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Dan Burns

Hey, idiots, MNsure WORKS

by Dan Burns on October 30, 2014 · 1 comment

hospitalBecause if you’re like me, you’ve only been hearing otherwise, from most purportedly legitimate sources. (That’s who I’m calling “idiots.”) That is absolute BS.

 

MNsure (on August 21) announced that 300,085 Minnesotans have enrolled in comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage through the state health insurance marketplace…
 
To date, 180,566 are enrolled in Medical Assistance, 65,749 in MinnesotaCare and 53,770 in a Qualified Health Plan. Between September 30, 2013, and May 1, 2014, the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 40.6% to a record low. Open enrollment for 2015 coverage begins November 15, 2014.

In fact, while the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is still just a first step to government-run universal single-payer, it has been a far bigger success than many, including me, expected. Also remarkable is its effect on Medicare costs.

 

It’s not about right-wing pols attacking MNsure, and Obamacare in general. That’s expected; I don’t exactly go out of my way to present “both sides” when typing up my polite, respectful remarks about conservative candidacies, either.
 
And it’s not like there’s any indication that all of the MNsure bashing is seriously hurting Democratic pols in the state. Relatively few Minnesotans are directly affected, and for the vast majority of those who are participating (especially regarding the Medicaid expansion), it’s been positive.
 
It’s that corporate media has been so flagrantly, atrociously one-sided on this from the start, essentially acting as nothing but an amplifier for right-wing attacks. (For example, type something like “Star Tribune MNsure“ into your search engine of choice, and scan what the first few pages look like.) Just, stop paying attention to that crap. There are better alternatives. Like the facts.
 

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kline3Pretty damn bad. I’m passing along this great article. Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is running for reelection, and his Democratic opponent is Mike Obermueller.

 

Behind schedule or not, Kline’s stiff-arm comes as no shock. He’s played behind the scenes for most of his career, preferring to quietly legislate away from cameras and microphones.
 
Besides, it’s just a reporter approaching him, not someone allied with the for-profit college industry. If the latter were the case, Kline would not just have time for lunch. He’d most likely block out the rest of his day to bond over tumblers of moderately priced scotch.
 
As Kline disappears behind the elevator doors, so goes the biggest obstruction to reforming for-profit colleges in America, an industry grown fat and sweaty on the taxpayers’ dime, while leaving students paralyzed in debt and working part-time at CVS.
(City Pages)

Education and health care are the worst possible places for incompetent greedhead for-profits and “competition.” Anyone who doesn’t get that by now could well be intellectually beyond help, at least on public policy.
 
Update: Obermueller has announced that if elected he will make dealing with this a priority.
 

Second district congressional candidate Mike Obermueller announced his proposal to crackdown on the predatory for-profit college industry today. The proposed legislation is geared to ensure schools are as invested in their students’ education as their own bottom line.
 
“It’s been made clear that the for-profit industry is simply not doing an acceptable job of producing a high quality education,” said Obermueller. “Worse, these schools have been abusively targeting prospective students, using various lies and distortions of the truth to recruit them.”
 
“To these bad actors, veterans are walking dollar signs,” said Obermueller. “It’s disgusting to think that these schools have been targeting our veterans’ tuition benefits without any intention of providing them with a real education. But unfortunately, current regulation is set up in a way that incentivizes these schools to go after veterans. This is an easy thing to change, and I would expect to find broad bipartisan support for this measure.”

Comments below fold.
 
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In praise of Minnesota House DFL longshots

by Dan Burns on October 29, 2014 · 0 comments

mncapitolDuring the past weeks I’ve blogged a lot about what I’ve considered to be at least somewhat realistic pickup opportunities, in elections for the Minnesota House of Representatives. Loosely, that’s meant races with Republican incumbents in districts with hPVIs of R+7 or less. We have a lot of candidates out there who are running in much more Republican districts. I suggest that they are awesome for doing so, and deserve our admiration.
 

OK, I admit that I’m not exactly the definitive embodiment of what you’d call a “people person.” But even if I was, to get out there night after night, doorknocking, hitting the events, because you know how important it is that somebody does…that takes something special. That goes for their staffers (if they have any) and volunteers, too.
 
And there is no such thing as an impossible district. It‘s no secret that the electorate is moving left – too slowly and fitfully, alas!, but moving nonetheless. People in general are progressive on most issues; their voting habits (including whether they vote at all) just all too often haven’t caught up. And there’s ample indication that Minnesota is moving faster than most. (I don’t necessarily buy that Minnesota is the “second most liberal state,” but we are in the progressive vanguard, and nothing that happens or doesn’t happen next Tuesday is going to change that in the longer run. And on the whole, next Tuesday isn‘t looking bad, here.) It’s a long haul, but there’s gold – a better state – at the end. And all of our candidates are a big part of it.
 

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MN-06: Perske gets St Cloud Times endorsement

by Dan Burns on October 27, 2014 · 1 comment

67833_1410329809214435_1844121466_nI’m not suggesting that endorsements of any kind swing a race, which is why I very rarely blog about them. I find this one significant because of the pretty pointed language used, especially the direct comparison of Tom Emmer with outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). The St. Cloud Times is far from “liberal;” on the right sidebar there’s a link to endorsements for conservative GOP incumbents for the Minnesota House of Representatives who should in fact be replaced by their strong DFL opponents.
 

The reality is the 6th District has been marginalized with eight years of uncompromising, divisive and at times embarrassing representation from Rep. Michele Bachmann. Voters need to elect the person who can begin to restore district credibility while improving the return district residents get on the tax dollars they send to Washington.
 
The soft-spoken, blue-collar-leaning Perske is a better choice than Republican Tom Emmer. While Emmer is the likely favorite because of the district’s conservative demographics, voters need to seriously consider whether his political persona will help the district. He’s similarly conservative to Bachmann and he is known as a political bully, which makes his House strategy is “building relationships” a tough sell.
(St. Cloud Times)

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MN-08: Coleman’s anti-Nolan ad is mostly false

by Dan Burns on October 24, 2014 · 1 comment

millspartying2A new TV ad that you’ve probably had to endure is the work of a dark money group headed by a former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Norm Coleman, a true weasel who seems to have indeed found his proper, if odious, place in society. The ad’s a piece of crap.
 

Last year, Nolan voted against a funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is typically a solidly bipartisan piece of legislation.
 
But that wasn’t because Nolan doesn’t want to fund veterans’ care. It’s because he thought the bill didn’t put enough money into health care services for vets. Further, Nolan has since voted for other bills that increased funding for veteran care.
(MPR Poligraph)

I don’t see that there’s any doubt that between pushing for more earned benefits for veterans, or more tax cut welfare for the pampered and privileged like himself, where Stewart Mills III’s priorities in Congress would lie.
 
It has long since been the case that most of the Mills-backing mailers I’ve been getting say “Vote against Rick Nolan,” not “Vote for Stewart Mills.” Even Republicans sense that they’re not going to get anywhere by emphasizing the alleged strengths of their own wretched candidate, because there aren’t any. Except, apparently, his fine-looking mug and well-toned musculature. Because that’s what matters, right?
 

There’s a possibility that Mills is picking up some electoral assistance from an unlikely source; I’ll call it the “Ventura effect.” When the latter was elected governor, he undoubtedly got some help from normally apolitical rednecks, mostly male and mostly in their twenties, who were like “Whoa! Jesse the Body for governor?! Cool! I’m gonna VOTE!!” This time, we may be seeing “Whoa! Beer Bong Guy for Congress?! Cool! I’m gonna VOTE!!” Probably not enough to be a big factor in the race, though.
 

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Laurie Warner for Minnesota House 32B

by Dan Burns on October 23, 2014 · 1 comment

warnerHere’s her Facebook.

 

I will fight to strengthen our economy further and create jobs for Minnesota workers by ending tax loopholes for corporations, providing tax cuts to small businesses, investing in a clean-energy economy like Geronimo Solar Energy, and putting our district to work rebuilding our infrastructure…
 
People need to have good-paying jobs, but not at the expense of our environment. There is strong growth potential for jobs in fields relating to clean energy and environmental protection. I will work to bring those businesses to Chisago County.
 
I support the right for workers to join labor unions.
(Laurie Warner for Minnesota House)

Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Lindstrom) has been in the House for two terms. With the outlook for Minnesota being that conservatism will become increasingly irrelevant at the state level in general – younger voters everywhere just plain know better – there’s no reason to keep him there. His website shows him trying very hard to take credit for DFL accomplishments. Also:

 

On February 5th of 2013, Representative Barrett was fined $1000 for disseminating campaign literature that misrepresented the record of his opponent in the previous election. The Administrative Law Judge Panel concluded that the false information “likely had some impact on voters” in Barrett’s 51%/49% victory.
(Wikipedia)

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gadflyI ran across this cool website with this cool article, which is a must click and read if you’re interested in education policy at all. (There are four candidates for two-at-large seats: Rebecca Gagnon, Ira Jourdain, Don Samuels, and Iris Altamirano. Gagnon is an incumbent; she and Altamirano are DFL-endorsed. Samuels is very much preferred by the corporate “education deformer” movement.)
 

Now, a distinction must be drawn between this rigorously documented “hard money”, which campaigns raise and spend directly, and the “soft money” independent expenditures made by outside groups that have no limits or reporting requirements. How’s this working out for (Samuels)? Pretty nicely. I’ve written before about the influx of ideologically-driven, out-of-state money into our (formerly local) school board race; this is the post-Citizens United crap that we have to put up with, and it’s troubling that it doesn’t meet Samuels’ definition of “corrupt money”…
 
No one can be sure exactly how much money these plutocrats are spending in their bid to buy our local election, but Samuels seems to be saying he needs it because of all the money being spent on Altamirano’s behalf. There’s a big difference, though: while Samuels boosters are billionaires and their foundations who evidently view our city as a little terrarium for them to experiment on, Altamirano’s “soft” expenditures are coming from, well, us.
(Don’t Samuels!)

A lot of progressive bloggers, including some whose work I downright admire, tend to repeat the claim that there is no difference between the overall performance of traditional public schools and charters. They don’t seem to be doing their homework on that. For example, a new study shows that charters are substantially worse than public schools in Chicago. Another study has the same general result for the Twin Cities.
 
Comments below fold.
 
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MN-06: A little Tom Emmer history

by Dan Burns on October 21, 2014 · 2 comments

emmer2So this is what too many MN-06 voters may well have decided is fit to represent them in the United States Congress. The candidacy of Tom Emmer is really just another boulder on the gargantuan pile of evidence that conservatism has long since disintegrated into nothing but a massive con.
 

When I ran for State Representative in 2006 and again in 2008, my opponent was Tom Emmer. During that time several people approached me to tell me how he used his position as an attorney to sue them or bully them out of holding him accountable for paying debts incurred by him and members of his family. As the first major report was coming from a neighbor who happened to be a die-hard Republican, I could not dismiss the information as politically motivated. Whether it was paying for landscaping ordered by his wife, or trees planted on his property, or issues of fairness and equity in dealing with a business partner, the people wanted me to know what they experienced with Emmer.
(Chris Brazelton/Twin Cities Daily Planet)

You may recall that Emmer was a loud and proud opponent of anti-bullying legislation. It’s pretty obvious that that was at least partly personal; as a big, dumb, obnoxious blowhard, he fits the profile of a school bully (and a leader of right-wing conservatives), himself, and it’s not unlikely that he was one. And he’s not the type who would ever change, or even question, his repugnant ways of doing things.
 
Our candidate is Joe Perske.
 

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Lynn Schoen for Minnesota House 21A

by Dan Burns on October 21, 2014 · 1 comment

schoenThis is practically a toss-up district. Here’s Schoen’s website. What stands out immediately is that she is taking a righteous, gutsy, activist stand on a key environmental/economic issue.
 

As a city of Wabasha Councilmember I am very concerned about the negative impact the frac sand industry will have on my community.
 
This type of large scale intensive strip mining and the truck traffic and transportation issues that come with it are entirely new to Southeast Minnesota. So far this issue has been left primarily to local governments to deal with and towns like Wabasha are struggling. It is critical that our state Legislature act this year to establish some regional standards for this industry to protect the area’s water, air, roads and quality of life.
(Winona Daily News)

As for Rep. Tim Kelly’s position on this issue, it’s exactly as you’d expect.
 

How far in the bag for the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council is Representative Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing)?
 
Pretty far, judging by the contrast between the bill he’s introduced in the Minnesota House with the reality of a snarl of environmental review woes facing projects across Southern Minnesota.
(Bluestem Prairie)

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MN-02: Kline screwing veterans on student loans

by Dan Burns on October 20, 2014 · 1 comment

271_19344293946_1831_nFrom a guy who makes an awfully big deal of being a high-profile veteran, himself.
 

The Star Tribune article points out the problem, but again, John Kline is not mentioned. John Kline is not asked. John Kline is not held accountable.
 
And why should he be?
 
Because John Kline gaveled down a possible fix to this problem by adding GI loans to the 90/10 rule for college loan money. The 90/10 rule requires colleges and universities to not exceed 90% of their loan funding from government sources. Currently, GI loans are not counted and thus the For Profit Colleges target veterans into programs that often lead nowhere in regards to getting a job.
 
The fix was discussed – but John Kline did not EVEN ALLOW DEBATE on the proposal. As committee chair, he, and he alone, was able to gavel this down, at his discretion. A move that directly benefits his For Profit College donors.
(mnpACT!)

This is pretty good:
 

 

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