Is Gov. Dayton upset that the DFL’s plan is pathetic and skimpy?

Gov. Dayton owes it to Minnesotans to stop acting like a spoiled brat. For better or worse, he’s Minnesota’s CEO. It’s time he put his big boy britches on and did what’s right for all Minnesotans. Lately, there’s been lots of talk from the DFL about government shutdowns. It’s time Gov. Dayton and the DFL stopped pandering to their special interest allies and did what’s right for Minnesotans.

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This morning, KSTP’s Tom Hauser interviewed incoming Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and incoming House Minority Leader Melisa Hortman. One of the first topics they discussed was MNsure. Sen. Gazelka quickly made the point that Minnesota’s system prior to the ACA was significantly superior to the system we’re currently dealing with. To her credit, Rep. Hortman quickly agreed with Sen. Gazelka. Later in the show, former DFL State Party Chair Brian Melendez complimented Sen. Gazelka and Rep. Hortman before stating his optimism that their exchange showed that a deal might be reached this session.

I’d like to think that there’s hope but I’m not optimistic about it. IMO, there are 2 people standing in the way of getting something positive done. One of the people that will likely try jamming things up is Paul Thissen. I’m certain that he’s running for governor. If he runs, I’m confident that he’ll run a scorched earth campaign, criticizing Republicans for not getting anything done.

While I’m confident that Rep. Thissen will play the obstructionist card frequently, I’m certain that Gov. Dayton will continue with his hissy fits. The opening paragraphs of David Montgomery’s article say it all:

There was so little trust left between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt by Friday that the two leaders wouldn’t agree to meet in private as they tried to salvage a package of bills to cut taxes, build roads and water projects and help people struggling with health insurance premiums.

Instead, the two sat down in front of television cameras to try to salvage a deal they’d been fighting over in various forms since May. The cameras didn’t help. After just 17 minutes of accusations and arguments, both Dayton and Daudt walked out of the room, unable to agree.

It’s obviously a very disappointing outcome,” Dayton said afterwards.

Gov. Dayton’s quote is a lie, at least from his perspective. Gov. Dayton hasn’t wanted to work in good faith with Republicans. He stated it matter-of-factly in multiple op-eds by asking voters to give him DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate. (Instead, Minnesotans gave him GOP majorities in the House and Senate.)

Let’s be clear about this. Gov. Dayton is an obstructionist at heart. He’s shut down state government twice. The first time, it’s possible to argue it was the Republicans’ fault. It isn’t a strong argument but it’s an argument. The other time, though, it’s all on Gov. Dayton. Gov. Dayton vetoed bills from a bipartisan budget agreement negotiated by Speaker Daudt and then-Senate Majority Leader Bakk. (It’s worth noting that Rep. Thissen sabotaged both negotiated agreements.) It wouldn’t be surprising if Gov. Dayton shut down the government again this summer. He’s done it before. He apparently thinks that it’s the only way he’s relevant in the budget process. This is Gov. Dayton’s definition of good faith negotiating:

Daudt accused Dayton of breaking the early-December deal earlier this week, when he unveiled proposed language for all three potential special session bills. The proposed infrastructure bill, Daudt said, took away Republican priorities without harming any of Dayton’s own.

It’s time, after 6 long years of the Dayton administration, to call him what he is. Gov. Dayton is Minnesota’s Obstructionist-in-Chief.

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