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MN-02

Kline’s buddies should pay to fix pension funds

by Dan Burns on December 12, 2014 · 2 comments

271_19344293946_1831_nRep. John Kline (R-MN) may be getting more backlash than he anticipated, for his key role in advancing a plan that would drive retirees into poverty. The Kline-Miller plan has never been introduced into the House or Senate on its own; this is a despicable effort to sneak it into law as part of a must-pass budget bill. (As of 630 this morning, it’s still in the bill, as far as I could determine.)
 

Problems with pension funds are primarily due to the foul machinations of Big Finance, who have been essentially stealing them.
 

No one disputes that there’s a retirement crisis, but the crisis was no demographic accident. It was manufactured by an alliance of two groups: top executives and their facilitators in the retirement industry – benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks – all of whom played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits.
 
Yet, unlike the banking industry, which was rightly blamed for the subprime mortgage crisis, the masterminds responsible for the retirement crisis have walked away blame-free. And, unlike the pension raiders of the 1980s, who killed pensions to extract the surplus assets, they face no censure. If anything they are viewed as beleaguered captains valiantly trying to keep their overloaded ships from being sunk in a perfect storm. In reality, they’re the silent pirates who looted the ships and left them to sink, along with the retirees, as they sailed away safely in their lifeboats.
(PSC CUNY)

This article, from Rolling Stone, details how the same is being done to pensions for public-sector workers.

 
So, how about making the crooks pay to fix the ones that are in trouble? Better yet, Big Finance could do it voluntarily, and get a good start on trying to repair its public image. But it won’t; arms will have to be twisted, and John Kline is not a politician with the integrity and decency to try to make that happen.
 

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kline3One of my interests is world religion, myth, and folklore. There are examples of mythological beings with second faces on the backs of their heads. What with always looking backward, perhaps they were inspired by the John Klines of their time.
 

Two key House Republicans on employment issues have asked the Labor Department to withdraw its new rule protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination.
 
House Education and Workforce Committee Chair John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota, and Rep. Tim Walberg, the Republican chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, made the request for a 60-day public comment period for the rule in a letter to the head of the office responsible for enforcing it…
 
After laying out their argument, they write, “We therefore urge OFCCP to withdraw its final regulation submitted to [Office of Management and Budget] … so the process for implementing [Obama’s executive order] can be done with the transparency and public participation typically afforded under the APA.” They ask for a response from Shiu “no later than December 17, 2014.”
(BuzzFeed)

While there are many things equally preposterous, literally nothing is more preposterous than Rep. John Kline complaining about an alleged lack of public input into government decision-making.
 
Oh, and this, too:
 

As lawmakers pressed Monday to finalize the legislative language of a must-pass omnibus spending bill, labor unions and retiree groups were mobilizing to defeat what they are characterizing as a lame-duck sneak attack on the pensions of some already-retired workers.
 
At issue is an effort led by Reps. John Kline and George Miller, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to bring reforms to troubled multiemployer pensions. The exact language of the proposal had not yet been announced, and it was not clear whether House leaders had in fact decided whether it would be attached to the spending bill.
 
But the lawmakers and staffers were working on such a proposal through the weekend. And it was widely expected on Monday that it would give multiemployer plan trustees the ability to cut benefits of already-retired workers or widows to help shore up some of the plans.
(National Journal)

Comments below fold.
 
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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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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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abanschoolMost of this article is actually about Rolling Jubilee, if you want to find out more about that ultra-righteous endeavor.
 

(In September) the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a $500 million lawsuit against Corinthian, a corporation they have been investigating, as have various state attorneys general. Corinthian is charged with running a “predatory lending scheme.”
 
For-profit schools are notorious for preying on students from disadvantaged backgrounds and spending more on advertising and marketing than on teaching. For example, according to the CFPB, Corinthian paid other companies to temporarily hire graduates in order to inflate job placement statistics and tricked students into taking out private loans from the school itself.
 
“Part of the tragedy here is that most students who attend the Corinthian company schools come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and many are the first in their families to go to college,” a CFPB official said. “For these students, Corinthian too often turned the American dream of higher education into an ongoing nightmare of financial despair.” (A spokesman for Corinthian has disputed the claims made by the CFPB.)
(Truthout)

As chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has been the most high-profile, relentless congressional ally of predatory educators-for-profit. MN Political Roundtable notes how Corinthian is not his only big supporter in the industry being investigated.
 

And mnpACT! succinctly takes down Kline’s entire House tenure, here.
 

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klinewinsRep. John Kline (R-MN) has rated low in his district, and now he rates low in the national eye. HBO Real Timers’ Bill Maher picked Kline as the worst of the worst.  Maher said, as he announced Kline’s win on the #flipadistrict chart, “He’s one of those silent threats you never see coming…Ebola…ISIS…John Kline…He embodies the sellouts that keep this town running.”  I agree, Maher. And yes, let’s win one for the Flipper (if you don’t know what that references, look up win one for the Gipper).
 
Kline penned the bill to increase student loan interest rates resulting in the government profiting billions off of students and some of his biggest donors are for-profit schools with questionable records.  Kline and his opponent Mike Obermueller were recently invited by the national organization Student Debt Crisis to participate in a virtual town hall on the student debt crisis.  Kline neglected to answer the organization, but Obermueller responded to the questions. Here’s Mike Obermueller on  refinancing, government making money off of student loans, and for-profit schools with questionable records.
 

 
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MN-02: The real John Kline manifests

by Dan Burns on September 10, 2014 · 1 comment

Here’s Rep. John Kline (R-MN), just, well, just being John Kline, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
 

 

Now, with the #FlipADistrict challenge, people across the country are looking closer at the Kline Agenda … and this video is making the rounds showing a floor debate during which CHAIRMAN John Kline was so vehemently defending the Republicans’ excellent treatment of women … featuring the exchange between Judy Biggert (R-IL) and the CHAIRMAN … with the CHAIRMAN interrupting and ignoring Representative Biggert…
(MN Political Roundtable)

Fundamentally, the authoritarian Kline’s incredibly crude and limited perception of how human interaction should work is one of those qualities that render him, and his far-right ilk, entirely unfit for political office.
 

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1922312_291422187681656_881030080_n- First of all, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has about as anti-woman a congressional record as one could have.
 

So, who can Republicans count on to “preach the Gospel of Bachmann” … of course, John Kline. Just look at the bills that he has sponsored :
 
H.R.7 : No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
H.R. 23 Sanctity of Human Life Act
H.R.61 : Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act
H.R.217 : Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act
H.R.346 : Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-state Exchange Plans (SAFE Act)
H.R.447 : Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2013
H.R.732 : Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
H.R.940 : Health Care Conscience Rights Act
H.R.1091 : Life at Conception Act
H.R.1797 : Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
(MN Political Roundtable)

(That’s just regarding reproductive choice; there are many, many more War on Women efforts, with Kline’s name on them, in other areas.)
 
– And there’s this:
 

But the Supreme Court isn’t the only government body limiting insurance coverage to women. A new White House report released Wednesday argues that the 24 state governments that have failed to expand their Medicaid programs to individuals and families earning 138 percent above the federal poverty line could also be undermining women’s health.
 
That’s because women make up nearly 70 percent of adults on Medicaid and the report finds that limiting their access to coverage significantly restricts their access to health care. Relying on past health research, the analysis concludes that “having health insurance increases the probability that individuals report receiving ‘all needed care’ over the prior year.” “If the 24 States that have not yet expanded Medicaid did so, an additional 651,000 people would receive ‘all needed care’ over a given year once expanded coverage was fully in effect,” it says.
(Think Progress)

“A Comprehensive Guide To Right-Wing Media’s Mockery, Victim-Blaming, And Denial Of Sexual Assault.” What a bunch of sorry, craven, whimpering, worthless losers the right-wing punditry are. I don’t know how to successfully hold them accountable, though.
 

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Labeling Kline and Paulsen as out of touch

by Dan Burns on June 12, 2014 · 3 comments

kline 1176138_546177168752935_1735475244_n

I agree with those arguing that the main reason Eric Cantor got beat like a drum is because his district was effectively convinced to regard him as a guy lost in DC ambition, who didn’t care any more about, and in fact was just using, the homefolks.

 
Which got me thinking about a couple of House incumbents in Minnesota. I mean, come on, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) practically revels in maintaining an aloof distance from, and even an almost contemptuous attitude toward, his constituents. (The ones that aren’t millionaires, that is.) And while Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) perhaps is spending some time here, if that‘s so, I never see it noted in the paper or anything. Even if he is, the perception could well be that he isn’t, because the guy is basically an ambulatory no-charisma zone.
 
My thinking in this is undoubtedly influenced by the fact that as a voter in MN-08, I retain clear memories of how well the “out-of-touch“ charge worked for Chip Cravaack against Jim Oberstar in 2010. And the fact that the incumbent apparently didn‘t realize how much trouble he was in, until it was too late. (Note that the e-newsletter for MN-08’s current House member, Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN), constantly features images of, and articles about, him hanging out with constituents, of all ages.)
 
I have to mention that the potential fatal flaw in this is that my examples involve the “out-of-touch” attack working when pitched to right-wingers. Those aren’t the voters that could oust Kline and/or Paulsen in November. I don’t know that the approach has been shown to work in motivating the more issues-based center-to-left crowd.
 

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MN-02: DFL endorses Obermueller

by Dan Burns on April 28, 2014 · 7 comments

29243_437835619256_3682028_nMike Obermueller was endorsed right away at the district DFL convention on Saturday. His opponents, Thomas Craft and Paula Overby, will not go to a primary.
 

He plans to campaign against (Rep. John) Kline (R-MN) on three main issues.
 
“I think the big issue between us is the difference in how he treats the middle class,” Obermueller said. “He’s been giving huge tax cuts away to millionaires and pushing that burden back onto seniors and the middle class. I think we ought to grow the middle class because that’s the only way to get our economy up and running again.”
 
The second issue, he said, is Social Security and Medicare for seniors. “He wants to privatize it. I want to make sure we’re shoring it up,” Obermueller said.
 
Finally, he criticized Kline for failing to support pay equity for women and allowing women to make their own health decisions. “That’s a big contrast between us.”
(Pioneer Press)

If you ask me, those “three main issues” are well-chosen, indeed.
 
Kline is egocentric, reactionary, and none too bright, and his time in Congress has been a disaster for everyone except the corporate honchos that he serves. He needs to go, and in this purple district, we have a legitimate opportunity to make that happen.
 

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