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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

It's OK To Point Out Dem Candidate Differences - But Be Fair

Category: Presidential Politics
Posted: 02/07/16 15:25, Edited: 02/07/16 15:25

by Dave Mindeman

I realize that when you have an intra-party contest, there will be points of contention and differences that need to be defined. I get that. But there are a couple of arguments going on lately which I think are pretty lame. And it is one on each side.

First, in regards to the Clinton contention that Bernie Sanders' preference for single payer will blow up Obamacare. That is not even close to accurate and pretty unfair. With a President Sanders, Obamacare will never be repealed and will only be dismantled if a better system can actually pass Congress. If he can't get it through, then we still have the current system. End of argument.

Secondly, the Sanders campaign charges about Clinton's Goldman Sachs speeches also stretches the bounds of credulity. Yes, Clinton takes a lot of corporate donations and yes, a lot of money comes from Wall Street. She has taken a similar pathway to most of the other Presidential candidates, including Obama. Bernie has carved out a preferred donor base, but not many political figures are able to do that. Kudos to him - but it hardly makes Hillary Clinton some kind of corporate shill. I live in the 2nd Congressional district - I know corporate shills.

And let's take the Goldman Sachs speeches. Yeah, that is a lot of money to be paid for a speech, but Bill and Hillary Clinton built a reputation and a global foundation that commands those types of fees. Goldman Sachs is not buying influence - they are trying to take advantage of a brand. When they can announce that Hillary Clinton is going to give a speech on foreign policy at their venue, it raises the profile of not only Hillary Clinton, but also Goldman Sachs....or whatever corporate or non-profit entity manages to get either of them for their discussions.

Sure, it is easy to look at the correlation and be suspicious. But I also think it is unfair to assume the worst. I think she has trouble explaining such fees because the Clinton's have acquired a high level of influence. I doubt that Goldman Sachs is going to be able to pressure the Clintons to bend to their will when they have global connections all over the world that interconnect in a host of ways.

The proof of that is a thoughtful and tough policy on the banking industry. Nobel economist Paul Krugman said that Hillary's plan is the best of any of the Presidential candidates.

And in addition, Clinton's reasoning about representing New York, the home of Wall Street is valid as well. Bernie Sanders' representation of Vermont has definitely affected his stances on the gun industry. Both Hillary and Bernie are moving leftward on those positions now....and for me, their explanations are good enough.

So, before we get into these constant charges and counter charges in social media, please remember - these two candidates are head and shoulders above the public policies that we would see if the GOP candidate would win.

If you want to point out differences, I understand, but let's keep it fair.
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House Democrats Propose Change On "Dark Money"

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 02/07/16 09:22

by Dave Mindeman

Election season. The end of the campaign. With the election just days away you go to your mailbox and pull out five, six, or more of these slick, glossy cards with lots of bold type words, grainy photos, and a guarantee that someone running for office is the worst possible human being ever.

You wonder how they know this or who is saying it. But you can't know because it is hidden by the "dark side" of campaign finance disclosure.

Oh, there will be a small note at the bottom that says "paid for by....", but the name used will always be some generic, innocent sounding name like "Americans for Prosperity"; Friends of Trees; or Society for Energy Independence. You maybe would want to know who is behind this group. Maybe you look them up on the website - but what you will get is more of the same words and pictures that your glossy friend in the mailbox has displayed so prominently.

But you will never see the name of any specific person connected or responsible.

Dark money.

Most political money hides. It avoids the sunlight. It is like the smoking guy on the X-Files.....stays in the alley and talks from the shadows.

Political donors with large checkbooks gravitate to these shadow groups because they can advocate without consequence. They don't have to be open about the way they want things to be...and often it is because what they want is very self serving. And if people are aware of that, it will affect how they see the information.

The Minnesota House Democrats have proposed a Minnesota Constitutional amendment to fix that. Their bill would....

The bill would require disclosure for "contributions and expenditures made for communications that clearly identify a candidate and use words or phrases of express advocacy." It would also cover any ads or mailings that a reasonable person would interpret as advocating for or against a candidate, even if they aren't explicitly mentioned.

Rep. Laurie Halvorson (Eagan) will carry the bill in the House. Her campaign and other Eagan Democratic campaigns are certainly not strangers to this type of political advertising....

"I saw what it did to my community to have those kinds of mail pieces hit day after day after day," Halverson said. "I saw the confusion that it caused my constituents, and the frustration it caused, and the ways their voices felt diminished."

Now, this is a MN Constitutional Amendment. I imagine it will only apply to State politics, not Federal. It would have to pass both Houses of the Legislature to get on the 2016 ballot.

And it will probably never see the light of day.

Because Republicans like it this way. Oh, you will hear them complain about this problem. They will agree that "something should be done". There is too much money being used in this way.

But when the votes get tallied, they will support the status quo. They will stop this measure in its tracks, because corporations and wealthy donors do not want to see their names on public disclosure forms. And what they think is what Republicans think.

It would be nice if the bill could at least get a hearing. If a debate could be had on the floor. Minnesota could use some transparency in how the political system operates.

It would be nice. But don't hold your breath on that one.
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The Financial Data In CD2

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 02/03/16 11:58

by Dave Mindeman

Some of the financing reports have been released and the comparisons are worth noting.

In the 2nd Congressional District there are some noticeable numbers for Angie Craig. She raised the most, for the period, of any 2nd District candidate. She has the most cash on hand of any 2nd District candidate (even if you subtract loans to the campaign, she would still be ahead). She is positioned very well.

John Howe has obviously made a serious commitment to the race by loaning the campaign $600,000. Jason Lewis raised a significant $102,000, but I expected him to raise more. Right now, Howe can swamp him in the cash department. Gerson actually raised slightly more than Lewis, but his debt to cash on hand ratio is pretty bad. Pam Howe trails way behind in all departments.

Now that Craig is the only Democrat left in the race, she is rapidly consolidating district support around her. She is active in local functions. Has done well in debates and interviews. I think the Democrats do have the best candidate in the race right now.

The Republicans will begin to shuffle around. And we will have to see how Darlene Miller's addition to the race changes the dynamics...if any. John Howe and Jason Lewis still look like the odds on frontrunners. And I have little doubt that some heavy negative campaigning is in the offing. Lewis is one of those scorched earth conservatives and judging by the recent debate, John Howe is not going to let that go unchallenged.

The wild card on the Republican side would be if John Kline decided to endorse a candidate prior to the party Congressional endorsement. That could send a signal that would be noticed.

The 2nd District is going to be a close contest. How Democrats do in this Minnesota race could be a key to how they do nationally.

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