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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Rep. Mack Wants Insurance Companies In Control

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/05/15 10:41

by Dave Mindeman

House Republicans really enjoy talking about MNSure. Even when the head of the Department (Scott Leitz) leaves to take a different position, the House Republicans pounce on this as "another indication" of MNSure collapsing.

MNSure is nowhere near the disaster it was at the beginning. Democrats were on record as voicing their own criticism of the rollout. But Leitz actually righted the ship. The enrollment during this cycle was much more even keel with less customer hassle. Yes, there are still things to work out, but it has reduced the uninsured rate by 40% and Minnesotans are finding the health care they need.

But the House Republicans don't want MNSure to succeed. Rep. Tara Mack is the lead House Republican on health care and she wants to fundamentally change the law once again. Her bill would put everything back in the hands of the insurers. They would determine eligibility. They would sell the policies directly. How is that any different from the dysfunctional health care that brought about the ACA in the first place?

There is also a complication that Rep. Mack never addresses. How can insurance companies be involved in the Federal subsidies? That is one of the main complications that gave MNSure its problems in the first place. It requires access to sensitive financial data for taxpayers and MNSure had to deal with complicated rules to implement that. So Rep. Mack wants to allow insurance companies in Minnesota to have that access? She wants them to have access to that financial data? I have never heard an explanation of how she plans to implement that, safely and effectively.

Rep. Mack is quick to criticize how MNSure operates but she really does not want to fix it. She wants insurance companies to take back their own control.

And if Tara Mack thinks that eliminating MinnesotaCare (which her bill does) is going to help Minnesota's health care system, she is dead wrong. MinnesotaCare is a program that works and allows 100,000 Minnesotans to have access to affordable care. Not only does she want to gut MNSure, but she wants to gut other health care programs as well.

Minnesota's admirable near the top ranking in the low number of uninsured is in deep jeopardy if Rep. Tara Mack is allowed to machete the MN health care system.

It is not fixing anything - it is foolish insurance company pandering.
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House GOP Campaign Finance: We Need A Return Of The Jedi

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/05/15 10:07, Edited: 05/05/15 10:12

by Dave Mindeman

It's probably a little late for a Star Wars analogy, but I'm going to go ahead anyway. (May the Fourth Be With You)

But here's the deal. When it comes to the Republicans and Campaign Finance, there is an Evil Empire.

The House has a bill which would put the kabosh on the public financing system in Minnesota, while at the same time dropping the limits on what individuals can give to a campaign. That is a concept only an evil empire would want. Small individual donors are gone - big money rules.

And House sponsor Rep. Sarah Anderson tells us that disclouse rules are still in place - which is fine for individual campaigns, but allows the "dark" money of outside groups to continue, unlimited and without names.

I think Republicans have lost the right to complain about the money Alida Messinger has given to Democrats over the last few cycles - at least her contributions are known. With Republicans, the emphasis is on secret donors especially when it comes to the big backers.

So who's our Darth Vader? Well, that one is easy - it's Ben Golnik. He was the former head of the Minnesota Jobs Coaltion group that put out those cheesy ads against MN Democratic House members in the last election. And they were pretty successful targeting rural Democrats and creating this divide between outstate and metro, which the Minnesota House is continuing to elevate during this session. And guess who is now the director of the House Republican caucus? Why, yes...Darth Vader/Ben Golnik.

That's why it is not hard to extrapolate that the recent and very early attacks, by the MJC, on Minnesota Senate candidates on the gas tax, have a connection to Darth Golnik. Of course there is no "technical" coordination. But are we supposed to be naive? I mean there are many "former" Minnesota Jobs Coaltion employees that now happen to have House Republican caucus jobs....Ethan Hellier, a former MJC tracker is another one. (And these jobs don't pay peanuts - Golnik gets over $124,000. And that is a partisan political position, not a Commissioner)

Are we to assume that there is some accidental coincidence that as the Senate takes up the gas tax, that attack flyers (via the Minnesota Jobs Coalition) about that very subject are suddenly popping up in key districts. A gas tax, by the way, that is adamantly opposed by the House GOP caucus.

The House GOP wants to get rid of campaign finance restrictions. Oh, this bill doesn't eliminate everything. There is still some disclosure, but the Supreme Court will probably soon end all of that for them. Right now, they want to complain about Democratic money and allies, as if the Dems are supposed to unilaterally disarm and only allow Republican money guys to rule the roost.

There is a danger here and North Carolina provides the real life warning. If you open the doors for "big money" people to influence peddle you get characters like Art Pope in North Carolina who buys legislative seats and then gets himself appointed by an appreciative GOP Governor to a position of influence in state budgets.

We don't want self serving rich people controlling what rightfully belongs to all the people. But that is where we are headed. Darth Golnik and the House Republicans are attempting to implement that plan and do the bidding of an evil empire.

It time for a Return of the Jedi.
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MN Democrats: Stand Firm On MN Progress

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/03/15 12:00

by Dave Mindeman

Here are some thoughts about where we are headed in final budget negotiations for this legislative session:

1. MinnesotaCare: MinnesotaCare has been a self sustaining and successful health care program for decades. It has been a model of meeting the needs for those in the middle - and is one of the reasons that Minnesota was one of the best states with the lowest number of uninsured - even prior to the ACA. But the House Republicans are always looking for the means to dismantle state programs (even successful ones), so MinnesotaCare is on the block. And, with a touch of irony, the House GOP wants to dump the MNCare recipients into MNSure - which they have unrelentingly criticized as an unworkable program. I hope the MN Senate will fight for this program; it makes no sense to end it in a year of surplus....and while we are reworking a number of health care issues. MinnesotaCare is not broken, it pays its own way, and it meets the needs of over 100,000 Minnesotans. It is foolish to use it as a tool to obtain tax cuts.

2. Soccer Stadium: Just a quick mention here. As a public subsidy for stadiums opponent, I actually think the soccer request is pretty reasonable. Allthouth I have problems with long term property tax exemptions, I do think a sales tax exemption on building materials is very possible and fair. After all, new businesses almost always get a local or state tax break when they indicate a willingness to build or relocate. How would this be different? The actual stadium building IS going to be done by the owner - and that is a refreshing change in policy.

3. Transportation: The gimmicks proposed by the House GOP for transportation funding are ridiculous. They admit we have a transportation problem, but their "12 step solution" is to shift money from other transportation projects and borrow. THAT SOLVES NOTHING! We need to fully fund transportation with REAL money - not contrived paper. The next decade is crucial in how we maintain and build transportation infrastructure and the only way to truly meet that need is to generate new revenue and stable revenue streams. If we follow the House GOP path, we will be patching budgets together forever. That has to end. We need a gas tax.

4. Tax Bills: A forward thinking legislature would be planning for the next economic downturn....to keep the state solvent in good times and bad. The House GOP thinks that a temporary rebate for taxpayers and permanent tax breaks for business and the wealthy are somehow going to make them popular...but it does not make them fiscally responsible. The constant gimmick budgeting that plays with taxes is not looking at any long term budget needs. Minnesota has been an economic star in the Midwest. North Dakota's unemployment has risen to 3.1% (compared to MN at 3.7%) and the outward trajectory for ND unemployment is not very good. Minnesota is doing it right and the House GOP keeps wanted to take us back to the failed policies of states like Kansas and Michigan. Democrats need to stand their ground.

5. Education: Dayton wants universal Pre-K....which would be another tool that educators can use to battle the achievement gap. Dayton hasn't been getting the support he needs on this, which is disappointing, but there does seem to be movement around scholarships and targeted funding at the Pre-K level. Although this is less than ideal, it is a start. But projected overall funding for K-12 and higher Ed have been very disappointing. In a year of surplus, this would be the time for investments. We should at least fund the U of M to continue the tuition freeze. And K-12 should get enough to avoid teacher layoffs or curriculum cutbacks. Again, no one seems to be looking out for our future.


The House GOP has been acting and speaking as though Minnesota is having economic problems. The only time they look ahead is when they can find a way to project budget problems. And, oddly enough, it is their own policies that may cause that to happen. Since Governor Dayton took office, Minnesota has been moving ahead of our neighbors and has been a model for the country. The House GOP acts like none of that has happened. They continue to bring us policies that model Kansas' failures.

As all of these budget bills head to conference committees, I hope the Senate and the Governor will stand firm on the progress we have made. Minnesota should not be going back - always forward.
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