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One thing that’s apparent from this past week is that the Democrats’ plan to counter the good economic news is to insist that President Obama deserves great credit for the strong economy. During the first roundtable discussion on Fox News Sunday, Democrat spinmeister Mo Elleithee went right to work on that storyline.

First, Chris Wallace asked “Mo, there has been a lot of talk about a blue wave this November, a big Democratic pickup, may be control of the House, maybe even control of the Senate. But I think you would agree in the absence of where the economy is always the top issue and when you got strong economic growth, when you got historically low unemployment number, isn’t that a pretty strong record for Republicans to run on?” Elleithee replied by saying “Look, first of all, we should all be celebrating 4.1 economic growth. That’s a good number, a strong number. It also would have been the fifth strongest number of the Obama administration, right? The Obama administration — this is the continuation of economic recovery that began in 2009 and 2010. That strong economy wasn’t enough to save Democrats last time. It’s not enough to say it will be enough to say it would save Republicans this time.”

Republicans on the panel should’ve jumped on that immediately. Unfortunately, notorious Trump-hater Jonah Goldberg sat silent. Ditto with Jillian Turner. Since they sat silent, I’ll say what I would’ve said had I been on that panel. First, I would’ve highlighted the fact that President Trump and the GOP Congress scrapped the Obama-era tax system. They essentially threw it out and started from scratch. Thanks to the Trump/GOP tax cuts, business investment is accelerating, capital from overseas investments are flooding into the United States where manufacturing plants are being built or re-opened.

Remember when the Obama administration told us that those jobs were gone forever? I certainly remember. Apparently, all that was required were the right policies. Manufacturing is back in a big way. President Obama doesn’t get credit for the manufacturing rebound.

President Trump unleashed the energy sector by eliminating President Obama’s regulations that were intended to strangle the fossil fuel industry. Now we’re a net exporter of fossil fuels. Another thing is that the manufacturing sector is getting stronger quickly. That’s what I’d expect. President Obama worked tirelessly to put the fossil fuel industry out of business. He can’t take credit for that resurgent industry, the jobs it’s creating or the communities it’s rebuilding. Remember this statement from the campaign trail?

This month’s job report showed that people are returning to the workforce because they know there’s finally good-paying jobs available. In fact, for the first time in history, there are more job openings than there are workers to fill those positions. A frequent highlight of the Obama-era jobs reports was the part where they’d say how many people dropped out of the workforce or how the workforce participation rate had dropped. President Obama can’t take credit for that.

President Obama can’t take credit for surging consumer confidence or business confidence, either. Neither sector was particularly confident during the Obama administration. In truth, there’s nothing from the Obama administration’s policies that are contributing to the strengthening Trump economy. Period.

Last night, Juan Williams was on Fox News @ Night to talk about Friday’s GDP report. Something he hinted at, which isn’t a first, is that the Trump GDP numbers are a continuation of the Obama recovery. Let’s be clear about things. First, it’s indisputable that the recovery from the Great Recession started early in the Obama administration. People arguing otherwise just aren’t telling the truth. Second, anyone that thinks that the Trump economy’s growth is based on a continuation of Obama-era policies simply isn’t informed.

From Day One, President Trump and the GOP Congress have done their best to sweep aside the Obama administration’s policies. That’s why people elected President Trump. They wanted a Disruptor-in-Chief. They didn’t want a Stay-the-Course administration.

One of the first thing the Trump administration was to unleash the energy sector, starting with green-lighting the Keystone XL Pipeline and increasing fracking for oil and natural gas. They stopped in its tracks the war on coal, thanks in large part to the rolling back of regulations put in place late in the Obama administration through the unprecedented use of the Congressional Review Act. Time and again, that was used to rid ourselves of the anti-mining regulations that the Obama administration put in place.

Those things alone would’ve helped the economy soar. But that’s only part of the story. The highest profile legislative victory of the Trump administration is the passage of the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Those tax cuts are working and everyone knows it. Are they enough to push growth into the stratosphere? I’ll say it this way: they’re opening up new opportunities for entrepreneurship. President Trump has unleashed the animal spirits of this economy. That term was first used by John Maynard Keynes. Here’s what he said about animal spirits:

Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits—a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.

In other words, good things happen when people are optimistic. There’s no greater salesman of economic optimism than Larry Kudlow. Sandra Smith’s interview of Mr. Kudlow has me believing that robust long-term economic growth isn’t just possible. It’s likely. Watch this interview:

The only other guy who rivals Mr. Kudlow in terms of economic optimism is his old partner in crime in the Reagan administration, Art Laffer. One thing that I don’t want to overlook in the interview is what Kudlow said about the fundamentals in place. Regulations are reasonable. Taxes, which leads to capital formation, which leads to job creation, are low. The energy sector has been unleashed. Consumer confidence is high. Capital that spent its time on the sidelines during the Obama administration is rushing back into the United States in the hopes of increased return on investment. During periods in the Obama administration, investors were sometimes happy with a return of its investment.

Early in the interview, Mr. Kudlow summed things up beautifully by saying “My hunch is that it’s going to go on for quite awhile.” This of things contributing to this strong economy that Mr. listed was fairly lengthy. Anyone mistaking the Trump economy with the Obama economy isn’t paying attention. The differences are night and day differences.

If Democrats want to have a chance at winning back the US House, they’ll need to prove that they won’t consistently side with Big Environment, aka Big Green. During the Obama administration, Big Mining got the shaft without getting the mining project. Salena Zito’s latest article suggests that Democrats are rebuilding their relationship with Big Labor.

The union voters I talked to said they didn’t feel that Democrats in Washington had their back; that they were too progressive, too strident, and way out of touch with their lives and needs. “I think there were two factors at play with how union members, many union members turned away from the Democratic Party,” said Mike Mikus, a western Pennsylvania Democratic strategist who does campaign work for several unions. One is that they didn’t feel their economic issues needed to be addressed and pretty frankly it was in the Democratic playbook to play to the center meant taking on organized labor rather than any other Democratic constituency,” he said.

I’m not convinced that Democrats have figured it out yet, though. I don’t doubt that some Democrats have made the decision to support mining. That will give those Democrats a fighting chance in some districts. The problem is that they’re still part of a Democratic Party that’s dominated by environmental activists.

The Democratic Party won’t part ways with the environmental activists. The miners still remember this:

or this:

Tom Steyer and Alita Messenger won’t tolerate a significant shift back to mining, which is where most union workers are employed. The other industry where lots of union workers are employed is construction. Democrats still fight tooth-and-nail against pipeline projects. If I ran the NRCC, I’d remind voters in the heartland that Democrats are still funded by environmental activists. As long as that’s the case, labor will get shafted by the Democrats.

Who would’ve thought that the Trump/GOP tax cuts would lead to cheaper electric bills? That’s what’s happening, though. While Democrats insist that these benefits helping the middle class are just PR stunts, the middle class’s reply is that they’re fine with PR stunts that save them money. BTW, the PR stunt line is the Democrats latest talking point to deflect criticism away from the fact that Democrats unanimously voted against the Trump/GOP tax cuts that are benefitting literally hundreds of thousands of people. They’re benefitting either through pay raises, bonuses, bigger employer contributions to the employees’ 401(k)s or, now, through cheaper utility bills.

The most dramatic news on the utilities front comes out of South Carolina, where a “$7.9 billion deal between utility companies Dominion Energy and Scana includes an unusual term loosely related to the tax bill that passed Congress at the end of 2017. All residential customers of Scana’s South Carolina Electric & Gas utility will get an average cash payment of $1,000 within 90 days of the deal being completed, the companies said in a statement. … Scana and Dominion are one of the first companies to explicitly say they will give their customers a credit as a result of the tax bill.”

In Illinois, “ComEd is filing a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) seeking approval to pass along approximately $200 million in tax savings to its customers in 2018. If approved by the ICC, the average ComEd residential customer can expect to see an estimated $2-$3 decrease on their monthly bill related to the tax reduction.” (ComEd, 1/5/2018)

“Pepco today announced they will file with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia in early February, outlining plans to provide annual tax savings to more than 296,000 electric customers in the District of Columbia. If approved, Pepco would plan to begin providing a credit lowering customer bills starting in the first quarter of 2018. … ‘The tax law will result in lower bills for our customers and lower taxes for Pepco,’ said Dave Velazquez, President and CEO, Pepco Holdings, which includes Pepco. ‘We are pleased to provide these savings to our customers, while at the same time ensuring we are making prudent investments in the local power grid to maintain the safe, reliable, and affordable service our customers have come to expect.'” (Pepco, Press Release, 1/5/2018)

The point is that the middle class is definitely benefitting from the Trump/GOP tax cuts. That’s indisputable.

What’s important is for the American people to notice that Democrats made a political decision when Democrats, in the House and Senate, voted unanimously against the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Democrats from swing districts in America’s heartland didn’t listen to their constituents. Instead, those Democrats listened to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Speaking of Ms. Pelosi, watch this video, then determine whether she’s just plain wrong or whether she’s intentionally lying:

Ms. Pelosi insisted that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was “a bill that rewards corporations shipping jobs overseas.” Then Ms. Pelosi asked if there was justice in shipping jobs overseas. What the hell is she babbling about? Which corporations have announced that they’re moving their companies overseas since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law?

At some point, someone’s got to tell her that she’s either got a warped imagination or she’s liar without a conscience. There’s nothing resembling the truth about her speech. Nothing.

This past fall, I wrote a ton of articles about the importance of building or replacing the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. I wish I’d had this information when I wrote those articles.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been good friends with Terry Stone for quite some time. He’s a top researcher and writer. When it comes to energy and transportation issues, Terry’s on a par with Mike Beard and other expert former legislators. Simply put, when Terry talks about transportation or energy, I listen.

One of the first things that caught my attention was when Terry wrote “Moving oil by train can have consequences to human life that are almost never seen in pipelines. A 2013 crash of 72 oil cars in Quebec left 47 dead.
Moving oil by barge or tanker ship can be costly to clean up if something goes wrong and is environmentally unattractive. The total cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill ended up costing $630 per gallon. The average cost of an oil-spill cleanup in the U.S. is $18.11 per gallon. Pipeline spills cost even less because they are not typically driven miles by wind, and they don’t kill clusters of riparian marine life. Pipeline leaks are small, fast to find, and seldom involve a risk to human life.”

Here’s a question for the environmentalists that sit on the board of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that they won’t like: why are you opposed to efficiently transporting oil from the well to the refinery? Anything other than ratifying the Line 3 replacement is unacceptable. We don’t need to figure out whether the additional crude oil is needed. It is, especially with a growing economy. These statistics definitely caught my attention:

We have been hearing a lot about oil-train derailments, crashes, and fires since 2013. This is because from 2009 to 2012 the volume of oil shipped by rail increased from 11,000 to 230,000 railcars — up 2,200 percent. According to Forbes, more crude was spilled from rail cars in 2013 than in all the 37 previous years combined.

That’s astonishing. What’s the environmentalists’ argument for saying no to replacing the Line 3 pipeline? It certainly can’t be to protect the environment. That ‘ship’ sailed with these statistics. These statistics, too:

According to Enbridge, the replaced pipeline will be able to take 10,000 rail cars off the tracks or 24,000 tanker trucks off the highways — daily. Enbridge is a bit generous with its figures. Actually, since both the trains of railcars and the trucks hauling oil need to drive back across the country empty, burning diesel, the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project would equal a total of 20,000 rail cars off the road daily or 48,000 tanker trucks daily. That should sound like Christmas every day to every environmentalist.

Do environmentalists think that we’ll replace fossil fuels sometime soon? If they’re thinking that, they’d better find better researchers. Further, with technology improving virtually monthly, there’s no reason to think that fossil fuels won’t become cleaner, more efficient and more reliable.

We won’t stop using fossil fuels anytime soon so the environmentalists should just deal with that fact. Next, the environmentalists should accept the fact that pipelines will be a necessity for at least the next 20-30 years. Hating fossil fuels won’t make the pipelines disappear. It’s time to put an end to this stupidity:

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Yessirree Bob, the middle class is taking it in the shorts once again, thanks to evil corporations getting yuuge profits, then spreading it between the rich fat-cat shareholders. Those Democrats were right. The Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is making the rich richer while the middle class and working poor get shafted. This article verifies as Gospel fact that those evil corporations only look out for themselves.

The article starts by saying “Federal tax reform benefits big corporations. Allete, the parent company of Minnesota Power, is among Duluth’s biggest corporations. So will those tax reform benefits be passed on to Minnesota Power customers? It looks like it. [Ed. note: How can that be?] ‘The new lower tax rate will be built into our rates, and the savings will be passed through to our customers based on methodology determined by the (Minnesota Public Utilities Commission),’ Minnesota Power spokeswoman Amy Rutledge wrote in an email Wednesday.”

That can’t be. Just watch the opening of this video:

“Treats for the rich. Tricks on the middle class”, exclaimed a visibly frustrated Chuck Schumer. Nancy Pelosi chimed in “Devastating and, in my view, immoral budget to fast track their immoral tax plan to hand trillions to the wealthy while raising taxes on the middle class.”

If I was in the middle class, I’d be worried based on those statements. Unfortunately for Democrats, those evil corporations apparently didn’t get the Democrats’ talking points. Either that or they’ve pitched them into the nearest circular file.

In its investor presentation released before tax reform was finalized this month, Allete wrote: “We expect that our nonregulated businesses would benefit from lower corporate tax rates,” and that “items could have offsetting impacts to both customer rates and earnings.”

If people needed proof that Democrats aren’t Nostradamus with their predictions, they just need to read this article. The Democrats’ predictions aren’t that accurate. They should stay out of the predictions business.

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It’s pretty apparent that David Frum’s TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) symptoms are showing. His article, titled “Conservatism Can’t Survive Donald Trump Intact,” is mostly a defense of Jennifer Rubin’s intellectually dishonest criticisms of Republicans. Still, with a title like that, it’s important to demolish the premise that Donald Trump is leaving the GOP in tatters.

It’s important to rattle through the lengthy list of positive accomplishments that President Trump, with the help of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, has helped turn into a reality. Prior to passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed was the signature accomplishment. Having him sit on the Supreme Court for the next 25 years is a major accomplishment by itself. One of the things that hasn’t gotten much attention but that’s playing a major part in the Trump Boom is eliminating tons of counterproductive regulations by using the Congressional Review Act. On a slightly different front, President Trump has reigned in presidential abuse of the Antiquities Act by shrinking a bunch of national monuments, thereby returning tons of acreage to local control.

Passing tax cuts and getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed would be a pretty nice year if he got nothing else accomplished. The good news is that President Trump has gotten lots of other important things accomplished. Again, thanks to Mitch McConnell’s and Chuck Grassley’s efforts, 12 “fully qualified” conservative appellate court judges got confirmed in President Trump’s first year.

The Wall Street Journal gets it right in this article:

President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress, who opened their first year in full control of Washington on rocky terms, are closing it with a flush of late legislative achievements: a sweeping tax overhaul, a long-sought repeal of a pillar of the Affordable Care Act and a surprise deal to open up Arctic drilling.

I’ve repeatedly said that the economy is finally growing at a robust pace. Consumer confidence is soaring. Unemployment is at a 17-year low and it’s about to get lower. GDP is expected to grow at 4% or higher during Q4 of 2017.

For years, the goal was for the United States to become energy independent. Thanks to rolling back a ton of Obama-era environmental regulations through the Congressional Review Act, the U.S. isn’t just energy independent. We’re on the verge of becoming energy dominant.

For years, Republicans have talked about energy independence, cutting taxes, confirming the next generation of conservative judges and getting the economy hitting on all cylinders. President Trump and Sen. McConnell worked together to get the judges approved. Then Sen. McConnell and Speaker Ryan worked with President Trump to cut taxes, get the economy humming and delivering on energy dominance.

To this conservative, I’m better than ok with that checklist of accomplishments. The start was bumpy but the finish of President Trump’s first year is pretty smooth.

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Last week, Gov. Dayton announced that he’s finally supporting the PolyMet precious metals project. In this post, I wrote “Why should Rangers tolerate a regulatory system that’s this convoluted? How many studies are enough? How many hearings need to be held? Chip Cravaack tried getting this pushed through when he was in office. He was elected in 2010, the same election that gave us Gov. Dayton. It’s clear that Gov. Dayton hasn’t jettisoned the environmentalists. He’s still siding with the environmentalists on Twin Metals and the Line 3 Pipeline project.”

Speaking of the Line 3 Pipeline project, Rep. Matt Grossell, Rep. Sandy Layman, Rep. Matt Bliss, Rep. Dale Lueck, Rep. Debra Kiel, Sen. Justin Eichorn and Sen. Paul Utke wrote a letter to Gov. Dayton. Their letter’s opening paragraph says “The proposed Line 3 Replacement Project (L3R) is a vital energy infrastructure project for Minnesota and the region that will generate more than $3 billion in private investment. It will create thousands of good-paying construction jobs and provide millions in much-needed tax revenue to local governments in our districts and our region.” Follow this link to read the entire letter.

It isn’t likely that Gov. Dayton will back off. His Commerce Department testified that (a) the L3R isn’t required and (b) the existing pipeline should be shut down. That’s the public part of Gov. Dayton’s policy. That doesn’t mean, though, that he doesn’t see the political difficulties and complexities this might cause the DFL.

Yesterday on @Issue with Tom Hauser, former DFL Chair Brian Melendez said that Gov. Dayton allegedly told environmentalists ‘Good luck with the Republican governor in 2019′, implying that the environmental activists’ demands will hurt the DFL in 2018.

This video is part of the reason why Gov. Dayton won’t abandon environmental activists:

The truth is that Gov. Dayton and the DFL aren’t consistent with their beliefs. First, they’re constantly talking about the importance of infrastructure projects. When this infrastructure project was proposed, though, they ran from it like it was toxic waste. Finally, the DFL is constantly pushing bonding bills as their annual “jobs bill”. This pipeline project is the size of three bonding bills.

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After last week’s fiasco in Duluth, in which protestors shut down public testimony on the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline project, St. Cloud officials exercised caution for Thursday’s planned testimony for the Public Utilities Commission. In the end, Mayor Kleis opted to not hold the hearing. That means the anti-pipeline protestors have won a victory just by threatening a hearing.

St. Cloud Mayor Kleis explained his thinking for shutting down the event, saying “Based on the size of the event and some of the challenges at previous meetings, there’s a cost. The costs have to be met and a plan needs to be in place that meets the public safety needs based on the assessment that our police give us. For Thursday night, based on the crowd (expected) and other use of the facility, the venue would be problematic unless they can meet those demands. It’s their choice to make, but we need to make sure the public and taxpayers are safe.”

Minnesota Petroleum Council Executive Director Erin Roth issued a statement Wednesday night, saying “There’s no doubt that today’s decision to cancel the public meeting on Line 3 is disappointing. What’s worse is that communities are put in this position by highly coordinated protest activities that actively obstruct civil discourse, stifle free speech, and disrespect those in attendance who are there to respectfully voice their opinion. Minnesotans deserve an open and transparent process that examines this important infrastructure project and the benefits that would come from it.”

Last week, anti-pipeline thugs stopped a public hearing in Duluth’s Entertainment & Convention Center, aka the DECC. (I wrote about that event here.) These thugs’ intent is to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them. This paragraph sums everything up perfectly:

Proponents say the line is an essential piece of infrastructure for petroleum shippers and refineries in the region. Opponents say the pipeline won’t benefit Minnesota, and that it threatens Minnesota’s watershed and the Mississippi River headwaters.

I’ve heard the environmental terrorists’ predictions for 40+ years. They’ve been off by incredible amounts each time they’ve made a prediction. When the Sierra Club opposed the Alaskan Pipeline, the Sierra Club said that North Slope and Prudhoe Bay would pump oil for 4-5 years. The pipeline opened in 1977. It’s still transporting oil in 2017.

Here’s what the approval process has looked like for Enbridge:

Everything is wrong with that picture.

One of the things that I can’t shake in reading this article is whether the Public Utilities Commission will destroy the DFL for the 2018 election. Bear with me while I make the case for why I think it hurts the DFL.

Right now, the Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings on whether to approve the replacement of Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline. The reason why this is potentially devastating is because “the state Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide whether to approve the Line 3 project next spring.” The only thing that might derail the building of the replacement pipeline is the Dayton administration. If this pipeline isn’t built soon, farmers, construction workers and small towns will be upset with the Dayton administration.

Farmers will be especially upset because rejecting this pipeline project will trigger more oil to be transported via oil trains. That limits rail capacity for getting farmers’ crops to market. Whoever the DFL candidate for governor is, they’ll be pressed on whether they’ll support building the pipeline. Anything except enthusiastically supporting the building of the pipeline will be greeted with anger by rural Minnesota.

That, in turn, will spike turnout in rural Minnesota because they can’t afford to have environmental do-gooders destroying farmers’ operations. Based on the information on the PUC’s commissioners page, it’s virtually certain that the PUC will vote against replacing the pipeline. Three of the commissioners are DFL environmental activists. The lone Republican is a former DFL politician who worked as a lobbyist for Conservation Minnesota.

Republican gubernatorial candidates should lay this situation out in rural Minnesota. When they’re campaigning, they should ask farmers if they can afford 4 more years of DFL environmental policies. I’m betting the response will be an overwhelming no!

Look at the results from rural Minnesota the last 2 elections. In 2014, Minnesota Republicans rode a wave from rural Minnesota to recapture the Minnesota House. In 2016, Minnesota Republicans rode anti-DFL sentiment in rural Minnesota to flip the Minnesota Senate.

As I wrote at the time, many of those races were blowouts. In northern Minnesota, Paul Utke defeated DFL Sen. Rod Skoe by a 57%-43% margin. Many of the races weren’t particularly close, in fact. I’d recommend GOP gubernatorial candidates highlight this graphic when campaigning in rural Minnesota:

That graphic will get everyone’s attention because it’s a display of how dysfunctional Minnesota’s permitting process is under DFL control. That won’t get better if Erin Murphy, Tim Walz or Paul Thissen gets elected governor.