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Archive for March, 2011

If ever was a question whether Arne Carlson was an egotistical elitist liberal, this post should put that question to rest. The post also provides a fun-filled trip through Arne’s fantasyland:

In any type of struggle involving a Governor versus the Legislature, a Governor will almost always prevail. First of all, a Governor is the sole leader of a vast statewide management system; can move with speed and flexibility; and has the ability to instantly communicate to the media and the public. Secondly, he has the full muscle of the veto.

Governor Dayton’s letter suggests that he fully understands the powers of his office and is prepared to use them.

Technically, Arne’s right in that Gov. Dayton is the “sole leader of a vast statewide management system.” Certainly, Gov. Dayton has veto authority. These things don’t necessarily mean, however, that he’ll win many fights.

Vetoing bills because he’s insisting that Minnesota has to spend money it doesn’t have on things that are operated on a 1970s business model is stupid.

For instance, Gov. Dayton isn’t interested in real health care reform that lowers costs. Instead, Gov. Dayton signed an EO enrolling us in Early MA, a plan that Democrats are now admitting don’t address runaway costs:

“The real issue that was not addressed, Laura, that you’ve raised now, and I think appropriately, is the cost, the cost to both the government and to your listeners. We need to take steps now to get the costs of health care under control. That was not dealt with really in an aggressive way in this legislation. I think it now needs to be,” Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) told Laura Ingraham.

I’m betting that Minnesota’s taxpayers won’t side with Gov. Dayton when they discover that he’s enrolled them in a program that drives health care costs up.

Institutional authority doesn’t help when it’s used to support unpopular policies. On issue after issue, Gov. Dayton is positioned opposite the will of the people. Institutional authority won’t help him win those fights.

The specific situation as it pertains to Republicans and their control of both houses has additional burdens including:

1—They are locked into their own campaign rhetoric which railed against any form of “revenue enhancement” and this includes debt.

2—The expectations held out by their leaders during the campaign, Emmer, Pawlenty, Sutton, to the effect that either there are no deficits or that they will be easy to manage.

3—The increasing pressure from Tea Party supporters demonizing “revenue enhancement” and all the tools normally employed by political systems to resolve conflict such as compromise, negotiating, or even meeting with the other side. In Minnesota, this pressure increases as Michelle Bachman’s presidential campaign gains strength.

First, Tom Emmer didn’t hint that deficits would be “easy to manage.” What he did say is that deficit disappeared if we decided to spend only the money that was projected to come in.

Carlson is proving himself to be a traditional politician. His first instinct appears to be to raise taxes rather than question current spending levels. Why isn’t Carlson questioning spending? Why is he, like fellow progressive Gov. Dayton, locked into the status quo stupidity of the DFL?

Doing something solely because that’s what you’ve alway done is foolishness. Doing something because it’s the smartest way to do something is what Republicans, especially the TEA Party, is about.

It’s worth highlighting that Gov. Carlson apparently hasn’t listened to Main Street Minnesotans. That’s a trait most elitists share. They think that they know best and they’re going to do whatever they want regardless of the will of the people.

That’s the attitude that got the DFL booted from their Senate and House majorities in the state legislature. Also contributing to the DFL getting booted into minority status was the TEA Party’s ideas and energy.

Gov. Carlson apparently hasn’t noticed that. Neither has Gov. Dayton or the DFL legislature. They think that their media allies and Gov. Dayton’s megaphone will pull them through. That’s what will get them in trouble.

All these forces are designed to push legislative Republicans away from a negotiated settlement and more towards a stalemate that would close government. There can be no doubt that the Republican Party will be split between those willing to govern and the new far right which will not compromise.

Will Republicans get everything they want? Obviously not. Does that mean they’ll cave on raising taxes when people are already struggling? There isn’t a snowball’s prayer in hell that they’ll cave into that stupidity.

Outside of those addicted to govenment support, Minnesotans don’t support raising taxes. The sooner the DFL gets that out of the way, the sooner we can get down to finalizing the budget. If Gov. Dayton wants to veto the GOP legislature’s balanced budget because it doesn’t spend enough, he’s got the institutional authority to do that.

Republicans should welcome the opportunity to argue that their budget funds priorities important to Minnesota’s taxpayers and businesses without raising taxes. They should highlight the fact that the DFL has essentially spent this session sitting on the sidelines criticizing the GOP without proposing solutions or reforms.

Finally, the GOP should highlight the reforms they’ve proposed and passed that would make government less expensive without underfunding Minnesota’s priorities.

If Gov. Dayton wants to defend his vetoing important reforms because his special interest allies rejected reform and supported status quo stupidity, that’s his business.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL should be forewarned, however, that there’s a steep political price to pay for that decision in November, 2012. That’s something all the institutional authority in the world can’t prevent.

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Judge Sumi, the Wisconsin judge that ordered Wisconsin’s Secretary of State Doug La Follette to not publish Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining law, is upset because she screwed up. This article does a nice job outlining Judge Sumi’s mistake:

Huebsch’s latest comments raise questions about whether he or others could face sanctions following a hearing Tuesday, when Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said any further implementation of the law is prohibited under a temporary court order.

“Now that I’ve made my earlier order as clear as it possibly can be, I must state that those who act in open and willful defiance of the court order place not only themselves at peril of sanctions, they also jeopardize the financial and the governmental stability of the state of Wisconsin,” Sumi said Tuesday.

Sumi was referring to a March 18 ruling that a legislative committee likely violated the state’s open meetings law when it rushed passage of the bill earlier this month. That order also barred Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law.

But the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, which wasn’t party to the case, published the law on the Legislature’s website Friday citing a separate statutory obligation to publish laws within 10 days of being signed by the governor. That has prompted the administration to declare the law is in effect.

I can’t help but highlight the unions’ lawyering was sloppy, too. Their omitting the Legislative Reference Bureau from their TRO application is stupefying. It’s the unions’ attorneys’ responsibility to stop the law from being published. That means knowing that the Legislative Reference Bureau had the affirmative legal obligation to publish the law.

Judge Sumi can’t change her ruling after the fact. Her TRO didn’t mention the Legislative Reference Bureau. Joining them to her ruling after her initial ruling would essentially represent Judge Sumi arguing against her own ruling.

At this point, the unions’ attorneys are a laughingstock. They didn’t do their proper research. Had they done their research, they would’ve found out that the Legislative Reference Bureau also publishes the laws. At that point in their due diligence, they could’ve added the LRB to their TRO.

Any attempt by Judge Sumi or the union attorneys to change her ruling to include the LRB would almost automatically trigger a due process appeal. If a due process appeal is made, that appeal isn’t a Wisconsin state court matter because due process rights are part of the federal Constitution. That means that potential lawsuit would be decided by SCOTUS.

The minute this litigation leaves the unions’ home court of Wisconsin state courts, they’re history.

If Judge Sumi or the Wisconsin Supreme Court cared about Wisconsin state law, this case would’ve been history by now. Wisconsin’s open meetings laws don’t apply to special sessions. That’s what the legislature was operating in.

This is long-settled law. If the unions don’t like Section 19.87, their remedy is to get legislation written, passed and signed into law. In fact, this lawsuit should’ve been thrown out before the hearing.

Judge Sumi doesn’t have the right to ignore the laws she doesn’t like. Writing new laws that support her policy preferences isn’t administering justice. It’s the opposite of justice because it substitutes codified law with personal preferences.

Her attempt to skirt this law is proof that she’s unfit for the bench. Society can’t tolerate jurists who ignore laws they don’t like. That’s a form of low-profile anarchy.

It isn’t even-handed justice.

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The gun-slinging version of Harry Reid has returned as negotiations heat up over a CR that will fund government the rest of this fiscal year. Yesterday, Reid’s less-than-intelligent side returned during a floor speech:

Speaking on the Senate floor today, Reid cited a new CNN poll showing that the Tea Party is viewed just as negatively as the Republican or the Democratic parties, the Washington Post reports. Reid said Republicans shouldn’t let “let the Tea Party call the shots” in the budget negotiations.

“The people who care about the Tea Party are a very small number who care about them positively,” Reid said. “Those who care about them negatively is very high; it’s 50 percent.”

In the CNN poll, 47 percent said they had a negative opinion of the Tea Party while 32 percent said they had a positive opinion and 14 percent had no opinion. Both the Democratic and Republican parties received 48 percent unfavorable ratings.

The poll Reid cites is an outlier. Anyone that thinks the TEA Party movement is unpopular should check last November’s election results. Those results were the direct result of the TEA Party movement energizing Americans from border to border and from coast to coast.

The TEA Party movement should be credited with causing the landslide election that helped Republicans gain 63 seats in the U.S. House, 6 seats in the U.S. Senate, 5 governorships, 680 state legislative seats and 19 legislative chambers to flip from blue to red.

That said, Michael Barone is right in insisting that the TEA Party must continue making its case to the nation:

Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, both elected in 2009, have won public acceptance of major spending cuts by making the alternatives and the facts clear.

Republicans in Wisconsin and other states, and Republican leaders in Washington, need to do the same. Given their druthers, voters oppose tax increases and spending cuts. But they’re responsive to the message that in these hard economic times it’s not possible to have all good things.

They have seen that vast spending increases haven’t generated jobs, and they understand that tax increases can choke a sputtering economic recovery. Given the facts, they understand that public employee unions inflate spending, reduce accountability and operate as a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayer money to one political party.

The press won’t make that case. Republicans and tea partiers need to do it themselves.

I’ve started a rallying cry for TEA Partiers to rally around:

NO MORE!!!

NO MORE!!! says that we won’t tolerate Harry Reid’s Democrats spending us into oblivion. NO MORE!!! says that we’re tired of Harry Reid’s Democrats unwillingness to pass a budget.

It’s been a year since Harry Reid’s Democrats should’ve started working on the FY2011 budget. Harry Reid’s Democrats decided that they’d rather play political games than do what’s right. Harry Reid’s Democrats decided that playing political games was more important than solving America’s problems.

I wrote yesterday that Gov. Dayton’s budget was orphaned. I can’t say that about Harry Reid’s budget because I’m certain it’s never existed. I’m certain of that because Speaker Boehner spoke out about it:

House Speaker John Boehner today has this message for Senate Democrats who say they’ve got a plan to cut spending for the rest of the year:

“Well, great, pass the damn thing, alright? And send it over here, and let’s have real negotiations, instead of sitting over there and rooting for a government shutdown,” the Ohio lawmaker said as the House GOP leaders met with reporters.

Harry Reid’s Democrats won’t pass a budget. They’ve had a year to prove that they care about fiscal discipline. For a year, they’ve proven with their inaction that they’re mostly interested in carping from the sidelines. They aren’t interested in providing real solutions. They’re only interested in accumulating political power.

Thanks to the TEA Party movement, that isn’t good enough. More people than ever are demanding that real spending cuts are passed, that autopilot spending isn’t acceptable.

Like Mr. Barone said, “Given the facts, they understand that public employee unions inflate spending, reduce accountability and operate as a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayer money to one political party.”

The TEA Party must continue talking about the virtues of limiting government’s authority, giving people greater decisionmaking authority and spending money on things we need rather than on items on the Democrats’ wish list.

When properly explained, like it was last year, the TEA Party movement is the most powerful political movement in a generation.

Finally, let’s remember that Harry Reid’s declaration that the TEA Party isn’t popular is likely to become as ridiculed as Reid’s declaration that “this war is lost.”

Gun-slinging Harry’s track record on predictions isn’t exactly stellar.

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This week, Rep. Paul Thissen did his best Woodie Allen impression of the whining, snivelling wimp Allen often played in movies. Rep. Thissen did that in the hopes that people wouldn’t notice that they’ve orphaned Gov. Dayton’s budget.

Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk must’ve orphaned Gov. Dayton’s budget because they’ve apparently left it without protection or care. It’s to the point that I’m looking for it on milk cartons and billboards.

I can’t blame them, though, considering what Gov. Dayton packed into it. I remember the crickets chirping when Gov. Dayton announced his tax-the-rich scheme. I remember hearing those crickets return when he talked about his $1,000,000,000 bonding bill. I remember Rachel Stassen-Berger asking Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk THREE TIMES whether they’d support Gov. Dayton’s tax increases:

One exchange:

Question: “Do you support the tax increases in this bill?”

Thissen: “The governor is delivering on what he promised. We have always been in our DFL caucus in favor of a solution that is going to be fair…We need to look at the details of it. I think the most important thing now to look at is asking the Republicans, okay, what’s your answer.”

Question: “That didn’t answer the question…Do you support these tax increases?”

Bakk: “If you look at the tax incidence study, it will show you that more well to do Minnesotans, especially those over $500,000 in income pay a little bit over eight percent of their income in taxes and the rest of us, in the middle class and lower income Minnesotans, pay about 12.3 percent. And I think from a policy standpoint, the governor is right that everyone should be expect to pay about the same percentage of their income in state and local taxes.”

A third:

Question: “So yes or no. Do you two support the tax package in the governor’s proposal? Yes or no.”

Bakk: “Well, I certainly want to see the budget pages and I’m not going to tell you if they offer a vote on it I’m going to vote yes or no on it because we are actually having a hearing in the tax committee (to delve into the budget) either tomorrow or Thursday…After Thursday I can probably give you an answer.”

Stassen-Berger asked that question on Feb. 15th. It’s now March 30. Sen. Bakk certainly has had time to read Gov. Dayton’s budget by now.

You’d think that Gov. Dayton would be more worried about his orphaned budget. He isn’t. He isn’t because he’s too busy issuing ultimatums about what shouldn’t be in the legislation that the GOP has written and worked through the committee/amendment process.

It seems that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen don’t care about Gov. Dayton’s budget. Further, we haven’t seen it since Gov. Dayton submitted it 44 days ago. Given the lack of attention that this trio has paid to Gov. Dayton’s budget, I think it’s appropriate to classify Gov. Dayton’s budget as orphaned.

Here’s one of the definitions of orphaned according to Dictionary.com:

a person or thing that is without protective affiliation, sponsorship, etc.: The committee is an orphan of the previous administration.

I’d argue that that definition fits Gov. Dayton’s budget to a T. Gov. Dayton’s budget certainly is missing sponsorship. Gov. Dayton’s budget “is without protective affiliation.”

Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen portray themselves as the protectors of the poor, the downtrodden. I won’t buy that characterization until they show they care about Gov. Dayton’s orphaned budget.

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I don’t know what idiot is giving Democrats advice these days but if they’re paying him more than $1 a day, they’re getting ripped off. If strategists are telling Sen. Schumer they should use the words extreme or extremists, they’re giving Democrats bad advice.

Thanks to Sen. Schumer telling that to his Senate colleagues, and some reporters, we now know that the Democrats can’t wait to shut the federal government down.

We don’t have to just take Sen. Schumer’s word for it, either. Former RNC Chairman Howard Dean said that a government shutdown would be a great thing:

“From a partisan point of view, I think it would be the best thing in the world to have a shutdown,” Sen. Howard Dean said Tuesday at a National Journal Insider Conference’s panel.

That’s because, Dean said, Republicans would be blamed for it.

“If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it,” Dean said. “I know who’s going to get blamed. We’ve been down this road before.”

In 1995, Bill Clinton wasn’t faced with exploding deficits, high unemployment or a national debt closing in on 100% of GDP. Two other things working against today’s Democrats is that they weren’t fighting against the TEA Party and they weren’t led by Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer.

Sen. Schumer, though, thinks that tying the TEA Party around Speaker Boehner’s neck will be the death knell for Republicans. That’s total nonsense.

As Congress tries to pass a spending plan before April 8, the date of a possible government shutdown, Democrats repeatedly blamed their inability to reach a compromise on House Speaker John Boehner by saying he is caving to the Tea Party members of his Republican Party.

Earlier Tuesday, New York’s Schumer said Tea Party representatives were “breathing down the back” of Boehner. After the discussion with Schumer, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, said the “relatively small, extreme group of ideologues” was an anchor around the neck of the negotiations.

Prior to the 2010 election, DNC Chair Tim Kaine said that TEA Party participation would likely hurt Republicans. Based on the fact that Republicans gained 63 House seats, 7 Senate seats, 5 governorships and 680 state legislative seats. This was the deepest, strongest, top-to-bottom drubbing of the Democrats in a century. It was fueled primarily by the TEA Party movement.

TEA Party principles resonate with a diverse demographic group, too. To use Michele Bachmann’s words on Greta’s show tonight, when informed by Greta, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that she alone was to blame for the imminent government shutdown, Michele responded saying that TEA Party activists just want government “to not raise taxes, to not spend more than it takes in and to live within the boundaries of the Constitution.”

Even to a progressive like Sen. Schumer, that isn’t extreme. It’s just what he says when he’s near a microphone.

Michele and Paul Ryan both highlighted the fact that the reason why we’re even in this position is because Democrats didn’t pass a budget last year when they held a 50+ seat majority in the House, held a 59-41 seat majority in the Senate and held the White House. They didn’t pass a budget because they didn’t want to give Republicans the opportunity to run against another budget that showed their spending, and the resulting deficits, were out of control.

This was the first time since the early 70′s that the House and Senate didn’t pass a budget bill or the 13 appropriations bills. For that matter, the Democrats didn’t even consider budget bills or appropriation bills in committee.

Literally, they did nothing with regard to the budget. They didn’t touch the budget purely out of political considerations.

Now they’re telling their allies in the media that a government shutdown would be the Republicans’ fault. That’s total BS. It’s nothing of the sort. In fact, based on the overwhelming election results, I’d argue that Republicans are the only people listening to the will of the people.

When voters ran out 63 more Democrats than Republicans in the U.S. House, when the U.S. Senate goes from 59-41 Democrat margin to a 53-47 Democrat margin, something seismic is happening. When Minnesota Republicans go from a 46-21 minority in the State Senate to a 37-30 seat majority and from an 87-47 seat minority in the House to a 72-62 seat majority, something seismic is happening.

Sen. Schummer is betting that tying the Republican Party to the TEA Party is good for Democrats. I’ll bet that Sen. Schumer won’t like how that bet turns out.

Americans know that spending $3.69T instead of spending $3.73T isn’t a radical change. If anything, I’d bet that people would argue that trimming the budget by that little isn’t sharp enough.

If that’s the battlefield Democrats want to fight on, that’s certain to put a smile on alot of Republicans’ faces. Now that their plans have been exposed, I’m totally confident that Republicans will win if they continue listening to the will of the people.

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Gov. Dayton has built a reputation of throwing temper tantrums. Now he’s building a reputation of throwing hand grenades while he’s throwing his temper tantrums. Yesterday, he threw another hand grenade:

Gov. Mark Dayton rolled a political hand grenade into Republican leaders’ piecemeal budget solution Monday, informing them he will reject all bills until they present a complete, balanced financial package.

Dayton issued a sternly worded, three-page letter hours before the GOP-controlled House passed a tax bill that would gut aid for the state’s largest cities, a signature Republican initiative designed to kick off a week’s worth of votes on budget bills that cut most state agencies.

GOP reaction to Gov. Dayton’s ultimatum wasn’t positive:

The letter “was probably a step backward,” House Majority Leader Matt Dean said Monday.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, took more pointed aim at the governor. “Leadership is not writing letters,” he said. “Leadership is not drawing lines in the sand.”

Gov. Temper Tantrum can veto the GOP’s budget bills if he likes. It’s important that he understands that his veto, and the DFL legislature’s sustaining them, will come with a political price in 2012. I’d love watching the DFL campaign on being the party that wanted to raise taxes and spending more. That didn’t work in 2010. It’ll fail in 2012, too.

Dayton also wants the GOP to do what other Legislatures have done, abide by Revenue Department estimates for what each proposal will save or cost the state. He said he won’t negotiate with them until they do so. Republicans last week revealed that they were basing their estimates on numbers from private business and other states.

If Gov. Temper Tantrum wants to stomp his feet or hold his breath till his face turns blue, that’s his right. The only thing that John Q. Public cares about is whether MMB says that the GOP’s budget balances. When John Q. Public finds out that it balances without raising taxes, Main Street Minnesota will side with the GOP. PERIOD.

If Gov. Dayton refuses to negotiate with the MNGOP after they’ve balanced the budget, Main Street Minnesota will demand Gov. Dayton provide a better explanation than what he’s offered thus far.

It’s important that we’re clear about something else, namely that the DFL, whether we’re talking about Gov. Dayton or the DFL legislature of the past 4 years, doesn’t have credibility on putting balanced budgets together.

Then-Candidate Dayton put forth a supposedly detailed balanced budget proposal early in the election cycle. The cornerstone of the budget was a $4,000,000,000 tax-the-rich increase.

Then it met reality.

MMB said that his tax-the-rich scheme would only generate $1,900,000,000, meaning his supposedly detailed budget still had a $2,000,000,000 deficit.

Dayton 2.0 didn’t turn out substantially better, finishing with a $1,000,000,000 deficit.

Dayton 3.0 dropped his promise of raising education funding every year without exceptions, without excuses and added more taxes. Finally, it balanced.

Then there’s the 2009 budget session. That’s the year when DFL legislative leadership didn’t offer their own budget. That’s the year they tried raising taxes only to see its members reject the DFL’s tax increase proposals. That’s the year when the only balanced budget proposal was their final proposal. That’s the budget that passed the House with 9 minutes left in the session. Even then, that ‘budget’ had a paltry $36,000 estimated surplus at the end of the 2010-11 biennium.

That surplus disappeared before Labor Day, 2009.

Throughout all their machinations, the DFL hasn’t put together a reform-minded, pro-growth budget in ages. That they’re afforded any credibility on budgetary issues is astonishing.

They’ve been abetted by their media allies who’ve covered ‘reported’ about the DFL’s witnesses rather than seriously questioning the DFL’s policies.

Does anyone with real gravitas think that Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen and the DFL will produce a real balanced budget that appeals to Main Street Minnesotans? I’m betting against it.

Today’s DFL is expert at appealing to their special interest puppeteers. They’re substantially less than expert at putting together a reform-minded, pro-growth budget that leads Minnesota into the state’s next generation of sustained prosperity.

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This afternoon, Rep. Thissen persisted in stating that refusing to raise income taxes on Minnesota’s job creators raised property taxes. In fact, he insisted that not raising income taxes on Minnesota’s job creators raised property taxes on Minnesota’s middle class. In fact, he insisted that there is abundant proof of such a direct connection.

In fact, Rep. Thissen criticized Republicans for questioning his questionable statements.

Rep. Thissen’s mantra is routine by now. Thus far, sadly, the Twin Cities chapter of the Agenda Media haven’t challenged him on his misstatements. Unfortunately, that’s predictable.

The thing that bothers me is that Rep. Thissen made the declaration that raising income taxes on Minnesota’s job creators created jobs but raising property taxes killed jobs.

Rep. Thissen’s statements are provocative, at minimum. More than likely, they’re fabrications.

I’d love hearing Rep. Thissen’s proof for his statements. I’d refute him by simply pointing to St. Cloud. We’ve had our LGA cut the past 3 years. Property taxes would’ve dropped if not for the public voting to raise taxes for a new library.

Then there’s Prior Lake. They’ve had their LGA zeroed out. Still, their property taxes haven’t gone up. What’s more is that they’re running a $2,000,000 surplus.

That’s what I’d call total refutation of Rep. Thissen’s statements.

In the end, the House Tax Bill passed. After the vote, Rep. Steve Gottwalt issued this statement:

We’re funding priorities while living within our means and without jacking up taxes. On the other hand, the Dems favor increasing state spending 22% and jacking up taxes more than $4 billion, but they don’t even have the courage of their convictions: They have not offered a tax increase or even brought forward Gov. Dayton’s so-called budget proposal! After leaving us $5 billion in the hole, they aren’t doing anything to help curb the spending spree. It’s up to the GOP majority to mend the breech and make the tough decisions.

Rep. King Banaian said that “our tax bill provides lower- and middle-class relief through individual income tax cuts. It encourages a 21st Century economy by expanding the R&D tax credit and finally updating the way we handle sales tax for business equipment purchases. It funds the priorities of our government in a way that allows for the growth of private sector jobs and the well-being of Minnesota families.”

It’s apparent that the DFL is the Party of No Solutions and Focus Group-Tested Mantras. They aren’t a party with serious solutions.

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Sheila Kihne’s post got me thinking about the GOP’s messaging. For the most part, I’ll say that it’s been pretty decent, thanks in large part to Speaker Zellers’ and Majority Leader Koch’s work. A special thanks to RPM Chairman Tony Sutton for this well-written, thoughtful op-ed.

Still, Sheila has a point with this:

One note though to the GOP: Can we PLEASE, PLEASE get rid of this talking point “Government should live within its means.” The government, via its power to tax, has unlimted means. If I were a Dem, I’d throw that back so easily and argue for tax hikes. They’re doing just that by the way. I’m on the Organizing for America email list and Obama issued a message today about “government living within its means.” STOP. Educate people about the conservative worldview which takes things much farther down the path than year to year, biennium to biennium budget cycles. When we explain how we think to people, we can change minds. When we play the Dem game of coordinated talking points, then let’s at least ensure they’re a bit more bulletproof.

In this light, I’m confident that my representative, King Banaian, is onto something in this post:

What we want is to start with an amount of government we want to pay for. I would like there to be money to pay the police and court officials and corrections officers, man the firehouse, pave the roads, and educate our kids (maybe privately, but again that’s besides the point.) We then figure out what’s the best way to collect that money. How can we get it without changing how people behave to avoid paying?

Sheila, your request is hidden in King’s post. I’ve done a fair amount of messaging in my lifetime. King’s explanation is a persuasive explanation for the fence-sitters in our lives, whether they’re co-workers, neighbors, friends or relatives.

It’s important that we remember that we’re heading into crunch time at the legislature. Things will move at warp speed for the rest of the session. Those conditions aren’t conducive to catchy phrasing. That’s why our support is vital. Doing our own messaging will help shape public opinion. Passing along our best ideas to the good guys matters, too.

While King’s explanation is a great explanation of the GOP’s goal, it isn’t great bumper sticker material. Here’s my attempt at it:

The MNGOP: Paying for the government we need, not the goverment that the special interests want.

On a tangentially different subject, the DFL continues to insist that things continue to be done the same way they’ve always been done. If I had $10 for each time I’ve heard that not increasing income taxes leads to property tax hikes, I’d have enough to live the rest of the year on. That’s led me to this bumper sticker-style phrase:

The era of status quo stupidity is over.

Simply put, we can’t afford more autopilot budgeting because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ New paradigms are constantly being created. New tools accomplishing more are popping up almost daily. Why on God’s green earth should we stick with the status quo if it isn’t working?

It’ll take great messaging to persuade people to support our conservative goals. It also means reminding our conservative legislators that we’re supporting them. That’s important because it reminds them that they aren’t alone.

If we get those 2 things right, we’ll have alot to smile about at the end of this session.

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While doing a little light reading tonight, I learned what one of the Minnesota Nurses’ Association’s highest priorities for 2010 was. Here’s their stated goals for 2010:

Member and staff time, as well as substantial financial resources, will be committed to advancing the following areas of priority.

  • Position MNA for negotiations from strength across Minnesota
  • Organize to increase MNA membership and participation and promote MNA mission and strategic goals through political activism and collective action.
  • Educate and mobilize members around health care reform, and pursue short and long-term strategies to achieve a single-payer health care system with guaranteed health care for all.
  • Ensure the integrity of nursing practice and advance safe patient staffing standards and principles through collective action, collective bargaining, legislative initiative, grassroots organizing, political action and education consistent with the MNA Strategic Plan and the objectives of National Nurses United (NNU).

If anyone thinks that these progressives have quit fighting for their dream (our nightmare) of a single-payer healthcare system, they’d better rethink things. That’s been the progressives’ goal for three-fourth’s of a century. Insinuated in the MNA’s goals is that these nurses know what’s best in terms of what’s a viable economic model. There’s no question that nurses ar professionals in terms of providing care. Likewise, there’s no question that they’re totally wrong about single-payer. In 2008, I studied single-payer. The most damning statements about single-payer, ironically, came from single-payer advocates. Here’s was AMSA said at the time:

Although there are some advantages and some disadvantages to each system, universal health care confers the greatest number of advantages. They include:

  1. Every individual would receive necessary medical coverage, regardless of age, health, employment, or socio-economic status.
  2. Health care spending would decline because centralized billing procedures would reduce administrative overhead. Consequently, a larger percentage of the cost of health care would actually be spent on patient treatment.
  3. Increased access to preventive care and the ability of government to purchase prescription medications in bulk would also help drive down health care costs. However, the corresponding drop in revenue for pharmaceutical companies could lead to a reduction in overall research and development, slowing down technological advancement.
  4. Patients can choose their physician and physicians can choose the most appropriate treatment for their patients.
  5. There would be a removal of profit-motive in health care. The driving force behind the health industry would be patient care and not profit maximization.

This sentence should scare anyone whose family a) has a history of heart problems, b) has aging parents or c) is prone to cancer:

“The corresponding drop in revenue for pharmaceutical companies could lead to a reduction in overall research and development, slowing down technological advancement.”

Single-payer advocates admit that the explosion of wonder drugs from the 80s and 90s would slow to the trickle of the single-payer system. This sentence essentially admits that this advocacy group is delusional:

There would be a removal of profit-motive in health care. The driving force behind the health industry would be patient care and not profit maximization.

Without “a profit-motive in health care”, there won’t be high quality health care from border to border or from coast to coast. Removing the incentive removes the product. Yes, I’ll state that categorically. Free market capitalism at its finest is simply betting on human nature. Socialism is betting that central planners can hoodwink people into betting against human nature.

That might work for brief periods of time but those lapses quickly get corrected. It appears that the MNA is almost as interested in driving the progressives’ political agenda as it’s interested in caring for patients or advocating for sane health care policies. If the MNA doesn’t want their credibility tarnished, they’d better return to caring for people rather than being another wing of the DFL. Blindly carrying the DFL’s water won’t help that union’s image.

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MN2020 has alot of ideas that are a fair amount outside the mainstream but their idea of affordable health care is totally warped:

Few pieces of legislation reflect conservative public policy sentiment quite as neatly as State Senator David Hann’s Health and Human Services Bill. It would strip $1.8 billion from affordable healthcare spending and eliminate care for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.

What Mr. Van Hecke describes as affordable, actuaries would call unsustainable. Increasing HHS spending by “$1.8 billion” equates to a 40+ percent spending increase for a single biennium. That might be sustainable for a small budget like veterans or agriculture but it isn’t for the fastest-growing budget item, especially when that item is the second biggest budget item in the state general fund budget.

Then Van Hecke misrepresents Sen. Hann:

Hann, R-Eden Prairie, proposes that low-income Minnesotans receive a modest state subsidy to facilitate enrollment in privately-provided health insurance. This action will require a federal health-care waiver for implementation. Instead of being part of a state-lead purchasing pool, negotiating for a group rate, Minnesota’s lowest income-earners would face the market only as an individual. That’s a little like buying a car by purchasing each individual piece separately.

Actually, Van Hecke is wrong about this part. I sought clarification on this from Rep. Steve Gottwalt because, as chairman of the House HHS Reform Committee and member of the House HHS Finance Committee, he easily qualifies as an expert on the subject. Here’s what Rep. Gottwalt said about Van Hecke’s statement about shoveling “low-income Minnesotans” into a high-priced plan for individuals:

The basic approach that Sen. Hann and I have promoted is to provide a straight subsidy to low income Minnesotans to purchase a private insurance policy. This gets them better overall coverage, and at a rate that the state can afford. Most of us agree very low income Minnesotans (those making less than 75% of the Federal Poverty Guideline FPG) need a different approach because most have serious mental health and chemical dependency issues.

Rep. Gottwalt further explains their approach:

By reducing the increases (not “cutting”) we are also putting us on a sustainable path. Our HHS bill contains numerous real reforms that help us keep promises, achieving better outcomes for people in need with a smaller increase in dollars.

Van Hecke is right that a federal waiver is needed to implement this program. Rep. Gottwalt has already spoken to the HHS about this. Early indications are that they’re willing to give Minnesota some flexibility because of Minnesota’s track record of excellence on this issue.

Where MN2020 and other progressives go wrong is in thinking that we need to stay wedded to the same status quo stupidity that we’ve been locked in from the outset. We don’t need to take that approach. In fact, we shouldn’t take that approach because it’s the path to unsustainability and increasing costs.

Why would we pick the path to unsustainability?

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