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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The MN GOP's Four Horseman Of The Apocolypse Candidates

Category: Economy
Posted: 07/07/14 22:36

by Dave Mindeman

MPR has an article that tells us the GOP candidates for Governor want to make the economy an issue for the 2014 campaign.

The title of the article says that the GOP has said that Dayton has "bungled" the state economy. I have a hard time believing that any of the GOP candidates would use that term in regards to this particular state economy, but then I don't put anything past a GOP talking point.

If that is the case they want to try and make, then by all means. go for it. That will be a tall order right now.

Minnesota has recovered all of the jobs it lost during the recession and then some. It has better economic numbers than the national average and ranks high on many conservative business lists - that actually rank economic factors and not just taxation. (Which are NOT the same thing if you are looking at economics honestly). And Minnesota is putting our neighbor to the east (Wisconsin) to shame-- although Republicans still bring up Scott Walker as some kind of economic example to emulate. (Heaven forbid!)

Dayton, of course, can't take all the credit. But, if you recall, when the legislature finally passed his tax programs, the GOP rhetoric said with "certainty" that Minnesota would be on a path to ruin.

Ahhh, if this is ruin, may it please continue.

Seifert, Honour, Zellers, and Johnson have done a pretty good imitation of the Four Horseman of the Apocolypse of late. They talk about the doom and gloom that is most certainly coming. Each negative number is elevated to press release status - while the 10 positive numbers that precede and follow it are ignored.

They have recently latched onto figures that show Minnesota receipts that are not quite keeping up with projections.....look, look, look at that, they say. We are going to have a deficit, sure as I am a tax cutter....is loudly proclaimed. And yet, Minnesota now has a record budget reserve. And most economists are saying it is much too early to be concerned about a budget deficit.

And still fishing for any kind of bad news, they have latched onto businesses that are making changes that will move some jobs out of Minnesota. Medtronic comes up a lot, but as I have tried to point out frequently, the idea of this being a "tax" issue is oversimplified bunk. In fact, Medtronic officials say that although the corporate headquarters will move to Ireland, additional hiring is on tap for Minnesota's Medtronic employment.

As the MPR article points out, the statistics are, well, let's quote it.....

The statistics, though, are compelling. The state's unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in seven years. The Twin Cities has the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan area in the country and in many respects the state's economy is doing better than the nation.

And as for Fortune 500 companies.....

Minnesota has lost six Fortune 500 headquarters over the past 10 years -- three under Dayton, including Medtronic, and three under Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Other firms have joined Minnesota's list of Fortune 500 companies through growth or other factors, and the state's tally is down by two compared to 2004.

If the Four Horseman want to make an economic argument, against Dayton, in 2014, by all means, take it on and go with it.

Maybe the GOP will think this is fantastic, but more realistically it is just apocalyptic fantasy.
comments (3) permalink

Corporations Have Stacked The Deck Against Us

Category: Economy
Posted: 07/07/14 20:27

by Dave Mindeman

Another loophole for the 1%.....

From Fortune Magazine on the Medtronic merger:

Years ago, in order to discourage inversions, Congress imposed a 15% excise tax on the value of options and restricted stock owned by top officers and board members of inverting companies.....Medtronic says it's going to give the affected people enough money to pay the tax.

Give it to them...and by them meaning the officers and board members who are making the decision in the first place.

This little trick gives CEO Omar Ishrak an additional payday of $7.1 to $11.2 million dollars. And that is one guy.

Who is representing the shareholders on that one?

The corporate tax breaks and protections are getting ridiculous. They hold profits offshore waiting for tax amnesty - and they pay lobbyists big bucks to promote it. They have enormous discretion as to what is defined as actual profit. They have a wide range of deductions to choose from which cuts the corporate legal rate by half and sometimes right down to zero. They get tax incentives from the various levels of government when they expand or build new facilities. They have protections for their officers and board members which no one else gets. And they have tax deductible high power law firms which shut down lawsuits and evidence of wrongdoing on various levels.

And yet, corporations spend huge sums on "feel good" advertising, telling us what they are doing for the community or the number of jobs they bring to the table as billion dollar entities. And spend equal sums to hide environmental damage and place gag orders on settled lawsuits.

It is a stacked deck out there in this US economy and the individuals and consumers are the ultimate losers.

And in case you missed it - Cong. Erik Paulsen, Cong. John Kline, and Cong. Michele Bachmann are on that corporate side.
comments (0) permalink

Economic Numbers Are Strong - But GOP Refuses To Let It Be True

Category: Economy
Posted: 07/03/14 15:31

by Dave Mindeman

The June unemployment figures came out and wow, were they big. The national unemployment rate is now 6.1% - a number not seen since before the recession.

But a good bunch of numbers like that can only mean one thing....

It's a scam.

I want to go back to a David Strom commentary in Politics in Minnesota. The title points to his premise....

Strom: Facts do matter still

Facts do matter. This is inherently true. But the increasing problem with Republicans is the idea of accepting facts for their face value. When the economy stats are good, it seems that the GOP has reserved the right to reject them and consider them some kind of conspiratorial hoax.

And, of course, as Strom puts it, it is Obama's fault....

The raft of scandals that are plaguing the Obama administration all have one thing in common, and it is not the most common and easiest to control form of political corruption (the use of office to get financial rewards). It is violations of the public trust in the service of political gain, and it is especially corrosive to trust in government.

Strom uses the IRS "scandal" as a primary reason for mistrust in government - even though the evidence suggests more incompetence than conspiracy....and absolutely no link to Obama himself. The original premise - that the IRS was targeting conservative groups - has been debunked. Liberal groups were investigated as well, but it was more of the conservative groups who were pushing the envelope on political vs social welfare activity. Still it makes for a good conservative narrative.

But Strom doesn't hesitate to get into unemployment data as well...

Unemployment numbers are greeted with similar skepticism, as people see and hear that things are worse than they are told. If numbers today were calculated as they were in the 1970s, the unemployment rate reported would be far worse. Changing reporting practices doesn't change reality. It just undermines trust in government objectivity.

The current methods of data collection by the Labor Department is not an Obama concoction. The method has been refined over the years but the idea that the numbers are fabricated is a purely Republican notion.

Strom tries to intimate that the revised GDP contraction proves that the unemployment numbers are bogus. But they are two completely different things and can skew away from each other on a short term basis.

Most labor watchers expect the GDP decline to be a one time event caused by a more severe than normal winter - and today's unemployment drop would seem to confirm that this idea may have some merit. We will have to wait for the next quarter GDP numbers to find out for sure.

The problem with Republican analysis is that they use a narrative and then select data that fits the narrative. The usual way to do this is that you are supposed to accept the data and then let the narrative flow from what the numbers say.

The Republican method on the economy has been more difficult as the recovery gains strength. Blips in the cycle are a new trend for the GOP talking points, while data strength is ignored.

It is hard to refute the real facts here. The first 6 months of this year are much stronger than the last six months of last year in terms of the unemployment.

But the economy still lags in real growth because wages are stagnant. And the new jobs created are often the low income type. Which makes it all the more important to move on a minimum wage increase.

But I guess that can't happen till the GOP accepts the data that is put in front of them. That would require real analysis and not selective narrative building.

So, in other words, not gonna happen.
comments (3) permalink
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