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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Dysfunctional State Government

Category: Legislation
Posted: 04/30/12 16:41

by Dave Mindeman

There is a heavy degree of dysfunctionality about this "new" legislature. The GOP control has favored a business friendly approach that helps the profit heavy business community, while blaming public and teacher unions for what they consider "bloated" government.

They legitamitely question some numbers that don't add up...like, for instance the Vikings Stadium. But hold to this false axiom that somehow economic activity will improve if business gets more tax breaks. The premise has no evidence, no facts, and no numbers that give any sort of proof.

The leadership has been gradually losing a sense of order within their caucus. Loose cannons like Doug Wardlow in the House can produce odd tactics like pushing the Right to Work bill into committee without the author's knowledge. The Senate seems to have multiple spokesmen right now with Sen. Dave Thompson speaking for the ultra conservative wing. Sen. David Hann for the "loyal" opposition (he lost the majority leader contest by one vote). And Sen. Senjem for the general mosaic he calls the rest of the Republican caucus.

Former rising star Amy Koch has been relegated to playing out the string. Clair Robling just got frustrated. Chris Gerlach decided not to defend himself on accepting mailers for Right to Work proponents, and ultimately leaned toward heading back to the lucrative private sector. Geoff Michell has an ethics cloud haning over his head.

Committee chairman have developed little kingdoms unto themselves. Pat Garofalo smirks his way through his "kids first" thematics....while education gets borrowed from, chopped up, and teachers get pilloried. And all the while, he keeps telling us that education is better off with him in charge.

Jim Abeler often means well, but in health and human services he simply accepts the narrow parameters demanded by his leadership and finds the easiest path for cuts, rather than looking for what is really needed. He gets points for at least trying to innovate.

The factions are what's really in control. Racino pops up every 15 minutes. The Vikings control all of the legislative time. Social conservatives have flexed some muscle of late just to make sure the confused GOP legislators don't stray too far off the reservation. Anti-union antics from the base get in the mix as well.

So what do the Republicans have to show for all of this? A couple of ballot amendments which have dubious Constitutional needs. And a host of vetos.

Divided government can still work if people really want it to. But when you have so many agendas involved, dysfunction is all you can get.....and dysfunction is what we have.
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Duluth Newspaper: Critics Are Wrong on Cravaack

Posted: 04/30/12 00:40

by Dave Mindeman

The Duluth News Tribune Editorial board decided that Rep. Chip Cravaack needed a rousing defense of how he serves his district.

Taking critics head on for pointing out that Cravaack moved his family to New Hampshire so that his wife could be closer to work and that cut his time back for Minnesota, they got access to his calendar records and pronounced this:

No matter what anyone may have predicted, Cravaack has been spending far more than a day a week back home in Minnesota, working with constituents and staying in touch with their needs and challenges. In 2011, he spent 164 days in Minnesota's 8th District, or more than three days a week, according to the pages of the congressman's official calendar and schedule, access to which was granted exclusively to the News Tribune Opinion page. Cravaack spent another 139 "voting days" in Washington, D.C., and 19 other days working at various spots around the world.

The article managed to also note that his work time is comparable to the other state representatives. Franken and Klobuchar spend 180 days back in Minnesota.

The Duluth editors seem to expect us to commend Cravaack for just doing his job. For doing what is expected. Not better than others and maybe not worse than others...just an average Congressional workload.

Still the problem is not so much that he manages to be in Minnesota while keeping residence in New Hampshire...the problem is how he votes.

He voted for the Paul Ryan budget to dismantle medicare. He has consistently voted against women's health issues. He supported the GOP debt ceiling fiasco. He signed on to the House GOP idea of taking funding levels back to 2008.

He has been an automaton on voting with the GOP, while he himself has not proposed any legislation of his own for his district.

The Duluth newspaper may want to defend Rep. Cravaack for managing to do an "adequate" job as a Congressman representing Minnesota while living in New Hampshire, but we also need a Congressman who will vote for moving Minnesota forward.

He criticized Oberstar for not being physically present in his district enough. He made that a campaign issue. But Oberstar got things done for Minnesota and did the job when it counted.

Cravaack is here more than we expected. Are we supposed to be satisfied with that?
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C'mon GOP Leg: Where Is The Evidence? Where Is The Proof?

Category: Legislation
Posted: 04/28/12 23:03

by Dave Mindeman

Well, the session has hit another snag....for the upteenth time.

This time the GOP Legislators want a "global" deal and have decided to put everything on hold....hostage taking as it were.

Here's the money quote from the Strib description:

Republicans have pushed hard for elimination of the statewide business property tax, which many conservatives would view as a significant victory. But that could require tapping the state's emergency budget reserves, and Dayton is loathe to draw down reserves to pay for tax breaks.

Republicans acknowledge that their tax breaks could have steep costs to the state budget in coming years, potentially causing deeper deficits in future budget cycles, but say the tradeoff would be an economic boon to job creators.

The Republicans have been criticizing the Vikings Bill for the finance numbers that have been promoted on the charitable gambling portion of the financing. The GOP critics say they don't hold water....and I have dubious thoughts on that as well. But at least they are numbers and they have some sense of process to it. We can evaluate with those numbers.

But notice that the Republicans admit that the corporate tax breaks they are promoting will add to the deficit. That's right, add to it. They manufactured a "surplus" with borrowing and IOU's, but they KNOW that the tax reductions will cause more deficits.

But the "trade off", as they put it? ...."an economic boon to job creators".

Really? Seriously? I have been asking this for months and I think the citizens of Minnesota are entitled to an answer..... where is the proof that this "economic boon" will actually happen? If we are going to risk more deficits....where is the hard evidence of this so called trade off?

The Vikings bill at least has numbers. It at least makes an attempt to explain its economic rationale.

Where are the numbers from the Republicans?

You won't see any because it is a fraud. The tax breaks are payback for supporting the GOP. There is not trade off for Minnesota. We will be right back to where we were last session....looking for more budget cuts to pay for tax breaks.

Numbers can be evaluated....fabrications can't.
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