Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

To hear the DFL tell it, you’d think that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is high and that economic growth is virtually nonexistent. That’s just additional proof that the DFL isn’t hinged to the truth. This article demolishes the DFL’s arguments.

In the second paragraph in Collin Roth’s article, Roth states “The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced new economic numbers Thursday that reveal an improving economy in the Badger state. The unemployment rate is down to 4.5% and the state added a statistically significant 13,100 private sector jobs from February to March. 4,200 of those jobs were in manufacturing.”

Those aren’t the only positive statistics from the article that prove Gov. Walker’s policies are working. The article also states that “Wisconsin added 47,500 private sector jobs from March 2015 to March 2016, making it the best year-over-year growth since August 2004.”

It isn’t just that the unemployment rate is low. It isn’t just that lots of jobs are getting created. It’s that Wisconsin’s workforce participation rate is high. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, “the labor force participation rate reached 68.8%, making it the sixth highest in the country and above the national rate of 63%. An estimated 3 million Wisconsinites are now in the workforce, an all-time high for the state.”

Finally, there’s this:

“Today’s report shows that Wisconsin’s employment was higher than ever in March, our unemployment rate dropped over the month while the national rate increased, and the state experienced the best 12 months of job growth since 2004,” DWD Secretary Allen said. “All indicators show that under Governor Walker’s leadership, Wisconsin’s economy is expanding and adding jobs in 2016.”

It’s possible to lie with statistics. Still, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to say that these economic statistics are deceptive. These statistics argue that Wisconsin’s economy is healthy, that Wisconsin’s economy is being built to last and that people are noticing the change since Gov. Walker straightened out Gov. Doyle’s mess.

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A little over a week ago, the St. Cloud Times published my LTE in which I talked about how Speaker Daudt challenged Rep. Thissen. Specifically, I wrote that Thissen accused Republicans of throwing “controversial provisions into big bills right at the end” of session. Unwilling to let Rep. Thissen’s spin go unchallenged, Speaker Daudt asked him to name some specific controversial provisions that Republicans threw into big budget bills at the end of the 2015 session.

Rather than respond substantively, Rep. Thissen repeated the accusation.

Later, I wrote that “Tim Kelly, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wrote an op-ed saying that the next transportation plan Thissen submits ‘will be his first.'” I also said that it’s “a disgrace that the DFL would pick a dishonest man to lead them in the House.” I finished by saying that the DFL agenda is “all criticism and no solutions.” I must’ve gotten under Rep. Thissen’s skin with that. Earlier this week, the Times published Rep. Thissen’s op-ed.

Rep. Thissen’s op-ed addresses some items from the DFL agenda. He started by saying that the “reality is we have been the party of ideas, bringing forth common-sense solutions to address Minnesota’s biggest problem — too many Minnesotans are being squeezed in an economy tilted in favor of the insiders, elites and special interests.” With all due respect, Rep. Thissen, the DFL is the party of special interests.

Nobody’s been squeezed more than the Iron Range. They’ve been squeezed by environmental absolutists who demand that mining projects can’t produce any pollution ever. They’ve been squeezed so tight that it’s difficult to find middle class families on the Range. Minnesota’s poverty rate is 11.5%; compare that with Hibbing’s poverty rate of 20.6% and Virginia’s poverty rate of 26.5%. Then, Rep. Thissen, tell me who’s getting squeezed and who’s getting ignored by the DFL.

Rep. Thissen also wrote that “House DFLers proposed just a solution comprised partly of the House GOP transportation plan and Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal.” That isn’t a solution. The DFL’s ‘solution’ would’ve imposed a major tax increase on the very middle class taxpayers that Rep. Thissen insists are getting squeezed by the special interests. FYI- Gov. Dayton’s transportation plan is virtually identical to Move MN’s transportation plan. Move MN doesn’t exist anymore. The new DFL-aligned transportation lobbyist organization is called Transportation Forward.

Rep. Thissen, when the DFL approved spending on the Senate Office Building, which group of squeezed people did that help? When the DFL legislature passed its Tax Bill, it included sales taxes on farm equipment repairs, warehousing services and other B2B taxes. This table offers a good explanation of the middle class tax increases the DFL imposed on Minnesotans:

Rep. Thissen, why did the DFL legislature pass this mountain of middle class tax increases in 2013, then vote to repeal them in 2014?

It’s crazy that Rep. Thissen thinks that this is a solution:

We have introduced legislation that would demand powerful drug companies be more transparent about profits to reduce costs of prescription drugs.

That’s right, Rep. Thissen. Central Minnesota has been insisting that the state government get involved in telling businesses how they’ll be allowed to conduct business. Minnesotans are getting squeezed by busybody politicians like Rep. Thissen have heaped piles of compliance costs, reporting requirements and regulations on businesses. That, more than anything else, is what’s driving up costs.

Finally, what’s interesting is that Rep. Thissen didn’t argue that he wasn’t truthful about the controversial provisions thrown into bills.

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This SC Times editorial is frightening in its naiveté. When the Times says that “The IRRRB hasn’t properly overseen the use and impacts of its loans and grants”, that’s a polite way of saying the IRRRB’s loans haven’t created jobs like they were supposed to.

When I wrote this article, I was a little sad but mostly pissed as hell that these DFL politicians put political considerations ahead of creating jobs. It’s said that it’s possible to lie with statistics. That’s true sometimes. This isn’t one of those times, though. According to US Census Bureau statistics, Minnesota’s statewide poverty rate is 11.5% while its Median Household Income is $60,828.

Hibbing’s poverty take is an obscene 20.6%, which is respectable compared with Virginia’s poverty rate, which is a ghastly 26.5%. Hibbing’s MHI is $38,112. Virginia’s is $33,143. It’s easier to just state the truth. There isn’t a middle class on the Iron Range. Period.

Meanwhile, accountability is a 4-letter word in the IRRRB’s dictionary. The IRRRB was literally started before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The fact that the Iron Range’s poverty rate is double the statewide average and the fact that the Iron Range’s MHI is lower than in Appalachia shouts that the IRRRB has failed miserably. It doesn’t need a few reforms. It’s that somebody needs to bring a few sticks of dynamite and a slow-burning long fuse to IRRRB headquarters when nobody’s around, then light the fuse.

It’s a failure. Fixing it is a waste of time.

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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Jim Tankersley’s article doesn’t pull its punches. According to an economic model prepared by Moody’s Analytics shows that a Trump trade war would hurt China and Mexico but that “4 million American workers would lose their jobs. Another 3 million jobs would not be created that otherwise would have been, had the country not fallen into a trade-induced downturn.”

First, I won’t tell people that the trade deals that the U.S. has negotiated recently are good deals. I won’t hesitate, though, in telling people that the difference between negotiating great trade deals and negotiating mediocre trade deals isn’t as important as fixing the economic mess that the Obama administration has created.

Fixing the Obama administration’s mess requires eliminating most of the administration’s nastiest regulations, starting with Obamacare. It’s also important that the administration’s war on fossil fuels be stopped ASAP. Most manufacturing jobs require cheap energy. That eliminates the energy that comes from solar panels and wind farms.

To rebuild our national manufacturing economy, we need a capital gains tax cut. In 1980, the federal government “approved nearly $1.5 billion in loan guarantees.” Ford, Chevy and Chrysler were hurting. People were talking about their best days being behind them. Then Reagan took over. He started with implementing a major capital gains tax cut, which helped modernize Ford, Chevy and Chrysler. Talk about Japan replacing the United States as car manufacturing superpower quickly disappeared.

Obamacare and Obama’s tax increase on small businesses drove businesses out of the United States. Trump might be a good negotiator but he definitely isn’t smart at policymaking. His policy prescriptions won’t make America great again. They might make America ok again but they won’t make it great.

When it comes to mining, the Mesabi Daily News doesn’t pull its punches. Their editor, Bill Hanna, hasn’t hesitated in calling Democrats or Republicans out if they’ve stepped out of line with the mining industry. In this editorial, the Mesabi Daily News didn’t pull its punches with Gov. Dayton, starting with them saying “Gov. Mark Dayton reached out to the Iron Range in an editorial page guest column last week and tried to defend the indefensible — his decision to not allow the Department of Natural Resources to enter into any Access Agreements for mining operations on state lands.”

Follow this link to read Gov. Dayton’s op-ed. Rather than siding with mining, Gov. Dayton’s defense hit the Range with another gut punch. The Mesabi Daily News wrote “The governor gets another F-minus in his explanation and attempted justification of that decision, which also graded out as an F-minus when it was announced on March 7.”

While they didn’t quote Gov. Dayton’s op-ed, I’m fairly certain that MDN is upset with Gov. Dayton’s statement that “I believe the best approach is to respect the invisible, but very real, boundary that was established almost 40 years ago, which permits mining activities within the existing industrial footprints on the Iron Range, and prevents them within or adjacent to the Boundary Waters. People who can accept that division will be able to at least co-exist, if not actually cooperate.”

Here’s what MDN thought of Gov. Dayton’s statement:

Here’s what the governor’s declaration by fiat basically said:

  1. NO to Twin Metals Minnesota, we don’t want you. But we do thank you for the $400 million you’ve invested already in our state. The greenbacks are appreciated.
  2. NO to mineral exploration on state lands, even through the state Executive Council approved the leases.
  3. NO, I don’t trust my own Department of Natural Resources to thoroughly do its job of due diligence and review of Twin Metals’ proposals.
  4. NO to scientific-based environmental review process of copper/nickel/precious metals mining. That would make too much common sense.
  5. NO to citizen participation. The extremist preservationist groups and their supporters, many of them from the Twin Cities area or out of state, know what’s best. They are my kitchen cabinet on this issue.

Rather than calling these environmental extremist groups part of Gov. Dayton’s “kitchen cabinet,” I think it’s more accurate to call them part of his Board of Oligarchs. Here’s the definition for the word oligarchy:

a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

He’s represented the environmental activists who fund the DFL’s campaigns. It’s indisputable that a significant portion of the DFL wants mining shut down regardless of what the facts say. I’ve written about Conservation Minnesota’s Mining Truth website more times than I’d prefer to. I’ve repeatedly highlighted the distortions published by CM through MT. Those organizations should be part of Minnesota’s Hall of Shame in terms of disinformation.

I’ll close with MDN’s closing paragraph because they’ve stated it perfectly:

On second thought, we grade it F-minus-minus.

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According to this article, Sen. Bakk has put together reform legislation that eliminates legislators as official final decision makers on IRRRB appropriations. If Sen. Bakk’s legislation passes (it isn’t submitted yet), it ” will return the board to an advisory role to the governor and remedy concerns raised in the Legislative Auditor’s report.” That would eliminate the OLA’s constitutional concerns.

It wouldn’t eliminate the Iron Range delegation as ‘advisors’ to the IRRRB, which is the IRRRB’s biggest problem.

Sen. Bakk is spinning things by saying that “the language change will address that issue because the board will then be advisory, which would mean board members/legislators would not have the final say in decisions.” From a constitutional standpoint, that’s fine but it doesn’t address the overarching problem.

The Iron Range delegation are the overarching problem. Over the past 20 years, the Iron Range delegation voted for legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rukavina, that “allowed the board to bypass the governor.” Rep. Rukavina retired in 2012. The IRRRB should be mothballed ASAP, too.

It’s indisputable that some of the projects that the IRRRB funded have produced positive results. Still, that isn’t saying that they’ve done a good job. The IRRRB hasn’t. I wrote here about how the Iron Range doesn’t really have a middle class. According to the IRRRB’s website, the “IRRRB’s mission is to promote and invest in business, community and workforce development for the betterment of northeastern Minnesota.” Based on their own website, they’ve failed miserably.

Fixing the IRRRB’s constitutional issues is the least of the IRRRB’s problems. With 20.6% of the people in Hibbing and 26.5% of the people in Virginia living below the Federal Poverty Level, aka FPL, it’s difficult to argue that the IRRRB has worked “for the betterment of northeast Minnesota.” In fact, I’d argue that it isn’t difficult to argue that the IRRRB hasn’t come close to strengthening northeastern Minnesota’s economy.

Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. It’s foolish to think that the Iron Range delegation will do something constructive as ‘advisors’ when they didn’t do anything constructive when they had final say on spending.

According to this article, the OLA report mentioned the loans the IRRRB made to Meyer and Associates. I’m not surprised. I wrote about Meyer in this post, which I titled “Crony capitalism & the IRRRB” and in this post, which I titled “Will the DFL repay taxpayers”?

In Crony capitalism & the IRRRB, I quoted an article that said “Meyer Teleservices in Progress Park has closed its doors on the Iron Range, leaving 104 people unemployed. The St. Cloud-based company also leaves behind a debt of about $250,000 to the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board, which had issued two loans totaling $650,000 to the business for its Eveleth facility.” Later in the article, it noted that “Meyer Teleservices also on Monday shuttered its other Minnesota offices in St. Cloud and Little Falls.”

In “Will the DFL repay taxpayers”, I quoted Kevin Allenspach’s article that said “It was a company with direct ties and allegiance to the Democratic Party. After Republican President Richard Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal the business created an ‘…innovative small donor fundraising program called the Dollars for Democrats program,’ according to the Meyer Teleservices website.” The IRRRB was foolish in granting those loans. Then again, they didn’t care because this company was helping Democrats raise money and because they weren’t loaning their money. They likely wouldn’t have made the loan if they had ‘skin in the game’.

That’s the problem with this situation. You don’t need to have a PhD in Business Finance to understand that the number of reckless loans increases when it isn’t your money. This paragraph should highlight how foolish the IRRRB was with other people’s money:

But the business model proved too outdated in recent years for today’s mobile phone society. Land lines are decreasing eight to twelve percent per year.

According to the article, Meyer Teleservices “launched on the Range in Eveleth in 2007.” It isn’t like we couldn’t see the end of the line for telemarketing companies. In 2003-04, Howard Dean used the internet to raise tens of millions of dollars for his presidential campaigns. In 2007-08, then-candidate Obama was using the internet to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for his presidential campaign.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out that these loans were made because they benefited Democrats. The motivation for these loans was to keep the company going through the 2014 election cycle.

The IRRRB has failed the people of the Iron Range. They’ve done nothing to diversify or strengthen the Iron Range’s economy. I wrote here that the statewide MHI (Median Household Income) is $60,828 and the statewide poverty rate is 11.5%. Compare that with the MHI for Hibbing, which is $38,112, and the MHI for Virginia, which is $33,143.The poverty rate in Hibbing is 20.6% while the poverty rate in Virginia is a disgusting 26.5%.

It’s time to make the IRRRB as extinct as the Passenger Pigeon. It’s failed its mission to the hard-working people of the Iron Range.

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One thing that the IRRRB isn’t is accountable to taxpayers. Early in the OLA’s report on the IRRRB is a section titled “Key Facts and Findings.” One of the first findings would be laughed at if practiced by the private sector. The third finding in the report said the “IRRRB did not adequately specify objectives—such as job growth—in many loan contracts we reviewed, and it collected insufficient evidence on how well loans met their objectives. Whether IRRRB provided loans to certain applicants that may not have needed them was unclear.”

Theoretically, the IRRRB is supposed to help strengthen and diversify the Iron Range’s economy. In reality, it’s operated more like a poorly run bank. What bank would loan a company money, then not follow up on whether the IRRRB loan helped the company expand?

The fourth finding states “IRRRB does not require most companies to report the number of jobs they create using IRRRB subsidies. For companies that do provide job data, IRRRB relies solely on their self-reported data.”

That’s the picture of sloppiness. The first thought that pops into my mind is this: why is the IRRRB willing to trust the company’s data without verifying the accuracy of the information? In the 1980s, President Reagan frequently used when negotiating with President Gorbachev. President Reagan’s saying was “Trust but verify.”

Apparently, the IRRRB believes in trust but don’t verify. This statement from IRRRB legislators is a CYA document:

“We will review the OLA’s findings and hope the IRRRB, and if necessary, the legislature can take action on the recommendations to ensure that the IRRRB is operating at the highest standards we expect of all our state agencies,” said Iron Range Legislators in a joint statement.

This is proof that the Iron Range’s legislators are totally out of touch with reality. No thinking person thinks that state agencies perform at a high standard. This statement is stunning:

“The success stories of the IRRRB are not necessarily the focus of today’s report, but as the OLA staff noted in today’s hearing, successes do exist, and in our opinion are the result of the IRRRB staff’s thoughtful work.”

I don’t doubt that some “successes do exist.” It’s that I doubt that they’re the rule, not the exception. More importantly, I doubt that they’ve diversified and strengthened the Iron Range’s economy. That’s the only metric that matters. Based on the Census Report’s statistics on median household income, the IRRRB has failed. For instance, the MHI in Hibbing, MN is $38,1112 and the poverty rate is 20.6%. That’s compared with an MHI of $60,828 statewide and a statewide poverty rate of 11.5%. That’s relatively respectable compared with Virginia, MN, where the MHI is $33,143 and the poverty rate is 26.5%.

That politicians would think that that’s acceptable after 75 years of the IRRRB attempting to diversify and strengthen the Iron Range’s economic is appalling. The IRRRB has failed. They deserve getting terminated.

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According to this NY Times article, Laura Ingraham wants the GOP to head in a populist direction. That isn’t leadership. That’s capitulation. That’s handing the nomination to Donald Trump. What’s worst is that it means our courts will be packed with activists whether Trump wins or Hillary wins.

Ms. Ingraham is famous for lecturing the DC insiders for their failures. It’s time to lecture her for her foolishness. Populism is what got this nation into this situation. Populism is liberalism with a different name. Populism isn’t rooted in constitutional principles. Populism is prone to mob rule, which is just a step away from anarchy. Does Ms. Ingraham really want to deal with a system of government where the mob rules? Does Ms. Ingraham prefer government of and by judicial fiat? That’s what populism will give us. In fact, populism will give us that sooner rather than later.

If she doesn’t, then she’d better stop being Trump’s apologist. It isn’t just Ms. Ingraham that’s making this tragic mistake, either. Andrea Tantaros, Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity are making the same mistake. That trio has bent over backwards rationalizing away Mr. Trump’s contradictory statements. This weekend, Hannity went so far as to tell Steve Hayes that Trump didn’t say that he’s in favor of the Obamacare mandate even though there’s video of Trump making that statement during Thursday night’s town hall meeting on CNN:

“The establishment G.O.P. is lying to itself. This election at its core is a rejection of their globalist economic agenda and failed immigration policies — and of rule by the donor class,” said Laura Ingraham, the conservative talk-radio host and political activist. “Millions want the party to go in a more populist direction.”

Ms. Ingraham isn’t really that stupid. You can’t be that stupid and be a Supreme Court law clerk. It’s possible, however, to misdiagnose the root cause of the problem. The economy isn’t failing because of globalism. It’s failing because our taxes are outrageous, the compliance costs of our regulations are crushing businesses and our regulations are designed to crush competition.

When Mr. Trump argues that companies are leaving the United States, he’s right. It’s just that his plan to fix that won’t fix anything. The type of tariffs that Mr. Trump is advocating for kill jobs. President Reagan and President Clinton are the 2 greatest job creators of my lifetime. They both thought that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused the Great Depression. Most economists agree with that.

Trump’s economic plans aren’t rooted in capitalism. They’re rooted in corporatism. Trump hasn’t talked a single sentence during the debates about helping small businesses create jobs. Trump certainly hasn’t said anything about regulatory reform.

William F. Buckley once famously said that “A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ’Stop!’” It’s time this generation of conservatives stood athwart history yelling ‘Stop’! It’s imperative because American exceptionalism is what’s on trial.

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