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Ask Kline Why He's Against Making College More Affordable

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 04/08/15 19:25

by Dave Mindeman

Sometimes MPR's PoliGraph segment gets caught up in its own semantics.

Today they called a DCCC ad against Kline "misleading" because PoliGraph says it is talking about a Kline vote to freeze Pell grants. Another one of those party line votes that PoliGraph says would be newsworthy only if Kline, as a Republican, voted against the party.

The ad references the Pell Grant vote when it says "last week" - but, regardles of that vote, Kline IS making it harder for students in college in more ways than that.

The ad says...Call Rep. Kline and ask him why he's against making college more affordable

Now there is a legitimate question. Not only is he in favor of freezing Pell Grants....he has also made sure that interest rates will keep climbing.... and he favors For Profit colleges roping students into marketing ploys that increases the borrowing needed to pay for these schools. And Kline blocks any attempt to remedy graduates who have been saddled with debt loads that will follow them throughout their lives.

Yes, why is Kline against making college affordable?

Elizabeth Warren is trying to help students in the Senate. She wants to restructure student loans and wants a tax on millionaires to help foot the bill. She has managed to get 58 Senators to sign on, but is still 2 short of the magic 60 to get it to the floor.

Kline could support that. He could push a companion bill or sign on to one in the House. Nope. He won't do that. And Warren explains a little bit of why....

Warren added that colleges - particularly for-profit schools - should be responsible for federal loans when students graduate and can't get a job. For-profits receive 25 percent of federal aid dollars, she noted, yet are responsible for half of all student loan defaults...."the colleges also need to have skin in the game."

Yes, Congressman Kline why are you against all of this?

Ah, heck, we know why. Look at Kline's campaign contribution list and you get the answer. Corporate shill extraordinaire.
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The DFL Challengers To Cong. Kline (a.k.a. the Corporate Shill)

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 04/07/15 10:42, Edited: 04/07/15 10:44

by Dave Mindeman

Now I am going to admit at the outset that I only have sketchy information on this topic....and I may have the wrong impression on some of the information I do have - but maybe I can at least start the discussion.

I am talking, here, about the two DFL candidates that plan to challenge Kline for Congress in the 2nd District.

First, let's see where we have been in the last two cycles....when Mike Obermueller was the Kline challenger.

Here is the money data for 2012:

Kline raised $2.3 million. He spent $1.95 million. Obermueller raised $717,000 and spent $705,000. Kline won 54-46. (Open Secrets)

Data for 2014:

Kline raised $2.78 million. He spent $3.23 million (had a surplus from 2012). Obermueller raised $933,588. He spent $933,332. Kline won 56-35.

Obviously, because of the large cash infusion in 2014, Kline took the more recent race a bit more seriously. Obermueller's finances got dwarfed by our 2nd district corporate shill, and the struggle was always uphill. Still, the fact that Kline won by 8 points in the 2012 election year should be the comparison to use going into 2016. The possibility remains high that Democrats could do well in next year's elections.

So who are his current challengers:

Angie Craig. She made her formal declaration for the position yesterday. Her bio indicates that she works for St. Jude's Medical, a medical device manufacturer. She is married to Cheryl Green and they have 4 sons.

I am going to give my honest concerns here. I have heard her speak at our local DFL convention. She talked a great deal about health care and voiced here support for the ACA. However, my concern, until I hear more clarification is that she will be another voice to repeal the Medical Device Tax. After all, her company would benefit from that repeal. There is nothing inherently wrong with that - after all, the entire Minnesota Congressional delegation is working for that repeal. I am anxious to hear how she plans to replace the funding if, indeed, she does favor a repeal. But the other concern is that her website lists her 4 "priorities" and healthcare is not one of them. She lists education, jobs, social security, and infrastructure. Those are very good priorities, but health care is going to have to be high on the list when discussing John Kline. And it is not like she doesn't have expertise in this area - in addition to her position with St. Jude's, she is on the board of several health care related non-profits.

When she spoke at our convention, she also talked some about student debt. Well, she outlined the problem at least. Her website gives it one paragraph under education. Student debt is an issue that needs to be addressed when John Kline is your opponent. And, in order to be effective on the issue, you need to demonstrate an alternative plan. Maybe that is coming, but it needs to be front and center.

I am concerned about the lack of political experience. She lists a position of precinct chair in Senate District 51. That is a caucus position that is often achieved by just showing up in your precinct. There is no mention of activity with local campaigns or any state party activity. And again, there is nothing wrong with that. But Kline is an experienced and crafty politician. Unless Ms. Craig loads up her staff with experienced political operatives, I am afraid she may be heading for a meat grinder.

Money is also going to be an issue. A news article said she just started raising money 4 days ago. Mike Obermueller worked himself to death to raise $900,000 - and that still wasn't near enough. Ms. Craig needs to show some fund raising acumen or at least a willingness to invest in herself if she is able. I'll mention it again - a lack of political experience probably means a lack of fund raising contacts needed.

On a positive note, she seems to have gathered the endorsements of all the local Senate District 51 elected leaders. Rep. Sandy Masin and Rep. Laurie Halvorson, Senator Jim Carlson, and former Congressional Candidate Mike Obermueller are listed as endorsees. That will be a big plus for her going forward.

As I said before, these are my early impressions of the Craig candidacy; and as we move ahead, clarifications may change those impressions.

Mary Lawrence. Word has it that Mary Lawrence will make her formal announcement later this week. I don't have a website to reference here and my information is even more sketchy, but I'll give my early impressions anyway.

First of all, Mary Lawrence does not live in the 2nd Congressional district. She plans to move to Prior Lake, but right now she lives in Minneapolis. Whether or not she has any past experience with the 2nd District is unknown, but that is a concern.

Her bio is impressive: She is an ophthalmologist with the Veteran's Administration with numerous awards and leadership positions. Her press release gives us a little more about why she is running....

"After serving our nation's Veterans and Service members as a physician at the VA for over 17 years, practicing and teaching medicine, I've seen first-hand the negative consequences a hyper-partisan government can have on the people it's supposed to serve," Lawrence said in a statement released to the Pioneer Press. "But there's nothing wrong with Washington that can't be cured with some Minnesota commonsense."

I won't go into her priorities because she hasn't had the opportunity to do that yet, but being a veteran herself, she can probably challenge Kline somewhat on his military background and foreign policy -- although it remains to be seen if she expanded her veterans knowledge beyond the health care field.

But there is one note that caught my attention....

Lawrence's campaign released a statement saying Lawrence raised $515,000 in the first quarter of the year. It isn't clear how much of that money came from Lawrence herself.

That is worth noting. Whether it came from her own checkbook or others, that figure is already over half of what Obermueller raised during the entirety of his 2014 campaign. Does she have the connections to raise more in sufficient quantities? That's another question. If she has not lived in the district, what connections would there be? Will she depend on outside money? These are unknowns.

OK - there are my first impressions on these two candidates. I probably sound a bit more critical than I should be at this point, but I guess I am at the point of wanting everything on the table. Kline is absolutely the worst possible Congressman for this district and we need to replace him. We are going to need an extraordinary effort from a good candidate. Maybe it is one of these two - maybe it is someone who has not yet emerged.

I may have some things wrong in this post - if I do please feel free to comment. More information is always better. And, as I said, things could change as more clarification becomes evident.

2016 offers an opportunity. It may be a last chance opportunity in the 2nd District.

We need to get this one as right as we can.
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Strib Endorses Mills : Praises His (Ahem) Health Care Expertise

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 10/27/14 22:58

by Dave Mindeman

The Star Tribune has endorsed Stewart Mills III for the 8th District.

That is absolutely incredible! and ridiculous!

And their reasoning is even more stunning. Listen to this;

Having begun his Fleet Farm career scrubbing toilets and emptying trash, Mills today is vice president in charge of the chain's health care plan, covering 6,000 employees and their dependents. He has developed a hands-on understanding of the intricacies of the health care marketplace, coming to see wellness and prevention as keys to controlling costs.

Mills says his objections to the Affordable Care Act are central to inspiring his run for Congress. His candidacy follows what he calls the "Hunting Camp Rule": If you complain about something, you get the job of fixing it. His condemnation of the ACA is too sweeping, given that he backs the law's key goals. But the market-based approaches he prefers -- including more price transparency and tort reform -- could contribute to needed improvements in the law.

Stewart Mills III understands the "intricacies" of health care? Really? That is one of the main reasons you decided to recommend Mills for Congress?

I can't begin to say how completely wrong that scenario is.

I have worked in health care for 40 years. I have dealt with and studied the ACA ever since it was passed in 2009. I have watched its development; I have done comparisons; I have examined its flaws.

A person who operates health care for one company, his own company, does not develop expertise in health care. THEY DO NOT.

The Star Tribune has been rolling out a lot of endorsements. I even endured the endorsement of John Kline by their editorial board. I half way expected that one - because they tend to stick with incumbants and they have a history with Kline.

But Mills?

Mills has worked with group insurance at Mills Fleet Farm. He deals in employer based health care. Obamacare doesn't change that - it left that aspect alone (unfortunately, as far as I am concerned, but employer benefit health care did not change). Mills' job in health care was to shop carriers for the best group rate deal and then implement it.

How does that make him an expert in health care? Especially Obamacare?

Mills does not have a clue as to how to deal with the individual market place. It is a completely different animal - and it is why we had high rates of uninsured Americans in the first place. Mills went by the group rules set up by the carrier he chose. He had a large enough group that they could sometimes override some of the insurance rules, provided the company was willing to pay the override cost.

But people outside of a group rate protection is something Mills has no idea how to approach. He pretends that his company group health experience is all he needs. That assumption is, itself, dangerous and naive.

The Duluth Tribune was fooled by this facade as well....

"I am for health care reform ... that actually brings down costs and increases access, and I'm also for the goals of the Affordable Care Act, which is making sure that people don't have to worry about pre-existing conditions, lifetime maximums, or, if they have a catastrophic health condition, that they don't have to worry about where the care is coming from," Mills said in a candidate forum this week in Duluth sponsored by the News Tribune and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.

Anybody can say that they want to make sure they take care of people with pre-existing conditions, care about lifetime maximums, and catastrophic care. You can say that and it will sound compassionate.

The problem is how to incorporate it into a health care system with adequate cost containment. Has anyone asked Mills how he would pay for his assumptions? Yes, he probably can take care of a few individual health care problems within the confines of a employer group policy with 6,000 individuals to spread out the cost. But an individual in an exchange? How does he handle that.

I guarantee you, he does not know. HE DOES NOT KNOW.

If the Star Tribune couldn't dig down deep enough to pull back the layers of rhetoric that hide that simple fact, then they shouldn't be endorsing anyone.

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