Archive for the ‘ABM’ Category

Last night, I noticed several tweets from the DFL side from Susie Merthans. After the session ended, a loyal reader of LFR sent me the link to ABM’s statement. According to the statement, Merthans is identified as “the Communications Director at Alliance for a Better Minnesota.”

That’s an attention-grabber because Ms. Merthans’ Twitter profile says “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Taxpayers shouldn’t pay the salary of someone who draws a salary as the communications director for the DFL’s campaign messaging unit. That’s what ABM is. If I had a $10 bill for each time I wrote about ABM’s role in DFL campaigns, I’d be living the life of luxury.

The DFL is a different operation. Their campaign communications are run through ABM’s offices. The DFL hasn’t been involved in campaign communications in years. ABM is as dishonest as they are corrupt. Check this paragraph from ABM’s statement out:

Republicans will be eager to start campaigning in their districts on the merits of this session. However, their record shows that they prioritized a Trump-like agenda that focused on tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy, restricting women’s healthcare access, and denying that issues like climate change are a concern for Minnesota’s future.

First, as a proud member of the #NeverTrump resistance, I can’t figure out what Trump’s agenda will be beyond building a wall on the Tex-Mex border and stopping refugee resettlement programs from Muslim nations. I’m certain that the House GOP didn’t try enacting legislation making those thing the law in Minnesota.

Second and more importantly, the GOP fought for middle class tax cuts. If it was left to the DFL, they didn’t want to pass tax cuts. They wanted the money spent on broadband and on programs aimed at reducing racial disparities. Here’s Greg Davids’ statement on the GOP tax cuts:

“Over the past two years, I’ve continued to say ‘don’t stop believing,’ and today I’m proud that we can deliver significant tax relief for Minnesota families,” said Davids. “From a farmer in southern Minnesota, to a family in the suburbs, to a small business owner on the Iron Range, to a recent graduate at the U of M, this plan provides targeted relief to the middle class throughout the state.”

In the next three years, the plan provides tax relief in the amounts as follows:

  • $90.6 million in agriculture property tax relief for Minnesota farmers
  • $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, the first of its kind in the country.
  • $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children’s college costs.
  • $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property.
  • $13 million in tax relief for veterans by raising the income eligibility threshold, and increasing the total credit from $750 to $1,000.
  • $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working family tax credit
  • $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; by expanding the childcare tax credit, families could earn a tax credit up to $960.

Those aren’t “tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy.” They’re middle class tax cuts. The DFL spinmeisters at ABM aren’t interested in the truth. They’re interested in savaging Republicans at all costs. If they have to make things up, that’s what the DFL will do. ABM isn’t there to tell the truth, as I’ve pointed out multiple times. ABM is there to be the DFL’s hatchet against Republicans. If the DFL and ABM need to lie about Republicans, then that’s what ABM will do because that’s what the DFL wants them to do.

That’s hardball politics. What I have a complaint with is when the DFL expects the taxpayers to pay part of their communications director’s salary. There should be a constitutional amendment prohibiting people like Susie Merthans from ever working for as a legislative staffer. There should be a bright line between campaign shills and taxpayer-funded positions.

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I knew that the DFL and ABM would start spinning things after they created a mess but this is ridiculous. While the legislature was still in session, Susie Merthans started spinning things. She quoted Paul Thissen as saying “Modest victories are due to Gov Dayton & DFL Senate dragging GOP kicking and screaming across the finish line.” Then, as though that wasn’t enough, she added “Paul Thissen: GOP beholden to corporate special interests, it’s time for a change.”

First, it’s frightening that Ms. Merthans admits in her profile that she’s the “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Why should ABM’s communications director get paid by Minnesota taxpayers? That’s the definition of corruption. ABM doesn’t change when the session ends. It’s the same dishonest messaging as they used during the legislative session. The only difference is that ABM will spend more money on mailers and ads during the campaign. The dishonest themes remain pretty much intact.

That’s before talking about the dishonesty of Thissen’s statements. The DFL is the party that does whatever the environmentalists tell them to do. Actually, they don’t do what the environmental activists tell them not to do. Think about the DFL’s opposition to the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Think about the DFL’s opposition to a resolution at their State Convention in 2014 that said the DFL supported mining. At the DFL’s State Convention in Duluth in 2014, that timid resolution was pulled by Ken Martin said it was too controversial. Seriously.

Another example is how the DFL rammed through forced unionization on in-home child care providers at the end of the 2013 session. Despite a massive lobbying effort organized by in-home child care providers, the DFL ignored the in-home child care providers and sided with public employee unions. Again, the DFL didn’t care about the people. The DFL sided with their special interest allies. It isn’t surprising. That’s their habit.

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After reading this DFL puff piece, it would difficult to prove that it wasn’t written by ABM’s spinmeisters and given to these Strib stenographers. (They aren’t reporters because they didn’t question any of the DFL’s statements.)

For instance, the title is intellectually dishonest. The Strib’s title is “There’s no evidence that ultra-rich are fleeing Minnesota.” Nobody said the ultra-rich would leave Minnesota. That’s because the ultra-rich have much of their wealth hidden from taxation. The Strib is wrong, too, when they said that “Critics predicted that the ultra-affluent would flee after Gov. Mark Dayton secured 2013 passage of a new income tax tier of 9.85 percent on individuals who make more than $156,000 a year.”

It’s insulting that the Strib reporters got this information that badly wrong. Republicans said that small businesses and entrepreneurs would leave the state. I wrote this article to highlight the brain drain that Minnesota is experiencing. While the article’s focus was on the number of Minnesotans leaving for Wisconsin and the Dakotas vs. the number of students moving into Minnesota from Wisconsin and the Dakotas, I also highlighted the amount of capital flight that’s happening and that accelerated following the Dayton/DFL tax increase of 2013.

That capital flight isn’t just a statistic. It’s something John Christianson has witnessed firsthand:

John Christianson, an accountant in Willmar, said he’s aware of 12 wealthy people in his community who moved away, and six who expanded their businesses in other states. “People are at least considering it,” he says. “Ten or fifteen years ago, it wasn’t as prevalent.”

It isn’t a secret that Minnesota is losing out on tons of income. According to Peter Nelson’s study, most of the people leaving Minnesota aren’t snowbirds heading to Florida or Arizona:

One might think that most high-earning families who leave Minnesota are retirees moving to Florida or Arizona but this is not the case. Working-age people between 35 and 54 account for nearly 40 percent of Minnesota’s net loss of tax filers for the 2013-2014 period.

Shouldn’t Minnesota insist on pro-growth economic policies that attract the best and the brightest rather than chase them away? At some point, the capital flight from Minnesota and the brain drain Minnesota is experiencing will catch up with us. This isn’t a bold prediction. It’s just simple math.

Most people don’t know what Joe Davis does or what he believes. Let’s start filling in the multitude of blanks about Davis by telling people that he’s the chief propagandist Executive Director of ABM. The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM, is the chief propaganda unit of the DFL. The morning after Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party, Davis issued a statement, saying “Republican legislators have been avoiding saying whether or not they’ll support Donald Trump if he’s the GOP nominee for president. Now, the path towards the nomination is clear for him, and Minnesotans deserve to know whether or not their elected officials will support Trump. Minnesota Republicans have showcased their shared priorities with Trump by focusing on things like defunding Planned Parenthood and cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. These extreme priorities have become the hallmark of today’s Republican party, both at the national level and in our state, but Minnesotans just aren’t that extreme.”

In Joe Davis’s Minnesota, every Republican wants to cut taxes for “millionaires and billionaires” and evil “big corporations.” It’s important to highlight the fact that Joe Davis’s Minnesota, at least the one he talks about in public, doesn’t exist. Joe Davis’s Minnesota is just as imaginary as Joe Soucheray’s mythical empire of Gumption County and Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon. The key difference, though, between Gumption County, Lake Wobegon and Joe Davis’s Minnesota is that Davis won’t admit that his wild statements about Minnesota Republicans are a myth.

Forgive me. I said that Joe Davis’s Minnesota was a myth. That isn’t true. Joe Davis’s Minnesota is an intentional fabrication. Saying that Minnesota Republicans prefer “cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy” is verifiably false. It isn’t even close to the truth. This isn’t accidental, either. Whether you’re listening to Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen or Joe Davis, they’re repeating the line that Republicans love “cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy.”

I wrote this article last May. Back then, Gov. Dayton criticized Republicans, saying “They are saving that money for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and property tax relief for large corporations.” When I contacted Rep. Greg Davids about his tax plan, he replied “My bill does not do that. Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…. My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.”

It’s time to run Davis and his dishonest quislings out of Minnesota.

I used to think that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM, was the most dishonest collection of progressives in Minnesota. I’m rethinking that, not because I think ABM suddenly became an integrity-filled organization but because Rep. Paul Thissen is a disgustingly dishonest person. I’m writing this because Rep. Thissen is dishonest and deceptive. When he issued this statement, Rep. Thissen put words in Speaker Daudt’s mouth, words that Speaker Daudt didn’t say.

The thing that Rep. Thissen twisted is the sentence that Speaker Daudt said. It reads “Number one, it would fund our roads and bridges, but number two, it would start to starve out the general fund, so it would remove money currently going in to the general fund, which is a really good thing.”

Rep. Thissen twisted that into this sentence, which says “Speaker Daudt’s admission that the purpose of the House Republican transportation plan is to “starve out” the money we use to fund our schools, police officers, and other basic services is the most damning argument against their so-called plan to date. He is openly admitting not only that they do not have a real plan to fund our roads and bridges but that the real purpose is to send us into deficit so they can cut our schools and other basic services in perpetuity.”

Rep. Thissen’s insistence that Speaker Daudt secretly wants to starve K-12 Education and police officer funding is insane. Last year, Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader worked out a bipartisan budget plan a week before the end of session. If Rep. Thissen wants to argue that Speaker Daudt wants to starve education, transportation and public safety, then he’d better argue that about Sen. Bakk, too.

This statement is exceptionally dishonest:

Speaker Daudt and Republicans should bring forward a real transportation plan that will adequately fund our roads and bridges without depriving our general fund of resources that educate our kids from kindergarten to college and fund basic government services that are important to the lives of Minnesota families.

That’s rich. Tim Kelly criticized (exposed?) Rep. Thissen in this op-ed:

Do you recall Thissen’s “comprehensive transportation solution that truly fixes the problem long-term” from two years ago? Me either, because it didn’t exist.

Rep. Thissen is a natural-born obstructionist. His first action is to criticize, not solve problems.

It’s truly a sad day in Minnesota. The DFL leader in the House isn’t interested in solving problems. He isn’t even interested in telling the truth. Paul Thissen is a cookie-cutter DFL weasel whose only objectives are to maintain power and to pass the DFL’s ideological agenda.

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This article highlights another instance in which the DFL is trying to drive companies out of Minnesota. They shouldn’t be blamed, though. Democrats in Washington, DC, are attempting to drive companies out of the U.S.

Specifically, “Senate DFLers are pushing a more generous paid family leave than the three states that require it, mandating up to 12 weeks of paid time off for new parents or people caring for sick family members. That’s double what is required in New Jersey and California; Rhode Island offers eight weeks.” Additionally, the “fight is gaining attention at the national level as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have proposed leave policies.”

This is just another thing ton the DFL’s agenda that’s driving employment costs up for Minnesota businesses. (It isn’t like they aren’t already leaving for lower tax states.) The executive summary of Peter Nelson’s report doesn’t paint a positive picture for Minnesota.

This information is especially troubling to Minnesota’s long-term health:

Most of the taxpayers who leave Minnesota for lower-tax states are in their prime earning years. One might think that most high-earning families who leave Minnesota are retirees moving to Florida or Arizona, but this is not the case. Working-age people between 35 and 54 account for nearly 40 percent of Minnesota’s net loss of tax filers for the 2013-2014 period.

In other words, Minnesota isn’t losing people at the end of their prime earning years. If they were, they could recover from that fairly quickly. It’s more difficult to recover long-term income loss because you have to attract people who are entering or in their prime earning years.

Further factoring into this difficult situation is the fact that people in their prime earning years aren’t likely to be as loyal to Minnesota as someone in the last part of their prime earning years. Someone that’s 60 and still earning significant dollars likely has a family here. They’ve established their lifestyle and are comfortable with it. Their friends are likely here, too.

It’s understatement that government-mandated business costs don’t incentivize companies to stay loyal to Minnesota. Their first priority is to maximize their company’s profits, which contributes to their family’s security.

This says it all:

Doug Seaton said he believes that politicians have no business telling employers to offer paid family and medical leave.

When politicians start putting their capital at risk and start signing the front of the paycheck, they can choose to offer paid family and medical leave. Then there’s this:

“Politicians, most of whom have no experience signing paychecks for employees of any kind, are not in a good position to make these decisions,” Seaton said. “It restricts the ability of the business to tailor its benefits to all employees in a way that makes sense.” He added that it came on top of “what employers already perceive as a very extensive and expansive set of entitlements in Minnesota.”

That’s a polite way of telling politicians to stop imposing their will on companies that they don’t own. It’s a polite way of telling politicians to shut up.

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Though they’ll deny it, there’s indisputable proof that ABM, aka the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, hates the Iron Range. The indisputable proof is found in their opposition to mining on the Range. Joe Davis, ABM’s Executive Director, issued this statement on the House passing an unemployment extension bill for laid-off Iron Range workers. It said “Families on the Range could have gotten help weeks or months ago, but Speaker Daudt said they could wait while Republicans dragged their feet trying to get a tax cut for businesses in exchange. This political gamesmanship is representative of the Republican agenda that puts big businesses and the wealthy first, instead of working Minnesotans.”

Sen. Bakk isn’t a stranger to playing political games. In 2013, Sen. Bakk put funding for a new Senate Office Building in the Taxes bill that had to pass. What’s worse is that it happened near the end of session and without the public getting the opportunity to testify against Sen. Bakk’s initiative. Further, the fight between Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk that Speaker Daudt had to referee last year is proof that Sen. Bakk couldn’t be trusted. Sen. Bakk promised to do unemployment insurance reform after the House passed the unemployment insurance extension. There’s no reason Speaker Daudt should’ve trusted Sen. Bakk. Gov. Dayton didn’t trust Sen. Bakk last year:

For Dayton, it is not about cronyism, it is about trust. He said that he trusts House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, more than he does fellow Democrat Bakk, although he also said he and Daudt often do not agree politically.

Trust isn’t about whether you agree with another person. It’s about whether you think the other person is being straight with you. Here’s the official definition of the word trust:

reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

Here’s the official definition of agree:

to have the same views, emotions

There’s little reason to trust Gov. Dayton or Sen. Bakk. There’s little reason to trust ABM either. Their lobbying efforts have consistently undermined (pun intended) the Iron Range’s way of life.

This picture shows just how disgustingly dishonest the DFL is:

The agenda for this year’s special session is still being negotiated but the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is already lying about Jim Knoblach’s votes. In the interest of honesty and integrity, I’m proposing that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota be renamed. I’m open to suggestions, especially if they feature alliteration.

The ABM functions as the DFL’s clearinghouse for focus group-approved lies. Their interest in the truth is minimal at best. The education bill that Rep. Knoblach voted for was the Bakk-Daudt omnibus bill that Senate Majority Leader Bakk voted for, too. In fact, 7 Democrat senators voted against the omnibus bill as did 7 Republican senators.

I have visual proof that the bill that ABM says shortchanged schools passed the Senate with a veto-proof majority of 52-14:

I wrote this post to highlight this quote from ABM Executive Director Joe Davis:

“Minnesota Republicans — especially in the House — need to be held accountable for putting corporations ahead of working families’ priorities,” says Alliance for a Better Minnesota Executive Director Joe Davis. “The GOP repeatedly pushed for special treatment for big business, but shortchanged our schools.”

MPR’s Catherine Richert exposed ABM’s lie, saying “Of course, this being politics, the story the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is trying to tell in its ads is more complicated than that. House Republicans and Senate Democrats agreed to put $400 million more into K-12 education. Dayton wants $150 million more than that to fund pre-kindergarten in public schools, and says he will veto the bill as a result.”

The DFL is a morally bankrupt political party. Their interest isn’t in setting good public policy but rather in dictating to people what they can and can’t do. If that requires lying to the people, then that’s what ABM will do … without hesitation.

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Yesterday morning, another DFL LTE lied to the public in the DFL’s attempt to appease Education Minnesota. Here’s Kat Harrison’s LTE, complete with highlighted DFL propaganda:

Anyone trying to portray Senate Democrats as opposed to Gov. Mark Dayton is flat out wrong. Majority Leader Tom Bakk, Assistant Majority Leader Katie Sieben, education chair Sen. Chuck Wiger and many other senators have been very vocal about their support for the governor’s plan.

The reason why they weren’t able to pass a bill including pre-K for our youngest learners was due to the refusal of House Republicans. Why did they block this opportunity for Minnesota’s kids? It’s thanks to their quest for, above all else, tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy. They’d rather sacrifice our kids than the wealthy donors they bow down to.

First, Harrison’s assertion that Senate Democrats support Gov. Dayton’s plan is a fanciful portrayal of the truth. I wrote this post, complete with a picture of the voting board in the Senate, that showed the Education Bill passing by a vote of 52-14. If Ms. Harrison thinks that Democrats supported Gov. Dayton’s education proposal, why didn’t Gov. Dayton’s proposal pass the Senate? His proposal was defeated. Also, if Democrats supported Gov. Dayton’s proposal, why did the conference committee report, which rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal, pass with a veto-proof majority in the Senate?

Second, Republicans didn’t reject Gov. Dayton’s proposal to pay for tax cuts for “the rich.” That isn’t saying Republicans didn’t want to pass tax cuts. It’s just that they weren’t for “the rich.” Republicans rejected Gov. Dayton’s early childhood learning proposal because it’s terrible policy. Why would a sane person pass a bill that’s filled with unfunded mandates and a hidden $2,200,000,000 property tax increase? Why would sane people vote for legislation that isn’t financially sustainable?

The Association of Minneapolis School Districts (AMSD) rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal. The Minnesota School Board Association rejected it, too.

If the DFL insists on lying about tax cuts to “millionaires and billionaires”, then it’s time to tell the DFL to produce proof that substantiates their accusations. This Friday night, I hope a Republican panelist on Almanac’s Roundtable insists that the DFL legislator produce proof of their accusation. If they make that accusation, insist that they tell you what section of the tax bill the tax cuts for big corporations and “the rich” are located in. Tell them firmly that you’re rejecting their accusations as lies until they can cite which section of the tax bill these tax cuts for the wealthy are in.

Embarrass the DFL legislators if it’s required. Teach them the lesson that their reckless accusations comes with a price. Pitchers throw a pitch inside to a batter leaning out over the plate to stop them from getting an advantage on pitches to the outside corner of the plate. Republicans should apply that principle with Democrats by exposing their lies with facts.

It’s time to give the DFL an incentive to not lie. That doesn’t come by gently disagreeing with them when they’re lying through their teeth. It comes by exposing them as outright liars.

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TEA Party Alliance president Jack Rogers is upset with House Republicans for not delivering on his demands for tax cuts:

“My heart is heavy with grief from the actions taken by the MN House Majority and some of the MN GOP Senators,” wrote Minnesota Tea Party Alliance president Jack Rogers on his Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, every house rep let us down in the final 48 hours,” commented Jake Duesenberg, the Tea Party’s executive director. “No tax cuts at all. Huge spending increases in public education and socialized health care.”

That’s disappointing coming from a group that’s supposed to know the Constitution. To expect tax cuts with a DFL majority in the Senate and a DFL governor is like expecting to buy winning lottery tickets each month. The odds are the same. Republicans passed tax cuts in the House. They were DOA when they arrived in the Senate. That’s political reality.

It’s also political reality that Republicans weren’t going to win many battles when controlling one half of one of the two political branches. If Rogers and Duesenberg want some of these accomplishments, then they should work tirelessly to elect more Republican legislators and a Republican governor. Without that, Republicans can’t enact their reform agenda.

While I’m disappointed with Mssrs. Rogers and Duesenberg, I’m not surprised that Paul Thissen and Ken Martin still won’t tell the truth. Check out Ken Martin’s whopper:

Said DFL Party Chair Ken Martin: “Republicans refused to compromise and are more interested in providing tax giveaways to corporations than investing in education.”

What is it that causes DFL politicians to reflexively lie? Does Alida Messenger implant a chip in these politicians’ brains that forces them to lie profusely? Martin saying that “Republicans refused to compromise” is disgusting dishonesty. It’s quickly disproven. Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk reached a budget agreement a week ago today. Of course, they kicked Gov. Dayton out of the room to finish the deal but they got it done.

Then there’s Paul Thissen. Here’s what Thissen said:

“House Republicans failed to finish the job,” DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen said Wednesday. “They refused to compromise with Gov. Dayton. They wanted to keep this money so they can give corporate tax cuts.”

There’s those non-existent corporate tax cuts again. It’s stunning how frequently the DFL lies about this. Last weekend, I contacted Greg Davids, the chair of the House Taxes Committee, about the House Tax Bill. Here’s what he told me:

Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…. My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.”

It’s disappointing when people I agree with don’t acknowledge political reality.

What’s worse is when an entire political party proves itself incapable of telling the truth.

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