Archive for February, 2011

Tonight, during the 6:30 news on KSTP, Leah McLean did a segment on the improved budget situation here in Minnesota. During that segment, she mentioned that a federal government shutdown might have an adverse effect on Minnesota’s deficit situation.

That’s something that I’d heard earlier in the day so I didn’t pay that much attention to it.

Then she got my undivided attention.

She said that there might be a federal government shutdown because Republicans were thinking about cutting Social Security and Medicare.

With all due respect, that’s utter nonsense. First off, neither of those entitlements have gotten discussed in connection with the CR. Second, neither of those entitlements have gotten discussed outside of the Debt Commission’s report.

I’d love knowing who Ms. McLean’s source was for this reporting. It certainly wasn’t anyone who’s taken seriously.

I’ve seen DFL/liberal schills in the Twin Cities’ media before but I’ve never heard even Lori Sturdevant make this reckless of a statement.

I won’t label McLean a DFL/liberal shill just because of this statement but I haven’t ruled that out either.

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If the DFL is hanging their agenda on Poligraph’s study of whether Speaker Zellers’ statement is 100 percent accurate, then they’re foolish. Here’s what’s written:

They claim Dayton’s proposed $4 billion in new revenue will hurt small businesses, as House Speaker Kurt Zellers pointed out in a Feb. 18, 2011 email to constituents.

“These tax increases will fall disproportionately on job creators,” Zellers wrote. “Approximately 92 percent of small businesses pay their taxes through the individual income tax.”

Zellers is exaggerating the impact of Dayton’s proposal.

Zellers’ concern centers on Dayton’s proposal to impose a 10.95 percent income tax rate on single filers making more than $85,000 in after tax income and couples making more than $150,000 in after tax income. Those making more than $500,000 in taxable income annually would see an additional 3 percent surtax, making Minnesota’s top income tax rate 13.95 percent. GOP legislators, including Zellers, say these income tax hikes will hurt small businesses most.

There are several ways to measure the size of a small business. In some cases, the Small Business Administration (SBA) looks at a firm’s annual receipts; in others, it focuses on the number of employees. Regardless, Zellers is correct that about 92 percent pay taxes through the individual return.

But the SBA definitions don’t mean much when it comes to taxes because some large companies pay their taxes through the individual return, and some very small companies pay corporate taxes.

Whatever the final determination is is essentially irrelevant. What’s relevant is that the drastic tax increases included in the Dayton Disaster will further damage Minnesota’s economy.

Quibbling about the Poligraph’s study is interesting at most. It doesn’t change the fact that Dayton’s Disaster won’t jumpstart Minnesota’s economy. No credible person can argue that policies in Dayton’s Disaster will jumpstart Minnesota’s private economy.

If people want to quibble over whether Speaker Zellers’ statement is 100 percent factually accurate, that’s their right. If they’d prefer to work on a solution, however, they won’t waste time on this subject.

Anyone arguing that Dayton’s Disaster provides the blueprint to a stronger economy will be laughed at mercilessly. Dayton’s proposals aren’t just a little outside mainstream economic thinking. They’re dramatically outside mainstream economic thinking.

Semantics aren’t totally unimportant in all instances. They’re just unimportant in this instance.

The bigger point that Speaker Zellers successfully made is that Republicans are pursuing policies that will increase entrepreneurship by letting the private sector do what it does best.

Reducing tax and regulatory burdens will dramatically change Minnesota’s economy. That’s what the GOP legislature is pursuing.

That’s the main point to remember.

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The DFL and other Democrats nationwide, not to mention their union allies, have used the phrase working families instead of union households for years. It’s time that they had sole propietorship of that phrase revoked.

While I can’t argue that unions work hard (at least most of the time), it’s absure to appropriate it solely to union households.

If we truly are to retake the vocabulary so that it actually means something again, we must sarcastically highlight the times when union activists try to make it sound like they’re the only people who are for the little guy. Let’s highlight the times when union households don’t hesitate in stiffing the little guy if it helps their wallets and their political agenda.

Word is spreading that unions aren’t looking out for the little guy, at least if the little guy isn’t a union member. It’s my contention that they’re really looking out for themselves and themselves alone.

Did Wisconsin’s ‘working families’ care one iota about taxpayers when their negotiations gave them a series of mini-monopolies? Nope. The city of Milton’s school district budget was $33,000,000. In Feb., 2010, the school district’s deficit was $850,000. At that point, the city took WEA Trust to arbitration. When the Milton School District won the case, it was reported that the school district would save $1,000,000 per year.

Does anyone not think that that isn’t a huge savings to true working families struggling to make ends meet during stressful economic times? Of course that’s a big deal.

Let’s consider this in context. That’s what the unions’ show of solidarity is about. That’s the right that those 14 fleebagger Wisconsin Democrat senators are fighting for. That’s what Minnesota politicians like Gov. Dayton and Rep. Keith Ellison rallied for recently in a ‘show of solidarity.’

You’ll forgive me if I don’t show my solidarity with these politicians as they fight against working families. They think their solidarity is a badge of honor. I’m betting that non-union working families have a substantially different perspective on things.

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It’s no secret that Dana Milbank is one of the most partisan hacks of the Washington Post’s columnists. It shouldn’t surprise that he’s written a column decrying Scott Walker’s “unprincipled rigidity.”

In the recorded call, Walker praised a centrist state senator, Tim Cullen, as “about the only reasonable one” among the 14 Democratic legislators who fled the state to deny Walker the quorum he needs to destroy Wisconsin’s public-sector unions. But when the fake Koch offered to call Cullen, Walker discouraged him:

“He’s pretty reasonable, but he’s not one of us…He’s not there for political reasons. He’s just trying to get something done…He’s not a conservative. He’s just a pragmatist.”

“Just a pragmatist”, as if it were an epithet. “Just trying to get something done”, as if this were evidence of a character defect.

Actually, being a pragmatist isn’t anything to brag about. There once was a time when a different term was used that was something to be proud of. That long-since-vanished term is statesman. The difference between pragmatism and statesmanship is significant.

Pragmatism is defined as an “action or policy dictated by consideration of the immediate practical consequences rather than by theory or dogma.”

The definition of statesmanship is “the ability, qualifications, or practice of a statesman; wisdom and skill in the management of public affairs.”

Notice the difference in qualities? A pragmatist isn’t necessarily worried about wisdom or integrity. They’re only worried about whether the policy they end up at is palatable to a significant group of people.

I can’t help thinking that few people aspire to be pragmatists. I’m confident, however, that lots of people aspire to be statesmen.

Milbank’s partisanship is exposed when he said that Gov. Walker isn’t principled. Yesterday, Ed highlighted the importance of PEU reform in this post:

When Walker says that the PEU reforms will allow counties, cities, and school districts more latitude in budget cuts, this is what he means. The protesters in Madison have avoided this particular point, perhaps because it exposes one of the real stakes in the fight.

The WEA, perhaps the most powerful union in the state, makes a fortune off of selling its insurance at inflated prices to districts around the state. Milton, for instance, saved $382 per month per employee when it got an arbitrator to agree to end the WEA Trust concession. Spread that around to the thousands of teachers in Wisconsin, and taxpayers can get a pretty good idea what PEU reform might mean in reducing stressed budgets at every level of government in Wisconsin.

Gov. Walker is fighting for the principle that taxpayers shouldn’t get ripped off by powerful unions. They’re currently getting ripped off because WEA is negotiating district-wide monopolies for their health insurance policies.

Milbank’s foolishness shined through when he said “14 Democratic legislators who fled the state to deny Walker the quorum he needs to destroy Wisconsin’s public-sector unions.” Obviously, Milbank wasn’t taught history properly. If he had, he would’ve heard the lesson about public employee unionization. Furtunately, Katherine Kersten wrote an insightful column on the history of PEU’s. Here’s what she wrote that Mr. Milbank should’ve learned:

Here’s a quiz: Who said that the prospect of a strike by a government union is “unthinkable and intolerable?”

Who said, “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government”?

Was it Reagan? Palin? Did Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker utter these provocative words?

No, no and no. The first quote is from Franklin Roosevelt, that champion of working people. The second is from George Meany, the AFL-CIO’s legendary first president.

When WEA negotiates a contract, it’s negotiating ‘against’ a school board that it’s all but hand-picked. The term incestuous leaps to mind. This isn’t an adversarial meeting like what’s found in private sector negotiations. Often, the school board and the union have identical goals and identical perspectives.

How can a just settlement arise out of that incestuous relationship? The answer is it can’t.

Here’s something that Mr. Milbank should learn:

“The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create,” explained labor expert James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation in the New York Times.

“Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers.'”

I’d modify that last sentence slightly. Here’s how I’d modify it: “When government unions strike, they strike against their neighbors.”

I wonder if the negotiations might have a different tone if it was between neighbors rather than between union leadership and a friendly school board. I’m betting it’d be significantly different.

That’s before considering the fact that federal workers can’t strike. They can’t even negotiate.

Fact: President Obama is the boss of a civil work force that numbers up to two million (excluding postal workers and uniformed military). Fact: Those federal workers cannot bargain for wages or benefits. Fact: Washington, D.C. is, in the purest sense, a “right to work zone.” Federal employees are not compelled to join a union, nor to pay union dues.

I’m betting that Mr. Milbank didn’t know that, either. Then again members of the Agenda Media generally don’t know much about the government they allegedly cover. That’s why people living in the Heartland don’t respect ‘journalists’ like Mr. Milbank.

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I’ve posted a number of things about the racket that the Wisconsin teachers union has fleeced Wisconsin taxpayers with. WEA Trust is the instrument that the Wisconsin Education Association has used to fleece Wisconsinites out of their hard-earned tax dollars to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

WEA has fleeced Wisconsinites out of millions of dollars by selling high-priced health insurance policies. They’ve done that after they’ve negotiated an exclusive rights contract when they’ve negotiated their contract.

Now Rep. Keith Ellison, (DFL-MN), sent 140 pizzas to the unions that’s bilking Main Street Wisconsin out of their money. He’s doing that under the guise of standing in solidarity with ‘Wisconsin’s working families.’

Why isn’t Rep. Ellison worried about the taxpayers that WEA Trust has stiffed? Doesn’t he care about these Wisconsin families? Is it that Rep. Ellison cares only about Wisconsin’s teachers union and the money they shovel to Democratic politicians through WEA Trust?

Shame on Rep. Ellison for not siding with the vast majority of Wisconsin families. Shame on Rep. Ellison for taking the union’s side after they’ve caused one property tax increase after another. Does Rep. Ellison think that’s standing with the little guy? Let’s remember that the union is the organzation that’s cost teachers thousands of dollars of their wages by forcing them to pay higher premiums for their health insurance.

That’s the principle that Keith Ellison is identifying himself with. That’s the cause that Rep. Ellison is wrapping himself up in.

Let’s remember that Gov. Dayton is standing in solidarity with WEA, too. He’s identifying himself with WEA’s practices, principles and profittakings, too.

I’m betting that Minnesotans would reject Rep. Ellison’s and Gov. Dayton’s appeal if they knew what they were selling. They’d reject their sales pitch in a New York minute.

Stand with Scott Walker. Stand with Wisconsin’s taxpayers. Stand for the principles that a) competition is what makes this nation great and b)monopolies, especially government-controlled monopolies, sap us of our greatness.

This is a hill I’m perfectly willing to fight and die on. There are some issues that I have opinions about but that I wouldn’t fight to the death about. This is a fight that I’ll eagerly fight on because the fight is important and the underlying principle is so right.

Shame on Rep. Ellison and Gov. Dayton for fighting against the things that make America great. Shame on Rep. Ellison and Gov. Dayton for fighting for principles that strengthen unions and weaken Main Street America.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-familiar pattern with Rep. Ellison and Gov. Dayton. It’s apparent that they’ll fight against the things that’ll strengthen Main Street if it’ll strengthen the unions.

Wisconsin needs public employee union reform in the worst way. It’s costing their taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. It’s costing their teachers thousands of dollars in additional health insurance premiums. It’s driving school districts into major deficits. It’s driving up property taxes for the average Wisconsinite.

That’s what Gov. Dayton, Rep. Ellison, Richard Trumka and the union universe are fighting for. That certainly isn’t standing with Main Street Wisconsin. That isn’t standing with rank-and-file union members.

If they aren’t standing for those causes, why are they fighting alongside union leadership? The answer, I’m afraid, is spelled p-ol-i-t-i-c-a-l c-o-n-t-r-i-b-u-t-i-o-n-s.

That’s some cause to get wrapped up in, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, Scott Walker has fought for Wisconsin’s taxpayers. He’s fought steadfastly for rank-and-file union members. He’s fought unflinchingly against property tax increases.

Doesn’t he deserve America’s support?

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Kimberley Strassel’s column is delightful in its irony:

The union horde is spreading, from Madison to Indianapolis to a state capital near you. And yet the Democratic and union bigwigs engineering the outrage haven’t directed their angry multitudes at what is arguably the most “hostile workplace” in the nation: Washington, D.C.

It will no doubt surprise you to learn that President Obama, the great patron of the working man, also happens to be the great CEO of one of the least union-friendly shop floors in the nation.

This is, after all, the president who has berated Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees, calling the very idea an “assault on unions.” This is also the president who has sicced his political arm, Organizing for America, on Madison, allowing the group to fill buses and plan rallies. Ah, but it’s easy to throw rocks when you live in a stone (White) house.

Fact: President Obama is the boss of a civil work force that numbers up to two million (excluding postal workers and uniformed military). Fact: Those federal workers cannot bargain for wages or benefits. Fact: Washington, D.C. is, in the purest sense, a “right to work zone.” Federal employees are not compelled to join a union, nor to pay union dues. Fact: Neither Mr. Obama, nor the prior Democratic majority, ever acted to give their union chums a better federal deal.

Scott Walker, eat your heart out.

For this enormous flexibility in managing his work force, Mr. Obama can thank his own party. In 1978, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, backed by a Democratic Congress, passed the Civil Service Reform Act. Washington had already established its General Schedule (GS) classification and pay system for workers. The 1978 bill went further, focused as it was on worker accountability and performance. It severely proscribed the issues over which employees could bargain, as well as prohibited compulsory union support.

The combination of Strassel’s sarcasm and factual irony is wonderful. That President Obama is acting like the greatest proponent of collective bargaining while running a union-hostile shop is rich.

Strassel notes as I did that the Wisconsin teachers union owns a health insurance company, which it exploits:

In Wisconsin, for instance, the teachers union doesn’t just bargain for more health dollars. It also bargains to require that local school districts buy health insurance for their teachers through the union-affiliated health-insurance plan, called WEA Trust. That requirement gives the union (not the state) ultimate say over health benefits. It also costs the state at least $68 million more annually than it would if schools could buy the state-employee health plan, money that goes to a union outfit.

This is a rigged game. First, the union negotiates that the school district has to buy their health insurance from their union-affiliated health-insurance plan. Then, once the competition is eliminated, the union-affiliated health-insurance plan is essentially a district-wide monopoly.

If that sounds fair to you, then you’re likely part of the teachers’ union leadership.

I highlighted in this post that the unions take full advantage of that small-scale monopoly:

Bernie Nikolay should be happy. His school district; he’s the superintendent in Milton, had a good November.

The girls swim team won the state title, a first for Milton girls athletics. And an arbitrator said the district could switch health coverage away from the insurer owned by the teachers union. That’ll save the district as much as a million bucks a year.

That the teachers union’s health insurance company was costing a school district an additional $1,000,000 over other insurance options is infuriating. To that school district’s taxpayers, I’m betting that the figure was eye-popping, too. And infuriating.

Milton isn’t the only city that’s gotten locked into this monopolistic relationship. WEA Trust makes alot of money statewide by exploiting their monopolistic advantage.

This is precisely why Gov. Walker is insisting on limiting collective bargaining rights to wages and benefits. To settle for giving WEA the right to negotiate which insurance company a school district buys their health insurance from is absurd.

If I were advising Gov. Walker, I’d remind him constantly that he should bring this up in his press appearances. I’d tell taxpayers just how much money the teachers unions are costing them over and above what they’d have to pay for health insurance.

If the unions were fielding questions on this subject from infuriated taxpayers, this debate would be finished in a heartbeat. It’d be over because the subject would’ve been made personal.

I’d predict that once the taxpayers knew about this racket, their response would be visceral and intense.

Once taxpayers are furious about a subject, that’s when the greatest local accountability happens. That’s when positive things happen.

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After posting about the Dayton administration’s obstructionism in this post, an LA I’ve known for awhile sent me an audio tape of the hearing I’d referenced. Because I can’t embed the audio into this post, I transcribed the relevant section of the 77-second exchange. Here’s the transcript of the relevant part of the exchange:

LANNING: Mr. Kuhlman, can you tell me the status of the response to the letter we sent?
KUHLMAN: The letter was completed. I signed off on it last week and just in time for the governor’s office to tell us to hold those letters until further notice…I’m a little hesitant to give you a letter with my name signed on it with my boss telling me not to do so.
LANNING: Well, thank you for your honest answer to that question, Mr. Kuhlman, and I think that’s very disappointing to hear that you’ve, in effect, been given orders not to respond to our legitimate request for information to help us understand your operation…

Let’s put this in context. Let’s add the transcript of Chairman Cornish’s scolding of Rep. Liebling on Dayton administration obstructionism:

Chairman Tony Cornish: Rep. Liebling, If you and the governor want to keep your head in the sand about illegal immigration and illegal aliens, that’s fine with me. One case in point: I asked the state patrol to show up today and testify on my illegal documents bill. I had an officer who’s assigned to ICE.

I told him he didn’t have to take a stance on the bill. All I wanted was factual information. The governor’s office took back the state patrol officer and would not let him testify on the illegal documents bill even though all I wanted was factual information.

These two incidents reveal that the Dayton administration is taking an imperial approach to responding to the legislature’s legitimate requests for information, information that’s needed by the legislature to put a budget together.

It’s pure chutzpah for him to say this:

“The time for this rhetorical game playing is over,” Dayton said. “I’ve submitted by budget, and now it’s their responsibility to develop their budget. Where is their budget?”

Gov. Dayton, it’s tied up in your administration because of the ordered obstructionism. If you’d let your administration work with the legislature, I’m confident that they’d put a sensible budget together quickly.

If, however, you continue with your obstructionism, then it’ll take longer. Either way, though, the GOP legislature will put a budget together that won’t raise taxes but does fund Minnesota’s priorities.

Gov. Dayton, it’s important that you know that I’ll be telling Minnesotans everywhere about your obstructionism. I’ll tell them that it’s really a form of corruption.

The choice is your’s. Continue the obstructionism and be branded as corrupt or respond to the GOP’s legitimate information requests and play a constructive role in the budget process.

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Everyone who isn’t comatose or hasn’t been comatose knows about the teachers union’s absence from Wisconsin during their show of solidarity on public employee union collective bargaining rights. It isn’t likely that they know that the teachers’ union was selling health insurance to school districts. What’s worse is that they were selling it at a steep price:

Bernie Nikolay should be happy. His school district; he’s the superintendent in Milton, had a good November.

The girls swim team won the state title, a first for Milton girls athletics. And an arbitrator said the district could switch health coverage away from the insurer owned by the teachers union. That’ll save the district as much as a million bucks a year.

For a district with a $33 million budget, that’s cheery. For the rest of the state, it means a tide may have turned.

How important is that $1,000,000 to the MSD? It’s this important:

The School District of Milton Board of Education will have its first look at the ways district administrators propose to fill in an approximate $850,000 budget shortfall for 2010-2011 during a special meeting Monday evening.

It’s just big enough to cause the school district’s monster deficit. Remember that the bill from the teachers union’s insurance company wasn’t $1,000,000. It’s that the savings was $1,000,000.

For a school district with a budget of $33,000,000, that’s a monstrous-sized savings realized.

Milton was paying $48,301 more in premiums for every month that it couldn’t switch from WEA Trust to a pair of plans from Madison-based Dean Health and Janesville-based MercyCare that it said were comparable.

That the union opposed the switch from WEA Trust to a more taxpayer-friendly insurance plan says everything about the teachers union’s priorities. That $1,000,000 in savings could’ve gone towards hiring more teachers to lower class sizes. It could’ve been used to get better equipment in science labs. It could’ve just been saved. It could’ve been used for a combination of those options.

This isn’t a tiny consideration. It’s gigantic in impact.

It could mean the end to the costly market dominance of WEA Trust, the health insurer owned by the Wisconsin Education Association Council. Just under two-thirds of Wisconsin districts use WEA Trust, a puzzling preference since its coverage is so costly.

Districts that buy WEA Trust plans average $1,665 a month for family premiums, according to their state association, while those choosing other carriers average $1,466. The difference is greatest where taxpayers cover the whole premium.

This is inexcusable. The biggest question is why this had to go to arbitration. Here’s the explanation:

The question is why it had to go to arbitration at all. The answer is that in Wisconsin, school districts can’t change health carriers, even if they keep benefits the same, without negotiating. And teachers unions have been very partial to keeping WEA Trust.

I can’t imagine why “teachers unions have been partial to keeping WEA Trust” as their health insurance carrier. (I’M KIDDING!!!)

Health benefits are a big reason labor costs are squeezing school districts. Not only are schools slow to adopt coverage that restrains costs, but simply being shoved into the high-cost provider hurts, too.

I thought that the unions looked out for working families, the little guy. How is making an extra $1,000,000 a year looking out for Main Street?

Columnist Patrick McIlheran sums it up this way:

The state’s finances are in ruins. The state’s chief expense by far is K-12 schooling, and we’re certain to hear that our choice is only between more taxes or more ignorance. Nonsense: What we pay for, what we get are crucial questions. Teachers deserve fair pay and benefits, but fairness doesn’t include a privileged position for one particular insurer, not when that preference sucks away scarce school money.

This is proof that the deficit isn’t just about revenue. Spending restraint is vitally important in putting Wisconsin back on solid financial footing.

UPDATE: I found this in the comments thread to Ed’s post about WEA Trust:

Saugatuck’s teachers are the area’s first to drop MESSA health insurance, a move that will save the school district nearly $180,000 a year, officials said.

“We’re the first district in the area to drop the MESSA insurance to my knowledge,” school board President Mike Van Loon said tonight.

Under the new two-year contract, approved tonight, the Saugatuck Education Association will switch coverage from the Michigan Education Association-based insurance to Priority Health at a savings of $3,800 per teacher a year for Saugatuck Public Schools.

In other words, Wisconsin isn’t the only state where the teachers union owns a health insurance company. It’ll be interesting to see how many other states’ teachers unions own health insurance companies that we’re paying for.

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It’s pretty widely accepted that Mitt Romney’s presidential ambitions are tied directly to his health care plan. That’s why it’s imperative he find a plausible defense for the plan. Based on this article, he hasn’t found it yet:

Despite the similarities between the two, chief among them the coverage requirement that provides for those without insurance to be fined, Romney has been trying to distance his plan from ObamaCare as he mulls a likely second White House bid on the Republican ticket.

He maintains that his plan was successful in Massachusetts but should not be applied at the national level, criticizing the president’s plan for being an unconstitutional infringement on states’ rights.

I can’t argue that Obamacare is “an unconstitutional infringement on states’ rights.” That isn’t the only unconstitutional provision in O’Care, though. Like O’Care, RomneyCare imposes an individual mandate on people, too. That’s likely to be the bigger burden on a Romney candidacy than the states rights issue.

To be fair, they’re both legitimate issues. The sad part is that RomneyCare violates both major constitutional issues if done on a national level.

There are 2 bigger points to be taken from this: 1) that Gov. Romney isn’t a constitutional conservative and 2) he won’t have the TEA Party’s support for the general election.

A Romney ticket would be doomed for a landslide defeat. Without TEA Party support, a GOP candidate’s support would likely look like John McCain’s support: small and less than enthusiastic.

They’d work hard for House and Senate candidates but they’d sit on their hands when it comes time for Gov. Romney because the majority of TEA Party activists are looking for candidates who eat, sleep and breathe the Constitution.

That description doesn’t fit Mitt.

If Gov. Romney is the GOP nominee, it’ll be an electoral disaster for Republicans. It’d mean needlessly missing a great opportunity at defeating President Obama.

This is too important an election to pick someone like Gov. Romney. First, we’ll need the TEA Party energized to win. If they aren’t energized, we can’t win. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION. Second, Romney is a target-rich environment. His vulnerabilities are too plentiful. Third, Gov. Romney’s time has passed. His message doesn’t resonate like it might have in 2008. The landscape has changed that dramatically.

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Gov. Dayton, We aren’t in denial, as you suggest in this post, that there’s a “direct impact of decisions made in St. Paul on property tax increases.” It’s just that we think that the decisions directly impacting property tax increases are the decisions made by the St. Paul City Council and Mayor Coleman.

In a conference call from Washington, D.C., where he is attending a meeting of the National Governors Association, the new DFL governor said Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature are “in some kind of denial” about property tax increases that have resulted from cuts in local government aid.

“They continue to be in denial over the direct impact of decisions made in St. Paul on property tax increases,” he said.

I’ll start trusting Gov. Dayton’s economic judgments the day he doesn’t rely on increasing income taxes to the highest level in the U.S. to balance his budget. Until then, I won’t trust him as far as I could throw him if I had two broken arms and a bad back.

Gov. Dayton says that his approach to balancing the budget is a “balanced approach.” How he can say that with a straight face knowing that his budget relies on $4 of tax increases for each dollar of spending cuts indicates that he isn’t in touch with reality.

Dayton, asked about a letter sent by Senate Republicans Thursday opposing his budget, said the GOP lawmakers are “on very thin ice to be poking at my budget proposal.”

This coming from the man who tried 3 times during the campaign to propose a balanced budget and failed. He said his first proposal would increase general fund revenues by $4,000,000,000. When the Department of Revenue scored it, they said it’d produce $1,900,000,000, less than half of what he predicted.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t accept Gov. Dayton’s supposed economic credibility.

While his tax proposal would spare all but the top 5 percent income bracket, Dayton said, Republican policies would result in across-the-board property tax increases, which he called a “regressive, unfair tax on everybody.”

Way to go Strib. That’s some of the finest dictation from the allegedly MSM in almost a day.

“The time for this rhetorical game playing is over,” Dayton said. “I’ve submitted by budget, and now it’s their responsibility to develop their budget. Where is their budget?”

It’s funnny that Gov. Dayton should ask where the GOP’s budget is after he gave orders to his cabinet to not testify in committee or respond to official committee letters requesting information they’ll need to put a budget together.

It’s infuriating that Gov. Dayton would restrict important budget testimony then complain that the GOP haven’t put a budget together. They’ll have a budget put together the minute he stops being an obstructionist. Does he think the legislature can do its work when large amounts of key budget information is off-limits to them?

Thus far, Gov. Dayton is a disgustingly corrupt individual. He’s stood in the way of the legislature getting its work done. Shame on him. If he doesn’t put an end to this corruption, then I’ll inform Minnesotans just what a corrupt, inept individual they elected as their governor.

There’s a reason why he was picked as the worst senator in the U.S. Senate.

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