Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Yesterday, I included a link to the Duluth News Tribune’s video of the McFadden-Franken debate. This post will include some of my favorite clips from the debate, starting with this one:

Sen. Franken’s response was typical DC bureaucratspeak:

Here’s what Sen. Franken said:

So much of the rail use is for the Bakken crude. Now I’ve been going to the Surface Transportation Board since I got to the Senate. Captive rail is something that I’ve been very interested in. I actually worked with Sen. David Vitter, the Republican of Louisiana, to get the cost of filing a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board, which regulates the railroads, from $20,000 to $350 so people can file a complaint.

Here’s McFadden’s snappy reply:

Al, with all due respect, your lack of an energy policy and the lack of an energy policy from President Obama has caused the rail car shortage. There’s not been one pipeline built. You haven’t approved any pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline has been under the review process for 6 years. That is crazy. That is too long. Pipelines are proven to be the most effective, the most efficient, the most environmentally sensitive way to transport oil. Until you start passing pipelines, we’ll have a railcar shortage. I know how to fix this economy. I know how to get us back on the road to growth and prosperity and you are putting Band-Aids as opposed to going to root causes. We need pipelines in this country. I want everyone in this room and in this state I am for pipelines. I will get them built.

The contrast in that last exchange is stunning. I hope the McFadden campaign highlights the difference between Sen. Franken’s answer and Mr. McFadden’s reply because it’s the difference between a Washingtonspeak and the voice of a leader who knows how to get things done.

Washingtonspeak is the way bureaucrats and politicians speak. Leaders talk differently because they talk like people on Main Street, Minnesota. The contrast is stark. When leaders speak, Main Street listens. When bureaucrats and politicians speak, people fall asleep or nod sleepily in approval.

Wednesday morning, Duluth saw the difference between Al Franken, the career politician who uses Washingtonspeak, and Mike McFadden, the leader from Main Street, Minnesota.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

This article has lots of quotes from DFL Chairman Ken Martin. When Bill Hanna of the Mesabi Daily News asked some straightforward questions of Martin, Martin’s replies were twisted at best. Here’s an example:

But what about Gov. Dayton, who spent millions and millions of his own money to win a U.S. Senate seat? “That’s different. He spent his whole professional life in public service to make the state better. I’m not saying there is a huge difference in their background … just their approach,” Martin said.

That’s rather revealing. Apparently, the DFL thinks that a rich career politician made Minnesota better but a guy whose family owns a profitable business, who worked his way up through the business, who started as a janitor and who’s helped create hundreds of good-paying jobs hasn’t made Minnesota better.

The thought that public service is honorable but creating private sector jobs isn’t honorable is startling and troubling. If anything, I’d argue that the person creating private sector jobs is improving Minnesota and that a career politician is someone totally out of touch with the people.

Career politicians have spent years listening to lobbyists who want their vote on their bill. They’ve spent years listening to their political consultants who stress staying on message rather than listening to the people.

By comparison, successful entrepreneurs spend their time listening to the people they want to sell their product to. If they don’t listen to their customers, they don’t make a profit. Then they go out of business.

Dayton implemented MNsure, which doesn’t work. It cost $160,000,000 to build a website that still isn’t working. Despite its failure, Dayton’s financial health hasn’t suffered one iota. That’s right. There aren’t any consequences for Dayton when his policies fail because it isn’t his money that’s getting spent. Why would he care if his policies fail?

Let’s compare that with Stewart Mills. If Stewart Mills’ business decisions aren’t wise, the company doesn’t make a profit. If that continues long enough, the company files for bankruptcy and real people lose their jobs.

An entrepreneur must listen to the people to make a profit. A politician just needs a political machine to keep making mistake after mistake. That machine isn’t complete without an apologist like DFL Chairman Martin.

And what of Democratic Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who is also now a millionaire with money accumulated as a comedian, actor, author and small businessman, and holds big-buck fundraisers with Hollywood celebrities?

“He understands working class Minnesota. Franken was not born into that money. Mills was born on third base and thought he hit a triple,” Martin said.

Hanging out with Hollywood celebrities isn’t how you “understand working class Minnesota.” Being a disgustingly obnoxious talk radio host in New York City isn’t how you “understand working class Minnesotans.”

Martin then tempered his remarks to say his criticism was not against people achieving wealth.

“If you attack wealth, you’re attacking the American Dream. I don’t want this to come off that I’m attacking that. It’s about what you do with it and want to do with it. I just don’t understand what his (Mills) motivation is to run … how he can relate to working class Minnesotans,” Martin said.

The DFL is a bit schizophrenic when it comes to wealth. If a DFL candidates is wealthy, like Gov. Dayton, he’s characterized as a great philanthropist dedicated to public service. If a Republican like Stewart Mills is wealthy because he’s been part of a successful business that’s created hundreds of jobs, the DFL chairman says Mills is an elitist who “started on third base and thinks he hit a triple.”

Thankfully, Martin isn’t attacking wealth. That’d be un-American.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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%
Undecided 7%
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.

Technorati: , , , , , , ,

I’ve written several posts highlighting the fact that the DFL won’t stop yapping about Minnesota’s supposedly great economy. See here, here and here. Though this article won’t prevent the DFL’s spinmeisters from telling everyone within earshot that Minnesota’s economy is fantastic, it gives me this chart to prove the DFL spinmeisters wrong:

The key statistic to pay attention to is the 1 year change percentage in terms of private sector jobs created. The number of private sector jobs in Minnesota grew by a pathetic .8% over the past 12 months. That’s the worst in the Midwest. The other noteworthy stat is that the 2-year change for Minnesota is 2.9%. That means job growth in Minnesota totally stagnated in the last year. That’s the direct result of the Dayton-DFL policies put in place in 2013.

The DFL’s statements that the Dayton-DFL economy is flying high aren’t substantiated by the facts. Let’s remember, too, that 21,523 of the jobs created by the Dayton-DFL economy are government jobs. That isn’t proof of a healthy economy. That’s just proof that the DFL’s default position is growing government.

The DFL has spent the last 3 years fighting amongst itself on whether they should create mining jobs or if they should fight the creation of mining jobs. The anti-mining wing of the DFL, unfortunately, is the dominant wing of the DFL. Part of that wing of the DFL is located in the Arrowhead and Duluth. Most of the people who fit into the anti-mining wing of the DFL live in the Twin Cities.

At some point, the Iron Range will wise up and realize that the DFL isn’t their home. I hope this is the year that the pro-mining activists choose to vote for the no-excuses pro-mining party. They’re known as the Republican Party of Minnesota. Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

After reading Pat Kessler’s Reality Check article, I thought a test of Reality Check’s statements were in order. Let’s start here:

“A few years ago, things in Minnesota weren’t going very well,” says the narrator, a thick-Minnesota accented hockey player. “So we got a new coach.” In fact, Gov. Dayton won re-election after Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty decided not to run again.

But the ad accurately describes an economic turnaround. “We’ve added over 150,000 new jobs and have one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation,” according to the ad.

It’s true.

Let’s check whether that 150,000 jobs figure is accurate. Bill Glahn’s post is the definitive source on Minnesota’s job creation statistics. Here’s what Mr. Glahn said:

Let’s start with the 150,000 jobs claim. There is simply no support for that figure. Based on data at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you give Dayton credit for the high-water mark for jobs while he has held office (May 2014) and subtract the employment level from before his election (October 2010) you get only 111,626 net jobs created, a far cry from 150,000.

More to the point, if you take today’s figure (July 2014) and subtract the figure prior to his inauguration (December 2010) you get only 96,515, less than 2/3 of the amount claimed by ABM.

Mr. Glahn even created this graphic to quantify his statements:

Glahn’s graphic shows that the 150,000 jobs figure is a myth and that most of those jobs were created before the DFL took total control of state government. In fact, more jobs were created in 2011 than have been created in 2013-2014 combined.

Let’s summarize. First, the 150,000 figure isn’t accurate. It’s off by, at minimum, 35,000 and by 50,000 in the worst case scenario. Next, it’s dishonest for Gov. Dayton to take credit for the jobs created because job creation ground to a screeching halt when the all-DFL government budget went into effect.

I’d give this section a C- because the statistics are off and because it’s misleading.

The ad continues: “Cut taxes while increasing our rainy-day fund and investing in education.”

This is also true. The DFL governor and legislature did cut taxes for middle-income earners. But they also passed a $2 billion tax hike on Minnesota’s highest earners: workers who earn above $250,000 a year.

Actually, that’s misleading, too. Raising taxes and fees by $2,400,000,000, then repealing $508,000,000 worth of the tax hikes they just passed isn’t cutting taxes. It’s reducing the size of the original all-DFL government tax increase.

Finally, I’d add that Gov. Dayton’s job creation figures deserve an asterisk. Minnesota’s economy created almost 60,000 jobs before the Dayton-DFL budget went into effect. The Dayton-DFL budget passed in 2013 is the budget he wanted to pass in 2011. Had Gov. Dayton’s budget gone into effect in 2011, it’s quite possible that Minnesota’s economy would’ve created far fewer jobs. (Yes, I realize that that’s an opinion but it’s worthy of consideration.)

I’d give this section a D+ because it omits the important information that much of the imaginary Dayton-DFL tax cut is the repeal of major portions of the Dayton-DFL tax increase.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Strib’s article about a nonprofit’s reckless spending is worthy of multiple posts because this isn’t the first time the NPO has gotten caught:

This is not the first time that an audit has found issues with Community Action’s spending. A 2012 audit by the state’s legislative auditor singled out $1.35 million given to households that were not eligible for emergency benefits. Community Action paid a $100,000 fine to the federal government.

You’d think that the Dayton administration would pay additional attention to this NPO after they were fined for misappropriation of funds. It’s pretty apparent that the Dayton administration didn’t pay the requisite attention to this NPO. Unfortunately, that isn’t surprising. This administration is the Asleep-at-the-Switch administration when it comes to tracking the details.

Gov. Dayton has a substantial history of not knowing important things. He didn’t know that the tax bill he personally negotiated included a sales tax on farm equipment repairs. He didn’t find that out until right before talking at FarmFest. He didn’t know that the Vikings stadium bill that he personally negotiated included a provision that allows the Vikings to sell personal seat licenses, aka PSLs, to season ticket holders.

Gov. Dayton is taking credit for lots of things that aren’t accomplishments, starting with the low unemployment rate. It isn’t that high unemployment is a positive thing. It’s that far too many people in those jobs reports have part-time jobs or are working in jobs that they’re overqualified for. The headline is nice but families need sustained economic growth that produces full-time jobs with good pay, not headlines.

No matter how much concern the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, express about Community Action’s mismanagement and the betrayal of the public’s trust, the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, can’t hide the fact that they aren’t interested in being watchdogs of the taxpayers’ money.

The inescapable truth is that government has tons of slop in it that the DFL hasn’t paid attention to. The inescapable truth is that Minnesota’s unemployment rate is the only positive in an otherwise mediocre economy.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t grown the economy. Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t paid enough attention to whether the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely or foolishly. Finally, they’ve supported a fatally flawed health insurance system.

In 2012, the board also approved a $17,624 bonus to Davis, three times the amount allowed by state guidelines, according to the audit. Davis made $273,060 in salary, bonuses and deferred compensation in 2011, according to the most recent tax records.

It’s time we hired a governor with a lengthy history of highlighting, then eliminating, foolish and disrespectful spending. That’s Jeff Johnson’s history, not Gov. Dayton’s.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Conn Carroll’s article highlights how the Mary Burke plagiarism scandal have hurt her:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has surged ahead of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, as Burke has been forced to fire campaign staff responsible for copying her campaign’s job plan from other failed candidates.

The most recent Marquette Law School Poll, conducted September 11-14, found Walker enjoying a 3-point, 49-46 percent lead over Burke. This was a marked improvement for Walker who trailed Burke in Marquette’s earlier poll, conducted August 21-23, by 49-47 percent.

That’s a 6-point swing in less than a month. I’d call that significant. The Burke campaign’s worries are legitimate, to say the least. The plagiarism is just the least of her worries, though:

Burke’s week only got worse after BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that portions of Burke’s jobs plan had been copied from four other Democratic candidates, three of whom went on to lose their elections.

Ed Morrissey’s commentary highlights another potential difficulty for Burke’s campaign:

And now Burke will certainly claim not to know that her other policy positions in her own campaign turn out to be cut-and-paste jobs, too. That will lead Wisconsin voters to ask just what about Burke’s campaign is her own thoughts and words, as well as question her ability as an executive. So far, Burke hasn’t exactly impressed as an executive with the running of her political campaign, and one has to wonder what voters can expect if she becomes the CEO of state government. With the majority of Wisconsin voters liking the direction of the state under Walker, these revelations will make them less and less likely to opt for new leadership, especially when the alternative is amateurish incompetence.

Burke’s campaign is in danger of hitting a tipping point. If she isn’t careful, she could get questioned for why she didn’t scrutinize her jobs plan. After all, that’s the cornerstone of her campaign. It isn’t a positive reflection on her abilities that she didn’t pay attention to the cornerstone of her candidacy.

Walker is no stranger to come from behind victories. In 2012, the same Marquette poll found Walker trailing his then-opponent Tom Barrett 46-47 percent. But Walker soon surged ahead of Barrett in Marquette’s final poll before the election 50-44 percent, before beating Barrett easily 53-46 percent.

Burke’s campaign is in a precarious position. If she doesn’t do something to change Walker’s momentum quickly, things could get real late real fast.

Technorati: , , , , , , ,

This Mike McFadden ad hits Al Franken right between his eyes:

Here’s the transcript of the ad:

I’m Mike McFadden and we need an honest debate about our future. [Graphic: Al Franken voted with President Obama 97% of the time, the most partisan senator in America.] I won’t vote 97% with any president or party. [Graphic: Al Franken is rarely seen in Minnesota.] I’ll work for Minnesota, not Washington, not Hollywood. I’m Mike McFadden and I approve this message. Minnesota just can’t afford an invisible senator with invisible results.

That’s a great ad because it turns Sen. Franken’s strategy against him. Thus far, Sen. Franken has worked hard to look like the no nonsense senator who gets things done.

McFadden turns Franken’s carefully crafted image against Franken by rightly characterizing Sen. Franken as an “invisible senator with invisible results.” Franken can’t point to anything where he’s worked with a Republican to bring people together. That’s why he’s the most partisan senator in the US Senate, which is quite a feat considering the fact that Elizabeth Warren is in the same Senate.

Perhaps Franken has kept his head down because of embarassing things like this:

After talking with a Supreme Court nominee about Perry Mason during a confirmation hearing, you only have 2 choices. Either you keep talking about frivolous things like that, which will lead even ardent supporters to stop taking you seriously, or you put your head down and not say anything to anyone until you’ve been re-elected.

Franken chose the latter option. He’s still keeping his head down, avoiding debates with the hope that he won’t embarass himself during a primetime debate that’s televised statewide.

There’s no disputing the fact that Franken has kept his head down. There’s no dispute, either, that Sen. Franken isn’t the brightest bulb in the DFL’s chandelier. He’s kept his head down because it’s the only way he’s avoided damaging himself politically.

If the real Al Franken appeared, Franken’s charade would be over. He isn’t a serious politician. He’s a lightweight who isn’t qualified to solve the biggest problems facing Minnesota and the United States.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

This ad, paid for by the House DFL Caucus, says that Zach Dorholt is “delivering for St. Cloud and the middle class”:

Like I said in this post, the DFL dances to the tune that Education Minnesota tells them to dance to. Zach Dorholt is no different. Like the rest of his DFL colleagues in the House of Representatives, Zach voted against teacher accountability because that’s what Education Minnesota told them to do. Rather than doing what’s right for Minnesota’s students and parents, Zach Dorholt and the DFL decided they couldn’t risk Education Minnesota pulling their campaign contributions or their Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations.

When it’s a fight between doing what’s right for parents and students or doing what’s right for Education Minnesota, Zach Dorholt and the DFL will always fight for Education Minnesota.

The best way I can illustrate who the DFL fights for is to ask everyone when the last time was that the DFL picked the people instead of picking one of their special interest allies. Take your time. Do your research. Go through all of the DFL’s votes. That includes Zach Dorholt’s votes. Check out their votes in committee. Check out their votes on the GOP’s amendments to bills.

I’d bet that the DFL sided with the people less than 5% of the time when it was a fight between the people and one of the DFL’s special interest allies.

Let’s take this from the theoretical to the concrete. At their State Convention, did the DFL side with the blue collar workers of the Iron Range or the Twin Cities plutocrats and trust fund babies on mining? Did Dorholt and the DFL side with the women who ran in-home child care businesses or did they side with their friends in the SEIU and AFSCME instead?

The simple answer is that the DFL didn’t side with blue collar miners or the women who run in-home child care businesses. The DFL took the side of their special interest allies. Not once but twice. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only times that Zach Dorholt and the DFL didn’t take the people’s side.

In the spring of 2013, convenience stores lobbied the DFL legislature not to raise the cigarette tax, saying that raising the cigarette tax would hurt convenience stores on the Minnesota borders with North Dakota or Wisconsin. Zach Dorholt and the DFL couldn’t resist the ideological pull. They raised the cigarette tax, which led to Minnesotans driving to North Dakota or Wisconsin to buy their cigarettes.

Thanks to Zach Dorholt’s and the DFL’s decisions, middle class Minnesotans are getting squeezed. Despite significant increases in LGA and school funding, people’s property tax bills are going up. The jobs created during the time when the DFL controlled the entire state government are mostly part-time jobs or they’re low-paying jobs.

The unemployment rate on the Iron Range is 64.3% higher than the statewide average, thanks mostly to policies advocated for by environmental activists.

Zach Dorholt and the DFL are delivering. Unfortunately, they’re delivering for Education Minnesota and their other special interest allies, not for the middle class.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

According to this ad by the House DFL Caucus, Zach Dorholt is “delivering for St. Cloud and the middle class”:

That’s a nice-sounding chanting point. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have anything to do with reality. Job creation has stagnated. Revenues are falling short of projections.

Most importantly, Dorholt voted for spending $90,000,000 on an office building that isn’t needed instead of spending that money on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges.

That’s Dorholt’s record. What part of that says that he’s “delivering for the middle class”? I’d argue that it’s delivering for the privileged. I’d argue that Minnesota’s economy is struggling. That certainly isn’t helping the middle class.

Zach Dorholt voted against working moms who happen to run in-home child care businesses. When he voted to support AFSCME and the SEIU’s unionization scheme, he voted against the First Amendment. That’s because the unionization legislation gives AFSCME and SEIU sole negotiating authority on matters of state funding rates and regulations.

This summer, the Supreme Court ruled that unions can’t force personal care assistants to pay union dues or fair share fees. Also this summer, a lawsuit was filed that would strip the unions of their exclusive negotiating authority. Rep. Dorholt voted against these small business women.

These women aren’t 1-percenters. They’re the heart of the middle class. When Rep. Dorholt repeatedly voted against them, he, along with the rest of the DFL, voted against the middle class.

When Rep. Dorholt voted for raising the cigarette tax, he voted against convenience stores on Minnesota’s borders with North Dakota and Wisconsin. Thanks to that tax bill, those stores are now struggling while stores in North Dakota and Wisconsin are celebrating their higher profits.

If anything, Rep. Dorholt is helping the DFL deliver a knockout punch to Minnesota’s middle class. The Dayton-DFL-Dorholt economy is delivering pain to the middle class, thanks to lower wages and higher prices on products.

Technorati: , , , , , , , ,