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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

McFadden Chances Improve? Maybe In The Wishful Thinking Category

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 07/24/14 22:34, Edited: 07/24/14 22:35

by Dave Mindeman

There seems to be an almost quiet desperation to make Mike McFadden a serious challenger to Al Franken for the Minnesota Senate. The investment banker has no experience - has stumbled badly on the issues , but has money to burn and has shown a willingness to spend it liberally (pardon the expression).

He is a familiar mixture of Norm Coleman and Mitt Romney, but without the political expertise. What has given him the opportunity to gain some notoriety was the inexplicable endorsement at the GOP convention. Whether it was good strategy or incredible luck, McFadden has emerged with the endorsement and has only token opposition for the GOP primary from grossly underfunded challengers.

Because of all that, it looks like the political handicappers have given him a second look and recent "experts" like Stu Rothenberg and Larry Sabato have upgraded McFadden's chances against Franken.

Even Sabato made the change almost apologetically....

One final rating shift that will leave many shaking their heads is in Minnesota, where we're changing the rating from Likely Democratic to just Leans Democratic. But hear us out: While polling doesn't really support such a move, history suggests this race won't be a cakewalk for Sen. Al Franken (D).

In other words, no data - just a hunch.

The reason that Franken's race is still on the radar is that most political followers who haven't been familiar with Franken's Senate career cannot believe that the guy who won by 312 votes could be anything other than vulnerable. And normally that would be a pretty safe bet.

But Franken has assimilated into the Senate very well. He is respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. He has eliminated the bawdy humor for which his entertainment career was famous....and replaced it with a dry sense of humor which he flashes only to make a political point.

Franken has been a prolific fundraiser and even with McFadden pouring his own money into the race, Franken continues to have the monetary edge. The junior MN Senator always seems to be one step ahead of McFadden on every front....organization, fundraising, commercials, and ground game.

In general, Franken's political strategy (and it is a good one) has not given McFadden a real opportunity to put the incumbent Senator on the defensive. McFadden's opportunistic endorsement gives him the ability to utilize what little the State GOP has to offer for ground help and not have to build it all himself, which I am sure he expected he would have to do. But Franken negates that opportunity with a superior organization of his own.

Another thing working in Franken's favor is that the Republican Senate Caucus has to concentrate on other races. Minnesota's seat is low on the priority list. The RSCC is having a fight in Georgia and Kentucky to hold onto incumbent seats and North Carolina and Arkansas are proving to be stubborn takeaways. Sending money to Minnesota may be a luxury they cannot afford. Meaning McFadden is probably on his own.

Al Franken's narrow win in 2008 has not been taken for granted by his campaign. They have prepared for battle and are looking for a somewhat better margin of victory this time around. The MN GOP has never quite gotten over that narrow and frustrating loss. They have been willing to give McFadden some leeway in conservative "principles" as long as he has shown a willingness to match Franken's bank account.

The GOP keeps looking for any semblance of silver linings in their quest to take back Norm Coleman's seat. But hard evidence of a McFadden upset is in short supply.

And Al Franken is taking nothing for granted.
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The ACA: Another Story Behind The Numbers

Category: Health Care
Posted: 07/24/14 18:26

by Dave Mindeman

We hear so many talking points from Obamacare opponents that we almost take it for granted that the ACA is extremely unpopular. The polling seems so overwhelming that nobody bothers to even look at the real numbers.

Well, right now we are going to do that.

A recent (July 18-20) CNN poll gave us the usual headline. Obamacare is favored by only 40% of Americans.

Here are the total numbers:

Favor 40%
Oppose 59%
No Opinion 1%

Even the fact that only 1% have no opinion means that our attitudes have been firmly entrenched.

But CNN asked a follow up question.

(IF OPPOSE) Do you oppose that legislation because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think it is not liberal enough?

They only asked that question of the people who stated they opposed Obamacare. And they found the percentages ended up like this:

Favor....................................40% (the original number favored)
Oppose (Too Liberal)..............38%
Oppose (Not Liberal Enough)....17%
No Opinion...............................5%

No only did they find out that 17% didn't think Obamacare went far enough, they confused another 4% enough that they went to undecided.

I would speculate that the 17% are single payer advocates. And there are probably also a number of single payer advocates (like me) that will poll in favor of Obamacare because we assume that we can't get what we really want - single payer...or at least some kind of government option.

If you extrapolate that into the poll, you could surmise that some kind of government health care system is favored - 57% to 38%.

But that requires some nuanced thinking and probably a more detailed poll to be completely accurate. And we are not getting that kind of in depth coverage on this issue.

What is interesting is that CNN has been polling with this method for the last 4 years....and that 17% number is the highest it has ever been. In fact, it is up 5% since the last poll in March. Why don't we hear about that? Because the narrative has already been established.

I believe that Obamacare would not be having the credibility problems it is having presently if the technology of the websites (Federal and State) had not failed us. If only the preparation and testing had been more thorough, the controversies could have been avoided.

The bottom line is that Obamacare did succeed in its main goal. More people have health care than ever before. Massachusetts has nearly 100% coverage....and even Minnesota, with its website debacle is moving in that direction.

In Minnesota, we have an opportunity to put all of these problems behind us by passing the Minnesota Health Plan. It is languishing in our legislature, ready to be debated and passed. With it, we can stop the website issues. We can cover every one of our residents. We can cut costs and end all the duplication. And we can do what it would seem that 57% of Americans want - health care for all.
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For-Profit Colleges Continue To Exploit-Will John Kline Comment?

Category: John Kline
Posted: 07/24/14 00:38, Edited: 07/24/14 00:39

by Dave Mindeman

Globe University, a Minnesota For-Profit College, is again (and I do mean again) under scrutiny for its marketing practices. Attorney General Lori Swanson made the case....

Swanson described a "sales-oriented culture" on their campuses, which she says aggressively pursued potential students with deceptive claims about jobs they would land and their ability to transfer credits to other schools. "This school left some people deep in debt with promises that did not materialize," Swanson said as she announced the lawsuit.

Globe University is a constant contribution to the campaign of Congressman John Kline. So, let me ask the question. Where's John Kline?

And like I said, this isn't Globe University's first foray into trouble...

Swanson pointed to other legal troubles for Globe over the years, including a jury verdict last year awarding $400,000 to former dean Heidi Weber, who said she was fired after raising concerns about the school's recruitment practices and other issues.

Again, the question needs to be asked....where's John Kline?

Not only is Kline taking money from these For-Profit charlatans, but he continues to protect them as chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee. He is aware of these scam practices but not only does he do nothing about it, but he defends them when efforts are made to reign them in.

Since these For- Profit Colleges target veterans and low-income students, Kline claims that putting restrictions on them would only hurt the students.

So, where is the statement from John Kline?

Meanwhile, the For-Profits rake in record amounts of guaranteed Federal loans which they profit from even with student default. In fact, they account for a majority of all student loan defaults.

Students rack up mountains of debt while, in the case of Globe University, they can't even get an accredited degree for the field they have chose.....

She (Swanson) said school recruiters steered students who wanted to become police officers into bachelor's programs that lacked Minnesota accreditation. In addition, they recommended two-year associate degrees to would-be probation officers, although the state and most counties require at least a bachelor's degree for such jobs. A criminal justice associate degree program at the two schools costs $35,100; a bachelor degree program costs $70,200.

Is somebody asking John Kline to comment?

John Kline's footprints are all over the student debt problem. He is responsible for interest rate increases. He defends his donors when they exploit students. And he looks the other way as the loan defaults add to our debt burden.

When it comes to For-Profit colleges, the person that should be asked about solving the problem is never asked to comment.

Where's John Kline?
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