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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

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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Democratic Poker: All In or Patient Winner?

Category: 2016
Posted: 02/02/16 19:58

by Dave Mindeman

Well Iowa is done. On to New Hampshire.

So what have we learned in the nearly all-white, ethanol producing, corn and land locked state of Iowa? Well, quite a bit.

Let's look at the Democrats. And let's not get into any Twitter or Facebook insults for now. There is plenty of that going on and I will leave that to others to sort out. But I want to talk about this as objectively as I can.

The most striking thing about Bernie's impressive showing is that young people backed up their enthusiasm by showing up at the caucus. The numbers were not as high as Obama's 2008 showing, but they were still impressive and the second highest ever. Bernie had over 80% support for caucus goers under 29. That is incredible. Obviously, his message has resonated deeply with the new generation.

The second thing is that Bernie's organization was better than expected as well. The caucus in Iowa can be a chaotic situation and you need plenty of field workers and volunteers to keep things in order for your side. He had that.

It is impressive that his campaign was able to come back from a huge initial deficit a year ago and pull off an essential tie.

But, in the end, Hillary still won. She has a very loyal base of support. Bernie's campaign said they needed a turnout of at least 170,000 to win in Iowa...they got it and more. Yet, Hillary is still standing - and won depending on your current interpretation. But, regardless, she withstood an enormous challenge and survived. The narrative going forward would be much more negative if Bernie had convincingly won Iowa. But that didn't happen and she has some capital to move forward.

Hillary can also claim an incredible organization. She has been building it for some time and it paid off big time. Without trained and experienced staff, we would not be talking about a close contest here - the Bernie campaign organization was good -the Hillary campaign was incredible.

So who can represent the Democrats best in November? A few months ago I would have had no problem recommending Hillary. She clearly has the background that meets the criteria for a President. She can tap into gender history as the first female President our country has ever had. And she has experience dealing with the GOP attack machine like no one else.

But Bernie has been hammering that Progressive message wherever anyone will listen and it is resonating. In year's past, a liberal message like his would have never gotten off the ground, but linking it to the income inequality that the majority of Americans feel every day, makes it more viable than ever. I have never heard a candidate speak to our values with such force and passion - he has our attention. And for the first time, maybe, just maybe the passion of youth can translate into real votes.

So how do we decide?

Well, it depends on how you like to play poker.

Are you a cautious player who picks up wins incrementally. Someone who bides his time and looks for tells from the other players and look for patterns. If you like that style, then you are probably a Hillary supporter.

She is an experienced campaigner. An experienced foreign policy expert. An experienced legislator who has a unique understanding of what can or cannot be accomplished. She will be patient in moving an agenda and will take what she can whenever she can.

That is her strength to many..... and her weakness to some.

Maybe you are the bold poker player. The person who seizes the opportunity when you can get it and go all in at the first opportunity. You move fast and bold and you win. You take chances even when it is possible for you to get "Berned". You are probably a Bernie supporter.

When Bernie talks about revolution, he is not just speaking a tag line. He needs a complete makeover of government in order to accomplish the things he wants to do. In order for Sanders to be successful, he needs to create an incredible mandate; to move the country to the left in ways it has never done before. He needs those young people to overwhelm the voting booth and not just support him, but every Democrat up and down the ballot. He needs a Democratic Senate and more importantly he needs to create a sweep into the House that can turn that over as well. That is a tall order...a very tall order. But a "revolution" could do that.

Now if you are an "all in" poker player and go with Bernie, then you are asking him to take on every center of power in the government. The lobbyists will be against him, the billionaires will reign cash down against him, the Republican Party will label him with fearmongering commercials, and the people who hate Obama will hate Bernie even more.

You know, I dismissed Bernie and the "all in" approach up to this point. But it would be amazing if it could actually work. Single payer, Wall Street taxes, affordable college, really fixing immigration....these are incredible things and if the revolution happens, they can ALL get done.

Hillary is the safer poker bet. She will build on what Obama has done. She can play the political game that the Republicans are so good at - and if they hold the House (which is still very likely), she can move things as far as they can be moved. She has a wealth of political experts to draw on, who understand her and what she wants to accomplish. She will also be better able to withstand the slings and arrows of a brutal campaign - because she already has.

So, are you impatient and All In....or are you willing to be more patient and move forward with proven abilities?

Like I said, I thought the only way to go was with the Hillary approach. But as Bernie keeps exceeding expectations, that all in approach is oh, so tempting.....

We have some time to figure it out....let's play some poker.
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MNSure Has Bad Audit - So How About Finding The Fix?

Category: Health Care
Posted: 01/30/16 16:41

by Dave Mindeman

MNSure has become a MN GOP punching bag for some time now. The latest legislative audit didn't help matters much as numerous errors were found in regards to the state health programs.

But let's examine some of this from a real world perspective.

Health care has always been a complicated system - the beauty of single payer is its simplicity, but we don't have single payer. We have a myriad of eligibility rules, restrictions, reporting nightmares, and layers upon layers of bureaucracy.

And frankly, a portion of this is a problem that has nothing to do with MNSure. The basic problem for MNSure has been that they have tried to completely automate the system. Where the state programs have files and caseworkers working with clients to figure out where they fit, the exchange tries to shrink all that down into a few facts and figures. That can work for the bulk of health care recipients, but there are still a large number of people who don't fit into a nice neat category.

Yes, the ACA is complicated. It is a product of years of wrangling with insurance companies, health providers, government services, and the layers of vendors who provide that health care. Everybody added their opinion from their own perspective and the end result has layers upon layers of data and forms and rules that are difficult to navigate.

MNSure had no precedent to work with. A new law and new software and new requirements have proven to be inherently flawed. Some of that was to be expected, but obviously, MNSure has had more issues than it should have had.

Some of this is because of the early software failure. The timeline had to be stretched and corners had to be cut. Rules have been modified and major overhauls have improved things immensely, but there are still some basic problems that need to be ironed out.

Republicans want to ditch the whole system and just dump Minnesota into the Federal exchange....at least until the ACA is repealed in their minds. But there is advantages to having our own system. We can better adapt the exchange to meet state health care eligibility and rules. We can make quicker adjustments if the system is our own. We simply have more control. You would think that Republicans would prefer that idea.

The Audit report was pretty critical...and deservedly so. Change and adaptation has been slow, but we have to remember that this new entity is only a few years old. It has already had 3 chief operating officers. It has been wading through regulations that have been constantly shifting. The road to a mature operating entity is going to be slow and rocky.

And it wasn't like some of these problems were not always inherent in our health care system. Anyone who has tried to figure out an insurance bill knows how crazy it can get. The Minnesota state programs have always had eligibility problems to deal with. Even prior to MNSure, people have been placed in the wrong program because lower income people that are close to threshold income levels keep moving in and out of these programs.

And the paper work has been complex. As a pharmacist, I would be spending a lot of time checking on eligibility for patients. Many times they simply missed sending in some information to the state....the requests for data are constant and it is easy to miss those notices. MNSure has been an attempt to automate all of that, and frankly, there just may be too many variables to allow that. It may come to the old system of caseworkers following up with clients to keep up with all the changes.

Yes, the audit report reveals some serious problems, but the real issue is how do we deal with it. Republicans continue to avoid any responsibility to address these issues with fixes. They are great at joining in on the criticism, but in the end, Minnesotans need health care and we need to fix the problems that hinder our methods of providing it.

Audits are necessary and problems need to be identified. But addressing and fixing those problems is the job of our representatives.

The ACA has reduced the uninsured by a huge number. Isn't that what we want? Don't we want health care to work for everybody?

When Republicans have critiqued the audit for whatever political gain they think they can maximize, how about everybody gets to work and fix it.

That would seem to be the real job here.
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