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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

There Is A Naivete Flaw Regarding Jeff Erdmann

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 08/10/17 07:53

by Dave Mindeman

Let's get back to the Jeff Erdmann interview at the Uptake.

I am a bit concerned about the naivete of Erdmann's government view. He has not been active in politics - says he had to be neutral while he was coaching football. Although other teachers have been some of the most vocal activists I know, each person has to decide that.

But when explaining why he became a Democrat, Erdmann mentions the following...

Other aspects of why I would be a democrat, age 22, 23, I learned a very valuable lesson. It was one of my first checks or second checks as a teacher, and at that time I was pretty physically ... I was in the best shape of my life and I look on there and there's medicare and medicaid coming out, and I'm like, "Ugh. I don't like seeing that money come out of my check." Because at that time, I was trying to buy a truck ... I bought a little used Ford Ranger and I was trying to get my payment under 100 bucks. And so I was frustrated that that was coming out of my check.

Medicaid is not funded by payroll taxes. Medicaid is a joint program between the Federal government and the various states. It is the main contentious argument in changing healthcare because expanded Medicaid under the ACA has been a big factor in increasing enrollment.

Erdmann also talks about "Medicare for All" as the fix - and I think Democrats, by and large, will support that for the most part. But he seems to be saying that payroll taxes are going to fund the bulk of this.

Well if people look at how it would work, it's gonna go from the 1.45 up to 5, 5.5% in a payroll tax, and then that is gonna pay for all the aspects that are needed with it. But when you do this, you're bringing in everybody. You've got all the healthy people, you've got everybody under that.

Payroll taxes going up 300%? I know that the contributions would have to increase some, but the burden on working people seems a little steep. A large number of people do not pay payroll taxes. Retired people, people with dividend and bond income, people on pensions. In fact, the older population, which will consume the bulk of health care services would once again be subsidized by payroll taxes, if that is the main approach.

Medicare for All is a solid idea. Even the idea of just allowing people 55 or more buying into the program would greatly ease the pressure on insurance premiums in the private sector. But Erdmann is going to have to flesh out his ideas - because that kind of increase in payroll taxes is just unacceptable.

And then he lumps the "wealthy" into some broad monetary concept. He insinuates that Angie Craig is "buying" her Congressional seat. I think most of us in the 2nd District are very familiar, from the last cycle, with the Craig story of growing up in a trailer park in Tennessee. In fact, from Erdmann's account of his own story, Angie Craig came from much humbler beginnings than he did. Yet, Erdmann lumps her current status into some kind of "wealthy elite" group. Simply because she began her campaign by self funding to garner name recognition in the district.

Yes, Angie Craig put in a considerable amount of her own money. But unlike the Sheldon Adelson's and Stanley Hubbard's of the world, her contribution "hurt". She took money that could keep her family comfortable for a long time. It wasn't throw away money. She made a heavy commitment to the district.

Yeah, very few people can afford to do that. And she states that she cannot afford to do it that way again. She is not self funding her 2018 campaign. But Erdmann's insinuations of elitism, in regards to Craig, are unfounded and if he truly understood the dynamics of how campaigns operate today, he would save his fire for the actual wealthy donors who are the true corruptors of this system. It seems a little strange to me to lump Angie Craig into the class of Stewart Mills and Betsy Devos. It just does not fit.

And Erdmann talks further:

Angie's running again and we don't know what her platform is, so it's hard to make a comparison as far as that. I think there's definitely comparisons between us. I think there's a lot of differences between us. And as the campaign rolls out, I think people are gonna see that and they'll have an opportunity to choose, to see how that plays into their voting decisions and what they value.

I don't think there is much secret about her platform. She has many of the same issues that Erdmann talks about. Erdmann makes "money in politics" a front and center issue - but Craig has spoken of the same concerns. She wants to get to Universal Coverage in healthcare, but is open to what will work the best - Medicare for All is included in the possibilities. As part of a proud gay family, she has a unique understanding of LGBTQ rights and concerns. There is nothing secret about her platform and I question the "differences" that Erdmann seems to believe exist between them.

Erdmann is a good progressive. I do not question his motives but his approach to a competitive primary shows naivete and inexperience. And we are all too aware of how inexperience can get us into trouble.

If I am being too critical I apologize, but I am concerned that Democrats will once again turn a victory into a defeat because of internal divisions. The 2016 split in our party is still there and exploiting that only plays into the hands of the tribal Republicans.

Jeff Erdmann has not been a Democrat very long. He has not been in the trenches. And, judging by his statements, is still learning about how all of this works.

2018 is extremely important. It is crucial for the 2nd District. We cannot afford more on the job training.
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Jeff Erdmann Is A True Progressive - But Tilts To The Divisive

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 07/30/17 17:23, Edited: 07/30/17 17:28

by Dave Mindeman

Jeff Erdmann is running for Congress in CD2. He is a strong, progressive candidate.

My first issue, though, is that Mr. Erdmann has not been engaged in the party up till now. I asked him directly about his absence and he explained to me that his job as a civics teacher and football coach required him to remain neutral so that he could relate to the diverse young people that he educates. OK. That is plausible. But I have to point out that I know a lot of teachers who do their job and then are incredibly active with helping in elections on their own time. If you are careful about an image - it seems a little drastic to suddenly pop in class one day and say you are running for Congress as a Democrat.

But there is another issue. Jeff came to an SD57 meeting last week and made his pitch for endorsment in Congressional District 2 to oppose Jason Lewis. Great. We need to win.

However, during questions and answers, Jeff struck a tone that flashed red flags over and over. He talked about his main issues, but used the phrase "Wall Street Democrats". As if Dems taking Wall Street money was somehow equivalent to a Goldman Sachs Treasury department that we have now.

Erdmann wants to overturn Citizens United and supports a public financing of elections. That is fine and frankly, I don't see any Democrats opposing that in any context. Erdmann doesn't like corporate money in politics and points to Bernie's successful appeals to the electorate as his prime example. And yes, Bernie did an amazing job. He stayed competitive all through the primary - but he lost. And we also do not know if that money would have continued strong enough to last through a Presidential campaign.

Is the Bernie method preferred? Absolutely. Will that work for every Democratic candidate? Absolutely not.

Erdmann also talked as though his number 1 issue is to get money out of politics. For a Democrat, that is not a hard position to take. Our party supports public financing of elections in our platform. He gets no argument from any of us on that. But Erdmann seems to take it a bit further by internalizing it into the Democrats; as if they are simply a lesser evil.

He also mentioned the lawsuit against the DNC and seems convinced that they rigged the 2016 election. Whether or not that happened (and I do not believe it did for reasons I have explained in previous posts) is a marginal point at present....especially if you are going to seek the endorsement from the very party you are criticizing.

We have a much bigger problem in the Oval Office. And as these investigations continue we may find that we have an illegitimate President who cheated the system to an advantage we are only beginning to understand. Stolen DNC e-mails made public should not make the DNC the enemy. They have their faults (many of them) but more important is what what we need to do for success in 2018.

Yes, Citizens United should be overturned, but a Congressional campaign in 2018 is going to have little effect on a drive to a constitutional amendment that may take a decade to achieve. Why not focus more on outside money and the need for transparency? We need to know where these spigots of money are coming from - at least for now.

Erdmann seems good on the environment. Then, please, talk more about it. Educate the electorate and make that a centerpiece.

He wants to take on corporate issues. Great - but we are stuck with them in the short term. Their money, their greed, their lobbyists. We rail against them all the time - nobody disagrees with that. But our job right now is to get a seat at the table in Washington. We need to elect Democrats - not publicly criticize and internally oppose Democrats.

Erdmann is running against Jason Lewis - not the foibles of the Democratic Party. Democrats have plenty of issues to change and address, but they are NOT Republicans. They are NOT undermining health care, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Erdmann also has a good focus on Medicare for all. Great. Focus more on that. Make that argument...fine. But leave out the divisive rhetoric and keep your eyes on the goal. Football coaches should be good at that.

My advice to Mr. Erdmann is do not get distracted - and know the true end game.

In closing, if Mr. Erdmann wishes to talk me about my assertions here, I would be more than willing to talk and post his opinions. I reached out to his campaign through their campaign website contact page but only received an automated response.
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Internal Democratic Struggles Are So Unproductive

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 07/27/17 14:49

by Dave Mindeman

I find it enormously frustrating that Democratic activists and candidates seem to focus their ire in the wrong places. I agree with their view. I want to make the same changes. I will work to make that happen. But we have to work in the areas that can actually make a difference.

For example. Regarding Citizens United. Democrats talk loud and long about this Supreme Court decision being wrong. It is drowning our elections in corporate money and the vast majority of that money supports Republicans.

Yet, the term "Wall Street Democrats" is popping up much too often. Sure, there are Democratic candidates who take Wall Street money. It is not ideal but funding a campaign has to have money, at least until we can fix this.

And where will the fix come from? Well, since the Supreme Court has ruled that money is "free speech" and corporations are "people", the only sure way to fix it is with a Constitutional amendment. And that means electing people who will support that concept. When a Democrat raises a lot of money, the tendency is to dismiss that person as not on our side. I disagree. If they manage to get elected and have made a pledge to us, we can hold them accountable.

Of course, the question becomes...why not support a candidate who will not take big money - a candidate who will run a"grass roots" campaign? Well, the only person who managed to make that work was Bernie Sanders... and even at that he was out of money by the end of the primary season...and he still lost. And to my mind, Bernie was unique in that regard. Candidates that he has been willing to support have not gotten the same monetary support and have not been winning.

Money is critical for winning any race. Even more so in Congressional and other Federal campaigns. I don't like it, but I refuse to accept the idea that Democratic candidates who raise a competitive amount of money are not really with us. The ugly reality is that raising money is the only way to a campaign's true viability. And outside money can crush us, even then.

But let's get back to the real fix. A Constitutional amendment needs to get 2/3rds of both Houses and 2/3rds of the state legislatures.

Since Republicans control both Houses and 30+ states, this doesn't look realistic right now.

But we have to look at a longer range plan. A plan that requires legislative focus and electoral action. Winning is the important thing. And if winning NOW requires monetary investments from wherever we can get it, then so be it. We make the pledge to the goal and find a way to get there - and that means holding any Democrat that can get elected accountable to any pledge they make regarding money in politics.

We cannot do this by internal bickering and semantic language. We need to find a way to win...period.

It is discouraging to me that Democrats, faced with the Trump problem and Republican domination, still think it is necessary to rehash the 2016 divisions and label our own candidates in negative ways.

It is frustrating. It is self destructive. And I, for one, am tired of it.

Don't fight each other. The enemy for 2018 is very, very clear.

Get to work.
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