Paulsen and Kline Finally Support A Jobs Bill

Erik_Paulsen_John_KlineIn the past, I’ve been critical of Minnesota Republican  Congressmen John Kline and Erik Paulsen for not doing enough to address America’s chronic unemployment problem.  But I have to hand it to them, because yesterday they passed legislation ending the government shutdown that will immediately put 800,000 Americans back to work, and stabilize the economic position of many others.  That’s fantastic news.

Unfortunately, Paulsen and Kline haven’t always been so strong supporting job creation for Americans.  They both refused to support President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that, according to the independent, non-partisan organization, created a whole lot of jobs:

“…the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report in August that said the stimulus bill has “[l]owered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points” and “[i]ncreased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million.”

Simply put, more people would be unemployed if not for the stimulus bill. The exact number of jobs created and saved is difficult to estimate, but nonpartisan economists say there’s no doubt that the number is positive.”

Paulsen and Kline have also refused to support pending legislation proposed by President Obama, the American Jobs Act, that, according to private sector experts, would stimulate millions of more jobs:

Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi: “The fiscal boost from the jobs package next year would be larger than in the first year of the 2009 economic stimulus, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. Zandi, who was briefed on the plan before the president’s speech, forecast passage of the entire jobs package would add 2 percentage points to economic growth next year and bring down the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point compared with current policy, under which a temporary payroll tax cut and an extended unemployment benefits both expire Dec. 31.”

This morning Economic Forecasting FirmMacroeconomic Advisers issued a report: “We estimate that the American Jobs Act (AJA), if enacted, would give a significant boost to GDP and employment over the near-term. The various tax cuts aimed at raising workers’ after-tax income and encouraging hiring and investing, combined with the spending increases aimed at maintaining state & local employment and funding infrastructure modernization, would: Boost the level of GDP by 1.3% by the end of 2012, and by 0.2% by the end of 2013. Raise nonfarm establishment employment by 1.3 million by the end of 2012 and 0.8 million by the end of 2013, relative to the baseline.”

…Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons said, “The President’s proposed combination of personal and business tax relief, targeted spending to support infrastructure, and aid to states offers several direct and innovative ways of creating jobs and bolstering our economy. The President’s focus on assisting small business is spot on, since small business is the engine of job creation.”

Finally, Paulsen and Kline have refused to support legislation to end the “sequester” of billions of dollars federal funds.  CBO economists say lifting these spending cuts would immediately add millions more jobs for the American people.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated that keeping the spending cuts from sequestration in place through fiscal 2014 would cost up to 1.6 million jobs.

Canceling the cuts, on the other hand, would yield between 300,000 to 1.6 million new jobs, with the most likely outcome being the addition of 900,000, the CBO said.

“Those changes would increase the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.7 percent and increase the level of employment by 0.9 million in the third quarter of calendar year 2014 (the end of fiscal year 2014) relative to the levels projected under current law,” the report states.

Again, these are the job creation bills that Kline and Paulsen have historically refused to support.

But I do want to give credit where credit is due.  The bipartisan legislation Paulsen and Kline supported yesterday will immediately put 800,000 more Americans back to work, and end a government shutdown that will have cost taxpayers, according to Standard and Poors, about $24 billion.  That’s $24 billion that isn’t circulating in the economy creating jobs.

Forget that Kline and Paulsen originally did nothing to speak out against their fellow House Republicans who were giddy in forcing these 800,000 Americans out of work.  At long last, Paulsen and Kline have supported a jobs bill.  Here’s hoping it’s the beginning of a trend.

– Loveland

Note:  This post also was featured in Minnpost’s Blog Cabin.

Which MN Candidates Will Sign The Pull-The-Plug Pledge?

Pull_the_plugAs a general matter, I despise campaign pledges.  Candidates are continually badgered by interest groups to pledge in writing that they will always do X, or never do Y.

The Problem With Pledges

The problem with most pledges is the “always” or “never” parts of them.  The world changes, and policy positions therefore sometimes need to change with them.

  • Pledging to not increase taxes today may make sense at one point in history, but a few years later the circumstances may have changed dramatically.
  • Pledging to support a policy or project now may make sense, but not after surprising new information surfaces.
  • Pledging to tax millionaires may make sense at a time when they’re not paying their fair share, but not a few years later when circumstances may have changed.

So sometimes making policy shifts isn’t  a sign of weakness or dishonesty, as pledge enforcers often claim.  Sometimes, shifting is a sign of courage, vision and integrity.

That’s why I don’t like most campaign pledges.

Pull-the-Plug Pledge

But I came across a pledge the other day that fits our times, and has an infinite shelf life.  South Dakota congressional candidate Rick Weiland challenged all congressional candidates to sign this simple pledge:

“I hereby pledge that, if elected to represent you, I will never vote to shut down your government, or to place your government in default, in order to force it to act, or to prevent it from acting, on unrelated issues.” 

As a voter, I want to know where every Minnesota congressional candidate stands on this Pull-The-Plug Pledge.

Flat_line-2If there are candidates out there who think it is acceptable from them to pull the plug on the American people’s government and economy, that is their right.  But it’s also the right of the overwhelming 72% percent of Americans who oppose the Republicans’ current plug-pulling scheme to be forewarned of a congressional candidate’s position on that  issue, so that they can vote with their eyes wide open.

Yes, Americans and their policymakers must always be able to make their government a different size and shape as future circumstances dictate.  This pledge doesn’t prevent them from having such flexibility. It simply says it’s not acceptable to completely pull the plug on the American economy and government.

So, Tim Walz, Mike Benson, John Kline, Mike Obermuller, Paula Overby, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer, Rhonda Sivarajah, Phil Krinkie, John Pederson, Judy Adams, Collin Pederson, Rick Nolan, Stewart Mills III, Monti Moreno, Chris Dahlberg, Mike McFadden, Julianne Ortman, Jim Abeler, and Al Franken, will you sign the Pull-The-Plug Pledge?

– Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured in Politics in Minnesota‘s Best of the Blogs.

Mullet Brotherhood Starts Draft Shelby Drive

Bloomington, Minn., July 31, 2013 — A national hair style advocacy group called the Mullet Brotherhood announced today that it was organizing a drive to draft legendary WCCO-TV anchorman Don Shelby to run for Congress against Minnesota 3rd Congressional District Representative Erik Paulsen.

After retiring from the anchor desk, Shelby became a cause celebre in the mullet-American advocacy community when he let his hair down, the hind half of it.  News reports that Shelby may run for Congress have caused a buzz among mullet activists anxious to see one of their own representing them in Washington.

“Former Governor Pawlenty had a chance become the first mulleted President, but unfortunately he dumped us for a Super PAC-approved cut,” said Floyd “Flow Joe” Joyner, President of the Mullet Brotherhood.  “We’ve long admired Mr. Shelby’s silver cascade, and would dearly love to see that bad boy in the Capitol Building.”

Joyner admitted that the road will be long for Shelby.  Protesters outside the news conference mocked Shelby and the group with various forms of hate speech, such as hockey hair, ten ninety, helmet hair, coupe Longueuil, haircut o’ death, neckwarmer, shorty longback, the 10-90, the Kentucky waterfall, the bi-level, the faded glory, the Ben Franklin, the Missouri Compromise, the Louisiana Purchase, the Camaro crash helmut, the business cut (business in front, party in the back), the LPGA, the soccer flip, the convertible, the Tennessee top hat, the Canadian passport, the New Jersey neckwarmer, the Chattanooga choo choo, and the neck blanket and the Wisconsin waterfall.

“If that ‘Wisconsin waterfall’ label sticks, that could be the end for Shelby,” said Dr. Harold Cloister, political science professor at St. Thomas University.  “I’d look for Shelby’s handlers to spin it as more of a Minnesota Mudflap.”

With the exception of a few short-lived fads, hind heavy hair has been slow to be accepted in contemporary mainstream society.  Though fossil records indicate that homo sapiens with primitive mullets have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years, it was 2001 before the word “mullet” even appeared in dictionaries.  Mullet activists see a Shelby candidacy as a historic opportunity to normalize the oppressed mulleted minority.

“We did have Governor Ventura in the State Capitol a few years back, but to be honest there is a rather ugly debate within our community about whether a skullet should be considered to be in the mullet family,” said Joyner.  “Naturally, we value all forms of unbridled neck hair, but many feel that crown-based flow is a necessary element of the art form.  But dandy Don’s ape drape, dude, we all get goose bumps about that mofo.”

Joyner announced the launch of a Draft Shelby website  Along with a draft petition, the site also is selling “Don’s Do 4U” trucker’s hats, with a faux silver mullet flowing from the back.

Mr. Shelby refused to comment for this story.  However, in previous news reports he has indicated that he has not yet ruled out becoming “a terrible congressman.”

Why Don Shelby Will Never Run For Congress

Do not, repeat, do not believe the “Don Shelby Mulling a Run for Congress” hype.  Political reporters, bored with their jobs in the dog days of a non-election year, desperately want Shelby to run against the ever-bland Erik Paulsen.  But it’s not going to happen.

Anchors like Shelby need to be the center of attention, with a battery of cameras forever trained on their every move.  Being in a body of 435 egomaniacs leaves one obscure.  Our local version of The Donald does not do obscure.

Anchors need to be in control, with entire newsroom staffs at their beck-and-call.    Being the most junior member in a seniority bound institution leaves one a pawn.  King Don does not play the pawn.

Anchors need to feel above-the-fray of distasteful partisan politics, forever avoiding even a hint of controversy. But in Congress one is forced off the fence to vote on the most contentious issues of the day, and one’s hair gets mussed in the ensuing scuffles.  And above all else, Dandy Don does not do mussed hair.

If Shelby runs for Congress, it will be because he is in denial about these realities, and denial is certainly a possibility for the humility-challenged amongst us.  Shelby adores the current attention from political reporters, but he does not appear to be a stupid man.  There is no way he will give up his elder statesman role on WCCO-TV and the rubber chicken circuit for the rough and tumble of partisan politics.  He does seem to sincerely care about environmental issues, but not as much as he cares about preserving his local image as a legendary newsman.

– Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured as a Best of the Blogs by Politics in Minnesota.

Franken Opponent Wish List

Minnesota Senator Al Franken doesn’t have a high profile challenger yet in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.  People don’t seem to be flocking to run against Franken at a time when a January 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey is finding that Senator Franken is leading former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman by 6 points, Congressman John Kline by 8 points, Congressman Erik Paulsen by 11 points and Congresswoman Michele Bachman by 14 points.

Despite these findings, 45% of Minnesota Republicans want to nominate Bachmann to oppose Franken. I would be in Blogger Heaven if a Franken-Bachmann race came to be, but I find it difficult to imagine that I, or Franken, could possibly be so lucky.

Given that the conventional candidates like Coleman looks to be taking a pass at the Senate race, maybe it’s time for the Minnesota GOP brain trust to get unconventional.  These are some of the match-ups that I personally day dream about: Continue reading

For 30th Time, Bachman and the Gang Misread Obamacare Public Opinion

When it comes to Obamacare, Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachman could not be more certain that she has public opinion behind her.  For instance, in her latest broadside, she signed a letter to all 50 Governors urging them to avoiding implementing Obamacare insurance exchanges to help Americans obtain affordable coverage, Bachman cited an oft repeated myth:

I urge all Governors to let Congress finish the job the American people sent us to do, to fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with common-sense free market solutions.

“…the job the American people sent us to do, to fully repeal Obamacare and replace it…” Whether they are spinning or they actually believe that, they are wrong.  This notion that a majority of the American people want the Affordable Care Act repealed or weakened is demonstrably false.

A June 2012 Kaiser Permanente poll is the last latest to show that a majority (53%) either wants to “keep the law as is” (25%) or “expand the law” (28%).

At the same time, only 38% of Americans support what the Republicans propose.  The Kaiser poll finds that 18% of Americans said Congress should “repeal the law and replace it with a Republican-sponsored alternative,” and 20% said Congress “repeal the law and not replace it.”

So, yes, a majority doesn’t support the law as is, because so many Americans, myself included, would have liked the law to have been stronger…if there had been congressional will to do so.  But it simply is not true that a majority of Americans want to do what the Republicans propose to do to the Affordable Care Act — real it or repeal and replace it.

And so today, for the 30th time, Michele Bachman, John Kline, Erik Paulsen, and Chip Cravaack will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  And for the 30th time, they will be dead wrong about the will of the American people.

– Loveland


Note:  This post was also featured as part of the “Best of the Blogs” feature in Politics in Minnesota’s Morning Report.