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Archive for April, 2009

That the DFL voted to protect Minnesota medical insurance monopolies isn’t surprising. What’s surprising is that the DFL thinks that they won’t get punished for voting to protect the Minnesota Medical Monopolies.

Here’s part of the text of the amendment Rep. Jennifer Loon offered:

“Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 62A.02, is amended by adding a subdivision to read:

Subd. 8. Right to purchase health coverage approved in other state. (a) Notwithstanding any other law of this state to the contrary, any resident of this state and any employer that employs residents of this state may purchase a health plan that has not been approved by the commissioner, if the health plan is permitted to be sold in any other state.

(b) Notwithstanding any other law of this state to the contrary, any insurance company, whether domestic, foreign, or alien, that is permitted to offer, sell, issue, or renew a health plan in any other state under the laws of that state, may do so with respect to that health plan in this state. The insurance company need not have a certificate of authority, license, or other authorization from the commissioner to do business in this state. This paragraph does not exempt the insurance company from compliance with chapter 303, relating to foreign business entities.

(c) Notwithstanding any other law of this state to the contrary, any insurance agent licensed or otherwise permitted to sell health plans in this state, or in a state in which the health plan is permitted to be sold, may sell to a resident of this state or to an employer that employs residents of this state any health plan permitted to be sold under paragraph (a) or (b), and is not, in connection with that transaction, subject to the laws of this state regulating insurance agents.

(d) Notwithstanding any other law of this state to the contrary, an insurance company and a health plan offered, issued, sold, or renewed by the insurance company under authority of this subdivision:

In other words, if a company has been approved to sell health insurance in Ohio, Michigan or Iowa, meaning that they’ve been properly vetted, the DFL voted to protect the monopoly that United Health, Health Partners and Blue Cross built.

Central Minnesota voters should know that Rep. Larry Haws, Rep. Larry Hosch, Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba and Rep. Al Doty voted against Rep. Loon’s amendment, which would’ve allowed greater commpetition, which drive health insurance premiums and health care costs down.

Eagan and Burnsville voters should know that Will Morgan and Sandy Masin voted to protect the Minnesota Medical Monopolies.

There’s no excusing this. Voting to strengthen these monopolies isn’t what their constituents want. These monopolies’ lobbyist are smiling knowing that Reps. Haws, Hosch, Otremba, Doty, Masin and Morgan voted the way they wanted them to.

Earlier this month, I attended an event at the Good Shepherd’s Lutheran Home in Sauk Rapids. At that event, Rep. Haws made a snide remark that the information he was dispensing was more reliable than “the blogs.” Afterwards, I kiddingly asked him if he was taking a jab at me. He said he wasn’t, then said that he wouldn’t read my blog. That’s Rep. Haws’ right, just as it’s his right to vote with the monopolies instead of the way his constituents expect him to vote.

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Just when I thought I’d seen it all, I read something like this AP article, which actually does a pretty good job factchecking President Obama. Here’s the opening smackdown:

“That wasn’t me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.

It actually was him, and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years, who shaped a budget so out of balance. And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.

President Obama can deny it if he wants but there’s no denying that he’s exploded the deficit. There’s also no doubting that Speaker Pelosi and her Democrats helped run the deficit up to a staggering level.

His stimulus bill, which is $800,000,000,000 worth of pork, didn’t get a single House Republican vote. Ditto with President Obama’s budget blueprint. Those plans have nothing but Democrat fingerprints on them.

Here’s one of Obama’s talking points that the AP refuted:

OBAMA: “Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit…. That wasn’t me. Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis, financial crisis, since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you’ve got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks. Those are one-time charges, and they’re big, and they’ll make our deficits go up over the next two years.” – in Missouri.

It’s interesting (deceitful, too) that President Obama talks about “one-time charges” even though he knows most of his stimulus and omnibus bill spending got added to the FY2010 budget’s baseline.

I find it ironic that President Obama says that he doesn’t want to own the car companies. This morning, President Obama all but fired Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli in announcing that Chrysler is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection:

The bankruptcy will be filed under a section of the law that allows a company to shed bad assets and some liabilities. The administration expects it to last only up to 60 days.

Obama’s auto task force in March rejected Chrysler’s restructuring plan and gave it 30 days to make another effort, including a tie-up with Fiat. The company has borrowed $4 billion from the federal government and needs billions more to keep operating.

The UAW agreement, which would take effect May 4, meets Treasury requirements for continued loans to Chrysler Corp., and includes commitments from Fiat to manufacture a new small car in one of Chrysler’s U.S. facilities and to share key technology with Chrysler.

Republicans were advising that Chrysler and GM should file for chapter 11 protections months ago. Earlier, he fired GM CEO Rick Waggoner. For someone with big problems on his hands, President Obama sure finds time to run car manufacturers.

We can’t forget, too, that this administration’s Treasury secretary asked Congress to pass legislation giving him the authority to take over major financial institutions if he alone deemed it important to do so.

Thus far, I haven’t seen proof that President Obama cares about prosperity or liberty. In fact, all I have on the liberty front is proof that he’s willing to take control of things that the government doesn’t have the authority to take control of.

Whether he’ll admit it or not, the Obama administration owns this economy. People won’t blame him for creating this mess. They’ll just affix blame on him for not having the right solutions for it.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Mike Pence spoke against House budget before they voted on President Obama’s budget resolution. Here’s the transcript of Rep. Pence’s statement:

I rise in opposition to the Budget Conference Report because it borrows too much, spends too much, and taxes too much and the American people know it. At a time when every American family is sitting down around kitchen tables, making sacrifices and making the hard choices necessary to get through these difficult days, here in Washington, D.C. we see a Democrat majority and a new Administration bring forward a budget that will double the national debt in five years and triple the national debt in ten years. A $1.2 trillion deficit in 2010 and deficits of nearly $1 trillion a year every year for the next 10 years.
The distinguished Majority Leader spoke of political courage on the floor just moments ago, but let me say there are no profiles in courage in this budget. The truth is, the Democratic majority and this Administration have brought to this floor the most fiscally irresponsible budget in American history. Congress should be doing what every American family is doing: cutting expenses, finding within themselves the faith and, yes, the courage to get through these times with sacrifice. Instead, here in Washington, D.C. it’s more government, more spending, more debt and more taxes.

In just 100 days, the new Administration and this Democratic majority have decided to greatly expand the mistakes of the past. But we can do better. And I believe for the sake of our children and our grandchildren we must do better. Let’s reject this conference report and start over with a budget that will lead to fiscal prosperity through fiscal responsibility.”

Predictably, Speaker Pelosi spoke of the budget’s liberal virtuosity:

Madam Speaker, it is indeed an honor to call Mr. Spratt a colleague. We say that from time to time about our Members, but never is it truer than in the case of Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina. He is a gentleman who has brought the values of our country, the principles of our great democracy to bear on writing a budget.

Because of his leadership, today for the first time in many, many years, we have a President’s budget on the floor that is a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation is reflected in this budget. It is a very happy day for our country, Mr. Spratt, because of your leadership.

What American priority is met by a budget that proposes federal spending equal to 27.6% of GDP in 2009? What American priority is met by a budget deficit of $1,875,000,000,000? You’ll forgive me if I don’t recognize those priorities.

Speaker Pelosi wasn’t done with that BS-laden rant. Here’s another BS-laden rant:

These three, education, health care and energy, are what the business community and other sectors of our community tell us are the investments that we must make in order to turn our economy around.

So here we are today, with a budget before us that creates jobs, reduces taxes, and takes us on a path toward lowering the deficit. It does so in the most transparent way of any budget in our country’s history and certainly in this Congress’ history. And as it does so, it focuses on those three pillars of the Obama agenda, education, health care and energy.

If “creating a path toward lowering the deficit” is a priority, why is this budget 17 percent bigger than last year’s budget? Couple that with a shrinking economy (It shrunk at an annual rate of 6.1 percent for Q1, FY2009.) and you’ve got the recipe for growing deficits. According to this article, Rep. Paul Ryan thinks that the deficit projectsion are fiction:

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that Wednesday’s news that the economy had shrunk by 6.1 percent in the first quarter highlighted the likelihood that the deficit numbers are even worse than predicted in the budget. “Put reality into the budget and the deficits and debt go much higher,” Ryan said.

Under the Democrats’ unrealistic projections, each deficit is bigger than the record deficit under President Bush. That’s significant because every economist worth listening to will tell you that growth coming out of a recession should be considerably more robust than in the midst of a recovery.

They’ll also tell you that the best way to negate the recovery is with inflation. Reputable economists will also tell you that irrepsonsible debt levels suck money out of a recovering economy that entrepreneurs would otherwise use to expand their businesses.

I alluded to the CBO’s projection in this post. Here’s the CBO’s projections:

CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing.

This isn’t the only instance where fuzy math has been employed by the Obama administration. Here’s another example:

Obama Claim:

“We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95% of all working families.”

When I saw the 150,000 jobs created or saved figure, I was more than skeptical. Here’s what Sen. Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told Treasury Secretary Geithner:

You created a situation where you cannot be wrong. If the economy loses 2 million jobs over the next few years, you can say yes, but it would’ve lost 5.5 million jobs. If we create a million jobs, you can say, well, it would have lost 2.5 million jobs,” Baucus said. “You’ve given yourself complete leverage where you cannot be wrong, because you can take any scenario and make yourself look correct.”

There’s no way I’ll trust those figures, especially with the speculative nature of the figures. Adding to my skepticism is the fact that the Obama administration needs people to start thinking that the stimuilus plan actually did something. There’s little proof that it’s done anything more than add to our debt and paid off the Democratic Party’s political allies.

Finally, it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Speaker Pelosi and President Obama. Their combination of inflation-creating do-nothing spending and their job-killing tax hikes will hurt families. Unfortunately, they chose to listen to their political allies instead of doing the right thing.

Meanwhile, Mike Pence and the House GOP leadership stayed true to their principles. Main Street will hate their Cap and Trade tax increase and Wall Street won’t trust or like their nationalization policies. When Pelosi’s and Obama’s policies start hurting families and the recovery doesn’t produce results, the people will take it out on them at the polls.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This morning, I got an email update from the Thomas More Law Center on the military’s case against Lt. Col. Chessani. Here’s the text of that update:

ANN ARBOR, MI – Yesterday evening, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA), sitting in Washington DC, denied without comment the government’s motion for Reconsideration. Government prosecutors had asked that the unanimous ruling in favor of LtCol Jeffery Chessani, USMC, by a 3-judge NMCCA panel be reconsidered by all 9 judges. A majority of the 9 judges would have had to agree to take the case.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been representing LtCol Chessani since January 2007. He is also represented by detailed military attorneys LtCol Jon Shelburne, USMC; Capt Jeffrey King, USMC; and Capt Kyle Kilian, USMC.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “This case has turned into a government vendetta against a patriotic Marine combat officer who loyally served his nation for over 20 years. We must also remember the sacrifices made by his wife and children while he left them to defend us during 3 tours of duty in Iraq, and during the First Persian Gulf War, and in the Panama Canal.”

Thompson continued, “The lengths to which our own government will go to persecute one of its most loyal officers are outrageous. Every war needs a scapegoat, and it seems the government is intent on making LtCol Chessani that very thing. The Thomas More Law Center won’t let them.”

The criminal charges against LtCol Chessani stemmed from a fierce house-to-house, room-by-room combat action taken by four of his Marines after being ambushed by insurgents in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. In that battle, 9 insurgents and 15 civilians were killed. LtCol Chessani was the battalion commander of the four Marines involved in the action. Every officer in Lt Col Chessani’s chain of command, including his reviewing General approved and commended him for his actions until the publication of a Time magazine article months later charging the Marines with committing a massacre. Claims of a massacre were later proved to be untrue.

On March 17, 2009, the 3-judge panel of NMCCA unanimously vindicated the ruling by Colonel Steven A. Folsom, USMC, dismissing all charges against LtCol Chessani on the grounds of Unlawful Command Influence. LtCol Chessani is the senior-most officer criminally charged as a result of the much-publicized and ill-described “Haditha massacre.”

In dismissing the charges against LtCol Chessani, Col Folsom described Unlawful Command Influence as the “the mortal enemy of military justice.” But despite the solid legal basis for the ruling, the government appealed the decision to NMCCA. NMCCA heard oral arguments on the government’s appeal on October 17, 2008. On March 17, 2009 the court ruled in LtCol Chessani’s favor. The government appealed April 16, 2009. The Law Center responded to the Reconsideration appeal on April 24, 2009. [Click here to see Law Center’s response.]

In seeking Reconsideration by the entire panel of NMCCA, government prosecutors argued that the 3-judge panel misunderstood the difference between an officer’s rank and his billet (job). Essentially, the government argues that a full colonel in the Marine Corps could not unlawfully influence a Lieutenant Colonel if they held similar billet (job) positions.

The government now has 60 days to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). If the government loses at CAAF, they can seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. After all the appeals are over, the government can attempt to bring a new case against LtCol Chessani with a new convening authority (a new General overseeing the case if that new general so desires).

Click here to read the NMCCA’s denial of the government’s motion for Reconsideration.

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America. The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

NMCCA’s Denial of Motion for Reconsideration

TMLC’s Response to the Government’s Motion for Reconsideration

This sentence should be highlighted:

Every officer in Lt Col Chessani’s chain of command, including his reviewing General approved and commended him for his actions until the publication of a Time magazine article months later charging the Marines with committing a massacre.

Let’s remember that Lt. Col. Chessani is being persecuted for not conducting a full investigation into the Haditha firefight. That isn’t credible considering the fact that “his reviewing general approved and commended his actions.”

As troubling as that is, what’s more troubling is that the military’s court martial system isn’t subject to judicial review or congressional oversight. Shouldn’t the Constitution’s protections extend to those who defend the Constitution and this great nation?

The government now has 60 days to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). If the government loses at CAAF, they can seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. After all the appeals are over, the government can attempt to bring a new case against LtCol Chessani with a new convening authority (a new General overseeing the case if that new general so desires).

In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court can rule against the military but the military can restart the process with a new general.

That’s isn’t judicial review with teeth. That’s artificial judicial review.

It’s time that the military ended its persecution of Lt. Col. Chessani and SSgt. Wuterich. It’s time the Pentagon admitted that they were driven by purely political reasons in pursuing criminal charges. Finally, it’s time for the House and Senate Armed Services Committees reformed the entire court martial system.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Last night, one of the guests on Greta’s show said that this figured to be another difficult year for Republicans. That doesn’t fit with Rasmussen’s recent generic ballot polling:

For just the second time in more than five years of daily or weekly tracking, Republicans now lead Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 38% would choose the Democrat. Thirty-one percent (31%) of conservative Democrats said they would vote for their district’s Republican candidate.

I don’t doubt that that last sentence is giving Democratic strategists gray hair. Though there’s no doubt that we’ll see fluctuations between now and Election Day 2010, there’s also no doubt that the Democrats have misread the electorate. The Democrats’ misreading the election results has helped put the GOP in better shape than we’ve been in a long time.

I credit the change in the generic ballot to three things: President Obama’s radical agenda, President Obama’s arrogance and the House Republicans’ principled stand against Obama’s radical agenda. Obama’s radical agenda has given conservatives something to fight against while the House Republicans’ principled stance against that agenda is giving conservatives something to fight for.

This information matters, too:

Democrats began the year holding a six- or seven-point lead over the GOP for the first several weeks of 2009.

For a party that’s supposedly riding high after Benedict Arlen’s defection, that’s an awfully big swing in a negative direction for the D’s. It isn’t a stretch to think that this trend will continue.

Dick Morris, who considers Rasmussen to be the best public pollster, thinks that Obama’s approval ratings won’t last:

When the Obama administration crashes and burns, with approval ratings that fall through the floor, political scientists can trace its demise to its first hundred days. While Americans are careful not to consign a presidency they desperately need to succeed to the dustbin of history, the fact is that this president has moved, on issue after issue, in precisely the opposite direction of what the people want him to do.

Right now, Obama’s ratings must be pleasing to his eye. Voters like him and his wife immensely and approve of his activism in the face of the economic crisis. While polls show big doubts about what he is doing, the overwhelming sense is to let him have his way and pray that it works.

But beneath this superficial support, Obama’s specific policies run afoul of the very deeply felt convictions of American voters. For example, the most recent Rasmussen Poll asked voters if they wanted an economic system of complete free enterprise or preferred more government involvement in managing the economy. By 77-19, they voted against a government role, up seven points from last month.

And in the Fox News poll, the very same survey that gave Obama a 62 percent approval rating and reported that 68 percent of voters are “satisfied” with his first hundred days, voters, by 50-38, supported a smaller government that offered fewer services over a larger government that provided more.

That’s the type of base that the GOP can build on. If the GOP wants to become the majority party again, they need to be two things: the party of fiscal sanity and the party that actually listens to We The People. (More than anything else, that’s what drove the Tea Party movement.)

There’s alot of work to be done to rebuild the party but I’m encouraged by what’s happened locally the last month.

Anyone thinking that this will be another big year for the Democrats simply isn’t paying attention to the warning signs.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Last night, a dedicated reader of LFR asked me what I knew about David Fitzsimmons. I said I knew he was running for the Sixth District’s Chair job but that’s about it. This dedicated reader then told me there’s a David Fitzsimmons who’s listed as the Constitution Party’s chairman.

Not willing to accept this as fact, I googled Fitzsimmons’ name, adding the term of Constitution Party. There is a Campaign Finance Board entry listing Mr. Fitzsimmons as chair of the Minnesota Constitution Party. Unfortunately, the form doesn’t say what year it’s from. That’s why I immediately googled the Constitution Party. Their current chair is Tammy Houle.

This information led to these questions:

  • Has Fitzsimmons permanently left the Constitution Party? Or is this Mr. Fitzsimmons just seizing an opportunity?
  • Does Fitzsimmons agree with the Constitution Party’s platform? If not, what parts of it does he reject and why does he reject it?

The fact that I’m raising these questions makes me wonder whether Mr. Fitzsimmons is hiding his past. I don’t know the answer to that question. I wish I had that answer.

Considering he’s running for the position of Sixth District Chairman, I think it’s only fair that Mr. Fitzsimmons answered these questions.

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Minnesota’s DFL leadership has some troubles following this week’s Tax Increase Bill votes. First, it’s entirely possible that the DFL parked alot of votes for vulnerables. If that’s the case, it’s another too-clever-by-half’ strategy. If they vote for the conference committee report, that’s the vote the public will care about. If there’s a similar vote on the conference committee report, then it limps to Gov. Pawlenty’s desk, where he vetoes it, then says that the bill was bad for Minnesotans.

I’ve talked with several tax experts this weekend. These experts say that eliminating the mortgage tax deduction would all but destroy Minnesota’s real estate business. Several of the parents I spoke with said that the child tax credit would cost them $400-500 yearly.

King picks up on something I talked about earlier this weekend. Sen. Bakk admitted that raising taxes on alcohol “would drive people across the Wisconsin border.” Here’s King’s contribution to the discussion:

The Briton who doesn’t believe this? Andrew Lloyd Webber. H/T: Stephen Karlson. Webber notes a young entrepreneur in the stage construction industry:

Under the new tax regime, he will have to pay 13.3 per cent to employ himself before he pays himself anything. And then he will have to pay 51.5 per cent on what’s left. This is a guy at the cutting edge of his profession who works all over the world. He is in demand in every major territory where entertainment is produced. He has a young wife and two children. Last Thursday he told me that he and his wife had decided that the UK was no longer where they wanted to live.His wife thinks the State education system is inadequate. And she fears that a bankrupt Britain will increasingly be a worse place in which to live as the horror of our present financial mess hits us all in the solar plexus.He says that he is young enough to set up shop somewhere else. The new tax rates were the final straw. These talented young people know they will make it impossible for them to educate their kids privately in the UK.So Britain plc loses not just the 40 per cent he would have paid in personal taxes under the old regime – plus NI and everything else – but… Come on, I don’t need to explain the knock-on effect. It’s obviously huge and immensely damaging

…I realize Sen. Bakk lives on the other end of the state, but he might want to pay a bit of attention to Sioux Falls.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt, my adopted state senator, likes to remind people that we don’t have the money to build a 10′ high wall around the state, which means businesses and people will leave. I suspect alot of them are heading for Sioux Falls.

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Over the weekend, Rep. Ann Lenczewski tried selling her Tax Increase Bill as tax reform. That’s insulting, especially considering the things she strips out. Here’s what MPR quoted her as saying:

“This bill proposes the most significant tax overhaul in 20 years,” said the bill’s chief author Rep. Ann Lenczeswki, DFL-Bloomington.

In addition to the tax hikes, Lenczewski’s bill removes a variety of tax breaks for homeowners and businesses. Charitable contributions, the mortgage interest tax deduction and the property tax deduction for homeowners are eliminated and replaced with a tax credit based on income. The bill also eliminates several business tax breaks, like the Research and Development credit and parts of the governor’s JOBZ program.

Lenczewski said she wants to clean up the state’s tax code.

“Which is to sweep the tax code clean of all of the preferential treatment and subsidies and things we can’t afford anymore and instead bring a fairer, more progressive income tax to Minnesotans based on the ability to pay,” she said.

Rep. Lenczewski, what makes you think that stripping out most of the home mortgage deduction is reform? It’s likely that it didn’t dawn on her that that deduction prevents middle income families from paying checks in the thousands of dollars in taxes? Then again, that might’ve been what drove her to include that in her legislation.

‘Reforms’ like this will help kill the housing industry. It’s bad now. Eliminating the tax deduction will kill it entirely.

Let’s reword Rep. Lenczewski’s opening statement to be truthful. First, here’s her statement:

“This bill proposes the most significant tax overhaul in 20 years.”

Here’s how it’d read if truth-in-advertising laws were applied:

“This bill proposes the most significant tax ripoff in 20 years.”

Rep. Gene Pelowski criticized her legislation last week. Here’s what Rep. Pelowski said:

Pelowski said lawmakers won’t have enough votes to override a Pawlenty veto of a DFL tax plan, and said the proposals are a “fiction” that will force lawmakers to scramble to craft another budget proposal after Pawlenty’s veto. “We have to do what is real and not go through an exercise of what-ifs,” Pelowski said. “There are no what-ifs. There is only the stark reality of this budget deficit.”

Gov. Pawlenty will veto any tax increase. That’s what he told Sen. Bakk in this letter:

Dear Senator Bakk:

In this historically challenging economic time, you have chosen to pursue reckless tax increases on nearly every Minnesota resident. Minnesotans are tightening their belts and making hard sacrifices to manage their family budgets. State government needs to do the same. Now is the time to reduce government spending and prioritize programs, not increase taxes.

Gov. Pawlenty follows that up with this closing:

I have serious concerns about your bill. As it stands, it will be vetoed. I urge you not to raise taxes on the citizens of Minnesota in these challenging economic times.

Gov. Pawlenty won’t have to veto Sen. Bakk’s bill. It barely limped out of a veto-proof Senate by a 35-31 margin. It’ll get shredded in conference committee.

BTW, the DFL senators that voted against the bill last week shouldn’t think that that’ll give them political cover, either, when the conference committee report is voted on. If they voted against Sen. Bakk’s bill originally, then vote for the conference committee report, they’re still voting for a massive, unpopular tax increase.

How Generous

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said it allows counties to impose a sales tax to offset state aid cuts. “Instead of just raising those property taxes to make up those cuts or cut services, we’re going to give you another option,” he said. “We’re going to allow you, if you wish, to impose a one half cent sales tax.”

Rep. Laura Brod isn’t impressed:

The bill also removes the cap on property tax increases. Republicans argue that the tax hikes in the bill will harm the state’s struggling economy. Rep. Laura Brod, R-New Prague, said it’s unfair to average Minnesotans.

“We’re going to start seeing more losers than winners so this bill isn’t about a more progressive system, it’s more about a more regressive tax code,” she said. “While the argument is about taking away all of these deductions and about creating tax fairness. If your definition of what’s fair is taxing those who least afford it than I guess you’d want to vote for this bill.”

I posted a list of new tax increases here. Here’s a partial list of the DFL’s tax increases:

  • Cigarette Tax: $204 million tax increase
  • Alcohol Taxes: $209.1 million tax increase
  • Boats, ATVs & Snowmobiles: $10.5 million tax increase
  • iTunes Tax: $3.17 million tax increase
  • Gift Tax: $20.6 million tax increase

That’s just part of the House DFL’s plan. Here’s more of the DFL’s tax increases:

  • Local Option Sales Tax: $391 million
  • Income Tax: $467.7 million tax increase

What’s most interesting to me is that Sen. Bakk actually admits that raising taxes directly affects the economy:

Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said eliminating the current mortgage interest deduction could hurt Minnesota’s high rate of home ownership and higher alcohol taxes would drive some liquor shoppers across the Wisconsin border.

I asked them what I’m asking now: If Sen. Bakk admits that people will drive into Wisconsin to save $20 in alcohol taxes, why wouldn’t it then follow that small businesses will drive across the South Dakota border to save $50,000 in income taxes?

Rep. Lenczewski’s statement that her legislation is tax reform is spin. I can’t put it any clearer than that. What’s most insulting of all the things Rep. Lenczewski said is this:

“Which is to sweep the tax code clean of all of the preferential treatment and subsidies and things we can’t afford anymore and instead bring a fairer, more progressive income tax to Minnesotans based on the ability to pay.”

I’m betting that few people who just filed their taxes think that taking their home mortgage deduction think of that deduction as preferential treatment or as a subsidy. I’m willing to bet that they think of it as the difference between breaking even and paying thousands of dollars or the difference between breaking even and getting a refund.

It’s a staple of the tax code that’s helped people realize the dream of home ownership. That’s hardly a luxury.

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President Obama wants to pass massive changes in his time in office. Topping his agenda are signing universal health care and cap and trade into law, as is his signing a bill that gives the Treasury secretary authority to take over companies as he sees fit. Meanwhile, to put it charitably, the economy is struggling. When President Clinton took office, he focused his attention on getting the economy humming. President Obama? Not so much.

All of this leads to these questions: Why won’t President Obama focus on the American people’s top priority? Why does President Obama insist on focusing on passing his radical agenda? Why does President Obama insist on structurally weakening America’s economy?

Passing Cap And Trade will necessarily send energy prices skyrocketing. President Obama said so on the campaign trail. Rep. John Dingell said so at last week’s hearing. This is really, really stupid. It also shows how out-of-touch Democrats are.

The environmental extremist lobby slobber over themselves thinking about C And T. Main Street America finds out about it and is horrified at the thought of having their home heating bills and their gas prices skyrocket. If given a choice between saving the planet and saving money on their heating bills, I’d bet all but a few environmental extremists would pick saving money on their heating bills.

It isn’t stretching a thing to say that Presiodent Obama’s policies are hurting people. The Cap And Trade tax increase is incredibly hurtful to everyone living in the northern tier of states. Why would a man who claims to want to get the economy jumpstarted push such a tax increase now?

Simply put, that’s insanity. It’s also counterproductive. Shame on President Obama for pushing such destructive tax and environmental policies.

Shame on us if we give the Democratic leadership another term after this. It’s time we voted these enemies of working people everywhere out of office. It’s time we told them that we won’t tolerate their anti-middle class policies.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

In assessing President Obama’s first 100 days in office, Fred Barnes uses this clever analogy:

Strong job approval, higher personal ratings”–that’s pollster Andrew Kohut’s assessment of President Obama at roughly the 100-day point. “A bravura performance,” wrote David Broder of the Washingon Post. The president’s flacks take the Muhammad Ali approach: Obama is The Greatest. What comes to my mind, however, is the guy who falls off a skyscraper and halfway down declares, “So far, so good.”

Here’s where Fred Barnes and I agree most:

Maybe there’s a soft landing ahead for Obama or even a takeoff as his policies succeed. But my expectations are low. One reason is the Obama contradiction. Two of his stated goals (economic recovery, energy independence) are undermined by his actual policies. Another reason is history. There’s no evidence to suggest Obama’s policies of courting enemies and airing the country’s supposed misdeeds will lessen threats to national security or strengthen America’s role in the world.

Obama, for the moment, is riding a wave of announcements, claims, hopes, and possibilities. This is what new presidents thrive on. It’s what makes them popular, especially because there’s no accountability. But a year from now, perhaps sooner, the joy ride will be over. Results will matter. Obama’s policies will either be working or not. And if not, even a friendly media won’t be able to sugarcoat the bad news or alleviate the political consequences.

I said before his inauguration that, for the first time in his life, President Obama would be judged by what happens, not on his speaking ability. The results that’ll matter most to people will be whether their 401(k)s get healthy again, whether energy costs stabilize and whether the economy continues shrinking or if it starts growing lethargically.

Eventually, people will want proof that the path they’re on is a path to prosperity. If that proof doesn’t appear, their goodwill will disappear. It’s nothing more complicated than that.

If President Obama’s economy doesn’t start showing signs of improvement, people will start questioning his policies.

President Obama’s major policy initiatives aren’t likely to spur growth. His health care plan, which will be written by Speaker Pelosi and Ted Kennedy, will hurt the economy while sucking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy.

President Obama admitted during the campaign that his Cap and Trade plans will “necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket.” There’s no chance that people in the Midwest will like skyrocketing energy prices.

It’s true the American economy is resilient. Its natural tendency is to grow, leaving recessions behind. What arouses this appetite for growth are incentives to invest that, in time, produce a booming economy and new jobs. But rather than incentives, Obama favors impediments: tax hikes for the investor class, more regulation, higher energy prices. He’s created the most antibusiness climate in Washington since the New Deal. The best hope for a robust recovery is the trillions in liquidity that Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke has injected into the economy. That will surely help, but who knows how much, when, or at what cost in inflation.

While it’s true that people are still optimistic, that optimism, like President Obama’s promises, has an expiration date. People won’t continue believing in President Obama’s policies when they see high energy prices cutting into their paychecks, when they see Speaker Pelosi’s health care plan as the government taking over one-seventh of the United States’ economy.

How long will they tolerate Obamanomics when everyone sees a tax increase instead of them seeing “95% of Americans seeing a tax cut”? How long will optimism last? I suspect that the midterm elections will tell us alot about that.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative