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Dan Burns

MN-06: Emmer is making no one happy

by Dan Burns on April 17, 2015 · 1 comment

emmer2Which is actually arguably not the worst thing that could be happening, regarding Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN).

He backed House Speaker John Boehner’s bid for a third term, voted for a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that did not defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and supported a change to Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors that could potentially add billions to the national debt.
Tea party and conservative outside groups opposed all of the votes.
“Tom is doing things that are hurting me inside,” said Jack Rogers, a leader of the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance. “That doesn’t mean I stop loving him or caring for him or praying for him.”
Rogers describes Emmer as a good friend but said his recent votes are worrying and could give rise to a primary challenge in 2016.
“Those principles really do matter and people are watching, people are measuring and people are paying attention,” he said.

Though, let’s not carried away. The following is from the same article, and is a bullseye.

Emmer only looks good next to his predecessor, said David Hoff, chair of the DFL party in the 6th District.
“Well, compared to Michele Bachmann, I think just about anybody would look good because she was such a divisive person,” he said.
Pointing to Emmer’s nearly party-line voting record, Hoff said the contrast with Bachmann is only superficial.
“But as far as his actions, I think we can expect more of the same as far as how he’s going to vote,” Hoff said.

Here’s an article, from Bluestem Prairie, with more on Emmer’s votes.

Frankly, I didn’t think Emmer had it in him, and I don’t know whether it will last. He’s not a national embarrassment (at least not yet), and may, also unlike his predecessor, Michele Bachmann, actually accomplish something, anything, worthwhile, on behalf of his district. But that doesn’t mean for an attosecond that the district can’t, much less shouldn’t, do a whole lot better. And I don’t mean that in the same way that that Tea Party dude does.
Comment below fold.

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Minnesota GOP looks to screw schools

by Dan Burns on April 16, 2015 · 0 comments

abandonedschoolRight about now is when the big spending bills start to get serious consideration in the Minnesota legislature, and things get really interesting. Though in many respects they are often quite predictable. The GOP-controlled House has put together an education bill, that either falls short or is completely wrongheaded, in pretty much every way that you can think of.

An omnibus education bill (HF844) would increase state spending in E-12 by nearly $157 million over the next biennium (for a general fund budget of $16.86 billion) with a 0.6 percent increase to the basic funding formula – which would amount to a $157 increase per student.
The proposal falls well below the Senate target ($350 million in increased spending) and Gov. Mark Dayton’s recommended $695 million increase.
Several testifiers representing school boards, teachers’ union and school administrators asked for an increase in the basic funding formula of as much as 3 percent per year. Without the additional support, many school districts across the state would face cuts to programs and staff, several testifiers told committee members…
The major difference between Dayton’s E-12 funding proposal and HF844 is that the governor calls for a 1 percent increase to the basic education formula. And House Republicans have decided to say “no” to the governor’s call to create a public universal pre-kindergarten program, which would cost $343 million over the next biennium. Instead, they plan to fund an early learning scholarship program — that targets 3- and 4-year-olds from low income families — by an additional $30 million.
(Session Daily)

The bill also includes the usual right-wing policy drivel, like teacher layoffs based on standardized test results.
I’m waiting on more data, before speculating on how negotiations between the House, Senate, and executive branch might go, and what the end result will be. Specifically, whether the pre-K initiative will get off the ground at all, this session.


TPP fast-track could be in real trouble

by Dan Burns on April 15, 2015 · 1 comment

tppAn effort to get “fast-track” authorization for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement may be officially introduced in Congress as soon as today. Apparently it’s expected to get through the Senate, but as for the House…I don’t dare be openly optimistic, yet, that it will fail, but the first actual whip count from a reliable source that I’ve seen might actually be termed “hopeful.”

As few as 15 House Democrats might vote to give the president fast-track authority, according to dozens of Democratic lawmakers, business group representatives and activists on both sides of the trade fight interviewed by The Hill.
That’s far fewer than the 50 Democrats Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republicans have asked the White House to deliver.
And with as many as 60 House Republicans ready to vote against giving Obama fast-track or trade promotion authority, it’s possible a vote would fail on the floor.
(The Hill)

Minnesota has endured the net loss of more than 48,000 manufacturing jobs – more than one out of eight – since the 1994 NAFTA and the World Trade Organization agreements took effect. Nearly five million manufacturing jobs have been lost nationwide.
U.S. manufacturing workers that lose jobs to trade and find reemployment are typically forced to take pay cuts. Three of every five who were rehired in 2014 took home smaller paychecks, and one in three lost greater than 20 percent, according to Department of Labor data.
More than 39,000 specific Minnesota jobs have been certified under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program as lost to offshoring or imports since NAFTA. These numbers significantly undercount trade-related job loss as TAA only covers a subset of jobs lost to trade.
(Public Citizen)

Comments below fold.

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Corporate media is ready for Hillary

by Dan Burns on April 14, 2015 · 0 comments



amd_300A prominent, and admirable, organization does a “Most Endangered Rivers” list.

The St. Louis River is threatened by new copper-nickel sulfide mining in its headwaters that would destroy or degrade thousands of square miles of pristine forested wetlands and streams. The first of the new mining proposals, PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet Project, would destroy 1,000 acres of wetlands, and indirectly impact thousands more wetland acres. It would also require a complex federal land exchange resulting in the turnover of more than 6,000 acres of biologically rich lands from the Superior National Forest and the St. Louis River watershed to mining companies.
(American Rivers)

There was considerable optimism on the part of PolyMet and others that permitting and other matters would have moved along swiftly, even to the extent that they’d have their final permits in hand by now. Negative dice:



Minnesota GOP bill would sabotage clean energy

by Dan Burns on April 10, 2015 · 1 comment

Amargosa_desertIt doesn’t get much more just plain backward – indeed, downright antediluvian – than this.

One, the (GOP House) bill would repeal the quantitative state goals for reducing green house gas emissions and says the state should reduce green house gas emissions “in an affordable manner.” Whatever that means.
Two, the bill would allow either the Minnesota House or Senate to veto the plan that is now in the process of being developed by the Dayton administration to significantly reduce carbon emissions in our energy sector by 2020 and 2030. The plan is being developed in response to the EPA’s proposed rule on carbon. Since the bill would allow the House or Senate to veto any other carbon reduction plan that might be developed, the bill is not a negotiating tactic, rather it’s designed for gridlock.
This new strategy of trying to give the legislative branch veto power over an action taken by the executive branch is a product of ALEC, which gets a lot of its financial support from the fossil fuel industry.
(Rep. Jean Wagenius)

Wagenius, a DFLer who represents part of Minneapolis, goes on to note much more, if you care to click on the above.

Minnesota doctors on Wednesday connected the dots between proposed changes in Minnesota energy laws and the health of the public, particularly children suffering from asthma.
The Twin Cities Medical Society delivered a letter (see below) to every member of the Minnesota House and Senate that says emissions of power plants “are adversely affecting our environment and impacting the health of Minnesota’s communities,” and urged lawmakers to maintain the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act that Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law.
(The Uptake)

Weeks ago, I mused that perhaps Republican legislators were seeing the need to move toward the center, or at least away from the extreme. That has not been the case. There is still talk about increasing basic assistance for welfare recipients, but other than that, not much to indicate that the legislative GOP is coming to terms with present – and, even more so, future – reality.

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Scott WalkerMinnesota’s legislative Republicans are keeping ideological company with the wrong kind of people.

Their plan will face scrutiny this week as the Legislature returns from its Easter/Passover break, but it’s already unnerved some health care advocates. They worry a $1.1 billion cut to human services could harm many needy Minnesotans at time when the state projects a $2 billion surplus…
Democrats say there’s no way Republicans can cut more than $1 billion from health and human services without cutting needed services for the elderly, the poor and the sick.

House leadership has proposed a $2.3 billion tax target, which they indicate would include about $2.0 billion for tax cuts and the impact of dedicating some existing tax revenues to transportation. This would come on top of significant tax cuts passed in 2014. That figure is simply unsustainable. Minnesota’s recent history demonstrates that when the state does too much tax cutting in good times, it makes the hard times worse when the next economic downturn comes along. This target not only makes it impossible to invest in Minnesota today, it also threatens the state’s ability to sustainably fund nursing homes, roads and bridges, and other critical services in the future.
Also concerning is that many of the tax cut proposals being discussed in the House would cut taxes only for the highest-income Minnesotans, reversing recent progress that has made Minnesota’s tax system more equitable.
(Minnesota Budget Project)

In other words, there’s a lot here that has failed Minnesota in the past, and that is failing Wisconsin and many other states, now. It’s things like this that point up the #1 problem with conservatives in power: they never learn. Or, they don’t want to.
Comment below fold.


woundedThis makes a key point that is not emphasized enough in general, and practically never among the Very Serious People.

“Get government off our backs!” It’s a chant we’ve heard a lot of over the last few years, usually in the deep, gruff voice of those old enough to remember the heyday of our parents and grandparents. It’s a call to a simpler time when there was less government, less taxation, and more to go around. At least, that’s the story we are told.
But an analysis of the size of our Federal Government as a share of the economy shows that while it is a shade bigger than it used to be, it’s way below its maximum. There are peaks in Federal Government size which fit not to an increase in social benefits or productive spending, but the very expensive line item that has been pricey enough to bring down governments and cultures for centuries – war.
In short, it’s time for the progressive left to embrace “smaller government” of a kind and to show that world that peace is not idealistic but practical.

I’m not entirely convinced of the following, but I’m passing it along, anyway.

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MN-02: John Kline and the Iran agreement

by Dan Burns on April 6, 2015 · 2 comments

reaganTalking about what happened last week.

Iran has just de facto announced that it does not want a nuclear weapon, at least in this generation, and probably ever. That American and Western hawks can’t see this is a measure of their own blinkered view of reality or their own corruption. Some hawkishness is a business plan; if you use up bombs in an elective war, you have to order more planes, bombs, tanks, etc. from the arms manufacturers who fund your political campaign…
In short, Lausanne looks more like the Brazilian-Argentinian Guadalajara Agreement or like the 1979 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, both of which have held, than it looks like 1938.
The people who argue for 1938 are unbeknownst to themselves actually stuck in Berlin, August 1914 and are perpetually playing von Moltke. They imagine an attack from a France that has already offered to stay neutral. They imagine a short war. They are intrigued by the possibilities of new military breakthroughs if only a years-old Schlieffen Plan can be implemented. They initiate aggression and genocide in the name of a phantasmic preemption. They act on paranoid hallucinations with real tanks and bombs.
(Juan Cole)

And what has Rep. John Kline (R-MN) been up to?


2015 Twins prediction

by Dan Burns on April 3, 2015 · 2 comments

twinsFirst of all, I never get these right.
Plenty of sources have them losing ninety-some again, mostly because of improvement in the AL Central. People claim that practically every team has improved, every year. I don’t know that Kansas City can keep it up, or that Detroit and Cleveland will really be better. The White Sox clearly are, but not necessarily by any tremendous increment.
A managerial change is often not a great sign. But Paul Molitor will be helped by dealing with a team apparently bereft of massively ego-driven head cases.
Twins hitters did swat the ball around pretty well, in the latter part of last season, though the potential for sophomore slump is certainly a concern with some players. On the other hand, Joe Mauer is due for a bounce-back, batting title-contention year, despite his iffy spring. All in all, better starting pitching will help, but, 74-88.
I originally typed 78-84, then realized that I’ve been too optimistic for at least the past several years. I’ve been a Twins fan since I was a little kid, so said optimism is a fine example of motivated reasoning.
Comment below fold.