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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Is Scott Walker REALLY Presidential Material?

Category: Scott Walker
Posted: 11/21/14 16:58

by Dave Mindeman

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is ruminating a run for President. And what is to stop him? He has won three (count 'em three) elections for Governor since 2010. Sounds like an electoral juggernaut.

But as with most "big ideas" from Republicans, it has some flaws.

Here are the election results from the 3 runs:


Walker 1,128,941 52.3%
Barrett 1,004,303 46.5% Turnout = 49.7%

2012 June 5, 2012 Recall

Walker 1,335,585 53%
Barrett 1,164,480 46% Turnout = 57.8%


Walker 1,259,031 52.3%
Burke 1,121,490 46.6% Turnout = 56.9%

First observation. The results are remarkably similar in each case. Walker wins by 6 to 7 points in each case.

Each election is an off-year type. The 2012 recall was held in June. And you may ask, who decides that? Well, in Wisconsin, that decision is done by the Government Accountability Board....a panel of 6 judges. And, surprise, surprise...4 of the 6 judges were appointed by Scott Walker. The other two by his predecessor Gov. Jim Doyle.

During the recall there were 931,053 signatures turned in to meet the statutory requirement. It seems a bit strange that 931,000 people were motivated enough to sign for the recall effort, but only about 230,000 additional people voted for the Democratic candidate. I offer no explanations but I do consider it a bit odd.

A more dominant point is that Walker won these elections with 50+% of the electorate voting. In the 2012 Presidential election, Wisconsin got 70% of its people to the polls.

Would Scott Walker even carry Wisconsin in a Presidential election?

I think that is a fair point worth considering. But let me give you a bit more about the recall. When the signatures for the recall were received, the GAB put the signatures on line with a searchable database (at a cost of $150,000 to the taxpayers) showing their signature. Your name was on the public record.

It took some time for the GAB to certify the election as they verified signatures....which had a certain additional Walker advantage....

Normally, candidates must follow strict limits on how much they can raise from any individual, but those restrictions are not in effect from the time recall petitions are first circulated until the accountability board decides whether a recall election must be held.

Republicans used that quirk of the law from November until Friday to their advantage, with Walker raising as much as $500,000 from one businessman - 50 times the usual $10,000 limit. Democrats had to adhere to the normal limits during those four and a half months, putting them at a fundraising disadvantage.

Walker raised an unprecedented amount of money heading into the recall.
He has manipulated his state to his advantage. And he has managed to get large sums of money from the usual national sources.

Those sources might support him for President, but can he extrapolate his "off-year" successes and state manipulation into a national campaign?

That doesn't sound like a strong national Presidential candidate to me. But then I'm not a Republican primary voter.
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The GOP Has A Constitutional Remedy - PASS A BILL!

Category: Immigration
Posted: 11/21/14 14:06

by Dave Mindeman

House Republicans had a swift reaction to Obama's executive order on immigration....

They filed a lawsuit - on his actions on healthcare?


Boehner has been shopping this lawsuit idea for months and I guess he finally found a lawyer (Jonathan Turley) willing to do it. But this lawsuit is being pursued based on what Obama has NOT done on the health care law. And has nothing to do with executive action on immigration.

Is Congress really so broken that they can't even get their lawsuits figured out? This suit will fail and even if they do bring up one on immigration, that will fail as well. Obama isn't doing something revolutionary. He is doing what past Presidents have always done...and he is actually doing less of it than most. Executive orders are one means of executing laws in the best manner possible. And Obama is doing just that on health care and immigration.

If Boehner wants to stop Obama, he has a very clear Constitutional remedy. PASS A DAMN LAW! Instead of not doing anything and having sessions about once every other week, PASS A DAMN LAW!

In regards to immigration, you already have the bipartisan Senate bill sitting on your desk. All you have to do is move it to the floor. It will pass - maybe with more Democrats than Republicans - but it will pass.

And if you do that, immigration can be taken off the table as a divisive topic. Families can make plans for the future. And we can all get back to the business of governing.

But, Speaker Boehner won't do that will he? He can't. Because he has too many negative voices speaking much too loud.

It would take some political courage but the answer is right there on his desk. PASS THE DAMN BILL!
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Senator David Hann and The Gruber Effect

Category: Health Care
Posted: 11/20/14 12:00, Edited: 11/20/14 12:05

by Dave Mindeman

If Sen. David Hann (Senate Minority Leader) would concentrate as much on Minnesota transportation issues as he does on MNSure, we might have some of those problems resolved. But in Senator Hann's world, MNSure is THE paramount issue.

In a Star Tribune Op-Ed, he uses the Jonathan Gruber "gaffe" as a means to rehash all the old arguments and take us backwards once more.

Hann laments the lack of transparency (which Gruber proves I guess) as the deception for getting the ACA passed. Of course, Hann probably doesn't remember the passage of the Medicare Part D act under President George W. Bush and the "surprises" involved with the infamous donut hole and the prohibition of negotiation with drug companies. I guess transparency issues are only a problem when Democratic bills are involved.

Senator Hann uses a Gruber analysis to knock MNSure as well. Yes, Minnesota asked for a report and they used some of those assumptions to move the MNSure bill forward. But that doesn't necessarily mean all of the information was wrong and the source was deceiving the state.

Hann picks out some of the assumptions that MNSure used and then slants the analysis as if it was rigged from the beginning. But let's look at his criticism:

And let's remember that all of the information is predicated on a horrible software system roll out that no one could have predicted.....

1. The exchange would serve 1.3 million people by 2016.

In the first year (2014), MNSure sign-ups hit 371,000. With a smoother, more usable exchange site and a continuation of interest similar to 2014, that goal is within reach for 2016.

2. Over 600,000 people would be purchasing individual plans (as opposed to taxpayer-subsidized plans).

Obviously that did not happen...in the first year only about 55,000 signed up for individual plans. However, a large number of people signed up outside of the exchange....away from the horrible website which wasn't very usable....and got some of the same insurance plans through other venues. Remember, if you weren't eligible for the tax subsidy, it didn't really matter where you bought the insurance.

3. Overall premium costs for individual plans would fall by 34 percent.

Premium costs did go down in the exchange. I am not sure if the 34% figure was realistic, but Minnesota had some of the lowest premiums in the nation. But using Hann's source (Kaiser Family Foundation)... the recent data indicate this:

An early look at the cost of health insurance in 16 major cities finds that average premiums for the benchmark silver plan - the one upon which federal financial help under the Affordable Care Act to consumers is based - will decrease slightly in 2015.

Kaiser also points out that if you sign up for the same plan as you had last year, you could see an increase. Kaiser encourages..."Consumers should go into the open enrollment period prepared to shop for the best deal all over again." Sounds like a free market?

4. Household budgets would improve by $500 to $700.

Again, I'm not sure of Hann's context but many, many Minnesota budgets improved by $500 to $700. I know mine improved by more than that. I doubt anyone guaranteed that every budget would meet that number, but on an average basis, that is probably a fair figure.

5. The number of uninsured would decrease by 60 percent by 2016.

Well, let's quote a June, 2014 MNSure statement...."Between September 30, 2013, and May 1, 2014, the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 180,500, a reduction of 40.6 percent. The number of uninsured in Minnesota fell from 445,000 (8.2 percent of the population) to about 264,500 (4.9 percent of the population)." It would seem that we are on track for that target.

6. There would be a large rise in non-employer insurance coverage, and little change in employer-provided coverage.

The purpose of the ACA was to allow competitive rates for people who did not have employer based health coverage. Again, the website issues made that difficult in the first year, but early indications for the current period seem to say that those software glitches are over and individual sign-ups can be obtained much more efficiently. Employer based plans continue as usual. The ACA didn't affect those plans except for one important point. Those policies have to meet a better standard of coverage....and they do.

I know it is hard to resist discrediting everything Gruber says because of some off the cuff remarks made over a year ago. Democrats do that sort of thing as well. Its the political thing to do.

But Gruber is one advisor.....who worked for Republican Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, developing the RomneyCare health plan. And yes, he advised a lot of different entities. But he was only that - an advisor. His opinions and projections had flaws. The law has flaws. But taking everything into account, the law is succeeding.

If Senator Hann has the true better interest of Minnesota in mind, he would work to improve MNSure....a health care system that has been a success in its main purpose....to get health care to those who couldn't get it before.

Play the political game if you must, but in the end, let's all work to make MNSure better and keep Minnesota a model for the nation in health care.
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