Archive for January, 2014

This Times Our View editorial offers an interesting option:

The biggest factor in reaching those goals is to get young people without insurance to enroll. That’s not happening. Plus, implementation of the ACA caused countless people with insurance to either lose their policies, pay substantially more for them, or pay more for different coverage.

Lawmakers need to fix those problems. If polling is any indicator, that could happen by revising the ACA to do something such as allowing insurers to provide policies that are less expensive but come with higher deductibles.

First, I’ll stipulate that offering catastrophic plans would destroy the Anything But Affordable Care Act because it would irreparably harm the insurance companies. Next, I’ll stipulate that selling catastrophic plans would require eliminating the essential health benefits provisions of the bill.

President Obama, Sen. Reid and Nancy Pelosi would rather wear snow shoes while walking through a mine field than repealing the ABACA’s essential health benefits provisions.

This part of the Times’ editorial is upsetting:

The exposure of MNsure’s endless problems the past three months speaks to the importance of government officials and private vendors being accountable.

As Minnesotans have seen, both sides are blaming each other for a laundry list of technical problems with the site. A consultant last week even recommended scrapping it.

While I agree that accountability is essential, that isn’t as important as old-fashioned competence. It’s indisputable that Gov. Dayton, the MNsure board of directors and the DFL co-chairs of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee didn’t pay attention. Similarly, while it’s true that the DFL smear machine have blamed Republicans for MNsure’s failures, that doesn’t mean the DFL’s claims have merit. That’s like blaming Republicans for raising income taxes last year. That’s like blaming Republicans for creating the warehousing services sales tax and the farm equipment repair sales tax.

Those accusations are outright lies, which is what ABM specializes in.

Further, it’d be nice if the Times grew a spine. While it’s true the DFL is blaming Republicans for MNsure’s failures, it isn’t too much to ask the Times’ editorial board to say that the DFL’s accusations are without merit.

While it might be possible to eliminate the counterproductive provisions from the ABACA, it’s better to repeal it and replace it with a system that puts families, not distant, out-of-touch bureaucrats, in charge of their health insurance and health care. It’s better to let families and their physicians determine which coverages they need. Finally, it’s best if families determined which policies best fit their families’ health care needs and their budget.

That’s something Washington, DC can’t do.

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This Peggy Noonan article dovetails nicely with Glenn Reynolds’ excellent column about “Irish Democracy”, which I wrote about in this post. First, here’s Dr. Reynolds’ explanation of the foundation of Irish Democracy:

In his excellent book, Two Cheers For Anarchism, Professor James Scott writes:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

Simply put, people refusing to buy insurance through the Anything But Affordable Care Act’s exchanges are putting the ABACA in impossible financial straights. This was made necessary when Senate Democrats and this administration wouldn’t listen to the American people. In Ms. Noonan’s opinion, they still aren’t listening:

As the president made his jaunty claims and the senators and congressmen responded semirapturously I kept thinking of four words: Meanwhile, back in America…

Meanwhile, back in America, the Little Sisters of the Poor were preparing their legal briefs. The Roman Catholic order of nuns first came to America in 1868 and were welcomed in every city they entered. They now run about 30 homes for the needy across the country. They have, quite cruelly, been told they must comply with the ObamaCare mandate that all insurance coverage include contraceptives, sterilization procedures, morning-after pills. If they don’t—and of course they can’t, being Catholic, and nuns—they will face ruinous fines.

In this instance, it isn’t just that the Obama administration isn’t listening to the American people. It’s that they’re ignoring the Constitution, too. That’s before considering the fact that this administration made exceptions to the ABACA for its well-connected friends.

The message sent to the nation is exceptionally straightforward: Well-connected friends of Barack Obama get special privileges. People whom this President despises get the shaft. (That’s right. I didn’t forget about the bitter clingers.) President Obama’s disdain for blue collar people isn’t news. It’s just disgusting. That’s why people have turned their back on him.

Meanwhile, back in America…

Meanwhile, back in America, conservatives targeted and harassed by the Internal Revenue Service still await answers on their years-long requests for tax exempt status. When news of the IRS targeting broke last spring, agency officials lied about it, and one took the Fifth. The president said he was outraged, had no idea, read about it in the papers, boy was he going to get to the bottom of it. An investigation was announced but somehow never quite materialized.

If ever there was something that got the masses fuming, it should be the thought of a politically ruthless administration using the IRS as a weapon to eliminate its political enemies. And yes, this administration has used the IRS as a weapon against TEA Party activists and other conservative organizations.

In less than 3 years, we’ll have the opportunity to wipe the memories of this administration from our memory. It’s imperative that we accomplish that. It’s imperative that we elect someone that will listen to the American people. That means electing a pro-reform governor that respects the Constitution, preferably Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich or Mike Pence.

I didn’t include Jeb Bush or Christie in that bunch. They don’t respect the Constitution. People want politicians that don’t think of themselves as being above the Constitution or the rule of law. Bush supports Common Core, which wants to strip away local control of education. That’s certainly anti-constitutional. Christie supports gun control, something totally at odds with the Constitution.

It’s time we elected a president that’s run things and accomplished things that’ve helped families. Bobby Jindal fits that description. While campaigning, he listened to parents who hated the education options their children had. That’s why he pushed for school choice. Thanks to his listening, school choice legislation was signed into law in Louisiana.

John Kasich fits that description. He fought for the same union reforms that Scott Walker did. He also cut taxes while eliminating Ohio’s deficit. Thanks to Gov. Kasich’s popular pro-growth agenda, Ohio is headed in the right direction.

Scott Walker listened to Wisconsinites’ cries for lower property taxes. He pushed union reforms that stripped them of the right to hold school districts hostage by saying that they had to buy health insurance through the teachers union’s insurance company. As a direct result, health insurance costs to school districts dropped dramatically…until the ABACA was semi-implemented.

Whether you call it the TEA Party movement, Irish Democracy or whether it’s just doing what President Reagan believed in, it’s time for conservatives to elect someone that actually wants the people to decide what’s best for them. We don’t need another administration that thinks it’s supremely qualified to tell families what’s best for them.

If people don’t take their blood pressure medication before reading this article, it isn’t because I didn’t warn them.

ALERT: Don’t read this article if you have high blood pressure.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Fourteen MNsure managers were paid bonuses totalling more than $26,000 in November as Minnesota launched its troubled online health insurance exchange, state officials said Wednesday.

If you think that’s why I’m upset, you’re partially right. This part has me furious:

Matt Swenson, a spokesman for the governor, said Dayton’s office was not involved in or aware of the bonuses. Swenson said that by law, MNsure operates independently of the governor and has its own board and executive director.

In other words, Gov. Dayton is insisting that he didn’t have a clue what was happening in his executive branch. It’s getting tiresome. First, Gov. Dayton played the Sgt. Schultz Card when he ‘found out’ that PSLs, aka money-making devices for the Wilfs, were in the stadium deal he personally negotiated.

The next time he played the Sgt. Schultz Card was right before FarmFest, when he expressed surprise that Minnesota’s sales tax was in the Tax Bill that he negotiated.

The third time Gov. Dayton played the Sgt. Schultz Card, it was when he expressed surprise when he found out that the contracts with the MNsure contractors had been changed.

This time, he’s surprised because people who’d failed with their mission received bonuses.

What’s striking is that Gov. Dayton’s Sgt. Schultz moments are coming more rapidly. It took almost 2 years before his first incident. It took only 6 months (roughly) for his second bout with Sgt. Schultz Syndrome. It was just 4 months from the FarmFest bout with Sgt. Schultz Syndrome until he played the Sgt. Schultz Card on the MNsure contracts. It took less than a month for him to be utterly clueless about the bonuses.

The first question I have is whether Gov. Dayton has a clue as to what’s happening in his administration. It certainly doesn’t appear that he does. The next question is, if he doesn’t know what’s happening, who’s running the government? I certainly didn’t vote for Bob Hume or Tina Smith to run the state government.

George Will is right. It’s possible that 4 little words might doom the Anything But Affordable Care Act:

The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.

From a plain language standpoint, this isn’t difficult to predict. If this lawsuit makes it to the Supreme Court and if the justices rule that the plain text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which I’ll call the Anything But Affordable Care Act from this point forward, means what it says, then I’d expect a 9-0 ruling that the IRS doesn’t have the authority to change the plain text of the ABACA:

So the IRS, which is charged with enforcing the ACA, has ridden to the rescue of Barack Obama’s pride and joy. Taking time off from writing regulations to restrict the political speech of Obama’s critics, the IRS has said, with its breezy indifference to legality, that subsidies shall also be dispensed to those who purchase insurance through federal exchanges the government has established in those 34 states. Pruitt is challenging the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and there are similar challenges in Indiana, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The history of the bill matters:

Congress made subsidies available only through state exchanges as a means of coercing states into setting up exchanges. In Senate Finance Committee deliberations on the ACA, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of the bill’s primary authors, suggested conditioning tax credits on state compliance because only by doing so could the federal government induce state cooperation with the ACA. Then the law’s insurance requirements could be imposed on states without running afoul of constitutional law precedents that prevent the federal government from commandeering state governments.

In other words, Sen. Baucus understood that the Supreme Court would likely rule the ABACA unconstitutional if the legislation required states to create health insurance exchanges. Without that coercion, only states with out-of-touch far left governors (like Minnesota, New York and Vermont) would’ve created state-run HIXs.

As big a deal as these things are, there’s an even bigger principle at stake here:

If courts allow the IRS’s demarche, they will validate this:

By dispensing subsidies through federal exchanges, the IRS will spend tax revenues without congressional authorization. And by enforcing the employer mandate in states that have only federal exchanges, it will collect taxes; remember, Chief Justice John Roberts saved the ACA by declaring that the penalty enforcing the mandate is really just a tax on the act of not purchasing insurance, without congressional authorization.

If the IRS can do neither, it cannot impose penalties on employers who fail to offer ACA-approved insurance to employees. If the IRS can do both, Congress can disband because it has become peripheral to American governance.

If the Supreme Court gets this one wrong, then it’s over. There are tons of constitutional principles at stake here. That’s before taking the plain language of the bill into consideration.

Let’s be clear, though. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. I’m not. This is exceptionally straightforward. While it’s important from a constitutional standpoint, it also revolves around whether the justices will pretend that the plain text of the bill doesn’t mean what it means.

The original lawsuit was almost entirely about constitutional principles. This lawsuit is primarily, though not entirely, about the plain text of the ABACA. It’s difficult to think that Chief Justice Roberts will rule that the bill’s text doesn’t mean what it says.

I wrote here that the St. Cloud Times had published my LTE about MNsure’s failings. Predictably, one of the lefty trolls that inhabit the Times’ message board tried taking me to task for what I’d written:

“We can definitely do better than that.”

How’s that for a typical Conservative/Tbagger response? Not a suggestion on how to do it differently – just that it should be done differently. How easy is it to whine and complain? I hope he didn’t strain himself with the thought that went into this.

What a surprise. I thought someone might give a suggestion about what could be done to make it better, but NO! They don’t know how to make it better they just know they deserve more and better. Yeah, sure.

I decided not to respond to this troll’s comments because I didn’t want to deal with her in that setting. That being said, there’s something worth learning from this troll’s snide comments.

Implicit in this troll’s comments is that I have an affirmative responsibility to fix the DFL-created mess. Conservatives should ignore that argument. If they aren’t legislators, they don’t have a responsibility for fixing the DFL’s messes. It’s more than that, though.

While it’s true that it likely was impossible to make MNsure work, it’s also true that Gov. Dayton’s total indifference to MNsure is something that activists and legislators can’t fix this session. We can fix it through next November’s election but that’s a different story.

In the LTE, I highlighted the fact that the DFL co-chairs of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee didn’t hold oversight hearings for almost 4 months. I noted that this was while MNsure was going through a series of crises and while April Todd-Malmlov was taking a 2-week Costa Rican vacation with her lover.

Again, what legislation will fix partisan apathy towards a crisis? Rep. Atkins and Sen. Lourey alone have the authority to call hearings of that oversight committee. The ranking member can call for hearings but that legislator doesn’t have the authority to gavel in an oversight committee hearing.

Again, the remedy is defeating a bunch of DFL legislators next November so that a Republican legislator is picked by the incoming speaker to co-chair the committee.

As for the rest of this troll’s snotty remarks, I won’t respond substantively to them because they aren’t substantive comments. I’d recommend that approach whenever a DFL activist tries getting into a pissing match. That’s what ABM, TakeAction Minnesota, AFSCME and other DFL special interest groups specialize in.

That’s their specialty because they’re incapable of making substantive arguments. The reality is that ABM’s entire arsenal consists of smearing people and making non sequitur arguments.

When it comes to social media, the best response is to not directly respond to the trolls. Instead, it’s better to start your own, substantive argument on MNsure. Highlight the fact that there aren’t any legislative fixes for gubernatorial incompetence. Highlight the fact that there isn’t a legislative fix when the co-chairs of an oversight committee aren’t interested in finding out why the exchange is careening from crisis to crisis without a project manager in place.

It’s time to make the DFL explain why they weren’t interested in correcting MNsure’s overabundance of major mistakes. They created it. They broke it. They ignored it. It’s their responsibility to fix it.

Unfortunately, Minnesota families are hurting thanks to the DFL’s initiatives.

Spring’s 10th Day Enrollments More Bad News
by Silence Dogood

An early indicator of the final enrollment for a term is the 10th day enrollment. By the 10th day of a semester, most students will have settled on which classes they’re taking and made arrangement to pay tuition. There are some additional part-term classes or graduate classes that are not captured by the 10th day number. However, these numbers are typically small when compared to the 10th day number.

Since all of the universities in MnSCU began spring semester classes on January 13th, the tenth day was reached on Monday January 27th. As a result, the enrollment on Tuesday, January 28th would reflect the enrollment as of the “10th day”. As of January 29th at 4:30 am (the 11th day), the MnSCU website shows the enrollment numbers in the following table:

If you look at the data, Southwest stands out as an outlier. The reason for Southwest looking so bad is that it has an extremely large post-secondary program that registers later in the semester. From the FY13 data, at Southwest as much as 34.5% of the FYE enrollment comes from post-secondary students and much of this registration historically happens after the 10th day. Using data from prior years, including a comparison of the fall semester enrollment for this academic year, Southwest’s enrollment will probably be down less than 100 FYE for this spring. As a result, Southwest’s final enrollment number will not look as bad as there 10th day number might indicate.

SCSU becomes the outlier when controlling for Southwest’s special case! The decline in spring semester FYE at SCSU (447) is larger than the drop in FYE for the other five universities combined (329). If an estimated drop in FYE enrollment for Southwest (100) is added, the drop in FYE at SCSU is still larger than all of the universities in the entire MnSCU system!

For S’14, the FYE enrollment change compared to S’13 is shown in the following figure (omitting Southwest):

Clearly, SCSU has some enrollment yet to be added due to post-secondary students, part-term and graduate classes so the spring semester enrollment decline will likely be less than 8.0%. However, it is not likely to be much smaller. Analysis of the data shows that SCSU has significantly increased its headcount enrollment of post-secondary students over the past several years. In the fall semester, 19.7% of the head count enrollment came from post-secondary students. Unfortunately, since post-secondary students only take an average of 5.1 credits, it takes almost 6 post-secondary students to equal 1 FYE. As a result, the third-trimester post-secondary classes will not move the enrollment significantly. Additionally, there aren’t enough part-term or graduate courses to affect the final enrollment number either.

As a result, the final enrollment decline for FY14, which currently is listed as 6.0% will probably be closer to 6% than the 5% decline predicted by President Potter last September. However, what is important to understand is that even if President Potter was exactly correct and the enrollment was down only 5%, the decline at SCSU would still be double the next largest annual decline at any MnSCU university! Aside from SCSU, the largest annual enrollment decline is at Minnesota State University—Moorhead, which is currently down 2.3% for the year and, as a result, is reducing their faculty and staff by 10%. President Potter shouldn’t feel too good if the enrollment decline were to meet his prediction. A 5% decline is a significant decline! Coupled with the declines from the past three years, the enrollment decline at SCSU is staggering! The annual declines in enrollment from FY11 are shown in the following figure:

Two items can be gleaned from this data. First, it appears that the trend in enrollment decline the past couple of years is heading in the right direction! Unfortunately, if this trend is linear, SCSU’s enrollment is projected to stop declining in FY26, which means at the current rate of reduced decline it will take 12 years to stop year-to-year declines! Second, if the post-secondary enrollment students are taken into account, the rate of the decline in enrollment is no longer declining! Another way to put it is that without the spectacular expansion of the post-secondary enrollments, the enrollment trend points to less students on campus.

The expansion of the post-secondary enrollments at SCSU is also something that has occurred without much, if any, discussion. No one has discussed how 20% of the headcount enrollment being high school students affects the university and surrounding community. It is true that, any port in a storm is better than no port. However, when the storm clears and you look around, some ports are much less desirable than others!

Without a shared vision for the university’s future, it is hard to imagine that SCSU is headed to the most desirable port. But it’s actually worse when there is no VISION and storm clouds or the actual raging storm is ignored. If an institution lacks vision, it simply stumbles around in the dark and where it ends up is left to chance! Despite the fact that a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn, is would be better if SCSU leaders opened their eyes and admitted the institution needs to work on a shared vision leading to a course that leads to a desired port. If SCSU’s leaders do not open their eyes, the institution’s chances of arriving at the desired port will be no better than that blind squirrel finding an acorn.

One thing that came through last night’s SOTU Address is that President Obama is feeling defeated. Here’s where that first appeared:

And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after twelve long years, is finally coming to an end.

Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.

Conspicuously absent from that riff is a mention that we’re bringing troops home after defeating the terrorists. I wrote in 2006 that Democrats talked about ending the war, not defeating the terrorists. That hasn’t changed since the days that Code Pink ran the Democratic Party.

Conspicuously absent was talk that his policies had made life better for families. Families, he said, are what makes America strong. He didn’t say that his policies were strengthening America’s middle class. In fact, in the most bizarre riffs from a SOTU Address, he seemed to admit that his policies had failed:

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

He’s been president for 5 years. The first budget Congress passed in 2009 was his economic blueprint. That President Obama is admitting that “wages have barely budged”, that “upward mobility has stalled” and that “too many still aren’t working” is a stunning, if inadvertent, admission. Couple that with Cathy McMorris-Rodgers’ statement that more people quit looking for work than there were jobs created last month and you’re starting to see that President Obama’s economic policies have failed.

The thing that’s keeping things going is the Federal Reserve pumping $1,000,000,000,000 of liquidity into the economy a year. That doesn’t have anything to do with President Obama’s policies. That means the economy is growing in spite of President Obama’s policies, not because of them.

This part was downright deceitful:

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.

That’s shameful. Most of the growth in energy production have come on lands where federal permits aren’t needed. That’s indisputable fact. President Obama had as much to do with the Bakken explosion and the natural gas rejuvenation in Ohio and Pennsylvania as Al Gore had to do with creating the internet. That being said, President Obama is totally to blame for the EPA killing coal-mining jobs in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

Arrogant Barry showed up to make this declaration:

Now, I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice – tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first forty were plenty. We got it. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.

What’s disappointing is that Arrogant Barry didn’t even admit that 3 Republican senators, Burr, Coburn and Hatch, have submitted a bill that says what Republicans are for. In fact, Jay Carney dismissed it outright on Monday.

Another thing that’s disappointing is that President Obama insists on listening to the American people…when they agree with him. If they don’t agree with him, then he won’t hesitate in ignoring them. The American people have been saying with a passionate, consistent voice that they don’t like the Anything But Affordable Care Act. They like the provision that prevents people from not getting insurance if they have a pre-existing condition. They like keeping their childen on their health insurance policy until they’re age 26. They like not having lifetime caps.

After that, they’d cheerfully applaud seeing the Anything But Affordable Care Act disappear.

Last night’s address was painful to watch for a bunch of reasons. First, it was painful to watch President Obama take credit for the oil and natural gas booms that happened because they didn’t have to deal with the federal government. Next, it was painful because President Obama sounded like a dejected, defeated man last night. Finally, it was painful because Republican governors, not President Obama, are making things work.

It’ll be nice when one of those talented Republican governors gives the SOTU in 2017. That can’t arrive soon enough.

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I hate disagreeing with George Will and Charles Krauthammer because they’re such intelligent people. Still, that’s what I have to do because, last night, I loved watching Cathy McMorris-Rodgers’ response to President Obama’s depressing SOTU Address. Here’s the first highlight of Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech:

Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The President wants that too. But we part ways when it comes to how to make that happen. So tonight I’d like to share a more hopeful, Republican vision…

One that empowers you, not the government…It’s one that champions free markets — and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you. It helps working families rise above the limits of poverty and protects our most vulnerable.

This is a beautiful explanation of why Republicans believe what they believe. Absent were apologies or tip-toeing so Republicans don’t offend liberals. It was just old-fashioned optimism based on the ability of families to “make their own decisions.” Thankfully, Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech wasn’t a laundry list of conservative proposals. This had the feel of a chat at the dinner table. That said, idealism was an integral part of the speech:

The chance to go from my Washington to this one was unexpected.

I came to Congress to help empower people, not politicians, to grow the working middle class, not the government and to ensure that everyone in this country can find a job. Because a job is so much more than just a paycheck; it gives us purpose, dignity, and the foundation to build a future.

While I watched Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ rebuttal to President Obama’s SOTU Address, I thought it was sad that President Obama couldn’t sincerely tout these principles. President Obama talks about empowering individuals but only within the context of government first making things possible.

While the speech was idealistic, it also sent the message to Democrats that Republicans won’t put up with Democrats’ policies of decline:

Because our mission, not only as Republicans, but as Americans, is to once again to ensure that we are not bound by where we come from, but empowered by what we can become.

That is the gap Republicans are working to close. It’s the gap we all face: between where you are and where you want to be. The President talks a lot about income inequality. But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality…And with this Administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide.

We see this gap growing every single day. We see it in our neighbors who are struggling to find jobs…a husband who’s now working just part-time…A child who drops out of college because she can’t afford tuition or parents who are outliving their life’s savings.

Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder.

The great thing about Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech is that it wasn’t negative. It’s that she offered a vision to get America working again:

Republicans have plans to close the gap, plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape. Every day, we’re working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree and small business at a time. We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school…so college is affordable…and skills training is modernized.

The impressive takeaway was that it connected with people. SR-Bing measured people’s online reactions, splitting it into Republicans, Democrats and independents. While Democrats stayed luke-warm throughout, independents gave Rep. McMorris-Rodgers high marks throughout the speech.

The lesson Republicans should take from Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech is that independents appreciate a political party that empowers families, not politicians and bureaucrats.

While it isn’t likely that many people saw Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech, that isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that she’s given Republicans a path forward to winning elections this fall. That’s why this speech was a success.

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Never should it be said that SEIU will let a straightforward state law get in the way of a little old-fashioned electioneering for the right cause. And promoting an unconstitutional union organizing election certainly fits the SEIU’s definition of the right cause. A frequent reader of LFR sent me this email. I’ve removed the names to protect them from union retribution:

One of the organizations (SEIU Healthcare MN), which presenting a panel at this year’s Global Goes Local Conference April 7 and 8th, asked me to pass on this near term job opportunity to SCSU faculty to let any students who might be interested to know about:

JOB POSTING: Temporary Home Care Organizer

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota is hiring organizers to help Home Care workers win the biggest Union election in the history of Minnesota. These organizers will knock on doors and talk to Home Care workers, supporting them in taking collective action and building their Union. When they win their election, Homecare Workers will have the power to pull themselves out of poverty, and to make real improvements not just in their own lives but in the lives of the thousands of seniors and people with disabilities they serve.

Communicate with workers through house-visits and phone calls.
Identify and recruit leaders among Homecare workers, getting them actively involved in the campaign to form their Union and win improvements for themselves and their clients.
Work effectively both as part of a large team and on your own.
Take and give constructive feedback.
Establish rapport with workers from diverse ethnic, social and economic groups, and experiences of disability.
Visit Home Care workers in their homes in every type of neighborhood in Minnesota.
Be flexible.
Be passionate about the fight to organize Home Care workers and support them in winning a contract that pulls them out of poverty.
Any other responsibilities needed to build Home Care workers’ power.

Minimum Qualifications

Excellent listening skills, especially the ability to draw out people’s individual stories by asking open-ended questions in direct conversations and phone calls.
Strong organizational skills, including the ability to record accurate information on each conversation with a Home Care worker.
Experience working on your own, managing your time and being accountable for results of your independent efforts.
Strong communication skills, especially the ability to paint a clear picture of the union difference and to provide constructive feedback to coworkers.
Ability to communicate clearly with people from widely varying ethnic, social and economic groups, and experiences of disability.
Ability to recruit strong leaders to take action as part of the Home Care workers’ campaign.
Positive attitude.
Strong work ethic.
Must have a valid driver’s license and a vehicle in good working condition. Must have proof of auto insurance.
High school diploma or GED required. Higher education preferred.
Experience with election campaigns preferred.
Experience with union organizing preferred.
Experience working with people with disabilities preferred.
Fluency in a second language – especially Somali, Hmong, or Spanish – preferred.

This is a temporary position with a weekly salary of $600. Work will begin with training on February 28, 2014, and we expect this phase of the campaign to continue into May.

Work hours include evenings and weekends.

The position will require a lot of driving, to talk with Home Care workers. Mileage will be reimbursed at the federal rate (currently 56 cents per mile).

Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

This is illegal since the email was sent from an SCSU email address. First, using MnSCU IT equipment for such purposes violates MnSCU policies, specifically this policy:

System-owned property or services, including the e-mail system, may not be used for political activities, fund-raising, campaigning for union office, union organizing activities, or solicitation of employees for union membership.

Simply put, that’s about as direct of a violation as you’ll likely find. In some instances, there’s room for interpretation. I call those situations ‘On the one hand, on the other hand’ situations. This doesn’t fit into that category. This fits into the ‘Yeah, they screwed that up bigtime, didn’t they?’ category.

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My LTE for the St. Cloud Times is posted today. Check it out to find out why Minnesotans deserve better than what we’re getting.