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trump14Something directly stating or at least very strongly implying that the Trump budget proposal, if passed, would end the Meals on Wheels program for seniors was a common sight on the Internet, yesterday. Per Snopes and others, that’s not accurate. Only a small amount of the program’s funding, it varies from place to place but apparently always less than 5%, comes from the Community Development Block Grant program that the Trump budget would eliminate. With need rising, this is certainly not the time to be considering any cuts from any source; quite the contrary. But most of the extraordinarily righteous work that Meals on Wheels does is not at immediate risk.
 

This brings us to the wide and fuzzy line between political hyperbole and outright falsehood. I suppose that headlines like “Trump would end funding for Meals on Wheels” or “Trump wants to starve seniors,” are on that line, at best. (Those aren’t real-world examples, just generalizations of what I’ve seen. They‘re not outright false. Federal funding for Meals on Wheels from CDBG would end, and the sociopathic Trump doesn‘t care if people are malnourished, except insofar as it might hurt him politically.) But the Trump proposal is, on the whole, indeed a savage assault, especially on the vulnerable.
 

Given the critical need to stop Pr*sident Trump and his vile minions, this is not the time to get hung up on prim niceties when making important points. I generally try to be a little more careful in my own blogging. But that doesn’t mean that that’s always the way to go. I don’t see a need to leave useful attention-drawing tactics aside, given what’s at stake. The other side certainly doesn’t. Quite the contrary.
 
Here’s a pretty detailed, yet relatively concise, article from the Washington Post that lays out what’s really in the thing.
 
Comments below fold.
 
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minnesota_state_capitolMaybe the GOP legislature could use some of the budget surplus to help out “school kids or senior citizens, the disability community” instead of looking to blow big chunks of it, yet again, on handouts for the rich man.
 

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Tuesday he is having legislative legal and human resources staff examine whether a hefty pay raise for lawmakers is truly binding or if the Legislature can summarily turn it down.
 
The raise takes lawmaker salaries from about $31,000 to $45,000 beginning in July, a 45 percent jump that the Legislative Salary Council framed as a catch-up for years of stagnant pay…
 
“Think about if this is binding on us, it means I have to give, or we have to give legislators a pay increase when we can’t give that same kind of pay increase to school kids or senior citizens, the disability community, you pick your interest group that is frankly deserving of some increase,” Daudt said. “That’s the tough position it puts us in.”
(MPR)

In recent years, the low pay has made it more likely that people able and willing to be in the legislature have been financially independent, or retirees with solid pensions. That group on the whole tends to be conservative Republicans. Reasonable compensation could well produce higher interest in running among eager, high-energy, and just generally smart and impressive young progressives, and that is Daudt’s real concern.
 
The right-wing likes of Speaker Daudt have no idea how readily intelligent people see right through them. One sees manifestations of that all the time, among conservative politicians.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Elementary, Watson

by Bill Prendergast on March 15, 2017 · 0 comments

IMG_1225

Script/Layout: Bill Prendergast Art: Caitlin Skaalrud

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Opting out of the testing regime in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on March 15, 2017 · 0 comments

school2I don’t have a good handle yet on what I think Trump, DeVos, and their minions will be able to do to public education, other than that it won’t be good. Meanwhile, I’m noting some relevant items for this state.
 

In 2016, 2,227 high school juniors opted out of the MCA tests statewide. That’s just a drop in the bucket, compared to the 55,975 students who did take it. But it is more than three times the number of eleventh grade students–694–who opted out of the MCAs in 2015.

This is a startling jump, taking place in schools and cities as diverse as suburban St. Louis Park, rural Pine City and Minneapolis.
(Bright Light Small City)

And for pretty good reasons.

 

A state audit is highlighting several major flaws connected to Minnesota’s standardized testing landscape, and educators are calling for change.
 
“One thing is obvious after reading this report. The taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from this sprawling system of state and local standardized testing,” said Denise Specht, a fourth-generation teacher who heads up Education Minnesota, which represents 80,000 educators from across the state.
 
The Office of the Legislative Auditor released its findings earlier this week. Educators have zeroed in on what they call four major flaws.
(Education Votes)

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ottertaillakeriverinletDespite the reality of what’s happening to Minnesota’s waters, many people just will not face the crying need for things like buffers. And now the Minnesota Party of Trump wants to revert entirely, by whatever means.
 

– H.F. 167 (Green): Eliminates buffer rule.
– S.F. 465 (Draheim)/H.F. 1859 (Miller): Delays the buffer rule for two more years.
– H.F. 684 (Backer): Prevents enforcement of the buffer law until/unless local governments approve of buffer maps first.
– H.F. 776 (Backer): Formally exempts all public water wetlands and most smaller streams from buffer rule.
– S.F. 938 (Westrom)/H.F. 683 (Backer): Two-year buffer delay, and prevents enforcement unless taxpayers pay 100% of buffer installation.
– S.F. 835 (Draheim)/H.F. 1858 (Miller): Buffers are not required unless/until local seed is available for planting the buffers.
– S.F. 1693 (Westrom)/H.F. 1994 (Torkelson): Similar to H.F. 1466 DE2; bars local enforcement, redefines public waters needing a buffer, delays the deadline for remaining buffers by one year, prohibits any enforcement of the buffer law unless public funding covers 100% of the cost of establishing and maintaining all buffers.
(Friends of the Mississippi River) (Follow that and then click on an action link to see the list.)

And this is from an email I got from Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light.
 

SENATE
 
SF141: Creates barriers for solar by increasing the power of co-op utilities and stripping the Public Utilities Commission of regulatory authority.
SF214: Eliminates a pro-solar program that has been an important driver of jobs and innovation in renewable energy.
 
HOUSE
 
HF1291: Eliminates the state’s Environmental Quality Board — at a time when the board’s oversight should be strengthened.
HF1377: Restricts the options available to homeowners for financing energy improvement projects.

I’m sure there are plenty more, but you get the point. I suspect that a significant part of how many strokes Minnesota’s Republican legislators get from ALEC is based on the sheer number of bulls*it bills that they introduce.
 

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ryanOf course many Trump voters will simply react with rigid denial. But presumably not all will, if the reality manifests in their own health care costs.
 

Proving once again that “America First” never meant “Americans First,” we have a new metric showing that the people who favored Donald Trump are the biggest losers of his healthcare repeal.
 
The people who stand to lose more than $1,000 in tax credits with the new Trumpcare scheme also favored him by seven points, writes Nate Cohn. Generally speaking, the more money you stand to lose in tax credits with Trumpcare, the more likely you were to vote for Trump (this calculation excludes Medicaid and Medicare recipients).
(Daily Kos)

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Reframing what Trump and cronies are up to

by Dan Burns on March 10, 2017 · 0 comments

trump12I’m not George Lakoff’s #1 fan. I think there is an overemphasis in his work on “framing” in trying to explain voter behavior, at the expense of other key matters like, for example, just plain old, bad habits. But framing is important, and progressives haven’t always done it well, and this is certainly well worth passing along.
 

The American Majority got 2.8 million more votes in the 2016 election than the Loser President. That puts the majority in a position to change American political discourse and how Americans understand and think about politics. As a start, what is needed is a change of viewpoint.
 
Here is a typical example. Minority President Trump has said that he intends to get rid of 75% of government regulations. What is a “regulation”?
 
The term “regulation” is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, “regulations” are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public’s viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public.
 
Imagine our minority President saying out loud that he intends to get rid of 75% of public protections. Imagine the press reporting that. Imagine the NY Times, or even the USA Today headline: Trump to Eliminate 75% of Public Protections. Imagine the media listing, day after day, the protections to be eliminated and the harms to be faced by the public.
(AlterNet)

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Featured Guest Commentary

Senator-John-MartyThe essay by Senator John Marty provided below is from a post first published by Bill Moyers on March 4, 2017, on BillMoyers.com. Re-published here with permission from the author.

 

In a Special Report entitled “Is Health Care Doomed?” journalist Bill Moyers examines the current state of health care reform in the US and profiles various efforts by state legislators to offer alternatives to widespread loss of access to affordable health care under the new Republican plan to demolish the ACA (“Obamacare”). In particular, he spotlights Senator John Marty’s plan to reform health care and notes:

“We are at a stalemate. Opponents of the ACA have no viable replacement and supporters have no power to stave off the Republican bulldozer.

 

Is the situation hopeless? In Washington, probably — at least for now. But there are alternatives. As I noted above, two longtime advocates for universal health care, Drs. Woolhandler and Himmelstein, have renewed their campaign for single-payer reform, which candidate Barack Obama applauded when he was campaigning and then rejected after his election as part of those compromises he made to win support from conservative Democrats and the medical and insurance industries. In their Annals article, the two reformist physicians offer evidence that single-payer reform could provide “comprehensive coverage within the current budgetary envelope” because of huge savings on health care bureaucracy. It’s worth reading.

 

healing-health-care-front-cover

Download the free e-book.

So is a plan put forth by Minnesota State Sen. John Marty. Often described as “the conscience of the Minnesota Senate,” Marty has been an advocate for universal health care since he was elected 30 years ago. He has served as chairman of the Senate Health Committee and now serves as the ranking minority member of the Senate Energy Committee. Often ahead of his times, Marty introduced and eventually secured passage of the country’s first ban on smoking in hospitals and health care facilities. Long before public support had materialized, he worked to ban mercury in consumer products, create a legal structure for public benefit corporations and bring about a “living wage” for workers. In 2008, when he introduced legislation proposing marriage equality for LGBT couples and predicted it could pass in five years, colleagues dismissed him as a Don Quixote. Five years later Minnesota passed marriage equality legislation.

 

So this lifelong progressive has earned the right to chide his fellow progressives for “merely tinkering” with problems. He writes that “If 21st-century progressives had been leading the 19th-century abolition movement, we would still have slavery, but we would have limited slavery to a 40-hour work week, and we would be congratulating each other on the progress we had made.”

 

This timidity, Marty acknowledges, might be partially explained by decades of defeat at the hands of powerful financial interests and politicians beholden to those interests. But as a result, many politicians who espouse progressive change have retreated from a “politics of principle” to a “politics of pragmatism.”

 

Sen. Marty crisscrossed Minnesota to talk directly with citizens about what they need and want in health care. He has now proposed a universal health care system which he calls the Minnesota Health Plan. He’s distilled it into a small paperback book — Healing Health Care: The Case for a Commonsense Universal Health System. I asked him to write an essay for us summing up the plan’s basic principles and the case for it.”  — Bill Moyers

A CALL TO ACTION

By John Marty

 

Our health care system is broken.

 

We have some of the best health care available in the world, but one of the worst systems for accessing that care. We squander outstanding health care resources — providers, clinics and hospitals, medical research and technology — on a broken system that makes it difficult and expensive for many people to get the care they need.

 

Our health outcomes, including life expectancy and infant mortality, are worse than most other industrialized countries.

 

President Obama provided hope during his 2008 campaign, saying health care “should be a right for every American.” Unfortunately, he never proposed universal health care, though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a big step forward. It reduced the number of people without health coverage by almost half. It made a (in some cases, literally) lifesaving difference for millions of Americans.

 

However, even if the ACA were beefed up, it would always leave some people without coverage. In addition, health insurance does not equate to health care — millions of Americans who have insurance still cannot afford the care they need due to exclusions in coverage, copays and deductibles. And because it added even more complexity to our already convoluted insurance system, the ACA is easy to attack.

 

Republican attacks during the 2016 campaign were wrong; the ACA is not the cause of the problems in the system. Nor is it the solution, despite the good it did for many people.

 

Now that President Trump has blurted out that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” we will watch the ironic efforts of Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act — an insurance-based plan, largely modeled on former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s “Romneycare,” which, in turn, was largely based on ideas from the conservative Heritage Foundation. We have Republicans attacking a Republican concept. It might be bizarre to watch, but lives are at stake.

More Below the Fold

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Enbridge pipeline draws protesters

by Dan Burns on March 9, 2017 · 0 comments

oilspillThis was very righteous and needs to be noted.
 

As Native Americans opposed to President Trump’s restarting of oil pipeline projects gather in Washington, D.C., opponents of other pipeline projects found a target in Bemidji. U.S. State Department officials were met by hundreds of protesters at a Tuesday question-and-answer session on the Alberta Clipper oil pipeline.
 
Calgary-based Enbridge Energy hopes to substantially increase the volume of crude oil flowing across the Canadian border in the Alberta Clipper pipeline. Bringing more oil across international borders requires a presidential permit.
(MPR)

A related item.
 

Consumers have seen flat or declining energy costs as renewable energy becomes a greater part of the energy mix of Minnesota and the nation…
 
The national movement toward clean energy continues, she said, and Minnesota’s leadership in that area remains, especially in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
 
The investments in clean energy made by utilities does not seem to have an impact on energy prices, contradicting dire predictions made by some opponents of clean energy policy in the past.
 
“What we can say looking at data is that we’ve been making significant investments nationally, and so has Minnesota, and it has been beneficial to consumers and businesses,” Jacobson said.
(Midwest Energy News)

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trumpUnlike too much of Trump’s BS, this one has actually been widely noted in corporate media.
 

Trump should have been a magician, because he is endlessly skilled at the art of the misdirect. At a White House meeting for business leaders on February 23, Trump told U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi, “We approved, as you know, the Keystone pipeline and Dakota, but they have to buy, meaning steel, so I’ll say U.S. steel, but steel made in this country and pipelines made in this country.”
 
As it turns out, that’s not true.
 
“The Keystone XL pipeline is currently in the process of being constructed, so it does not count as a new, retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipeline,” a White House spokeswoman clarified to Politico on March 2. Keystone’s developer, TransCanada, does not have to buy steel made in this country. Neither will the Dakota Access developer, although both projects are going forward.
(Think Progress)

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