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Archive for January, 2010

Thursday, I got a special e-letter update from Rep. Gottwalt on the subject of the Green Acres property tax meetings. To say that the new legislation enacted during the 2008 session is a screwed up mess is understatement. Here’s the most important part of the statement that the State of Minnesota sent out to farmers enrolled in the Green Acres program:

Saint Paul – The Minnesota Department of Revenue is alerting taxpayers of changes the 2008 Tax Bill made to the Green Acres property tax law. These changes will affect property taxes only if a persons’ property is currently enrolled in the Green Acres program or will be enrolled in the future.

Non-productive acres such as sloughs, woodlands and wetlands that are not used for agricultural production will no longer be eligible for the reduced agricultural valuation and property tax deferment provided by Green Acres. Specifically, this legislation changes the number of payback years for parcels, or portions of parcels, that will no longer qualify for Green Acres because they are non-productive acres. In addition, property that is enrolled in CRP, RIM, or other conservation programs will no longer be eligible for Green Acres.

Only acres used for actual agricultural production will be eligible for Green Acres for all applications filed with the county assessor after May 1, 2008. Those enrolled in the program prior to May 1, 2008 may remain enrolled for subsequent assessment years until they are sold, withdrawn or no longer qualify, although these existing properties will be subject to the new payback requirements.

The legisature’s decision to change taxation rates will hurt Minnesota’s farmers and Minnesota’s environment. If people thought it through first, I’d bet that few people would think it’s wise to tax woodlots at the same rate as a city lot. Under the legislation signed into law in 2008, a farmer would have a greater incentive to cut down the woodlot & plant it with crops than to preserve a valuable windbreak.

Here’s the important portion of Rep. Gottwalt’s e-letter:

Stearns County has held a series of meetings this week to explain recent changes in property taxes for agricultural land owners, including those impacted by Green Acres legislation. More than 160 people showed up for the meeting in Rockville, and a similar number at two meetings in Waite Park. The bottom line is, many agricultural land owners are steaming mad about huge increases in their property taxes, caused mostly by increased assessed values dictated by state and federal laws.

The fact that that many people attended a townhall meetings in the dead of winter tells you how intense the dissatisfaction is towards the modifications made to Green Acres in 2008. Legislators that don’t repeal the changes made in the 2008 session should be retired this November, especially with legislators representing rural districts.

Let’s ask a simple question about the change in tax rates. Does anyone think that “sloughs, woodlands and wetlands that aren’t used for agricultural production” have the same value as a 5-acre city lot? Having spent many a weekend traipsing through “sloughs, woodlands and wetlands that aren’t used for agricultural production” in the pursuit of ducks, geese and grouse, my answer is NOT A CHANCE!!! Though I loved those pursuits, there’s no way I’d agree that those types of terrain are worth as much as a 5-acre city lot.

With one exception.

The minute that farmer initiates the process to turn his farmland into a development is the minute that the higher property taxes should kick in. That’s the point that the land stops being rural farmland.

It’s important to note that this change applies to places like Ronneby just as much as it applies to places like St. Augusta. The reason why that’s important is simple. There isn’t much development potential in a town like Ronneby. There’s alot of development potential with St. Augusta. Considering the fact that it isn’t nearly as likely that Ronneby will be developed as it is that St. Augusta will be developed, then it’s important that we ask why “sloughs, woodlands and wetlands” in Ronneby should be taxed at the same rate as homes in the city.

Farmers shouldn’t be penalized for not developing their farms. That’s what’s happening with farms under this tax system. That’s why now’s the time to fix 2008’s mistakes ASAP.

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In his op-ed in Wednesday morning’s Strib, Rep. John Kline implored President Obama to not give the same speech he’s seemingly given the last 6 months:

Pundits predict that the president will strike a sharp tone in his remarks, forcefully outlining his proposals for the coming year. Unfortunately, by all accounts, the policies will be more of the same. The American people need strong, determined leadership from their commander in chief, but now is not the time to draw lines in the sand and dismiss the very collaboration he will need to restart our struggling economy and create jobs.

Unfortunately, President Obama threw in a couple new things to the same speech he’s delivered the past 6 months. If only he’d listened to the American people. Apparently, that isn’t part of his program.

Instead of changing directions and pivoting away from his failed stimulus and his commitment to job-killing Cap and Trade legislation, President Obama stood defiant.

President Obama had the perfect opportunity to tell the American people that he’d heard the verdicts they delivered in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Instead, President Obama told the American people that he accepted fault for not doing a good job….of explaining his health care plan to them.

For a man who ran such a great campaign, President Obama hasn’t proved that he’s willing to listen to the American people. Instead, he’s turned into the Lecturer-In-Chief. That isn’t what this nation needs right nwo. It’s certainly not something that the American people will put up with much longer.

With the uninterrupted attention of millions of Americans, President Obama has a wonderful opportunity to put our nation at ease. He should acknowledge that initial efforts were misguided and that he and his party’s leadership in Congress will now push the reset button and come together with Republicans to chart a new course for meaningful health care reform that increases affordability, reduces the number of uninsured Americans, improves quality at a price our country can afford and ensures that Americans who like their health care coverage can keep it.

Instead, President Obama chose to double down on the current legislation. Towards the end of the speech, President Obama implored Republicans to work with Democrats on major legislative initiatives. That’s difficult to do when the health care bills were written by Democrats with input from special interest groups. It’s difficult to give your input when you aren’t invited into the negotiations.

Hopefully, President Obama will give a speech more to Congressman Kline’s liking after a solid thrashing this November. He might change directions but I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Wednesday night, President Obama met his match. In a speech that was touted as President Obama’s pivot to the center, President Obama delivered a ‘stay the course’ message that sounded like an ‘I told you so’ speech. Instead of admitting the failure of his stimulus bill, he bragged about how the bill saved jobs even though there’s no way of verifying the accuracy of the statistics. Here’s what he said in talking up the ‘successes’ of the stimulus:

Because of the steps we took, there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. Two-hundred-thousand work in construction and clean energy. Three-hundred-thousand are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders. And we are on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

Rather than changing his condescending tone, he’s returned to insulting America’s intelligence. Let’s remember that Recovery.gov’s statistics includes money spent in 440 non-existent House districts. Now we’re supposed to trust President Obama’s recitation of information that’s both unverifiable and self-serving? I’ll pass on that.

Compare that recitation of public jobs theoretically saved with Gov. McDonnell’s statement of the conservative gospel on how to create jobs:

Good government policy should spur economic growth, and strengthen the private sector’s ability to create new jobs. We must enact policies that promote entrepreneurship and innovation, so America can better compete with the world. What government should not do is pile on more taxation, regulation, and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class.

When people compare President Obama’s strategy for creating jobs with Gov. McDonnell’s perscription, I’m betting that more people will agree with Gov. McDonnell than with President Obama. Frankly, I’ll bet that, if it was polled on that specific question, Gov. McDonnell would win by a 2:1 margin, if not by a bigger margin.

Here was another part of President Obama’s speech that didn’t fit with reality:

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America’s businesses. But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

I’m not arguing that small businesses create the jobs. I’m just suggesting that the policies this Democratic congress and this administration have tried enacting would’ve decimated small businesses. The taxes from the Cap and Trade bill would’ve caused energy prices to spike at a time when people were already living paycheck to paycheck. The taxes included in the Democrats’ health care bills would’ve crippled the finances of middle class families and small businesses.

Gov. McDonnell’s response to President Obama’s job creation policies hit home with great force:

Today, the federal government is simply trying to do too much.

Last year, we were told that massive new federal spending would create more jobs ‘immediately’ and hold unemployment below 8%. In the past year, over three million Americans have lost their jobs, yet the Democratic Congress continues deficit spending, adding to the bureaucracy, and increasing the national debt on our children and grandchildren.

The amount of this debt is on pace to double in five years, and triple in ten. The federal debt is already over $100,000 per household. This is simply unsustainable. The President’s partial freeze on discretionary spending is a laudable step, but a small one. The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper, limited role of government at every level.

Without reform, the excessive growth of government threatens our very liberty and prosperity.

TRANSLATION: President Obama’s and the Democratic majority’s approach is totally wrong. That’s why we lost 3,000,000 jobs last year.

It’s refreshing to see, too, Gov. McDonnell rightly say that the fastest path to prosperity is to stop government from doing too much and by restoring government to its constitutional boundaries. In fact, Gov. McDonnell isn’t just right; he’s EXACTLY right about that.

This section might be the most disfunctional section of President Obama’s speech:

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future, because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.

First, let me say that I’ll applaud President Obama if he fights for building new nuclear power plants and opening up the OCS for oil and natural gas exploration. If President Obama is serious about those initiatives, I’ll gladly be his ally.

The test for President Obama on those initiatives will come when his leadership is needed to pass legislation that features robust oil exploration and creates the next generation of nuclear power plants.

I didn’t expect President Obama to give up on Cap and Trade. I’d just hoped he’d set that aside because it’s a jobkiller. That isn’t theory. It’s what President Obama said on the campaign trail:

What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

Why would a president, or any policymaker for that matter, want to pass legislation that will cause bankruptcies, especially with 10 percent unemployment, the highest it’s been in almost thirty years?

President Obama clearly isn’t interested in the message voters in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia sent him. He got humiliated by those defeats, yet he’s still defiant on health care:

I took on health care because of the stories I’ve heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who’ve been denied coverage; and families, even those with insurance, who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying, we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we’ve taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our first lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier.

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Office, the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress, our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

First, the CBO thing is insulting. The Democrats’ legislation won’t lower deficits but it will raise taxes on middle class families and small businesses. The CBO, in fact, says that it won’t lower premiums or health care costs. The only legislation that meets that criteria is Paul Ryan’s Patients’ Choice Act.

Second, the Democrats’ plan wouldn’t “would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan.” In fact, the Democrats’ legislation would penalize people who bought HSAs.

Here’s how Gov. McDonnell addressed health care:

Republicans in Congress have offered legislation to reform healthcare, without shifting Medicaid costs to the states, without cutting Medicare, and without raising your taxes. We will do that by implementing common sense reforms, like letting families and businesses buy health insurance policies across state lines, and ending frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals that drive up the cost of your healthcare.

And our solutions aren’t thousand-page bills that no one has fully read, after being crafted behind closed doors with special interests. In fact, many of our proposals are available online at solutions.gop.gov, and we welcome your ideas on Facebook and Twitter.

The differences between the Democrats’ legislation and the Republicans’ plan couldn’t be more stark. Republicans posted their plan on the internet months ago. The Democrats negotiated special deals with special interest groups behind closed doors in the White House. That’s why, to this day, we’re still not certain what’s in the Democrats’ bill.

A couple weeks ago, President Obama blustered that he was prepared to have a big fight with Republicans on health care. I suspect that that’s either putting the best spin he could on the issue or he’s really delusional enough to think that that’s a winning fight for Democrats. If I were a Republican and my Democratic opponent wanted a fight over health care, I’d love having that fight.

Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning President Obama crossing the line when he criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United v. the FEC case:

But we can’t stop there. It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration or Congress. And it’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office. Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.

Justice Alito could be seen mouthing the words “not true” while President Obama was letting fly with this flourish. Democrats have rallied to President Obama’s side:

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood up behind the justices and clapped vigorously while Alito shook his head and quietly mouthed his discontent. Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) are trying to find a way to legislate around the Supreme Court decision.

“All you have to do is read the dissent, the four justices who said this will defintely open the floodgates to big corporate special interests. Anybody who thinks that’s not true is out of touch with the American political process.” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen told POLITICO he expects to unveil the package in the next 10 days to two weeks.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was glad the president called out the Supreme Court.

“He [Alito] deserved to be criticized, if he didn’t like it he can mouth whatever they want,” Weiner said. “These Supreme Court justices sometimes forget that we live in the real world. They got a real world reminder tonight, if you make a boneheaded decision, someone’s going to call you out on it.”

Justice Alito wasn’t disagreeing that special interest groups would be able to speak their minds during election cycles. He was arguing against President Obama saying that the Supreme Court’s ruling would allow foreign corporations and “foreign entities” from contributing to candidates.

I’m surprised that Rep. Weiner would be this open about his disdain for the First Amendment. That’s what he’s saying. I’d further suggest that I don’t recall a point in history when a legislator “called out” a Supreme Court ruling this publicly.

This is the perfect illustration that Democrats still think the public is on their side. Neither President Obama’s speech nor Sen. Schumer’s or Rep. Weiner’s reaction suggests that they’re the least bit chastened after 3 humiliating defeats.

President Obama and congressional Democrats had the opportunity to pivot away from the lunatic left Wednesday night. Instead of breaking with them, it was like a married couple renewing their vows. If this is the face that the Democratic Party puts forward this fall, the word bloodbath will be associated with this election.

For all the praise President Obama gets for being a great orator, he certainly got his backside handed to him by Gov. McDonnell Wednesday night. Gov. McDonnell was charismatic and persuasive while President Obama sounded like the same broken record of the past 6 months.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Recently, I’ve written alot about the toxic environment that Democrats find themselves in this cycle. We’ve seen alot of retirements recently with more expected to follow soon. Scott Rasmussen’s generic ballot polling explains why Vic Snyder, Marion Berry, John Tanner and Bart Gordon have announced their retirements:

Republican candidates again hold a nine-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. The new national telephone survey shows that 46% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 37% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent. Voter support for GOP congressional candidates is up slightly from last week, while support for Democrats held steady.

As bleak as those numbers are, two other statistics should trouble the Democrats more. Here’s the first statistic that would get my undivided attention:

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the GOP leads this week by a near two-to-one margin, 46% to 24%.

That’s the pattern that we’ve seen play out in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts. At this point, something dramatic needs to happen for the Democrats if they hope to stave off an historic defeat. Here’s the other statistic that’s got Democratic strategists drinking Maalox by the jug these days:

When President Obama was inaugurated, Democrats enjoyed a seven-point advantage on the Generic Ballot. Throughout the fall and winter of 2008, support for Democratic congressional candidates ranged from 42% to 47%. Republican support ranged from 37% to 41%. The two parties were very close on the Generic Ballot throughout the spring of 2009, but Republicans pulled ahead for good in late June.

The message behind the statistics tells me that Democrats were fine while President Obama was still in his honeymoon. As soon as they started pushing their agenda, though, things started going sout. When the health care debate started intensifying, the Democrats’ poll numbers started tanking.

Ed points out in this post that it isn’t just Rasmussen that’s noticing the Democrats’ downward spiral:

I think we can safely say that the war on Rasmussen is over, and the Democrats lost. That bastion of conservative thought, NPR, polled 800 likely voters and found that the Republicans had taken a solid five-point lead on the generic Congressional ballot.

Ed then quotes the NPR article:

The poll holds plenty of danger signs for the Democrats. In one indicator studied closely by both parties ahead of midterm elections, likely voters chose an unnamed Republican candidate by 5 percentage points over the Democrat on a hypothetical congressional ballot.

And, Bolger points out, that edge is more pronounced among people whose interest in the midterms is high. “So while it’s a 5-point lead overall, among the most interested voters, that lead doubles,” Bolger says.

There’s proof that this translates into real campaigns, too:

Former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey has opened up a 14-point lead among likely voters in his bid to deny U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter a sixth term, according to the latest Daily News/Franklin & Marshall Poll.

Poll director G. Terry Madonna said that the results reflect a growing national Republican resurgence mixed with a lack of Democratic enthusiasm as the two parties battle over issues like health care and the economy.

Snarlin’ Arlen is history. Thanks to the TEA Party movement, people are demanding principled leadership this election. Principled isn’t the first word that pops into people’s minds when they think of Arlen Specter. It’s the last word.

If Republicans outwork Democrats this cycle, they’ll have a momentum-shifting election victory. The final results remain to be determined but the outline is taking shape.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

A year ago, Democrats were jubilant after watching President Obama’s inauguration. A year, and many failures later, the Democrats’ attitude has changed dramatically. The Democrats’ unity vanished with Scott Brown’s campaign and improbable victory. Saying that Minnesota’s congressional delegation isn’t united in direction is understatement. The man left most vulnerable by his votes is Tim Walz. Despite what his spokesperson says, he’s in trouble:

Sara Severs, a spokeswoman for Walz, said he has championed pay-for-value provisions in the health care bill that would help the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and make health care more affordable in the region. “Rep. Walz has been focused on stabilizing our economy and making it work for middle-class Americans since first taking office,” she said.

Ms. Severs, was Rep. Walz working for middle class families when he voted for the failed stimulus bill? Was Rep. Walz working for middle class families when he voted for the Waxman-Markey legislation that would’ve increased their energy bills and gas prices? Was Rep. Walz working for middle class families when he voted for the middle class tax increases contained in the Pelosicare legislation.

The other Minnesota legislator hurt by this past year’s votes is Sen. Klobuchar. She voted for the failed stimulus bill and the Obamacare bill. Had it passed, Obamacare would’ve penalized people who did the right thing. That isn’t conjecture. That’s fact. It’s fact because the bill Sen. Klobuchar voted for contained a penalty for people who didn’t purchase an insurance policy that met the federal government’s dictates. People who have HSAs would’ve gotten fined because HSAs didn’t meet the federal government’s dictates.

Check out Sen. Klobuchar’s statement:

Klobuchar, citing the new political reality of a weakened Democratic majority, called Tuesday for a scaled-down health care bill that would focus on Medicare cost reforms, insurance regulations and prescription drug coverage.

Then compare it with Sen. Franken’s statement:

By contrast, Sen. Al Franken wants to “go full bore” with legislation similar to the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve. Fiscal changes would be worked out in a budget “reconciliation” process that needs only a simple majority. “I’m not interested in scaling back the health care agenda,” Franken said.

I’d be surprised if Sen. Franken showed any moderation. That would’ve been totally out of character for him.

What’s most disturbing is Sen. Klobuchar’s lack of understanding of what’s happening outside Washington:

That’s largely what Democrats expect to hear. But somewhere in the mix, they also will be looking for some sign to a bridge that will cross the gap in health care, which many see as an economic initiative as well. “It’s not just Washington that’s so divided,” Klobuchar said. “It’s the country that’s divided, and it’s looking for some common ground on how to move the country forward.”

I’d agree with Sen. Klobuchar that the nation is divided if her definition of divided is that there isn’t unanimous agreement on what they want. If, however, she means that there isn’t a solid consensus against Obamacare, then I’m forced to disagree with Sen. Klobuchar.

I’d also disagree with Sen. Klobuchar if she meant that people living in the Heartland don’t want the federal government to stay within the Constitution’s boundaries, especially as it pertains to the Tenth Amendment.

Thanks to the TEA Party movement, there’s alot of uniting going on out here in the Heartland. These principles are uniting independents to the tune of independents voting 2:1 for Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie in Virginia and New Jersey respectively. It’s led Massachusetts independents to vote for Scott Brown by a 3:1 margin.

The TEA Parties have helped unify Republicans, too. These events have reminded some Republican lawmakers what principles they’ve stood for in the past.

There’s no such clarion call on the left. That’s why they’re as disorganized as they are. How’s that Hopey Changey thing working now?

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Based on these fundraising numbers, Marco Rubio is definitely surging at the right time. That’s before talking about his surge in the polls. First, let’s look at the fundraising numbers:

In another sign of growing momentum, U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) today announced that his campaign raised approximately $1.75 million during the Fourth Quarter of 2009. The overwhelming majority of this money was raised for the Republican primary and, when fundraising reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission later this week, Rubio for Senate will report approximately $2 million cash-on-hand.

The NRSC initially endorsed Gov. Crist because of his name recognition and his fundraising ability. Based on these fundraising numbers and Rubio’s surging in the polls, I’d say it’s time for the GOP alphabet organizations scrap those antiquated campaign models.

It’s not that fundraising isn’t important. It’s that a candidate with an appealing message will be able to raise funds. Just ask Scott Brown about that. All he did was raise over $1,000,000 a day the last week of his campaign.

Next, let’s look at Mr. Rubio’s surging poll numbers:

A new Quinnipiac poll (1,618 RVs, 1/20-24, MoE +/- 2.4%; GOP subsample of 673 RVs, MoE +/ 2.4%) out this morning shows former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) with the advantage over Gov. Charlie Crist (R) in the Florida Senate Republican primary. It’s the first poll to give Rubio an edge over Crist, who had been a heavy favorite in the race but has now is a top target of conservatives.

Primary Election Matchup
Rubio 47 (+12 vs. last poll, 10/21)
Crist 44 (-6)
Und 8 (-4)

Peter Brown, the poll’s director, said something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Here’s what he said that caught my attention:

“Who would have thunk it? A former state lawmaker virtually unknown outside of his South Florida home whose challenge to an exceedingly popular sitting governor for a U.S. Senate nomination had many insiders scratching their heads. He enters the race 31 points behind and seven months later sneaks into the lead,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “And, the horse race numbers are not a fluke. Rubio also tops Crist on a number of other measurements from registered Republicans, who are the only folks who can vote in the primary. Rubio’s grassroots campaigning among Republican activists around the state clearly has paid off.

I would’ve thunk it because I knew that Crist’s campaigning with President Obama for the president’s Porkulus bill would hurt Crist with primary voters. This isn’t rocket science. Gov. Crist didn’t think he’d face a serious challenger so he started polishing his ‘general election credentials’ too soon. Now he’s paying the price for his liberalism.

Rubio recognized his mission. He knew that he couldn’t take conservative activists for granted. That’s likely how he attached himself to the TEA Party movement. Once he started putting his message out to TEA Party activists, Mr. Rubio’s surge began. The more people saw him as a plausible alternative to Gov. Crist, the more contributions he attracted.

The GOP primary isn’t decided by any stretch of the imagination. That said, I’d rather be in Mr. Rubio’s shoes than in Gov. Crist’s shoes. Finally, here’s Mr. Rubio’s visionary statement:

Every day, I continue to be humbled and energized by the outpouring of support from those who believe America should stay true to the principles of limited government, traditional values and individual freedom,” stated Rubio. “The best measure of our movement’s success will always be real people standing up on behalf of these principles that have made America the greatest country in history.

Elections are neither fundraising nor popularity contests. Supporter by supporter and idea by idea, we are building a campaign that is proving ideas still matter most in our democracy, but I know we have to continue working even harder against the most prolific fundraiser in Florida history.

We’re on pace in meeting our goals, and I am as confident as ever that we will have the resources to deliver our message and be successful. As we look to the long road ahead, I pledge to continue speaking with a clear voice on behalf of the ideals that are uniting voters across Florida behind our cause.

It’s obvious why Mr. Rubio is the darling of TEA Party nation and the keynote speaker at CPAC. I’ll predict now that Mr. Rubio will soon be seen as a rising star in the GOP. That isn’t exactly going out on a limb but it’s what I see happening. Based on this post, the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Thomas thinks I’m right:

The Florida Democratic Party has been steadily attacking Charlie Crist since he announced his race for the Senate. The Democrats basically were aligning themselves with Crist’s conservative challenger, Marco Rubio, on the assumption they could beat Rubio in the general election, whereas they could not beat Crist.

So their goal was to take out the stronger of their possible opponents. Oops. Now polls are showing that Rubio may well beat Democrat Kendrick Meek by a wider margin than Charlie would. Personally, I think either Rubio or Crist would handily beat Meek, but I’m not a delusional Democrat.

Anyway, it seems the Dems have wised up enough to take Rubio very seriously and they have begun targeting him in their on-line attacks. The problem Rubio poses for Democrats is this: While he certainly does have a support base in the Tea Party movement, Rubio is not a shrill attack clown. He is measured, eloquent, reasonable and quite polite. His criticisms are always policy-based, not personal. In this regard, he is much like his mentor, Jeb Bush. Rubio defies the shrill stereotype Dems like to paint of the growing Tea Party movement. And that means trouble ahead after he beats Crist in August.

Democrats have tried painting TEA Party activists as shrill shills of the Far Right. The reality is that many TEA Party activists are disaffected Democrats and disappointed independents. The common denominator is that both groups think of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid as the radicals/extremists.

to be perfectly honest, though, whether Florida Democrats start criticizing Mr. Rubio or they don’t is largely irrelevant. Mr. Rubio’s supporters know why they support him and all the whining criticism from Democrats won’t change that even slightly.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This LATimes article is just another article highlighting the difficulties Democrats are having running in this environment:

A new poll out of Ohio, which is called the Buckeye State but is really a political keystone state in this year’s midterm election and beyond — waves a large flag about Democratic hopes to hold the governor’s office.

Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, like many incumbents across the country, is sliding into deep trouble when racked up against his Republican opponent, former Ohio congressman John Kasich.

According to the Ohio Newspaper Poll as published in the Dayton Daily News, Kasich currently leads Strickland 51-45. Last fall, despite earnest campaign efforts by the White House, Democrats lost control of the governors’ offices in Virginia and New Jersey. Another three dozen are up this year.

The reason for Gov. Strickland’s problems is the economy. The Democrats took control of a number of governorships in 2006. After the economy went south, a number of these governors haven’t fixed the economy. As a result, they’re getting blamed.

Strickland is the leader whose state has a high unemployment rate. Based on this article, it sounds like Ohio voters will hold him accountable for his lack of economic accomplishments:

But in the last couple of years Ohio’s economy has gone farther south than all of Kentucky. And the latest state unemployment figures show the jobless rate increased from 10.6% in November to 10.9% in December, despite the best economic we-share-your-pain talking and ribbon-cutting by the Obama-Biden administration.

“Voters are going to want to hear about the economy first, the economy second and the economy third,” said Eric Rademacher, the poll’s director. Strickland’s approval-disapproval is 50-45, but on the economy it’s 54 disapprove and only 42 approving.

Having a double-digit negative rating on the most important issue of the day is a quick ticket into retirement. That statistic reminds me of what happened the day before the 2004 presidential election. The last poll before the election showed Walter Mondale leading Ronald Reagan in 10 of the 12 categories polled for.

History shows that that poll was essentially useless because Mondale won the electoral votes from Minnesota and the District of Columbia. If you’re wondering which issues Reagan won, here’s the answer to that trivia question: the economy and national defense, the two most important questions of the day.

If ever there was a candidate that can exploit this issue, it’s John Kasich. Kasich is the architect of 5 straight balanced federal budgets. During his time as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, the economy created 22,000,000 new jobs. These days, that set of accomplishments probably tell voters everything they need to know for making their pick.

I’m betting that this will become a cornerstone of the Kasich campaign:

It’s still about 10 months until election day. But 47% of Ohioans said their standard of living is worse now than it was 48 months ago.

If I was advising the Kasich campaign, which would be one of the best jobs in campaign history, I’d simply remind Mr. Kasich to hammer on his message of prosperity through prioritizing spending, tax cuts and fiscal discipline. (For that matter, I’d use the same message to defeat House and Senate Democrats, too.)

This race says that 2010 is a totally different world than 2006. This year, Democrats are running into a strong headwind. In 2006, they ran with the wind at their backs.

It’s understatement to say that this could be a disastrous year for the Democrats. Now what’s left is to see how many seats they lose.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

DISCLAIMER: I AM A MEMBER OF TOM EMMER’S STEERING COMMITTEE.

Yesterday was a big day for the Emmer for governor campaign because Tom received the endorsement of sitting Lt. Gov. Molnau and a number of legislators that Tom works with. Here’s the Emmer press release announcing the endorsements:

Saint Paul, MN – Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau endorsed Tom Emmer for Governor today in a press conference at the State Capitol. She was joined in her endorsement by former gubernatorial candidate Senator Mike Jungbauer (R–Ham Lake) and Representatives Matt Dean (R–Dellwood), Joe Hoppe (R–Chaska), and Dean Urdahl (R–Grove City). Today’s endorsements add to the list of elected officials already supporting Emmer which now totals twelve current state legislators and the Lt. Governor.

“I’m supporting Tom Emmer because I know he has the strength to lead our state during these challenging economic times,” said Molnau. “For the past seven years, I’ve seen first hand what it takes to make the tough decisions to get us back on the path to prosperity and Tom definitely has what it takes.”

“Tom is an authentic, effective leader who knows how to rally people to his side,” said Rep. Dean. “When we get to crunch time in the legislative session, Tom’s the one we rely on to set the strategy and carry the debate on the House floor.”

Today’s elected officials join the growing list of Emmer supporters including House members Bruce Anderson, Mark Buesgens, Steve Drazkowski, Tom Hackbarth, Mary Liz Holberg, Tim Sanders, Peggy Scott and Senator Amy Koch.

“It’s great to have the support of Lt. Governor Molnau and my colleagues in the legislature,” said Emmer. “Carol has been part of two successful statewide campaigns so it will be great to have her advice and support.”

This is the latest release from the Emmer campaign as they build momentum toward the precinct caucuses next Tuesday, February 2nd. Last week Emmer released a list of over 100 members of his statewide steering committee.

Lt. Molnau’s endorsement will likely garner alot of media attention. That said, Matt Dean’s statement that the House GOP relies on Tom setting the strategy says alot about Tom’s leadership abilities.

Many is the time that I’ve watched the livestreamed debates from the House floor. During those debates, Tom’s been one of the most effective debaters in exposing the flaws in the DFL’s legislation or in arguing for the effectiveness of conservative GOP principles.

Tom’s debating skills are a big part of why I’m supporting him. Most importantly, I’m supporting Tom for consistently holding to conservatism’s principles and for his leadership abilities.

It isn’t a secret to anyone that knows me that I put a high value on communication skills and the ability to make the most powerful arguments on the biggest issues of the day. Tom surpasses my expectations in terms of explaining why conservatism is the right political philosophy and in terms of his ability to making the best arguments for conservative principles.

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When it comes to voting for huge chunks of pork, no Minnesota congressman can outdo Tim Walz. Thus far, he’s voted for the failed stimulus bill plus he’s voted for both omnibus spending bills. The Omnibus Bill for FY2009 increased spending by 11%. The FY2010 Omnibus Bill increased federal spending by 12%. Now Tim Walz wants to spend $175,000,000,000 on Stim II:

Asked Monday if he expected any Republicans to cross the aisle and vote for a new jobs-focused stimulus package, regardless of what was in it, Walz replied: “I don’t expect to have any. If we voted to say today was Monday, I don’t think we’d get many [Republican] votes.”

House Republicans stood united against the first stimulus bill in January, a disciplined opposition that has largely continued to hold the line on major issues like health care reform, when all but one Republican voted against the Democrats’ bill.

Walz said he’s looking for the new bill to be “more focused on transportation,” to the point that it’s “the core of the jobs bill.” If I had my way, I would have had more transportation funding the first time,” Walz said.

Rep. Walz doesn’t get it. Transportation spending won’t get the economy humming again. Getting out of the way of entrepreneurs will get the economy humming. Rep. Walz refuses to get out of the way of small businesses. What’s worse is that he won’t stop spending money we don’t have.

Transportation projects take time. You don’t just sign a transportation bill one day and the next day, there’s jobs being created. First, you need to get a list of transportation projects, then prioritize which projects are most important. After that, the projects must be bid on and the winning bid determined. Only after all that can a project get started.

In real terms, Stim II won’t pass before late spring. It might not pass until mid-summer. By the time the bids are accepted and the projects scheduled, John Boehner will be the new Speaker and Tim Walz will be a distant memory.

The question that Tim Walz should be forced to answer is why he’s refused to stand up for small businesses. He’s voted against them when he voted for the Cap and Tax bill. He’s voted against them when he voted for the tax increases included in the Pelosicare legislation.

Standing up for small businesses is the way to get the economy creating jobs. Spreading the pork around didn’t work last time. It won’t work this time. The only things we got from the Democrats’ first stimulus bill were massive deficits, big payoffs to the public employees’ unions and a disfunctional website that theoretically tracked stimulus spending but that hasn’t been updated in months.

Maybe it’s just me but that doesn’t sound like we got our money’s worth.

When Tim Walz was sworn in, unemployment was 4.6 percent. Today, it’s 10 percent. We’re in a deep recession. The deficit for Walz’s first year in office, FY2007, was roughly $160,000,000,000. The deficit for FY2009 was $1,420,000,000,000.

Are CD-1 voters better off today than they were 4 years ago? I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Monday night, Michele Bachmann was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. The interview predictably started with the Specter dust-up but finished with Michele answering O’Reilly’s question about the TEA Parties. Here’s the video:

Here’s the final exchange:

O’REILLY: You’ve been involved with the TEA Party movement to some extent and I know you’ve spoken before those groups. Do you see a tension between the TEA Party people and the so-called moderate establishment Republicans?
BACHMANN: Well, I think that what we’re seeing is the Republican Party is waking up to the people and they’re recognizing that the real uprising is happening across America isn’t just about Republicans. It’s about disaffected Democrats, independents and Republicans saying ‘Wait a minute. The country isn’t working anymore. Let’s get back to balance here.’ And I think now we’re seeing elements in the Republican Party listen to the people.
O’REILLY: Will the TEA Party people become the dominant force of the Republican Party?
BACHMANN: Well, I think they will. And if the Republican Party is smart, they will embrace the TEA Party movement.

My first thought is that O’Reilly will still likely keep pushing the TEA Party/third party meme even though conservatives keep explaining the TEA Party movement to him. Earlier in the program, O’Reilly told Brit Hume that the Republican Party was rudderless because they didn’t have a national leader. Hume rightly pointed out that that hasn’t hurt them because they can’t be blamed for not fixing the economy.

The next segment, O’Reilly got into a discussion with Mary Katherine Ham and Juan Williams about the TEA Party movement. When Juan said that the TEA Party people couldn’t win over independents, MKH rightly jumped in and said that they already were winning independents. In Massachusetts, Scott Brown won independents by a 73-25% margin.

The problem with folks like Bill O’Reilly is that they think in terms of top-down modeals. The TEA Party movement is based on uniting around a set of common sense principles like limited government that lives within the Constitution’s boundaries and greater individual liberties.

The TEA Party people are the folks driving the resurgence of the GOP. MKH is right in saying that the TEA Party principles are winning over huge majorities of independents.

For the life of me, I don’t see the downside in that. Ask Creigh Deeds and Martha Coakley if the TEA Party activists hurt or helped Bob McDonnell and Scott Brown. I don’t think there’s any doubt but that they’re the driving force behind their defeats.

I posted here about the Cook Report’s analysis of the 2010 cycle:

The Cook Report offers this surprising comment on the intensity gap: “If this level remains constant, you can count on the Democratic majority in the House being toast this fall.”

The TEA Party movement is fueling the intensity that the Cook Report is talking about. I’ll guarantee that that intensity isn’t coming from moderate establishment types.

Michele is right in saying that the GOP would be wise to pay attention to the TEA Party movement people. Without their intensity, New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts likely would’ve had different winners.

It isn’t likely but Mr. O’Reilly would be wise to scrap the misrepresentation that TEA Party activists only represent the hard right. Independents are definitely buying into the TEA Party message because they see it as the perfect antidote for President Obama’s radical agenda.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative