Archive for August, 2010

After not caring about the Polymet permitting process for years, Jim Oberstar finally cares. Sort of:

It’s been in the works for more than four years, but when the environmental review came out last fall, the federal government blasted the report as inadequate.

Oberstar says he wants a thorough review, but it shouldn’t take so long.

“The red tape, the slowdown, the lack of full attention by federal and state permitting agencies has dragged this process out much too long,” said Oberstar.

Oberstar said the No. 1 issue people talk about in northeastern Minnesota is jobs. And the Polymet mine promises 400 jobs.

“I’ve heard some concerns, ‘Be careful about our environment. We love this land, we don’t want our waters to be adversely affected.’ And I’ve assured people that corners will not be cut, there will be no exceptions made, but we have to do this in an expeditious manner,” he said.

It’s been 4 years since the permitting and inspection process started. Finally, it’s got the attention of Rep. Oberstar? Why didn’t he take interest before this? There’s a simple answer for why it’s finally got his attention: Tom Emmer has made this a focal point of the campaign and Sen. Dayton is looking like he doesn’t care about job creation.

Enter Rep. Oberstar to cut the red tape. Enter Rep. Oberstar so jobs can be created. What a great guy Rep. Oberstar is. For that matter, what a great guy Sen. Dayton is.

There’s just one problem with this picture. If Rep. Emmer hadn’t brought it up, and if the issue hadn’t gained traction, it’s likely that this project still wouldn’t be getting attention. Let’s remember that Sen. Dayton wasn’t worried about streamlining the permitting process during the final DFL debate before the primary.

As for Rep. Oberstar, why didn’t he take an interest in the process long before this? Polymet’s been run through the ringer for 5 years. Suddenly, he cares? Why didn’t he care before the MNGOP candidate brought it up at a debate? Why didn’t he care prior to Tom Emmer making this a major political issue?

Mining is the bread and butter of the Iron Range economy. Creating hundreds of jobs should’ve been Rep. Oberstar’s first priority. Iron Rangers now know that it wasn’t Oberstar’s top priority.

Chip Cravaack is the MNGOP-endorsed candidate for MN-08. Unlike ‘Lord Oberstar’, Cravaack will represent the district. That’s because he’s actually listening to the people of the Eighth District. Had Rep. Oberstar listened to his constituents, he would’ve taken an interest in Polymet sooner.

Instead, he jumped into action when his political ally, Sen. Dayton, got into political hot water. That’s just what I’d expect from the guy whose highest priority many years is getting bike paths built with highway Trust Fund money.

Sen. Dayton and Rep. Oberstar won’t represent Minnesota because they’re too busy catering to their political allies in the environmental movement.

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It’d be nice if the supposedly MSM dug into this but, since they won’t, I’ll highlight the ‘errors’ in Tarryl’s latest ad. Here’s one of Tarryl’s claims:

In the legislature, she fought for middle class families, and when the state faced a record budget deficit, she put taxpayers first by voluntarily cutting her compensation and pay.

Tarryl put her compensation first in 2007:

As vice-chair of the Senate Rules and Administration committee, Clark voted to raise per diem allowances from $66 to $96, and monthly housing allowance from $900 to $1,200.

That information isn’t something that the Bachmann campaign made up. It’s information from a St. Cloud Times article written by that noted right wing ideologue Larry Schumacher. In fact, that isn’t the extent of Tarryl’s flippant behavior on keeping costs down. Here’s what Leo wrote about Tarryl about raising per diem:

“Don’t worry. There has never been anyone who hadn’t been re-elected because they raised their (own) pay. The voters won’t remember.”

Does that sound like someone who’s vigilant about keeping government costs down? Forgive me if I find Tarryl’s claims about being fiscally responsible a little less than credible.

It goes further than that. The DFL Senate didn’t want to put that to a vote of the full Senate, preferring to deal with it in the Rules Committee instead. Without Ray Vandeveer’s persistance, the per diem increase wouldn’t have gotten a vote of the full Senate. The DFL leadership, including Tarryl, prefered secrecy to transparency. That speaks volumes about Tarryl. It says that she wanted to raise her pay without there being a vote of the full Minnesota Senate.

It isn’t unreasonable to think that, especially on this, Tarryl puts a high priority on transparency. If she’s that committed to standing up for middle class families, shouldn’t she insist on a full vote of the Senate? If she’s that committed to standing up for middle class families, shouldn’t she have voted against a 50 percent per diem raise. (It isn’t like $66/day isn’t substantial.)

I wrote in this post about all the regressive taxes Tarryl voted to increase. I’d love hearing Tarryl explain how voting for regressive tax increases while the economy is slowing is fighting for middle class families.

I’d love hearing Tarryl explain how increasing spending by 17 percent in 2007 is fighting for middle class families. I’d love hearing Tarryl explain how raising taxes, both progressive and regressive, by more than $5 billion when Minnesota had a $2,163,000,000 surplus is fighting for middle class families.

I suspect that Tarryl won’t explain those things because raising taxes when you have a surplus isn’t how you fight for middle class families. Spending the surplus instead of cutting taxes isn’t the way to fight for middle class families, either.

Tarryl’s actions don’t match the words in her commercials. Tarryl is the legislator who told Tom Hauser that she didn’t think she could find more than $500,000,000 of savings in the Minnesota budget in January, 2009 and she’s the candidate that touts the fact that she voted for a 10 percent spending cut in May, 2010.

That says it all, doesn’t it?

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During this morning’s press conference, Sen. Dayton was asked why his lawyers removed public documents. He acted as if they’d been magically lifted from the public’s view. He hinted that he didn’t have anything to do with those records not being part of the public record.

When MDE’s Luke Hellier asked Sen. Dayton if he’d instruct his attorneys to return the documents to the public record, Sen. Dayton replied that he didn’t think that that’s what people are interested in this election cycle.

With all due respect, that isn’t the issue. The issue is whether Sen. Dayton is fine with hiding things from his past. If he is, then that’s something that Minnesotans should know prior to Election Day.

Sen. Dayton, what are you hiding? Are you covering up things from your admitted history of depression and alcoholism? It’s impossible for Minnesotans to know since Sen. Dayton is being secretive. It isn’t that the documents are sealed. They were taken by Dayton’s lawyers.

When Luke asked another question, Sen. Dayton replied this way:

“Minnesotans are disgusted with negative campaign tactics. I trust they want to take the high road.”

If we had a real media, they’d ask Sen. Dayton why his family is running one dishonest ad after another about Tom Emmer. If we had a real media, they’d be asking why his allegedly detailed budget numbers add up to a big deficit. A real media would be asking whether Sen. Dayton would raise taxes on the middle class to cover the shortfall.

Sen. Dayton is counting on the media’s malpractice and double standards to keep letting him get away with saying that he abhors “negative campaign tactics” while his family uses dishonest “negative campaign tactics.”

It’s time that somebody told the truth about Sen. Dayton. Sen. Dayton doesn’t hate “negative campaign tactics” if they’re used against his opponent. Sen. Dayton’s detailed budget numbers add up to a whopping multi-billion dollar deficit. Sen. Dayton would raise taxes on middle class families and on the rich to pay for reckless spending habits. Sen. Dayton is counting on the media’s malpractice to hide this information from Minnesotans.

When Sen. Dayton comes clean about his attorney removing unsealed documents from the public record, when Sen. Dayton tells the SEIU, EdMinn and his family to stop lying about Tom Emmer, when Sen. Dayton stops omitting the part that he’ll need to raise taxes on the middle class, then he’ll have earned the public’s trust.

At this point, he isn’t even close to earning our trust. At this point, Sen. Dayton shouldn’t be trusted on anything he says other than his plan to increase spending.

It’s worth noting that the Agenda Media shouldn’t be trusted in their ‘reporting’ of the Dayton campaign. (It’s difficult to trust in something that only marginally exists, isn’t it?)

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This weekend, I’ve written about deconstructing Lori Sturdevant’s column and Esme Murphy’s interviewing Tarryl Clark. What I haven’t written about yet was Rachel Stassen Berger’s tweet in which she said this:

There’s anti-Dayton lit at the GOP fair booth but no pro-emmer lit.

She later updated that with this tweet:

In the strongest possible terms the GOP insists there was always pro-Emmer lit at their fair booth.

I’m incredibly disappointed in the media to varying degrees. In the case of Rachel Stassen-Berger, I’ll probably be a bit more lenient than I’ll be with Lori Sturdevant and Esme Murphy, if for no other reason than she posted a tweet saying that the GOP insists that “there was always pro-Emmer lit at their fair booth.”

I believe the pro-Emmer lit was there from the start because Eric Radtke told me that “he GOP booth is all about Emmer. The buttons are Emmer the balloons are Emmer, and yes there is Emmer lit. Put it there myself.” Knowing Eric, I’ll trust him.

I won’t be as lenient with Lori Sturdevant because didn’t take into account a number of different things that should’ve been taken into account. Let’s start with what she said in column:

In three early morning debates in as many bleary-eyed days, Emmer denied that there’s a red-ink tsunami ahead in the state’s 2012-13 budget.

In fact, the three-term state rep from Delano asserted, the state is going to have $2 billion more to spend in the next two-year budget period than it’s spending in the current one. That’s a 7 percent increase, he allowed, and that ought to be sufficient for any sensible Minnesotan.

Shortly thereafter, she made this comment:

Emmer’s numbers aren’t wrong. They’re just misleadingly incomplete.

Nowhere in her article does Ms. Sturdevant say what I’ve said: that Mark Dayton’s numbers don’t add up to a balanced budget. In fact, they fall far short. More on that later.

I spoke with a man who I consider to be a budget expert last night by the name of Jim Knoblach. Jim had a $4.2 billion deficit dumped in his lap shortly after Tim Pawlenty was first elected governor.

I specifically asked Jim whether cleaning up the permitting process could create jobs and whether those jobs would change the revenue projections. I specifically talked about the mining jobs that will eventually be created when Polymet gets its permits.

Jim said that streamlining Minnesota’s permitting process would help create jobs. In Polymet’s instance, that’s supposed to be north of 2,000 highpaying jobs in an area with high unemployment.

Not so coincidentally, streamlining the permitting process is high on Tom Emmer’s priority list. Wouldn’t it have been informative if Ms. Sturdevant had mentioned that in her article? It isn’t like this is treated like top secret information.

By including that information in her article, though, Sturdevant would’ve admitted that Tom Emmer a) has a positive agenda that will put people back to work, b) has a plan to get Minnesota’s economy going and c) thinks it’s important to make Minnesota more business friendly. That certainly wouldn’t fit into Ms. Sturdevant’s storyline.

Admitting that Mark Dayton’s numbers don’t add up to a balanced budget doesn’t fit into Ms. Sturdevant’s storyline, either. Sen. Dayton says that he’ll get $4,000,000,000 in additional revenue with his tax-the-rich plan. The Minnesota Department of Revenue says that that figure is more likely to be $3,300,000,000 to $3,600,000,000.

It’s important to note that the Minnesota Department of Revenue uses static scoring, meaning they don’t take into account the unintended consequences that happen when policies shift. For instance, they don’t take into account the fact that businesses will leave Minnesota for states with friendlier business climates. Suffice it to say that it isn’t likely that Sen. Dayton’s numbers will come close to being right, perhaps to the tune of $1,000,000,000.

During a debate on Almanac, Rep. Emmer talked about streamlining permitting. When Sen. Dayton said that he wouldn’t have a problem with streamlining the permitting process, Rep. Emmer noted that Sen. Dayton had never written or co-sponsored a bill streamlining any part of government.

This leads to Sen. Dayton’s supposed detailed budget plan, all 2 and a half pages of it. There’s nothing in Sen. Dayton’s supposed detailed budget plan that talks about regulatory reform. in fact, there’s nothing in Sen. Dayton’s supposed detailed budget plan that even talks about reform.

It’s disturbing that Ms. Sturdevant didn’t mention Sen. Dayton’s inconsistencies. If Dayton’s revenue projections are off that much, what will he cut? Or whose taxes will he raise? It’s much more likely that Sen. Dayton will raise taxes on suburbanites making $75,000 than he’s likely to cut spending.

Here’s reality: Dayton can’t cut spending much because he has too many DFL special interest allies to pay off.

It isn’t a secret that Lori Sturdevant is a DFL partisan. It hasn’t been a secret for years. Now it’s getting dangerous, though, because the numbers matter, the policies matter. If you won’t challenge the DFL candidates, then you’re just part of the problem.

Minnesota can’t afford more of this journalistic malpractice.

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Two of Esme Murphy’s guests this morning were U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and State Sen. Tarryl Clark. If their mission was to insult Minnesotans’ intelligence, then their mission was accomplished. Let’s start with Sen. Klobuchar.

When asked about what needed to be done to get the economy moving, Sen. Klobuchar said that improving broadband access would be a major boost. While I think expanding broadband would be a positive thing if done the right way, I don’t think it’s the key to creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Another of Sen. Klobuchar’s insulting statements was saying that we need to speed up approval rates for medical devices. This coming from the woman who voted to kill medical device manufacturing jobs when she voted for Obamacare? It’s time that Ms. Klobuchar admitted that she says one thing while doing another.

You can’t pretend to be the champion for medical device manufacturers after you’ve voted for a bill that will cripple medical device manufacturing.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark essentially repeated the lies she’s telling in her “Jim, the real voter” ad. She talked about how she’s fiscally responsible, how she’s voted to keep taxes down for 95 percent of Minnesotans and how she’s cut her office expenses.

I debunked each of those myths in this post. Tarryl can’t make those statements without omitting major votes that she’s cast. She can’t say that she’s consistently voted against raising taxes on 95 percent of Minnesotans when she voted for increasing the gas tax, the wheelage fee, the state sales tax (think Legacy Act) and the metro sales tax in the 7 county metro area.

As for Tarryl’s claim that she’s the fiscally responsible candidate in the race, that’s insulting and laughable. This statement was made by the woman who voted in 2007 for omnibus spending bills that would’ve increased state spending by 17 percent in the 2008-09 biennium. Fortunately, Gov. Pawlenty vetoed those bills.

SIDENOTE: The bills that Gov. Pawlenty vetoed had huge tails in them. Most of the bills had provisions in them that raised spending by even more enormous amounts in the out years.

During today’s interview, Tarryl bragged about voting to cut state spending by 10 percent. Tarryl’s attempting to take credit for cutting spending when the reality is that she told KSTP’s Tom Hauser that it would be almost impossible to cut spending by more than $500,000,000. Tarryl had to practically be dragged kicking and screaming to vote to cut spending by 10 percent.

Tarryl’s statements and Sen. Klobuchar’s statements aren’t surprising or unexpected. They’ve had a history of saying things that insult people’s intelligence. They also have a history of sounding reasonable at first listen. That disappears once you think things through and evaluate what they’ve said through the prism of facts.

Finally, it’s worth noting that today’s interviews were disappointing from a journalism standpoint. Esme Murphy accepted as fact everything that Tarryl Clark said. She didn’t ask how Tarryl could say she was fiscally responsible when she voted in 2007 to increase spending by almost 20 percent. That should’ve been automatic.

When Tarryl trotted out her “Washington isn’t working for the people and neither is Michele Bachmann” line, why didn’t Esme Murphy highlight the fact that Washington is being run by Democrats? Further, why didn’t Esme Murphy ask what things she disagrees with Speaker Pelosi on?

Last week, when she interviewed Tom Emmer, there were lots of tough questions. This week, none. I’m fine with Esme Murphy asking Tom Emmer tough questions. I just expect the same when she’s interviewing Tarryl Clark.

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Lori Sturdevant’s column purports to show the error in Rep. Emmer’s budget thinking. Instead, what it does is it exposes the flaw in the DFL’s thinking. This section is important in understanding the differences between Rep. Emmer’s thinking and Sen. Dayton’s thinking:

Add the federal money and the school IOU totals to 2010-11 general fund spending, and the sum is $34.6 billion. That’s $1.7 billion, or 5 percent, more than the expected state tax receipts in 2012-13.

So $1.7 billion is the real deficit? I asked Marx.

Not quite, he said. State budget forecasts project the cost of current state programs tomorrow. Since 2002, cost-of-living inflation has been excluded from the projections. (That bit of lawmaking legerdemain could be another chapter in my book.)

Herein lies the DFL’s flawed thinking. In their mind, anything that’s been appropriated once should be forever considered necessary to fund. There isn’t a business in the world that could survive that type of thinking.

When businesses experience a downturn in revenue, they adjust their budgeting or they’re soon bankrupt. Since businesses prefer making profits, they’re often faced with a decision: do they adjust priorities, reduce or eliminate spending on non-essential items or do they just higher prices from their customers and hope that customers are willing to pay more for their products.

The difference is that, with government, they aren’t often presented with this decision since their charging higher prices isn’t a matter of convincing ‘customers’ to pay higher prices. Theoretically, governments can pass tax increases which are passed onto We The People. These tax increases aren’t voluntary. They’re mandatory because they have the force of law behind them.

Rep. Emmer thinks that there’s too much replication in government. He often talks about the permitting process, where a farmer who wants to expand his operations could theoretically go before 5 different agencies, each in a different department of the government, each with the ability to squash the farmer’s expansion plans.

Sen. Dayton’s budget is built on the premise that the permitting process shouldn’t be changed and that no other budget line items should be changed. That’s foolish thinking because there’s too much replication within government. That’s before asking whether all the budget items are necessities. I’m willing to be that they aren’t. In fact, I’m willing to bet there’s alot of money sent to political allies that could be eliminated without Minnesota’s taxpayers never noticing the difference in quality of life or in the delivery of important services.

In Rep. Emmer’s Minnesota, each agency and each department would start their budget from scratch each 4 years. Instead of guaranteeing each department and each agency the same amount of money plus a little for inflation, departments and agencies would have to explain why their funding levels need to stay the same or be increased.

They’d have to prove that each item is a necessity and that spending that money would improve the lives of Minnesotans. Departments would have to prove that there isn’t a better, less expensive way of delivering their services. Knowing that they’d have to justify every penny of their spending alone would likely change departments’ budgeting habits.

I find it impossible to think that eliminating the replications found in the permitting processes wouldn’t dramatically change what’s needed to be spent. I refuse to think that there aren’t health care reforms that wouldn’t save hundreds of millions of dollars in the state budget.

Politically speaking, Sen. Dayton and Mr. Horner are sitting on a powderkeg. They keep criticizing Rep. Emmer for not having shown his plan to redesign government. He’s entrusted much of that assignment to Annette Meeks.

When Annette Meeks finishes the project and the plan is unveiled, there will be alot of complaining from special interests who won’t like the fact that their racket is getting eliminated. Sen. Dayton will certainly complain, partly because he’s still thinking in terms of funding a 1980s form of government.

This is the 21st century. It’s time we took better advantage of technology to make the cost of government less expensive. It’s time we did a better job of setting sensible spending priorities rather than looking at taxpayers as the politicians’ ATM’s.

Counting all of those things is what brought Minnesota Management and Budget to a $5.8 billion deficit in 2012-13, Marx said. A candidate who says otherwise is “being subjective,” he said. (Marx is a master of diplomacy as well as state finances.)

Actually, I’d describe Marx as a disciple of the status quo. I’d agree that the $5.8 billion number is accurate if you didn’t think that any of this biennium’s spending was wasteful spending. I agree that the $5.8 billion number is accurate if I was convinced that there weren’t less expensive ways of delivering services.

That’s before asking how much money would be generated by Polymet hiring 2,000 people to start their mining operation instead of tying them up for a total of 7 years in the permitting process. How much tax revenue isn’t realized when farmers in Clay County expand their hog farming operation in North Dakota instead of Minnesota because of the permitting process? How much tax revenue would be realized if 3M, Marvin Window and other companies expanded in Minnesota instead of other states?

These companies will keep moving elsewhere as long as Minnesota’s government is this cumbersome and businesses are overregulated.

I didn’t see proof that Ms. Sturdevant considered those possibilities in reaching her conclusions. It’s important that, should she venture into the world of public policy again, she should consider those variables more fully.

Streamlining government, eliminating replication and encouraging dynamic economic growth will dramatically change Minnesota’s budget landscape. We can’t afford government harassing businesses. Government should make sure that businesses aren’t polluting but then get out of their way.

Building a dynamic, fundamentally sound economy will cure most of Minnesota’s budget ails. That’s what Sen. Dayton and the DFL hasn’t figured out. They’re so focused on funding government that they aren’t focused on creating a dynamic economy. Yes, they’ll talk about jobs but that isn’t the same as creating a dynamic economy.

In Sen. Dayton’s mind and in the minds of the DFL, a bonding bill is a jobs bill. It isn’t. It’s a debt bill. It’s a stimulus bill designed to give the economy a brief shot in the arm. A dynamic economy creates jobs that are still there a decade later.

It’s time that Ms. Sturdevant, Sen. Dayton and the DFL figured out that there’s a difference between funding the DFL’s special interest allies’ wish lists and building a dynamic economy. It’s time that Ms. Sturdevant, Sen. Dayton and the DFL admitted that funding the DFL’s special interest allies’ wish lists is what’s driving the projected budget deficits. Eliminating the pork and the replications is the best way to eliminate the deficit.

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Nick Blackburn pitched a masterpiece thsi afternoon in Seattle, throwing a 2-hitter at a feeble Seattle lineup. Rookie Danny Valencia scored the game’s only run. Meanwhile, newly acquired Brian Fuentes threw 4 pitches to strike out Russell Branyan to end the game.

With Umpire Ron Kulpa giving the pitchers the benefit of hitting their targets and because they were working quickly, it soon became apparent that this would be a quick game. Blackburn got a bunch of ground ball outs early, which helped him enter the 6th inning with less than 60 pitches.

In his second start since being recalled from the minors, Blackburn was in total control. Chone Figgins’ walk snapped Blackburn’s consecutive hitters retired streak at 21 with 2 out in the 9th, ending Blackburn’s day.

Manager Ron Gardenhire opted for Brian Fuentes in the situation because lefthanded hitters are only hitting .132 against him this year. A quick 4 pitches later and the Twins were celebrating another win. Branyan looked as outmatched as Custer at Little Bighorn.

What’s clear to me is that Danny Valencia will be the Twins’ starting third baseman for the next 5-10 years. He’s improved as a hitter since getting his shot early in the season. More impressive to me is his defense. He simply makes all the plays, day after day, whether they’re the routine plays or whether it’s the play he made on a sharp one-hopper down the line off Ichiro’s bat. After planting & throwing, he got Ichiro by a half-step.

Ichiro has lost a step or two. Later in the game, Ichiro hit a bouncer up the first base line which Cuddyer fielded cleanly. What’s astonishing is that Blackburn had to cover and beating Ichiro to the bag. Five years ago, that isn’t even a close play.

It’s clear to me that Danny Valencia will win a bunch of gold gloves at third. His throwing arm isn’t as powerful as Gary Gaetti’s but he can bring it pretty good. His plant-and-throw plays get there in a hurry. His reactions going right or left are very good. His hand-eye coordination is excellent.

Getting Brian Fuentes for a player to be named later or “other considerations” means that the Twins got a gift for the final month. Like I said earlier, Branyan looked totally mismatched. He started Branyan with a change-up, which produced a feeble half-swing. He followed that up with a fastball that painted the outside corner. After missing with a breaking pitch, Fuentes finished it with another fastball that Branyan couldn’t catch up to.

I’d still feel better if the Twins could acquire another veteran starting pitcher but this is a good baseball team. They’ve played without Justin Morneau, who was having a monster year, since before the All Star game. The Twins have the best post-All Star game record in the majors. Michael Cuddyer has played great since moving to first, too, with Jason Kubel moving from DH to right field. That, in turn, gave Jim Thome more at-bats.

Your lineup is pretty solid when your seventh and eighth hitters, Delmon Young and Danny Valencia are hitting .308 & .325 respectively. The bullpen was good before getting Fuentes, with Matt Capps doing a good job as closer and Jesse Crain pitching light’s out since June. (Since the All Star game, Jesse has allowed only 8 hits in 20.1 innings, an opponents’ batting average of .125. He’s only given up 1 run since the All Star game, too, for a post-All Star game ERA of 0.44.

Factor in the Twins’ stingy defense, with a major league leading 53 errors, and you’ve got a team that could be dangerous in the playoffs if they get their starting pitching to be more consistent.

DFL Senate candidate Larry Rice collapsed yesterday from a brain hemorrhage:

Democrat-Farm-Labor candidate Larry Rice plans to resume his campaign for Minnesota Senate District 13 next week after suffering a brain hemorrhage at a campaign stop.

Officials say Rice is expected to make a full recovery after the candidate went to the hospital following a voter forum sponsored by the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

Please keep Larry Rice in your prayers.

Earlier this week, Tarryl’s trackers showed up at C & L Distributing carrying signs. One sign I read was a ‘Thank You’ card from the insurance companies thanking Michele for protecting their profits. (For more on that, check this post.) This morning, TakeAction Minnesota protested Gov. Pawlenty during his weekly radio show. Here’s the picture from this morning’s protest:

Forgive me but the skeptical side of me is thinking that a theme is emerging amongst the DFL radicals. That theme is that Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty are puppets of the evil insurance companies, which immediately makes them radioactive. There’s two flaws with that approach, namely, that Minnesotans don’t like single-payer health care and Minnesotans don’t have a problem with capitalism.

Personally, I think there’s a bigger storyline developing here. Gov. Pawlenty’s plan, which has been in place since his first term, has held health care costs and health insurance premiums flat most of those years. Gov. Pawlenty’s plan is based on market principles, which is why it works. It gives people the responsibility to shop for the best prices for procedures and tests.

Gov. Pawlenty says it gives them “some skin in the game.” The bottom line is this: When people care about how much a procedure or a test costs, they’ll hunt for the best deal. When that happens, prices flatten or drop. When a person deals with a small co-pay or low deductible, they aren’t as likely to care about prices.

TakeAction spokeswoman Greta Bergstrom tried telling a tale of woe to the press:

“It’s a gift to the health insurers,” TakeAction spokeswoman Greta Bergstrom said. “These rates increase year after year, and we just want to know why he would turn down money that would look into that.”

Whether Minnesota accepts the federal funds or not, the insurance company will get the same amount of money if we keep the same type of health insurance system. The question is whether we’ll pay for the insurance premiums with our cash or by adding more money to the national debt through subsidies.

Despite President Obama’s and Speaker Pelosi’s claims, Obamacare will drive insurance costs higher:

A survey of large businesses reports that employers expect their health care insurance costs to rise by an average of 8.9 percent in 2011. And to help cover those rising health insurance costs, more than six out of 10 employers also expect to raise their employees’ share of the premium cost. Given that the average salary raise for 2011 is expected to be in the vicinity of 3 percent, it’s likely many Americans are going to see any bump in their compensation eaten up by having to pay more for health insurance.

Here in Minnesota, the DFL is campaigning like Obamacare is a positive for them. They’re going to run into a hornets nest worth of trouble once they move outside downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. People don’t trust this administration to get the big things right because they’ve screwed so many things up thus far.

Democrats know this. That’s why some Democrats, like Joe Donnelley in Indiana and Jason Altmire in Pennsylvania were given permission to criticize the speaker that they voted for and the speaker that they’d vote for again if they got re-elected.

The DFL’s theme, put as simply as possible, is ‘special interests are evil’. Without a boogeyman, they’ve got nothing. The thing is, John Q. Public doesn’t think that insurance companies are evil. They complain about them, sure, but that’s the extent of it.

If there’s anything that the DFL is good at this year, it’s that they’re proficient at misreading the public. People have read that health insurance costs will continue rising. When people heard about Obamacare, they demanded that their health insurance premiums drop. That isn’t happening. It’s heading in the opposite direction, which is why people hate Obamacare as much as they do.

Another thing that shouldn’t go unnoticed is that the DFL really is anti-capitalist. Their boogeymen are all capitalists. Big oil, big insurance, big pharma and Wall Street fat cats have been their boogeymen since President Obama took office. That status has been justified from time to time but it’s the exception, not the rule.

People are smart enough to know that jobs don’t get created without capitalists. That’s why the DFL’s protests will fail.

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Tarryl Clark released an ad countering Michele Bachmann’s Jim, the Election Guy, ad. As a Tarryl expert, I immediately recognized a number of innacuracies in Tarryl’s ad. Using a series of Jim, The Actual Voter characters is cute but they don’t work because the things they’re saying aren’t accurate. Let’s go through their statements, starting with this statement:

Michele Bachmann attacked Tarryl Clark for balancing the budget, keeping taxes down for 95 percent of working Minnesotans.

No she didn’t. Tarryl voted to increase the most regressive taxes that Minnesotans pay. Here’s the list of the regressive taxes she raised in the Transportation bill of 2008:

The bill also includes these other levies, all dedicated to roads, bridges and transit:

  • Higher registration renewal fees on future new car purchases, but no increases on currently owned vehicles.
  • A half-cent rise in the general sales tax in the seven-county Twin Cities area, imposed without a voter referendum, plus a $20 excise tax on new vehicle sales in the metro.
  • Local-option authority for half-cent sales-tax increases in the rest of Minnesota, subject to voter approval.
  • Authority for all 87 counties in the state to impose a $20-per-vehicle annual wheelage tax. Three suburban counties levied the current maximum of $5 per vehicle last year.
  • Increased fees for leased vehicle registrations, license plates, titles and drivers’ licenses, plus a $20 reinstatement fee for a license suspended for theft of gasoline.

Until Obama pounded the final nail in the economy’s coffin, people in the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers were buying new cars. They were certainly paying higher registration renewal fees. In many counties, they were paying a higher sales tax, with some counties imposing a wheelage fee on top of that. That’s before talking about the $20 “reinstatement fee for a license suspended for theft of gasoline.” (I don’t know many millionaires who’ve had their licenses suspended for stealing gasoline. Do you?)

That’s before we start talking about Tarryl voting to raise the state sales tax for the Legacy Amendment.

That’s alot of regressive taxes. I wonder how Taxin’ Tarryl, or her surrogates, expect to get away with their statements when the facts are that available. Perhaps, it’s because truth doesn’t matter with Tarryl?

Here’s another statement that doesn’t tell the whole truth:

“Tarryl cut her compensation and her office expenses.”

That’s true. However, it omits the fact that Tarryl voted against cutting the Senate’s stamp allowance:

One of the things the Senate GOP brought up was the fact that the legislature budgets for each legislator to use 5,500 stamps per year. The Senate GOP proposed cutting that number to 3,500 stamps per hear per legislator. Sen. Senjem said that, as Minority Leader, he uses approximately 3,000 stamps annually. Sen. Amy Koch, who made the motion, said that this amendment would save the Senate $56,000 per year.

The GOP proposal was defeated by a 36-29 margin.

That’s $112,000 this biennium that wouldn’t be missed even in the least that Tarryl voted against saving. I’d argue that cutting personal office expenses while voting against saving the Senate’s operating expenses is like saving a penny while spending a quarter. That isn’t the type of fiscal responsibility I’m looking for.

Here’s another statement that doesn’t tell the whole truth:

In fact, she’s cut 10 percent from the state’s budget in the last 2 years alone.

And she had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it. Let’s remember this from her appearance on @Issue With Tom Hauser:

Hauser: You can talk about reform all you want but reform inevitably ends up meaning that some people that are getting state services now won’t be getting them after this reform, whether it be in HHS, whether it be in education, early childhood, any of those things.

Tarryl: Sure, and an estimate, a good estimate would be that maybe we could figure out how to save about $500 million.

That’s Tarryl saying that it’s all but impossible to save $500,000,000, that we needed to raise taxes to eliminate the deficits that she created by spending the surplus.

That’s right, people. When Tarryl started her only full term, Minnesota had a $2,163,000,000 surplus. At the time, legislators were warned that the economy was slowing down. Did that prevent Tarryl and her DFL colleagues and their special interest allies from spending most of the surplus without cutting taxes? Of course it didn’t. The DFL legislature passed omnibus spending bills that would’ve increased spending by 17 percent.

When Tarryl talks fiscal responsibility, it isn’t because she’s interested in fiscal responsibility. It’s that she knows that’s CD-6 voters are interested so she’d better fake interest. Tarryl knows that if she doesn’t, she’ll be irrelevant this election.

The ad might be clever but it isn’t accurate or hard-hitting. It will be dismissed within a week. Either that or it’ll be laughed at. I’d argue that it’d hurt Tarryl’s credibility but that’s a stretch since people are quickly figuring out that she’ll say anything to people to win votes.

In other words, Tarryl doesn’t suffer from an overabundance of credibility. She never will.

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