Archive for July, 2017

In this article, John Fund proposes how to get the Democrats’ attention and support to fix the ACA. Fund first explained that “Back in 2009, when ObamaCare was being debated, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was able to insert a provision requiring all members of Congress and their staffs to get insurance through the ObamaCare health exchanges. ‘The more that Congress experiences the laws it passes, the better,’ said Grassley.”

Fund then wrote that “During a congressional recess in August 2013, President Obama personally ordered the Office of Personnel Management, which supervises federal employment issues, to interpret the law so as to retain the generous congressional benefits. This overturned the intent of the provision Grassley added to the law.”

This is doubly underhanded. First, “the taxpayer-funded federal health insurance subsidies dispensed to members of Congress and their personal staffs, which now range from $6,000 to $12,000 a year and cover about 70 percent of the cost of insurance premiums,” were restored through President Obama’s executive action. Second, Congress didn’t need to vote to exempt themselves from the laws they passed for others. This video explains things nicely:

One of the first reforms promised in Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America was to “require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to Congress.” There’s no other way to say this. President Obama, through his executive action, proved that he wanted Congress and his staff to be exempt from the punishment they’ve inflicted on others.

This paragraph is interesting:

Vitter believed his approach would be the best way to get the attention of Congress. “Many Americans are seeing their health coverage dropped by employers, and they are then forced into the exchanges,” he told me in 2013. “If Congress is forced into them on the same terms, it will be more likely to fix Obamacare’s problems for others.”

In this post, I asked this series of questions:

If Obamacare policies are so good, why is the individual mandate required to get people to buy health insurance policies? Is it because the product stinks? Is it because the product’s price is too expensive?

Publicly, President Obama and the DC Democrats have told us that the ACA is the best thing since sliced bread. Privately, they exempted themselves from the pain caused by the ACA. At the 1996 Republican National Convention, J. C. Watts famously said that “Character is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

President Obama and Congress have flunked that test pretty badly. Here’s hoping that President Trump gives these hypocrites a triple dose of accountability during their August recess. They deserve it.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,

This SCTimes Our View editorial definitely isn’t letting the St. Cloud School Board off the hook for intentionally misleading the public.

For instance, in their editorial, the Times wrote “What’s the price of the public’s trust? That’s the question the St. Cloud school board and administrative leaders foisted upon their constituents Thursday night when the board voted 5-2 to purchase the shuttered Minnesota School of Business site and use it for administrative office space. There is no denying that vote fully contradicts the spirit of a plan to move those administrative offices into a vacated Technical High School. As residents remember, that idea was sparked by a high-powered citizen advisory group that district leadership created and leaned heavily on to earn voter approval last fall to build a new high school.”

Since Thursday night’s vote, the citizenry has peppered Board Chairman Dahlgren and Vice-Chair von Korff with questions that don’t flatter either man. As for most of the questions, most focus their attention on things like “District leadership warmly embraced that idea, which very likely helped convince some voters to support building a new high school — which still only passed by less than 1 percent.”

I’m determined to finish these men’s political careers. They’ve slithered to explanations like Chairman Dahlgren’s “The recommendation of the committee was taken under advisement and was presented as one possible option. No action was ever taken by the board and no person has the authority to make decisions or promises on behalf of the board. It would take an action by the majority of the board to do so. That did not occur here and if there is any misunderstanding within the committee, it is certainly that — a misunderstanding.”

With all due respect to Chairman Dahlgren, I certainly don’t know that it’s a misunderstanding. Based on the recent slipperiness of the Board, it might easily be an intentional deception. I certainly won’t give Chairman Dahlgren the benefit of the doubt.

We sit on the board as fiduciaries to fulfill the constitutional obligation to educate the children of our respective communities. As much as we respect your recommendation to make the move to Tech work, it has become clear that the plan is unworkable,” Von Korff stated. “We’re not looking at the (Minnesota School of Business) alternative because we don’t care about you, the (mayor), or the neighborhood, or the (city). The plan to move into Tech is unworkable, and if we were to spend more than ($12 million) to execute this plan, we would be justly crucified for wasting education.”

Indeed, the entire deal popped up so quickly on the public’s radar screen that even key members of the high-profile advisory committee were surprised and had to communicate their displeasure via a letter.

At this point, why shouldn’t residents think that this deal “popped up” at the last minute to avoid public scrutiny? The public didn’t have the opportunity to question the Board. They didn’t have the opportunity to check whether the Tech estimates were inaccurate. After the Board’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hearing, there isn’t much trust left in the reservoir.

At this point, the best option for the citizenry is to throw these bums out. They’re arrogant but they aren’t trustworthy.

Don Davis’ article about the Thursday night vote on health care contains quotes from Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar. Specifically, both senators talk about the importance of bipartisanship.

For instance, Sen. Franken said “Tonight’s vote will go down in the history books. But we can’t rest easy; the fight is far from over. My message to Republicans is come back to the table … and work with us in a bipartisan way to improve health care for all Americans. If we want to do this the right way, it’s the only path forward.”

Sen. Franken, the Senate just debated health care. Lots of amendments were offered. Why didn’t you offer amendments to improve the bill? It isn’t like you didn’t have the opportunity. Was it because you didn’t want to defend your proposals on the Senate floor? It’s one thing to insist on bipartisanship. It’s another to not offer any substantive amendments that would fix the ACA.

By comparison, Sen. Klobuchar is quoted as saying “Time to work across the aisle…” Again, Sen. Klobuchar didn’t offer any substantive amendments. She just spewed happy talk about working across the aisle. That sounds nice but it isn’t a solution. Further, it was the Democrats’ ideas that created this crisis. At least she didn’t celebrate like Sen. Franken:

While Americans suffer from limited options and high prices, Sen. Franken and Sen. Warren celebrated. Left unanswered in all this is a simple question that the MSM intentionally hasn’t asked. When iPads first hit the stores, they flew off the shelves. When Microsoft Office first came out, it flew off the shelves. When FedEx first opened, it didn’t take long for Fred Smith to become a billionaire. Here’s the unasked question that Democrats haven’t answered: if Obamacare policies are so good, why is the individual mandate required to get people to buy health insurance policies? Is it because the product stinks? Is it because the product’s price is too expensive?

Democrats have frequently said that the ACA “isn’t perfect.” (That’s understatement.) They’re pretending that it’s only 1-2 minor tweaks away from being a hot-selling commodity. It isn’t. It’s a total mess. Democrats have said that insurance companies are bailing from the exchanges because Republicans are trying to destabilize them. They’re bailing because they’re losing tens of millions of dollars. Thursday night, I sent this constituent email to Sen. Klobuchar:

Sen. Klobuchar, I wish I could say I was surprised that you voted against each Republican health care reform proposal. Unfortunately, your votes were entirely predictable.

On Facebook, you said “We can still put aside partisanship and instead work together on bipartisan solutions that will help every American. That’s utterly insulting. When Democrats passed the ACA, Democrats displayed nothing but partisanship. In fact, Harry Reid didn’t allow Republican amendments to the bill. At the time, I don’t remember you criticizing Sen. Reid for this blatant act of partisanship. Now that Obamacare is a failure and insurance companies are either pulling out of the exchanges or they’re demanding huge premium increases, we’re being told that bipartisanship is a must.

Why do I think that talk of bipartisanship will disappear the minute Democrats retake the majority? Honestly, I don’t care if there’s bipartisanship if either party gets this reform right. Right now, I’ve seen that the Democrats’ plan has failed pretty much everyone except those with pre-existing conditions.

It’s time you admitted that your ideas failed. Further, it’s time for you to move in the Republicans’ direction to solve this crisis. That means voting for Republican ideas. The ACA has caused dramatic spikes in premiums while barely increasing the number of people insured.

In short, you’ve failed. It’s time for you to vote with Republicans. Period.

In summarization, the Democrats’ plan is failing. That’s because Democrats didn’t listen to the consumer on what the consumers wanted. Instead, Democrats told their constituents what they’d be forced into getting. Predictably, that top-down approach has failed. People want to have options. The ACA hasn’t given people the options that they’ve had prior to the ACA.

Technorati: , , , , , , ,

This article is rich in reporting Sen. Franken’s and Sen. Klobuchar’s hypocrisy. It quotes Sen. Klobuchar as saying “We can still stop this bill. We can still put aside partisanship and instead work together on bipartisan solutions that will help every American.”

When the ACA was passed, Sen. Klobuchar didn’t criticize Sen. Reid for his pushing the ACA through with only Democrat votes. In fact, Sen. Klobuchar criticized Republicans for not supporting the ACA. Now that it’s a disaster and insurance companies are either pulling out of the exchanges or demanding gigantic premium increases, Sen. Klobuchar insists that senators work together.

Not to be outdone, Sen. Franken is also insisting on bipartisanship, saying “I strongly urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to back off this plan, because there’s still time to come to the table and work with Democrats on real solutions that improve people’s health care. Let’s have an open, bipartisan process under regular order, where we can work together on fixing the Affordable Care Act and do the things the American people actually sent us here to do: expand coverage, lower costs, and improve care.”

Sen. Franken voted for this disaster, too. The truth is that Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken voted to create this disaster. Now they want Republicans to vote with them on tinkering around the edges of the ACA so that they can blame Republicans. At this point, Republicans should drop ACA reform. Let Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar explain why Minnesotans’ premiums continue going up by thousands of dollars each year.

Republicans should be blamed for not fixing the ACA, though it’s worth noting that it’s virtually impossible to repeal an entitlement. Democrats, however, should be mocked mercilessly for creating this disaster. They inherited a system most people were satisfied with. Democrats were the ones who took a wrecking ball to that system. Thanks to Democrats, Minnesotans’ health insurance premiums have increased by thousands of dollars each year for the past few years.

Sen. Klobuchar, you created this monstrosity that’s hurting Minnesota’s families. Whenever your name is mentioned, here’s hoping you’re forever linked with that disaster.

It’s still shameful that MNsure is still rewarding failure. According to this article, “In early January, enrollment was over 103,000 people, with the enrollment window still open at the time. This is still a far cry from where the program was expected to be however. In 2013, a consultant estimated that more than 400,000 people would be buying private coverage through MNsure by the end of 2016.”

In other words, the DFL overpromised and underachieved. Then they rewarded one of their cronies. According to the article, “MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole will receive a slight pay raise of $835. Her new salary will be $150,816 annually, whereas her previous salary sat at $149,981.” Then the article said that O’Toole “From 2011 to 2012, she served as the state director for Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office.”

What’s worst is that “O’Toole received the pay raise, and positive reviews, from the MNsure board of directors as part of a 40-minute long closed door meeting.” Nowhere in the article does it say that Paul Thissen and other DFL legislators criticized the closed-door meeting. Last year, Thissen and a handful of other Democrats criticized Republicans for holding closed-door budget negotiations, complaining about a lack of transparency and the people not getting their input.

Let’s return, though, to the part about overpromising and underperforming. Dayton’s administration predicted more than 400,000 “people would be buying private coverage through MNsure by the end of 2016.” At the end of 2016, though, only 103,000 had bought private insurance through MNsure. Gov. Dayton’s administration was off by only the population of Bloomington, Duluth and Rochester. Another way of putting it is that Gov. Dayton’s administration was off by the population of St. Paul.

After reading this article, I think it’s fair to question whether we’ve identified St. Cloud’s village idiots. We’ve either done that or we’ve identified 2 thoroughly dishonest members of the ISD 742 School Board.

According to Jenny Berg’s article, “District efforts to determine the feasibility of moving offices to the old Tech uncovered numerous obstacles, according to Board Chair Al Dahlgren and Vice Chair Jerry Von Korff. They estimate the cost of moving to the Tech facility is upwards of $12 million, which is more than $6 million more than moving to the Waite Park facility.” That’s a bit frightening since Ms. Berg wrote that “At the time, officials estimated the cost to repurpose the 1917 and 1938 buildings to office space would be between $8 million and $12 million.”

This stinks to high heaven. First, am I supposed to think that Dahlgren and von Korff didn’t know that the Waite Park facility was available or might become available before the referendum? Next, the School Board approved the purchase on a 5-2 vote, with “Board members Shannon Haws and Monica Segura-Schwartz [voting] against the motion.” Ms. Haws is quoted as saying “Did we mislead the community and our voters? Absolutely yes.”

Ms. Haws is exactly right. The Board misled the community, most likely intentionally. The Board was upset when their 2015 referendum was defeated. They weren’t going to be denied 2 consecutive years.

Kat Patton joined the rally to share her frustration with the school board and her worry about the future of Technical High School and the site. “I live in the neighborhood. I don’t want to see it be ripped down and sold,” she said. “It’s a historic site. It belongs to the community.”

Patton said the school is part of the city’s identity, and doesn’t want to see it become condominiums or sold to a private developer. She said she wants the building to become a community center, museum, arts center or historical center. “If we destroy our history, what do we have left?” she asked.

Ms. Patton doesn’t have to worry about Tech getting sold and turned into condominiums. The School Board most likely wants to have it turned into an Islamic center. That’s been one of the worst-kept secrets in St. Cloud in recent years.

These are the slithering snakes that misled St. Cloud residents:

This is why I’m calling von Korff a slithering snake:

Von Korff said the school district is not in the development business, but that the district has the “moral and ethical commitment” to make sure the site is used in a way that supports the neighborhood, downtown and community at large. “I am really sorry that people heard that we made a promise, and I’m not trying to take that away,” he said. “The economic development authority needs to step up to the plate.”

Mr. von Korff, don’t lecture us about the school district having a “moral and ethical commitment” to make sure the site is used in a way that supports the neighborhood and downtown St. Cloud. You didn’t hesitate in selling out the Tech neighborhood. You don’t have any credibility left.

Dahlgren and von Korff are career politicians and DFL political hacks. Their trustworthiness is virtually nil. It’s time to throw these bums out ASAP.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,

There’s additional proof that there’s justice in this world. I got that proof when I received an email that said “The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a Ramsey County District Court order directing the Dayton administration to turn over an up-to-date list of personal care attendants to a group (MNPCA) opposed to union representation, clearing a legal hurdle to a campaign aimed at decertifying the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining unit.”

This is the second defeat for the SEIU. According to the email, “In order to force the election, MNPCA must garner signatures from 30 percent of a statewide PCA bargaining unit. But the 18-month long campaign has been stymied from the start by the Dayton administration’s lack of cooperation in providing accurate and timely lists of PCAs in Minnesota. As a result, MNPCA does not know how many PCAs remain in the program.” Further, it quoted MNPCA attorney Doug Seaton as saying “We think we have enough cards now, but want to be sure there are no arguments against the election, so we continue to obtain more. Our next steps are to re-file our decertification election petition and to ask the courts for help restraining or overturning any more Bureau of Mediation Services’ decisions to stall, prevent or deny us the election.”

The Dayton administration has run interference for the SEIU since Gov. Dayton took office. The joke is that the Dayton BMS is the public employee unions’ branch office. The last thing the SEIU wants is to lose some of its influence. That’s what’s at stake here:

Based on federal filings, SEIU is estimated to be taking in as much as $4.7 million a year in new revenues from the Medicaid program. SEIU is a major political donor to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Dayton championed the legislation passed by the then DFL-dominated legislature that allowed SEIU to “organize” PCAs as “public employees” in Minnesota.

“The SEIU is not spending millions of dollars on behalf of PCAs in Minnesota.” said Kim Crockett, Vice President and Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. “But it does spend a lot on its own executive salaries, stipends for union organizers and millions getting politicians (all Democrats) elected or on grants to outside groups like Planned Parenthood. How does that improve the lives of the disabled?”

Crockett is right. The SEIU wants to rip off PCAs caring for family members, then use that money to get more Democrats elected. SEIU knows that their influence is directly tied to how much money they contribute to the DFL. Their bottom line is simple. If they’re decertified, SEIU’s influence shrinks mightily.

That’s why they’ve tried avoiding giving these PCAs an accurate list of active PCAs. SEIU’s ultimate goal is to not have an election. They’re right in thinking that they’ll lose bigtime if there’s a decertification vote. With decertification comes the loss of $4.7 million, something that would limit SEIU’s political clout.

This Duluth News Tribune editorial highlights the fact that another DFL front group is attempting to kill the PolyMet mining project. According to the editorial, “a group calling itself the Duluth for Clean Water Action Team contacted councilors, asking them to sign on to a letter requesting once again that a contested case hearing be ordered by Gov. Mark Dayton and DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr so ‘that the claims of both project proponents and opponents (can) be subjected to the highest possible scrutiny.'”

The editorial continues, saying “A reasonable, desirable goal — but it actually already has happened. Over the last 10 years-plus, PolyMet’s plans have been studied and analyzed, their every detail considered to assure compliance with state and federal regulations that are some of the most stringent in the world. It was an exhaustive and detailed environmental review that worked. When the company’s plans didn’t measure up, they were sent back for revisions and wholesale changes. A safer, sounder plan emerged as a result.”

Before Gov. Dayton was sworn in as governor, I wrote this post, titled “Attrition, not litigation.” During Gov. Dayton’s entire term in office, he’s been as active as a potted plant when it comes to supporting miners. He’s sat still while environmental activists like Duluth for Clean Water Action Team, the Sierra Club, the Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and Conservation Minnesota did their utmost to kill the PolyMet mining project.

These organizations’ favorite tactics are persistent litigation and other stalling tactics. This paragraph pretty much says it all:

It’s hard to imagine what new evidence could be brought at a contested case hearing that hasn’t already been thoroughly researched, considered, vetted, and, where appropriate, implemented. An administrative law judge hardly would be an environmental expert or an authority on the science or business of mining. Those experts already have weighed in, prompted improvements to the plans, and signed off.

It’s time to start building the mine. The region needs it economically. The regulating agencies have said that it will be operated properly.

If the DFL wants to admit that they hate miners, they’re welcome to admit that. Otherwise, it’s time for them to get the hell out of the way so the Iron Range can prosper again.

Minnesota’s senators voted against a proposal that would’ve increased competition on health insurance when they voted against the Cruz Amendment to the Senate health care bill. Only a pair of idiots would’ve voted against the provision, which would’ve let “insurers to sell stripped-down health plans, without maternity care or other benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, if they also sold plans that included such benefits.”

Actually, that isn’t fair; 55 other idiots voted against that provision.

According to this article, “The provision — a version of the Consumer Freedom Option pushed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz — would give insurers more flexibility in the plans they offer in the individual market. It would allow those that sell Obamacare policies to also offer plans that don’t adhere to all of the law’s rules, including those that protect people with pre-existing conditions. In an unusual joint effort, the nation’s two major insurer lobbying groups wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Charles Schumer to say they “strongly oppose” the provision. The amendment was included in a revised version of the plan unveiled on Thursday.”

The amendment would’ve let insurance companies sell policies across state lines, something that insurance company lobbyists passionately oppose. The last thing they want is competition from other companies. Consumers, however, love tons of competition. That’s what drives premiums down.

Both Franken and Klobuchar support the public option, which is essentially single-payer health care. I’d love hearing Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar explain why they support single-payer but oppose private insurers selling insurance policies across state lines. It’s apparent that Democrats think that government will do right by consumers but that insurance companies will shaft consumers.

The question I haven’t heard answered is why they think that. Haven’t Democrats seen corrupt VA bureaucrats cook the books in order to ‘earn’ bonuses? Isn’t that just as corrupt as they accuse insurance companies of being?

Democrats don’t trust insurance companies but they trust government. That’s stupid. I don’t trust either the government or the insurance companies. Why should I? This week, Democrats tried telling the American people that Democrats were on their side. Three days later, they voted against a provision that would’ve helped families by lowering health insurance premiums by increasing competition amongst health insurance companies.

This is something that Republicans should repeat constantly:

The proposed BRCA is a patient-centered, free-market approach that will cut the deficit, lower premiums and increase options. The bill will expand tax-free health savings accounts, give more funding control back to the states, protect pre-existing conditions, and allocate $45 billion to combat the opioid epidemic.

Let the world know that Democrats constantly voted against lower premiums and more options. Let the world know that Democrats voted for less competition, higher premiums and excessive government control. Let the world know that Democrats voted against families, too.

That isn’t standing with families. That’s standing against them. Shame on Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar. They’re shameful frauds.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , ,

After reading this article, I’m almost mad enough to throw the entire ISD742 school board through a brick wall. They’ve proven beyond all doubt that they aren’t trustworthy. That means they shouldn’t be given the authority to handle large-scale financial matters.

Last winter and spring, I frequently said that the School Board’s Advisory Board was a PR scheme. This article proves that I was right. I’ll return to that theme in a little bit. First, here’s what touched off the firestorm. According Ms. Berg’s reporting, “Several high-profile leaders are urging St. Cloud school board to reconsider a plan to purchase the former Minnesota School of Business building for the district offices and welcome center. The leaders were part of an advisory group created by Superintendent Willie Jett charged with finding solutions for the fate of Technical High School if a referendum to build a new high school passed last November.”

Jett’s plan all along was to win over a higher percentage of voters who live within walking distance of Tech HS. Those living near Tech HS raised serious objections to abandoning the neighborhood. The easiest way to get past that sticking point was to appoint an advisory council that could be ignored once the votes were counted. That’s what appears to have happened:

Kleis said Tuesday the plan to purchase the Waite Park building instead of repurpose Tech surprised him. “All the discussion from the neighborhood and the district was that the administration would be in that historic Tech building,” he said. “Having that commitment was something I knew was positively received by the neighborhood and I think influenced the outcome of the referendum.” Kleis said the advisory committee was formed after a referendum failed in 2015, and members spent hours at listening sessions trying to gather input and find solutions.

Check out the School Board’s double-talk:

Jerry Von Korff, school board vice chair, responded to the letter by stating the plan to move administration to Tech proved “unworkable” because the rehabilitation cost estimates are out of line with the district’s means and no one else has stepped forward with a viable plan to develop the rest of the building or land. Meanwhile, the district could purchase the former Minnesota School of Business building at about half the cost of moving to Tech, he stated.

“We sit on the board as fiduciaries to fulfill the constitutional obligation to educate the children of our respective communities. As much as we respect your recommendation to make the move to Tech work, it has become clear that the plan is unworkable,” Von Korff stated. “We’re not looking at the (Minnesota School of Business) alternative because we don’t care about you, the (mayor), or the neighborhood, or the (city). The plan to move into Tech is unworkable, and if we were to spend more than ($12 million) to execute this plan, we would be justly crucified for wasting education.

Von Korff is the school board’s vice chair. Here’s what Al Dahlgren, the school board’s chair, said:

Board Chair Al Dahlgren said the superintendent and school board never promised the district would move into a repurposed Tech. “The recommendation of the committee was taken under advisement and was presented as one possible option,” he stated in a response to the advisory group’s letter. “No action was ever taken by the board and no person has the authority to make decisions or promises on behalf of the board. It would take an action by the majority of the board to do so. That did not occur here and if there is any misunderstanding within the committee, it is certainly that — a misunderstanding.”

Let’s be clear about something. While there wasn’t a formal contract signing, the people on that advisory committee considered that a formality. To hear von Korff and Dahlgren say that repurposing Tech wouldn’t work or that they never committed to it is the epitome of slipperiness.

It’s time to throw these bums out. That’s what’s supposed to happen to people you can’t trust.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,