Archive for the ‘Reforms’ Category
It’s political light years away from the next presidential election season but it isn’t too early to start drafting potential GOP presidential candidates. Atop my list is Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor. Marc Thiessen’s article sums up Gov. Walkers qualifications perfectly:
During the 2012 recall fight in Wisconsin, a group of protesters dressed as zombies disrupted Gov. Scott Walker’s speech at a ceremony for kids participating in the Special Olympics. Walker just ignored the protesters. Afterwards, talk radio host Charlie Sykes told Walker he should have “gone Chris Christie on them.” But Walker wanted to keep the focus on the Special Olympics athletes, saying “it was their day.”
The incident is revealing. Walker and Christie, the New Jersey governor, are friends, and they have both found a way to win in purple states that have not voted for a Republican president in a quarter-century. But they each did it in very different ways.
Christie is moderate in policy, but immoderate in temperament.
Walker is moderate in temperament, but immoderate in policy.
Activists are drawn to Christie’s gruff exterior because they want a fighter. There’s no questioning whether Gov. Christie is a fighter. Still, for all his combativeness, many of his policies are what I’d expect of a New England Republican. That makes Gov. Christie significantly less appealing than Gov. Walker:
Walker is a tea party hero thanks to his courageous stand against the public-sector unions in Wisconsin. Cruz may have “faux filibustered” Obamacare, but Walker faced down 100,000 protesters outside the Capitol in Madison and won. He not only passed his reforms despite unbelievable odds, he became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election. He’s both a fighter and a winner, a compelling combination for the conservative base.
Moreover, Walker’s appeal to the right goes beyond collective bargaining. As governor, he passed a raft of other conservative reforms that went virtually unnoticed because of the collective-bargaining fight. He signed legislation enacting voter identification requirements, permitting the concealed carry of firearms, defunding Planned Parenthood, prohibiting any health exchange operating in Wisconsin from covering abortion, reducing taxes, expanding school choice and reforming entitlements. Walker is an across-the-board, unflinching, full-spectrum conservative.
But Walker also has a proven ability to win the votes of moderates and reform-minded independents. While Walker is often portrayed as a “divisive” figure, exit polls in the June 2012 gubernatorial recall election showed that about one in six Walker voters also planned to vote for Barack Obama in the November presidential election. And, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “those confounding Obama-Walker voters of 2012…[are] still with us.” Two separate 2013 polls of Wisconsin voters, the paper reported, show that “11% approve of both politicians.”
Put differently, Christie is the bully who supports many liberal policies like gun control and global warming. Gov. Walker has a mental toughness that can’t be questioned. He stared down the thugs in Wisconsin and won the fight for important reforms. Everyone knows about the collective bargaining rights fight. Few noticed that he got other reforms passed, too.
Most importantly, I won’t have to worry whether Gov. Walker will abandon conservatism’s core principles. He won’t. He’ll pick great judges. He’ll feature a positive pro-growth agenda. He’ll be an unapologetic conservative with a lengthy history of conservative accomplishments.
George Will noted another appealing part of Gov. Walker’s in this column:
To fight the recall, during which opponents disrupted Walker’s appearance at a Special Olympics event and squeezed Super Glue into the locks of a school he was to visit, Walker raised more than $30?million, assembling a nationwide network of conservative donors that could come in handy if he is reelected next year.
It’s great that Gov. Walker is a proven fundraiser. He’d need it if he runs against Hillary in 2016. More importantly, though, he understands the value of a strong organization.
In other words, Gov. Walker a) is an unapologetic conservative, b) has a lengthy list of conservative accomplishments, c) can rally the conservative base while still appealing to independents and d) is a prolific fundraiser. That’s quite the trifecta heading into 2016.
The latest Democratic chanting point on the Affordable Care Act has been that President Obama didn’t really break his promise that you could keep your health insurance plan if you liked it. The chanting point has become that the policies getting canceled were substandard policies that insurance companies foisted on unsuspecting dupes (you). That’s certainly the message Henry Aaron is peddling in this article:
Of late, numerous reports have told of people surprised by letters telling them that insurance plans they now have will not be renewed. Many are puzzled. Weren’t they told that if they like their insurance they could keep it? Opponents of health reform in general are seizing on the fact and asking in an accusatorial manner: “Isn’t this a betrayal of trust?”
No. To see why, imagine a new law enacted to promote food purity. As it is being debated, you are told: “If you like what you eat, you can keep on eating it.” The new law takes effect, and one day, you find that the market no longer carries certain foods you have been buying. As it happens, those products included elements found to be bad for your health. The pure food act barred their use.
There’s a huge flaw with this logic. They’re called Cadillac health insurance policies. Last night on Megyn Kelly’s show, a woman talked about how she had such a plan. When her husband got cancer that eventually killed him, the policy saved her family from huge expenses. The treatments cost over $300,000. Thanks to their health insurance policy, their out-of-pocket expenses came to $1,500. That’s in addition to the premiums they paid.
When the policy wasn’t offered anymore, this woman chose to continue this coverage, paying the premiums out of her own pocket. She did the right thing. She wasn’t putting a burden on society. She didn’t complain about not getting her policy subsidized. She just paid the premiums.
This fall, she got a notice that her policy was canceled thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s penalty on Cadillac plans. That’s right. The Affordable Care Act is making Cadillac plans obsolete. That’s why the unions are upset. All these years, they’ve settled for smaller wage increases, which are taxed, in exchange for premium quality health insurance policies, which aren’t taxed.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, these union workers won’t have the option of a Cadillac plan plus they’re stuck with the lower pay increases that they negotiated.
It’s difficult to see how Cadillac plans are the equivalent of “products [that] included elements found to be bad for your health.” The full name of the Affordable Care Act is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One of the Democrats’ first chanting points was the PPACA would protect families from medical bankruptcies. This lady’s Cadillac health insurance policy did that and then some.
It’s insulting that Mr. Aaron insists that the canceled policies are sub-standard policies. It’s insulting on multiple levels, starting with the fact that those policies can’t be sold if they aren’t first approved by that state’s insurance commissioner.
Early in her political career, Ms. Sebelius was Kansas’ insurance commissioner. Is she now admitting that the policies she approved were sub-standard? When President Obama called these insurance plans sub-standard, he essentially accused the 50 state insurance commissioners incompetent.
Second, in many places, competition among insurers will lower premiums. Bloomberg Government has reported that the more plans offered in an exchange, the lower the premiums.
In Minnesota, a state recognized as a leader in health insurance innovation and access, most rural cities have few options. In fact, many of these places have a single option in terms of insurance providers competing.
Third, people can hold down premiums by selecting plans with comparatively high deductibles.
That option isn’t brought to us by the Affordable Care Act. That was available to clients who had health savings accounts and a catastrophic policy, both of which are illegal under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
The problem was a misdiagnosis of the situation in 2009. The US health care system needed extensive work. It didn’t need to put an incompetent administration in charge of a complex industry. Democrats didn’t need to give bureaucrats the authority of who could keep the health insurance plans they liked. Democrats didn’t need to tell people what insurance policies were “sub-standard” and which ones were government-approved.
What Democrats should’ve done is get out of the way so innovators couls’ve put together a package of real reforms.
Technorati: Henry Aaron, Media Bias, Insurance Cancellations, Individual Mandate, Cadillac Health Insurance, Medical Bankruptcies, Affordable Care Act, President Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, Democrats, Free Market Reforms, Megyn Kelly
Despite the Democrats’ spin otherwise, the looming government shutdown will be their fault. Tonight, Republicans voted to keep the government open while attaching a provision that would delay the start of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Here’s the White House’s response:
The White House on Saturday said President Obama would veto the House GOP’s latest stopgap spending measure.
It said Obama would veto the bill because of the inclusion of language delaying ObamaCare and eliminating a medical device tax, while faulting the House for not moving a simple funding measure approved by the Senate on Friday.
“Rather than taking up that legislation, the House proposes amendments that advance a narrow ideological agenda and threaten the nation’s economy,” the White House budget office said in a statement. “By including extraneous measures that have no place in a government funding bill and that the president and Senate already made clear are unacceptable, House Republicans are pushing the government toward shutdown,” it said. “If the president was presented with H.J. Res 59, as amended by these amendments, he would veto the bill.”
Putting things into a bill at the last minute has been happening for decades. In most instances, however, the changes are additional pork used to buy votes that ensure passage of the bill. This time, the change to the Senate bill would delay the negative impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka the PPACA.
The administration immediately attempted to paint Republicans as extremists:
Before the veto threat, White House press secretary Jay Carney called the GOP measure “reckless and irresponsible.” Any Republican who votes for the bill is “voting for a shutdown,” he said in a statement.
It isn’t amazing that the administration is attempting to portray Republicans as extremists. What’s amazing, though, is the fact that the media isn’t questioning the White House. They aren’t even pretending to be mildly interested in reporting facts.
Unlike the formerly mainstream media, I’ll put forward some verifiable facts. If Senate Democrats defeat the bill passed tonight by the House of Representatives:
- they will have voted to not fund the government’s operation.
- they will have voted for giving corporations a huge break while forcing families to suffer the consequences of the PPACA
- they will have voted for hurting families while getting an exception for themselves and their staff.
It’s impossible to take Jay Carney seriously, especially considering his repeated indefensible statements. Here’s his latest spin:
In his statement, Carney criticized Republicans for repeatedly trying to attack the healthcare law, noting they have held more than 40 votes to defund, delay or repeal it.
“The president has shown that he is willing to improve the health care law and meet Republicans more than halfway to deal with our fiscal challenges, but he will not do so under threats of a government shutdown that will hurt our economy,” he said.
That’s BS. If President Obama was “willing to improve the health care law”, he’d push for something that didn’t use the government to force families into buying something they don’t want to buy. If President Obama truly was willing to meet Republicans half way on health care reform, he wouldn’t have shoved the PPACA down families’ throats. If President Obama was truly willing to meet Republcans half way, he wouldn’t have ignored the American people’s vociferous cries to stop the insanity of passing the ACA.
There’s no polite way of putting this so I’ll just say it. Mr. Carney is a liar. Mr. Carney insists that President Obama “has shown that he’s willing to improve the health care law.” I’m calling Mr. Carney’s bluff. I won’t believe him until he cites examples of President Obama did that. What specific provisions has he used that the Republicans proposed? We know that Republicans proposed tons of alternatives during the Health Summit. Here’s one of their proposals:
10:07– Sen. Coburn is now talking about lawsuit abuse reform and defensive medicine costs. Eliminating lawsuit abuse and defensive medicine costs would save almost $850,000,000,000 annually.
That went in one of President Obama’s ears and out the other. Nothing in the ACA addresses reducing defensive medicine costs.
10:42– Paul Ryan is responding to Rob Andrews on the issue of federal regulations. Andrews says that the federal government needs to regulate health care mandates. Ryan nailed Andrews, saying that organizations like NFIB will do a good job of negotiating health care policies for their members. Ryan then says that governors will do a good job regulating health insurance, too.
When I wrote this post, I cited Lamar Alexander’s statement:
Today, a 27-year-old man in Memphis can buy a plan for as low as $41 a month. On the exchange, the lowest state average is $119 a month, a 190 percent increase. Today, a 27-year-old woman in Nashville can also buy a plan for as low as $58 a month. On the exchange, the lowest-priced plan in Nashville is $114 a month, a 97 percent increase. Even with a tax subsidy, that plan is $104 a month, almost twice what she could pay today.
Today, women in Nashville can choose from 30 insurance plans that cost less than the administration says insurance plans on the exchange will cost, even with the new tax subsidy. In Nashville, 105 insurance plans offered today will not be available in the exchange.
When the federal government dictates what health insurance policies have to cover, families’ affordable choices shrink.
Again, President Obama is about getting everything his way. Mr. Carney’s lies aren’t persuasive.
When Democrats vote to defeat the House CR, they’ll have their fingerprints all over the looming government shutdown.
In an appearance on FNC’s “The Five”, captured in this video, Juan Williams passionately called Al Sharpton and Michael-Eric Dyson race hustlers and civil rights hucksters:
This op-ed is, loosely speaking, a transcript of Juan’s opening monologue. The first 3 minutes of the video are especially powerful. That’s where Juan called Michael-Eric Dyson out for not providing solutions. Here’s part of Juan’s opening monologue:
Two of the worst: civil rights activist and MSNBC host Al Sharpton and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson. Their goal: demonize white people, especially conservatives like Bill O’Reilly, so they don’t have to deal with the real problems that continue to plague the black community. Making an older, conservative white guy like O’Reilly a boogie man is easy for these hustlers.
But do they ever confront the real problems and threats in the minority community? No. High murder rates? How about that? What about high dropout rates? What about the breakdown of the family?
After Juan’s opening monologue, Dana Perino noted that Juan didn’t read the monologue off a teleprompter, that he spoke it from the heart. She then said that Juan’s opening monologue might’ve been the most impressive monologue in “The Five’s” history. I wouldn’t disagree with that, though I’d highlight the fact that all 15 minutes of the video are must-see video. During another exchange with Dana Perino, Juan highlighted something important. Starting at the 4:40 mark, here’s what Juan said:
DANA PERINO: What is the most important thing we could address the problem?
JUAN WILLIAMS: For me, it’s education. I grew up as a poor kid. If it wasn’t for education, I wouldn’t be anywhere so, in other words, I had a tiger mom and a black tiger mom who said “you’re gonna get good grades, you’re going to stay in school, you’re gonna work and, not only that, you’re going to achieve. You’re not just going to hang in there. You’re going to achieve.
I applauded Juan for saying that when I watched that monologue live. I’m applauding him again while I’m watching the video this morning. Juan didn’t stop there:
JUAN WILLIAMS: So if we’re serious about this, we go about taking on the unions, going at school reform, going at charter schools, going at vouchers. That’s why people say ‘Well, they provide a lot of jobs.’ You know what, unless you’re educating kids, unless you’re loving kids, you’re not doing anything. You’re not helping.
That’s powerful because a black liberal is talking about taking on the teachers unions, promoting school reform, charter schools and vouchers as solutions to black poverty. That’s something you won’t hear from Michael-Eric Dyson or Al Sharpton. I give Juan credit for writing this great op-ed because it’s part of the solution:
Here is the track record for that solution as I wrote about it in my book, “ENOUGH: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It.” “The poverty rate for any black man or woman who follows that formula is a mere 6.4 percent…in other words by meeting those basic requirements black American can cut their chances of being poor by two-thirds…even white American families have a higher poverty rate than black people who finished high school, got married, had children after 21 and worked for at least one week a year.”
The key for black women is also in the formula – do not have a baby outside of a strong marriage. Over a third [35 percent] of the black women who have children out of wedlock – now tragically more than 70 percent – live in poverty.
By comparison, only 17 percent of black women who are married live in poverty. And black children with both parents at home have a better chance for success, fewer dealings with the police, higher graduation rates and are more likely to marry before they have children.
Marriage and the presence of adults as role models and loving disciplinarians is absolutely critical helping young black men build the self-esteem that puts them in position to make good decisions that lead to the road to success.
While Juan repeats many of the Democrats’ talking points, these statements definitely don’t mimic Al Sharpton or Michael-Eric Dyson or Julian Bond or other race hucksters. These are time-tested solutions.
There’s another important lesson that needs to be learned from this discussion. While Sharpton’s, Dyson’s and Jesse Jackson’s statements are incendiary and counterproductive, Republicans aren’t without blame, either. Republican politicians should make frequent visits into the minority communities. While they’re there, they should follow a specific pattern.
First, Republican politicians should introduce themselves, then start listening. People that listen signal to the talker that what they’re saying is important. I coined a phrase years ago about that: “The fastest way to confer dignity on people is by listening intently because it sends the message that what they’re saying is important.”
When they hear something that approaches common ground, they should highlight that and express the fact that they’re willing, even eager, to work with minorities on improving their lives.
In the end, this isn’t a political issue. It’s a moral issue. I’m no fan of NCLB but I agree with President Bush’s statement that we need to end “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” That’s what Juan passionately and eloquently spoke about. It’s what Michael-Eric Dyson, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson won’t talk about. It’s what Republicans should do a better job of prioritizing.
In the end, that’s the ultimate solution.
When a governor asks a newspaper to print his editorial, it’s political courtesy to say yes. That doesn’t mean citizens can’t rip his op-ed. This op-ed would be a paragraph if not for the DFL’s spin:
Foremost, our budget will provide our children the better educations they need for brighter futures. Minnesota’s long-term economic competitiveness hinges on our ability to deliver a world-class education for our kids.
All-day kindergarten isn’t a great investment. It’s a ripoff. Further, teacher accountability doesn’t exist. AJ Kern notes that there are high school math teachers in Sauk Rapids school system who can’t pass the basic skills test to get their teaching certificate. If there aren’t great teachers in classrooms, no amount of spending will deliver a “world-class education for our kids.”
It sounds great. Education Minnesota will certainly praise the Dayton/Bakk/Thissen budget. The reality, though, is that their policies won’t appreciably improve education in Minnesota.
During the political analysis segment of @Issue With Tom Hauser, Brian Mclung noted that the DFL stripped out the basic skills test reform that Gov. Dayton signed after the Republican legislature passed it last year. Mclung noted, too, that the DFL ended graduation testing for students, too.
If DFL policies were leading to “a world-class education for our kids”, why is the DFL gutting policies that verify kids are getting a “world-class education”?
The propaganda continues:
After a decade of steep tuition increases, students at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses will benefit from tuition freezes for the next two years. And more than 100,000 State Grant Program recipients from low- and middle-income families will receive additional financial aid to pursue their higher educations.
Tuitions have been frozen, which is the only positive thing in their higher ed budget. Higher ed costs haven’t been reduced. Rather than fixing the problem, the DFL just increased the subsidies for students to attend less-than-average colleges.
We made major investments that will provide thousands of good-paying jobs. They include major expansions by Mayo Clinic, 3M, the Mall of America and others that will create thousands of construction jobs and thousands more for operations.
If crony capitalism worked, the American economy wouldn’t be growing at an anemic 2% rate. Any time that the government raises taxes, then spends some of those taxes on the politically-well-connected, the people that don’t get their “fair share” of corporate welfare are hurt.
That’s before talking the disastrous warehousing tax and the sales tax on telecommunications companies. Those are the worst tax policies ever implemented in Minnesota history. I predict the warehousing tax will be repealed before the end of the 2014 session. If it isn’t, Minnesota’s economy will take a major hit.
Finally, there’s this BS:
And we paid for these investments honestly and progressively. The very highest income earners and some large corporations will pay more in taxes. Except for smokers, middle-class Minnesotans will pay the same state income or sales tax rates while realizing the benefits from $441 million in additional property tax relief, which reverses the property tax increases that resulted from the previous Legislature’s policies.
The warehousing tax will be paid for by everyone, not just “the rich”, in the form of higher pricers for groceries and other products. As for the “$441 million in additional property tax relief,” that’s mostly a myth. Most of that relief is higher LGA payments to cities and counties. In the hands of liberals like Don Ness, Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak, those LGA payments turn into big spending increases, not into property tax relief.
The DFL pushed things hard this year because they realize Minnesotans will throw the DFL out of the House majority in 2014.
When it comes to intellectual foolishness, it’s difficult to beat the St. Cloud Times Editorial Board. This editorial is laced with that intellectual foolishness. Here’s a prime example:
Sure, his desire to beat Bachmann is implied in most every speech, news release and public appearance. However, the words he speaks (and writes) literally list priorities that go well beyond who isn’t in office. Here are two very recent examples:
“… I’m running to work with both sides to find ways to balance the budget, keep our promises to seniors, create jobs and strengthen the middle class,” closes out a “Why I’m Running” explanation on his website.
“… As a businessman who has balanced budgets and created jobs, I’m running to work with both sides to find ways to balance the budget, keep our promises to seniors, create jobs and strengthen the middle class,” is the final quote he issued in announcing April 12 his candidacy for the 6th District seat in the 2014 elections.
So was that all just lip service?
It’s amazing that a supposedly high profile newspaper didn’t notice that Jim Graves’ platform was all about him not being Michele Bachmann. Either they didn’t notice or they’re pretending that they didn’t notice that that’s Graves’ motivation.
The foolishness continues:
Another big reason for disappointment is the stark reality that, contrary to Graves’ belief, Minnesota’s Republican Party, foundering amid an internal ideological war and massive debt, could very well end up nominating a candidate similar to Bachmann.
And to be even more honest, who is to say the DFL Party, emboldened by its dominance at the state level, might not just find an extreme DFLer to put on its ticket?
First, there isn’t another person who is as steadfast in her belief in the right things as Michele Bachmann. Her charisma, her policy chops and her love of limited government gave people a reason to vote for her.
Next, the DFL has nominated extremists before to run against Michele. Graves’ talk about being a new Democrat was a fallacy. Barney Frank, one of the most extremist, hateful Democrats in DC, hosted a fundraiser for him. Graves told me that the PPACA was a free market solution to the health care crisis. The truth is that it’s a government-centered program.
As this board noted last fall, the appeal of Graves is his moderate viewpoints. He was an island of common sense and potential compromise amid a sea of political extremism.
On the issues, Graves sounded more moderate than he really was. More importantly, his policies wouldn’t solve America’s problems. The PPACA won’t lower health care costs. In fact, health insurance premiums are rising rapidly. There will be almost as many uninsured with the PPACA in place as before. Graves the politician didn’t see the need for uprooting the PPACA.
Graves the politician never talked about the crippling effects of the federal government’s overregulation. Michele Bachmann fought against the federal government’s overregulation every minute she was in DC. America’s economy can’t grow with the regulators running wild. Graves didn’t have a plan for that. That’s because it wasn’t a priority for him.
If you don’t reduce the federal government’s overregulation, we can’t achieve energy independence. Jim Graves didn’t speak about the need for achieving energy independence. Michele frequently spoke about reducing regulations and achieving energy independence.
For all the Times talk about Graves the moderate, they’ve never spoken about his policies or his problem-solving abilities. They seemed to think that being a compromiser was the chief qualification for being a congressman. That type of wrong-headed thinking is what’s gotten America in the trouble it’s in.
We don’t need compromisers as much as we need people who get policies right. Michele Bachmann made some indefensible statements. That said, she’s been right on the issues, from energy independence to health care to taxes to regulations. I’d love it if the Times got rid of their irrational hatred of Michele. If they’d paid attention to the issues, they might’ve appreciated what Michele brought to the table.
Instead, they got a tingle up their leg for any DFL politician who criticized Michele. What a pathetic excuse for a newspaper.
True to their waste-aholic history, the DFL legislature voted against government accountability:
A commission designed to judge whether state agencies, councils or boards have outlived their usefulness may itself cease to exist.
The Democratic-controlled House and Senate have voted to abolish the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member commission championed by Republicans as offering greater accountability and efficiency in state government.
“I think they’re (Democrats) scared,” Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said of taking tough votes on the commission.
A product of 2011 legislation, the Sunset Advisory Commission is patterned after a 30-year-old commission in Texas, one billed as having saved the Lone Star State almost $1 billion at a cost of about $33 million.
Minnesota’s Sunset Commission reviews state agencies and recommends whether a given agency should continue to exist.
Rep. Peppin is right. DFL legislators don’t want to vote on wasteful spending. DFL legislators don’t want to admit that their pet agencies, councils and panels are actually patronage positions.
The DFL is spinning their vote:
The idea of duplication was voiced by another commission member, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park. “One of the tasks of the sunset commission is to get rid of duplicative government functions,” he said. There’s already the Office of the Legislative Auditor.
Why have both? Nelson asks.
Rep. Nelson, we need both because it’s apparent that there’s a ton of bloat in state government, things that the OLA hasn’t discussed.
As for Rep. Nelson’s assertion of duplication, I’d love hearing his explanation on what it’s duplicating. I’d love hearing him cite the times when the OLA has recommended the sunsetting of a commission, panel or council.
Sen. Bonoff’s statement needs ridiculing:
Bonoff, like other Democrats, argues the commission is itself duplicative. “If committee chairs are doing their jobs, they should be doing this kind of detailed oversight,” she said.
There’s a simple explanation for Sen. Bonoff: the chairs have never gotten into this type of detailed oversight. The Sunset Advisory Commission would’ve been a great tool that forced the legislature to deal with commissions, councils and panels that outlived their usefulness.
Furthermore, does any thinking person think that the DFL would investigate the importance or relevance of these hideouts for their political cronies? Let’s get serious. When Keith Downey proposed reducing the state workforce by 15% by not replacing retiring workers, Eliot Seide accused him of waging war “against working families.” What DFL legislator will vote for sunsetting these commissions, councils or panels knowing that they’ll get primaried by an AFSCME-endorsed candidate?
That’s why the Commission is essential.
Finally, this DFL legislature has repeatedly proven that they oppose accountability. The GOP legislature passed a bill that required teachers to pass a basic skills test, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL wants to repeal that law. The GOP legislature passed the Sunset Advisory Commission, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL legislature just voted to repeal that essential accountability legislation. Will Gov. Dayton reverse himself & say no to government accountability? If he does, he should prepare for getting labeled as a) a hypocrite, b) a cheap politician who does what’s popular, not what’s right and c) the unions’ puppet, not the public’s servant leader.
This week, the DFL legislature voted for higher pay for themselves, higher taxes on the middle class and less accountability within government. I don’t think that’s the bumper sticker they’ll want to deal with in 2014.
Tags: Terry Bonoff, Mike Nelson, Tom Bakk, Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, Eliot Seide, AFSCME Council 5, Public Employee Unions, Cronyism, DFL, Sunset Advisory Commission, Accountability, Government Oversight, Reforms, MNGOP
MN2020, the progressive think tank run by former DFL gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza, is defending Gov. Dayton’s budget:
Minnesota 2020, a progressive think tank that defends Minnesota’s tradition of higher taxes and higher spending, has released a new report suggesting those raw figures are seriously misleading.
Adjust for inflation and the ups and downs in state general fund spending caused by accounting shifts and federal stimulus funding in previous budget cycles and the numbers show a different picture: $40.6 billion in spending in 2002-03, $35.4 billion in the current budget, $35.7 billion in the upcoming budget if Dayton gets his way, and $37 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars for 2016-17.
Even if the governor, who wants to raise income taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans to support higher spending, is able to enact his entire budget, less than a third of the real-dollar cuts of the past decade would be restored, said Jeff Van Wychen, director of tax policy for Minnesota 2020.
“These cuts are eroding Minnesota’s fiscal foundation and they need to be reversed,” said Van Wychen during a press conference in St. Peter, one of three held by the organization in southern Minnesota Tuesday.
Van Wychen’s alarmist rhetoric should be ignored. When Andy Aplikowski wrote this post, he highlighted the DFL’s habit of saying one thing, then doing another. Here’s the Pi-Press article Andy highlighted:
Following a hush-hush courtship, top Minnesota lawmakers acknowledged Tuesday, April 16, that they are compiling a multimillion-dollar package of public subsidies and tax breaks to encourage an Illinois-based pharmaceutical firm to add 200 high-paying jobs and undertake a substantial construction project in their state.
The extent of the public offerings is becoming known months into a high-level recruitment. The name of the company, Baxter Healthcare Corp., had been constrained by a confidentiality agreement entered into by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration. Even lawmakers who have begun voting on the package didn’t know which firm would benefit.
In other words, the Dayton administration is fine with cutting taxes if they’re picking the winners and losers. This proves that the Dayton administration isn’t that worried with “the rich” paying “their fair share” as long as cutting taxes on corporations creates jobs. The DFL won’t admit that they’d be better off cutting taxes across the board and letting companies flourish.
Whether it’s the DFL or their political allies like MN2020, they simply won’t admit that they’re hurting Minnesota’s economy with their high tax, high regulation economic agenda.
This is yet another admission that the DFL’s legislative agenda doesn’t lead to creating jobs. The only time the DFL’s economic agenda creates jobs is when they throw their legislation out the window.
Van Wychen’s talk about inflation-adjusted budget figures quietly avoids talking about the money that’s appropriated that’s totally wasted on foolishness. It’s a clever tactic to ignore a real problem by talking about something that isn’t a problem. Inflation-adjusted budgets assume, incorrectly, that a) government operations can’t and haven’t been improved and b) every penny appropriated in 2002 was spent efficiently.
It’s foolish to think that every penny of any biennial budget was spent on something we need and was spent efficiently. That’s like believing that businesses can’t grow without the government’s assistance.
The bottom line on these discussions is that a) the Dayton administration just admitted that his economic policies don’t work and b) budgets should be based on spending money efficiently on the things we need, not what special interests want. On that count, the DFL is 0-for-2.
Each week, different proof appears that the DFL is intent on eliminating the GOP’s reforms. Months ago, I wrote about the DFL’s attack on teacher accountability, aka HF0171. HF0171 would repeal the basic skills test for teachers that Gov. Dayton signed last year. This week, I wrote about the DFL’s attempt to eliminate the Sunset Advisory Commission.
If the DFL would put forward a good faith effort on reforming government, the Commission would be a great tool for increasing government accountability. In some instances, the Commission would force agencies to justify their existence. In other cases, it would force the agency to justify their staffing and funding levels.
First, why won’t the DFL explain who wrote the bill that would eliminate the basic skills test for teachers? Requiring teachers and applicants to pass such a test isn’t revolutionary. It’s sensible. Why, then, did the DFL write legislation that would eliminate that requirement? They aren’t doing it “for the children” because they’re the first people it’d shortchange. Their parents and other taxpayers are the next people this legislation would shortchange.
It isn’t a stretch to think that EdMinn wrote this legislation because it’s their job to protect union members. If EdMinn wrote that legislation, why isn’t Rep. Ward representing his constituents, not EdMinn? Perhaps Rep. Ward thinks that EdMinn is his constituent and that he doesn’t have to represent the people living in his district.
Second, why is the DFL insisting on eliminating a great tool for increasing government accountability and transparency? Without the Sunset Commission, government oversight doesn’t exist. As recently as last year, the DFL threw a hissy fit when Republicans sought to make government more efficient. They accused the GOP of “waging war against working families.” Eliot Seide held a press availability in which he got exceptionally agitated.
He talked about how Republicans hated “working families” because they questioned whether state agencies, commissions, councils and panels had outlived their usefulness or had expanded themselves beyond their original charter. The Commission’s purpose was to examine these entities, then tell the legislature whether they were still doing what they were created to do and whether that mission was still important.
We know that the DFL doesn’t believe in oversight because they rejected that notion in 2007. That’s when they insisted that spending should be adjusted for inflation. In the DFL’s thinking, once an appropriation is made, it should increase by the rate of inflation in the future.
Another GOP reform required the Minnesota Department of Revenue to factor federal taxes into their annual tax incidence report. Minnesota is one of a tiny handful of states that didn’t do that. Gov. Dayton signed that legislation into law. Now he’s signed it out of existence after the DFL legislature voted to repeal that requirement.
This year’s report had been prepared but it hadn’t been released. That report included federal taxes. The DFL moved quickly, eliminating the federal taxes requirement. The new tax incidence report doesn’t include federal taxes. First, the new report doesn’t give an accurate picture of Minnesota’s taxes. Second, it means that all the time that went into preparing the first report was for nothing.
Is that the type of government efficiency Minnesotans deserve? I’d argue it isn’t. I’d argue that that’s the type of waste that must be eliminated.
While we’re on the subject of taxes, let’s talk about the fact that the DFL isn’t committed to a progressive tax system. I’ll stipulate that they’re great advocates of progressive taxation during campaigns. That’s as far as it goes, though. Then-Candidate Dayton argued passionately for a more progressive taxation system during his campaign. In 2010, he criticized Tom Horner for supporting increases to the alcohol and cigarette taxes:
you’re in favor of raising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, another regressive tax. So the difference between us is I want to raise taxes on the rich, and you want to raise taxes on sportsmen and women and and middle income working families.
This year, Gov. Dayton’s objections to increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes disappeared, most likely because he needs the revenues to increase the size and intrusiveness of state government.
Tags: Mark Dayton, Tax Incidence Report, Minnesota Department of Revenue, Tax Increases, Cigarette Tax, Liquor Tax, Tom Horner, K-12 Education, John Ward, Education Minnesota, DFL, Sunset Advisory Commission, King Banaian, Keith Downey, Pat Garofalo, Accountability, Reforms, MNGOP
A basic requirement of governors and presidents is their ability to put budgets together. President Obama seems incapable of putting a budget together, at least one that people don’t laugh at. Gov. Dayton’s proposed budgets have been disasters by any measurement.
President Obama’s budgets haven’t gotten a single vote in the House or Senate since the 2010 midterm elections. Democrats treated them like toxic waste. When a president can’t get a single vote from his party on his budgets in more than 2 years, that’s a pretty good indicator he didn’t put a serious budget together.
Similarly, Gov. Dayton’s budgets haven’t been taken seriously, probably because they’ve both been radically modified after their initial submission. In 2011, Gov. Dayton insisted on creating one of the top tax rates in the nation at 10.95%. Not only that but he insisted on a 3% income tax surcharge for people making $1,000,000 a year.
When the February forecast dropped the projected deficit from $6,200,000,000 to $5,030,000,000, Gov. Dayton immediately dropped the 3% income tax surcharge. After Gov. Dayton shut down the state government during a temper tantrum, he finally agreed to a budget that didn’t raise taxes but did reform government while creating tens of thousands of jobs.
This year, Gov. Dayton submitted a budget that included another income tax increase, this time to 9.85%. Gov. Dayton’s budget also included a cigarette tax increase that will hurt retailers and a sales tax increase that would’ve drained $2,100,000,000 from Minnesotans’ wallets, including teenage babysitters and kids mowing lawns. Gov. Dayton reportedly thought that kids weren’t paying their fair share.
Now that the deficit projection dropped from $1,100,000,000 in December to $627,000,000 at the end of February, proof that the GOP’s budget was working, Gov. Dayton dropped his regressive sales tax increases. (Perhaps someone explained that taxing babysitters was a disastrous political move?) Instead, Gov. Dayton is rumored to be thinking about raising the tax on liquor sales.
Whether that’s true or not, it’s apparent that Gov. Dayton’s budget will need major revisions. Think of it as Gov. Dayton’s second mulligan budget. There’s little doubt that the DFL, ABM and the Twin Cities media will spin this as Gov. Dayton being flexible and listening to ‘the people’.
Don’t be fooled with that BS. Myron Frans spent 18 months travelling the state, allegedly talking with small businesses about their concerns with Minnesota’s tax policies. This Dayton budget was supposedly the result of all that travel and those consultations.
If that’s the case, then only two conclusions can be reached. Either Frans didn’t listen to businesses or the entrepreneurs he allegedly met with lied to him about their biggest worries about tax policy. It’s unlikely that the entrepreneurs lied to Frans. Likewise, it isn’t likely these entrepreneurs told him that cigarette and sales tax increases would strengthen their businesses or Minnesota’s economy.
Thus, the only logical conclusion people should draw from Gov. Dayton’s tax proposals were predetermined before Frans set out on his listening tour.
That isn’t the way to reform Minnesota’s tax system. It isn’t the way to put a serious budget together.
Tags: President Obama, Federal Budget, Mark Dayton, All-Tax Budget, Tax Increases, Income Tax Surcharge, Income Tax, Cigarette Tax, Sales Tax, Babysitters, Deficits, ABM, DFL, Reforms, Job Creation, Surplus, MNGOP