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Nobody who isn’t comatose thinks President Trump and former President Obama are similar. The only thing that they have in common is that they’ve both been called Mr. President. I wrote this post because Rachel Maddow actually said something worthwhile when she said President Trump’s inaugural speech “was militant and it was dark. The crime, the gangs, the drugs, this ‘American carnage,’ disrepair, decay. You can’t imagine the outgoing president giving a speech like that.'”

She’s right. Former President Obama would’ve papered over the problems. Let’s correct that. For 8 years, he papered over the nation’s problems. Obamacare wasn’t the solution to a problem. It was the Democrats’ holy grail, the thing that no other Democrat had achieved.

President Obama left office personally popular. President Trump enters office being personally unpopular. That isn’t the only difference. President Obama’s policies were rejected each time President Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot. By contrast, many of President Trump’s policy initiatives are highly popular. Tax reform is one of those initiatives. Another thing that’s popular, except with Democrats, is enforcing existing immigration laws. Still another Trump initiative that’s popular where it’s applicable is reining in the EPA and other environmental regulatory agencies.

President Trump isn’t the great orator that President Obama was. The thing about Obama, though, was that he never moved the needle in terms of support for his policies. In the weeks ahead, President Trump will move votes on his initiatives because they’re solutions to things that are broken.

Though this isn’t entirely on point, another major difference between these presidents is that President Trump has actually run big things before taking office. When his VA secretary is confirmed and sworn in, rest assured that VA administrators’ heads will roll. Trump is a man of action. Obama was a talker who didn’t get things done.

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The lede in this article sounds a triumphant tone. The opening says “Labor Democrats decided to fight Saturday and won a major victory for the party’s future on the Iron Range.” While it’s a procedural victory for the Range, it isn’t a major victory if you’re judging it by whether anything changed as a result of the vote.

In defeating Resolution 54, the Range Delegation kept the language of the resolution out of the DFL state party platform. That shouldn’t be mistaken for defeating the environmental activist Metrocrats. It shouldn’t be mistaken as proof that Gov. Dayton will approve any permits for PolyMet. Defeating Resolution 54 doesn’t mean that the DFL is suddenly open to mining.

The DFL loves bogging things down with regulations, regulators and lawsuit. The thing Iron Rangers should ask themselves seems unrelated at first. This past winter, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)decided to look into the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Specifically, they took jurisdiction over whether the pipeline path should be rerouted. The first question that should be asked is straightforward: what does the agency that regulates electricity rates have to do with infrastructure permitting? It isn’t like the PUC was the first regulatory agency to review the Sandpiper Pipeline’s potential impact on its environment. The point is that the PUC took jurisdiction to hinder the permitting process.

Here’s another important question that the DFL hasn’t answered: why didn’t Gov. Dayton scream bloody murder when the PUC hijacked jurisdiction on the Sandpiper Pipeline project? In 2013-14, when the DFL had total control of the legislature and had a friendly DFL governor to work with, why didn’t they streamline the permitting process? Might it be because they prefer a permitting process that’s complex and convoluted?

Ask PolyMet’s investors whether these DFL-supporting organizations haven’t used the same tactics to kill PolyMet. If they’re being honest, they’d say that’s the exact playbook that’s been used against them. Until the pro-mining part of the DFL becomes the dominant part of the DFL or until pro-mining voters switch to the GOP, there won’t be a change in the outcome. Saturday’s vote was all show. In the real world, it meant nothing. The anti-mining wing of the DFL still rules the DFL.

In Part I of this series, I wrote about the virtues of federalism. Now it’s time to talk about the negative things that happened when the Obama administration ignored the Constitution and the rule of law. Specifically, I’ll quote from Kim Strassel’s article about Scott Pruitt.

Picking up where I left off, let’s rejoin Strassel’s article where she wrote “Under the Clean Air Act, states are allowed to craft their own implementation plans. If the EPA disapproves of a state plan, it is empowered to impose a federal one—one of the most aggressive actions the agency can take against a state, since it is the equivalent of a seizure of authority. In the entirety of the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the EPA imposed five federal implementation plans on states. By last count, the Obama administration has imposed at least 56.” That’s where Pruitt comes in.

According to Strassel, much “of Mr. Pruitt’s tenure as Oklahoma’s AG was about trying to stuff federal agencies back into their legal boxes. Most of the press either never understood this, or never wanted to. When the media wrote about state lawsuits against ObamaCare or the Clean Power Plan or the Water of the United States rule, the suggestion usually was that this litigation was ideologically motivated, and a naked attempt to do what a Republican Congress could not—tank the president’s agenda.”

The next paragraph, Ms. Strassel wrote this:

The basis of nearly every one of these lawsuits was in fact violations of states’ constitutional and statutory rights— and it is why so many of the cases were successful. It was all a valiant attempt to force the federal government to follow the law. And it has been a singular Pruitt pursuit.

On issues of executive overreach, President Obama had a terrible record in the Supreme Court, at one point losing 13 straight 9-0 decisions. It will take time to tame the EPA. You can’t change the entire Agency culture with the blink of an eye. Here’s the good news:

In announcing his nomination, the president-elect took care to note that Mr. Pruitt was an “expert in constitutional law” and that his job would be to restore the “EPA’s essential mission.”

Which is exactly the reform the EPA needs. The agency doesn’t need a technically trained environmentalist at its head, since it is already bubbling over with green regulations. It doesn’t need a climate warrior, as Congress has never passed a climate law, and so the EPA has no mandate to meddle there. What it needs is a lawyer, one with the knowledge of how to cut the agency back to its proper role—restoring not just an appropriate legal partnership with the states, but also with other federal bodies. One who reminds agency staff that the EPA was not created to oppose growth and development.

Getting the EPA to live within its statutory and constitutional boundaries is a monumental responsibility. If Pruitt accomplishes a culture change before he leaves, he’ll have my vote for the greatest EPA administrator in history.

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This article about President-Elect Trump’s deal with Carrier includes the obligatory ‘this sets a dangerous precedent’ quote. In this article, Steve Weitzner of Silverlode Consulting is quoted as saying “It’s a potentially dangerous policy where you reward a company that threatens to leave. It’s a dangerous precedent. Why wouldn’t every other company make the exact same pitch? In this case, you’re rewarding a company that is actually cutting a lot of jobs in the state.”

If this were done in a vacuum, Weitzner would’ve made a salient point. This isn’t happening in a vacuum, though. This was a stop-gap measure aimed at preventing a single company from leaving. The biggest thing that will incentivize other companies into staying is passing the Trump-Ryan tax simplification legislation. The other biggest thing that will incentivize companies to stay is Trump’s regulatory reforms.

What corporate CEO would have their job if they left a nation with low marginal corporate tax rates, a reasonable regulatory environment and a well-trained workforce? That’s a three-legged stool to build a vibrant economy around. That’s a foundation upon which a thriving economy is built.

Let’s be clear. The questions Weitzner asked are legitimate questions. If the Trump administration wasn’t intent on tax and regulatory reform, the Carrier deal wouldn’t be getting positive reviews. That’s why it’s important to look at this deal in its totality. It’s worth noting that companies will return to the US the minute it looks like President Trump’s tax and regulatory plans are becoming reality.

Finally, imagine a company CEO getting a call from President Trump telling them that their company would get hit with expensive tariffs if they left the US. I can’t imagine that being a pleasant conversation.

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After Donald Trump’s victory, there’s been a noticeable outbreak of bipartisanship from red-state Democratic senators.

For instance, “North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is ready to work with Republicans on legislation to invest in ‘clean coal’ technologies. More broadly, she says she’s willing to work across the aisle on regulatory reform. ‘My priority is standing up for North Dakota, not party politics. The reason I’m in the U.S. Senate is to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done,’ she told The Hill in a statement.”

Meanwhile, “Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) hopes to work with Republicans to reduce the deficit, clean up Washington by stopping former lawmakers from becoming lobbyists and passing legislation to improve service at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a major Trump talking point during the campaign.”

Before you think the Democratic Party has changed into a principled political party, don’t. There’s an explanation for their sudden ‘appreciation’ for bipartisanship:

While outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) didn’t want Democrats to work with vulnerable Republicans ahead of the 2016 elections, his heir apparent Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is signaling a willingness to let his members do what they need to do to survive in the next Congress.

TRANSLATION: Sen. Schumer has seen the 2018 electoral map. It frightens him. He’s willing to momentarily retreat if it’ll prevent a bloodbath for Senate Democrats.

The thing for Republicans to highlight is whether this cooperation leads to bills getting to President Trump’s desk for his signature. If Sen. Tester works with President Trump on the deficit but doesn’t work with Sen. Heitkamp on regulatory reform and on repealing Obamacare, then we know that Democrats are playing procedural games.

The litmus test for Republicans should be whether Democrats will work with President Trump on Obamacare’s replacement. If there aren’t blocks of Democrats willing to repeal and replace the ACA, then it’ll be clear that Democrats aren’t really interested in productive bipartisanship.

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If LFR gave out awards for DFL stupidity, Duluth Rep. Jennifer Schultz would definitely have a shot at winning this week’s award. This article is proof of that accusation. First, a little background is required. Blue Cross-Blue Shield Minnesota dropped the Integrity Health Network from BCBS’s network. This is puzzling because their clinics are some of the highest quality clinics and most reasonably priced clinics in Minnesota. But I digress. Let’s look at what Rep. Schultz said that puts her in the running for this week’s award.

According to the article, “state Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth, who was aware of the situation, said there’s little, if anything, that state government can do. State regulations require the insurer to have adequate coverage in the areas they serve, she said. But as long as Blue Cross Blue Shield meets those requirements, there’s nothing the Legislature can do to prevent them from dropping providers.”

What a dipstick. Of course, there’s nothing government can do to tell a private company that they have to include specific companies in their health networks. That isn’t the same as saying that Republicans are hypocrites, which is essentially what she said in this statement:

“A lot of these folks … complain about too much government regulation,” Schultz said. “And here they’re asking: What can the government do? We can’t. … If you want the private markets to work, this is what happens in private markets.”

What type of dipstick thinks that’s what Republicans are talking about? House Taxes Chair Greg Davids wants to expand Minnesotans’ networks by giving them the ability to afford purchasing health care outside of the insurance companies’ networks. That isn’t regulations. That’s changing tax policies to help Minnesota families. Rewriting Minnesota tax policy to allow for HSAs might help. Other remedies might work, too.

If this is true, BCBS Minnesota isn’t being honest:

“And when you call customer service, Blue Cross Blue Shield representatives are telling their patients that absolutely we’re in network for 2017,” Shelton said. “But what they’re not telling us is that they may only be in network for one month. And at that point, they will not have the opportunity to change their insurance.”

BCBS needs to update their customers if they’re misleading them like this. At this point, it’s just an allegation. If this becomes verified information, BCBS needs to be punished.

The thing that most people don’t know about Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission, aka PUC, is that Gov. Dayton stuffed the Commission with reliable votes against fossil fuel-powered power plants. At least 3 of the commissioners have worked for DFL offices. The PUC’s chair is Beverly Jones Heydinger. According to Ms. Jones-Heydinger’s bio, she “served in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office from 1978 to 1999, under Attorneys General Warren Spannaus and Hubert H. Humphrey, III.” The vice-chair, Nancy Lange, was appointed to the PUC in March, 2013. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Lange “served as Manager of Policy and Engagement at the Center for Energy and Environment. From 1992 through 2012, Ms. Lange held positions in Energy Program at the Izaak Walton League of America’s Midwest Office, most recently as Director.” The third DFL-appointed member of the Commission, Dan Lipschultz, is “a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)”, something he has in common with Ms. Jones-Heydinger.

The lone Republican on the commission is John Tuma. Commissioner Tuma’s bio is an interesting read. First, Commissioner Tuma “is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).” (Sound familiar?) Next, Commissioner Tuma “most recently served as a Government Relations Associate with Conservation Minnesota. He helped lead efforts to pass key energy legislation, including Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard.”

There’s no question that Gov. Dayton wanted to leave a lasting imprint on ‘the environment’ through this regulatory agency. There’s no question that Gov. Dayton wanted to put in place people who would implement the Sierra Club’s and the Izaak Walton League’s agenda through the PUC. These are the pictures of the men and women whose decisions have made electricity more expensive and less reliable:

Each of these commissioners was hand-picked by the Sierra Club. These commissioners were then officially nominated to the PUC by Gov. Dayton in the hopes of eliminating fossil fuel power plants. Simply put, the Sierra Club, the Izaak Walton League and other environmental organizations don’t care about reliable energy sources. They’re on a mission to ‘save the planet’. If that requires killing great-paying jobs at plants like the Sherco power plants in Becker, then that’s what they’ll do.

The Sierra Club is so radicalized that they oppose natural gas-fired power plants:

Natural gas drillers exploit government loopholes, ignore decades-old environmental protections, and disregard the health of entire communities. “Fracking,” a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations, is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes. If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.

“No state has adequate protections in place. Even where there are rules, they are poorly monitored and enforced. Thanks to the multiple federal exemptions, we can’t even count on the federal government to keep us safe! Together, though, we can change that! No industry, no matter how wealthy or powerful, can withstand the righteous passion of the American people. The out-of-control rush to drill has put oil and gas industry profits ahead of our health, our families, our property, our communities, and our futures. If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.” —Allison Chin, Sierra Club president, July 28, 2012, at the Stop the Frack Attack rally

Don’t forget that the Public Utilities Commission killed the Sandpiper Pipeline project. These aren’t the friendly neighborhood green energy activists most people think of. They’re hardline progressives with a nasty fascist anti-natural resources streak in them.

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There wasn’t much doubt about whether Rep. Jim Newberger represents his district prior to this election. That’s a big reason why he’ll easily win re-election this Nov. 8. Still, Rep. Newberger’s op-ed on Gov. Dayton’s shutting of the Sherco power plants shows how hard he’ll fight for his district.

The most alarming part of Rep. Newberger’s op-ed came when he wrote “With all the talk of a ‘transformational’ approach to energy at Thursday’s meeting, the Public Utilities Commission passed on actually deciding how it was going to ‘transform’ our energy grid. The PUC merely voted to retire two coal-fired units without designating a replacement.” There’s nothing “transformational” about shutting down 2 power plants that supply a large percentage of central Minnesota’s electricity, a significant number of central Minnesota’s private sector jobs and a gigantic portion of central Minnesota’s property tax revenue.

I’d say that it’s downright reckless for the PUC to shut down any type of power plant without having a plan on what to replace them with except I know that the Public Utilities Commission has lots of environmental activists on its board. This decision isn’t just reckless. It’s intentional.

Based on his campaign website, it isn’t a stretch to think that one would-be career politician who’s cheering the PUC’s decision is Zach Dorholt. Here’s what he wrote on his priorities page on energy and the environment:

I believe that our natural resources are one Minnesota’s greatest assets. I want to be able to swim in our waters and eat the fish that I catch and I want my children to be able to say the same thing 50 years from now. An ecological balance in a state that is the headwaters is not only a recreational need, but a necessity for our economy and way of life.
Working together, we can create a more sustainable future by:

  1. Supporting energy conservation programs and investing in alternative energy systems
  2. Fully committing to restoring our local waters and native prairie grasses
  3. Using the Clean Water and Legacy funds, not as a credit card, but for their intended purpose
  4. Encouraging forward thinking businesses to locate in Minnesota
  5. Assisting in the formation of community green spaces, local sustainable food and gardening efforts

This isn’t what a principled politician says. It’s what a man who wants to be a green energy lobbyist says. It’s what a politician who doesn’t represent his constituents says.

Mr. Dorholt won’t fight to keep these high-paying jobs in Central Minnesota. He should be crucified at the ballot box for selling out to the special interests instead of fighting for high-paying jobs in central Minnesota. Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This Duluth New Tribune Our View editorial is nothing if not a shot at the environmental activists who are trying to prevent PolyMet from becoming operational.

The Duluth News Tribune’s editorial starts by saying “More than 10 years of exhaustive, detailed, thorough, and both emotional and science- and facts-based research, study and review: Apparently all of it still isn’t enough for some. A citizens group, joined now by three Duluth city councilors, are calling on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to conduct an evidentiary hearing with an administrative law judge before issuing a permit to mine copper and other precious metals in northern Minnesota.”

Clearly, the intent is to delay, not inform. That’s apparent when the DNT’s editorial says “An administrative law judge would serve as an impartial opinion-maker on the permit to mine, as those advocating for the evidentiary hearing point out. But the judge wouldn’t be an environmental expert or an authority on the science or business of mining. Those experts already have weighed in, prompted improvements to the plans, and signed off. It’s difficult to imagine what new evidence could be brought at such a hearing that hasn’t already been thoroughly researched, considered, vetted and, where appropriate, implemented.”

Let’s be straightforward with this: there aren’t many Republicans who are environmental activists, assuming you use the DFL’s definition of environmental activist. There are tons of Republicans who care deeply about preserving the natural resources that we’ve been entrusted with. That doesn’t fit the DFL’s definition of an environmental activist, though.

Relentless opponents of the $900 million Sandpiper pipeline project across Minnesota certainly cheered last week when Enbridge Energy Partners announced it had bailed on its project after years of protest and regulatory delays. Minnesota and the Twin Ports lost out on an estimated 3,000 badly needed, good-paying jobs.

The Sierra Club rejoiced when Enbridge pulled the plug on the Sandpiper Pipeline Project:

In response, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Director Lena Moffitt released the following statement:

“The end of the proposed Sandpiper pipeline is a crucial victory for the tens of thousands of Americans who have fought to protect their communities, their health, and the climate from the threat of fossil fuel infrastructure expansion.

“As far too many communities throughout the Great Lakes region can attest to, when it comes to pipelines, especially an Enbridge operated pipeline, it’s never a question of if it will spill, but rather a question of when. This is a risk no community should face, and thanks to today’s announcement, thousands of people will remain safe from the dangers of the Sandpiper pipeline.

“Rather than continuing to expand our reliance on fossil fuels, we must continue to transition to clean, renewable energy, and leave dirty fuels in the ground, where they belong.”

The end of the Sandpiper Pipeline project isn’t a victory for the environmentalists. It’s just another instance where the company just took a different route. In this instance, the jobs were lost in Minnesota and Wisconsin because the pipeline will now go through the Dakotas, into Iowa, the finishing in Illinois.

The environmentalists didn’t win anything. They just screwed thousands of Minnesotans out of “3,000 badly needed, good-paying jobs.” The dirty little secret is that so-called environmental activists aren’t pro-environment as much as they’re anti-development.

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The DFL has insisted from the start of this election cycle that Angie Craig was competitive in CD-2, especially once John Kline announced his retirement. When the first fundraising report came out, the DFL’s cries got louder that Angie Craig would flip that seat.

I’ve been skeptical of the DFL’s claims from the start because Angie Craig, like Tarryl Clark in CD-6 in 2010, isn’t a good fit for CD-2. A loyal reader of LFR said that there are lots of entrepreneurs in CD-2. While Craig can appeal to those voters to a certain extent, she might have difficulty appealing to them because Bernie Sanders’ policies are definitely anti-small business. Sen. Sanders wants tons of regulations and higher top tax rates. Those definitely aren’t small business friendly policies.

The reason I mention Bernie Sanders is because an organization called Our Revolution has endorsed Angie Craig, Rick Nolan and Keith Ellison for congress from Minnesota. Here’s a little information on that organization:

Our Revolution will revitalize American democracy by unifying the millions of people who got involved over the course of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in support of progressive causes.

Let’s rewrite that sentence to make it accurate. It would say “Our Revolution will revitalize American democracy by unifying the millions of people who got involved over the course of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in support of socialist causes.” Small business entrepreneurship and socialism fit together like oil and water. In other words, they don’t fit together.

There’s nothing in Angie Craig’s history that suggests she’s truly pro-small business. These endorsements indicate that she’s a Sanders lefty:

Lori Swanson and Sandy Pappas are definitely 2 of the more far left lefties in Minnesota, with bigtime climate change credentials. The League of Conservation Voters is definitely anti-development and anti-small business.

So much for Angie Craig being pro-small business.

If you want to help get Jason Lewis elected, please consider contributing to his campaign. Also, if you want to get the word out on the real Angie Craig, please consider contributing to LFR by clicking on the “Donate” button in the top right corner of the page. You know that the MSM won’t tell Craig’s story. I will.