To the Woodshed We Go

 

Sometimes, it’s not just the weather that makes you cranky.  Sometimes, it’s the politicians that drive you nuts.  Let’s take some folks out to the woodshed for some well-deserved constructive criticism.

Legislative Republicans:  For Digging the Hole Even Deeper

A few days ago, we talked about how Legislative Republicans were engaging in some rather remarkable rhetoric about the state budget — and that their promises were unlikely to add up unless they introduced substantial cuts to all areas of the budget outside of K-12 education and health and human services.  Well, yesterday, it got worse.  House DFLers introduced their K-12 education bill, and Republicans (Rep. Kelby Woodard again) added to their audacious promises.  Already faced with the prospect of coming up with nearly $1.5 billion in cuts, Woodard signed the GOP up for a 2% increase in the basic formula ($300 million) and fixing the special education funding gap (another $475 million on top of the DFL proposal).  Doing all of what Woodard and the GOP claim can be done with “existing resources” would now take over $2 billion in cuts to other areas of the budget, or nearly a 20% across-the-board cut.  Again, remember these numbers the next time a Republican legislator bloviates about how everything can be done with “existing resources” without offering any details of how they would make it happen.

Governor Mark Dayton and House DFLers:  For Bonding Bills That Need Some Changes

This week, Governor Mark Dayton and the House DFL caucus released their proposals for odd-year bonding packages.  Such requests are somewhat uncommon, as bonding is usually done in even years only, although additional bonding has become a frequent point of negotiation during budget stalemates in recent years.  While I agree with DFL logic that we should take advantage of low interest rates to invest in infrastructure, an odd-year bonding package should imply that we’re doing some special things here.  Too much of both proposals is taken up with the same old local projects (many of which have been already rejected in previous cycles), which can easily wait for inclusion in the usual even-year bonding package.  The House bill has some stronger elements to it — particularly its increased emphasis on transportation and higher education projects.

It’s also inconceivable to me that you can have two $800 million bonding bills, none of which make any commitment to the Mayo Clinic “Destination Medical Center” proposal.  As a state, we have an opportunity to support nearly $6 billion in private investment in the state with a maximum of $585 million in infrastructure improvements.  We should be jumping at this opportunity to help create thousands of long-term, good-paying jobs in Southern Minnesota by including a substantial investment towards this project (between $75 and $150 million as called for in the stand-alone legislation).

I’d like to see a more focused bonding bill that focuses on transportation, higher education, State Capitol renovation, and the Mayo project — less expensive and more appropriate for an odd-year bonding package.

While we’re at it, let’s also deliver a kick-in-the-pants to the Democratic majorities in the Legislature for the leisurely pace of their budget bills so far.  Last session, the Republican majorities had already passed through the first version of all the budget proposals by this point (to be fair, they then languished for a long time in conference committee before coming back for final approval).  It’s time to shift the budget process into a higher gear, folks.

Minnesota Vikings Stadium Supporters:  For Not Facing Reality

Here’s another issue where on the merits, Governor Mark Dayton and other Minnesota Vikings stadium supporters are right.  In the whole scheme of things, the shortfall in e-pulltab revenues is a problem, but not a crisis.  And stadium opponents are indeed grandstanding (here’s looking at you, Sen. Sean Nienow).  But, guess what?  This problem was foreseeable at the start — maybe not to this extent — but it was hardly a secret that there were serious concerns over the revenue projections.  If you want to shut Nienow and the like up, the answer is simple:  fix the bill and put in place a better backup plan.  Trying to wait this thing out in the hopes the revenue situation will improve is only going to make this issue grow and grow and grow.

It would also help matters if the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities, which will have oversight of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority budget was more balanced from an ideological perspective.  Of the 12 members, 10 voted for the stadium bill, one voted against (Rep. Jim Davnie) and one is a freshman (Sen. Karin Housley).  Having some legislators with a more skeptical eye would be useful to the process.

Carver County GOP:  For Wallowing in Sleaze and Extremism

Our good friends over at the Carver County GOP have taken to the Twitter.  So far, they’ve managed to find links to just about every cheap and baseless conspiracy theory out there.  Here are a few examples:

One would have thought that official Republican party bodies would have given up birtherism and bogus voter fraud nonsense by now, but I guess not.  But if tinfoil hats are your thing, you should follow them.

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21 Responses to “To the Woodshed We Go”

  1. Let’s start with legislative republicans. Your assertion that this puts us in a deeper hole is absurd. Where’s the 2 billion dollar surplus from this year? Why does that vanish in the coming years? When it comes to getting MN out of the hole, I look to those who could get it done. And last biennium’s GOP deliver that and then some. We went from a 6 billion dollar projected deficit to an actual 2 billion dollar surplus. While we borrowed from the schools for the jump start, we paid all of that back, and some from previous budgets. The GOP is responsible for saving this state. Not the DFL. All we see from them is the same old mantra. Raise taxes. Spend more. Nothing new here. Ever. They are stuck in government growth as if it’s the cure all for all the woes of every day life.

    Heck, Governor Mumbles even wanted raise gobs of taxes from the citizens, and still leave the existing debt in place. Please, get off your high horse, and go on over to your party and tell them to stop making government unsustainable.

  2. As to the Mayo Clinic, those kinds of investments never end up being good for the taxpayers. We’ve done numerous partnerships like these, and every time the state gets screwed. If this idea is so fantastic, then private investors will get on board and make it happen. There is no reason for the state to be involved in this development scheme.

    • The state portion of the Mayo project would be for the infrastructure required to support a development of that size, not for the construction of any of the actual facilities. The state has done similar things before (Mall of America, for instance).

  3. And as to the local GOP tweeting links to stories, I can’t understand why a Democrat cares what they tweet. Links to conservative information are good for provoking thought, even if you DFL’ers don’t agree with it. These aren’t official party endorsements, but rather interesting reading for the delegation to chew on. I imagine we’ll hear nothing from you on a tweet to that you agree with, but then again, you aren’t the target audience. I imagine the goal is to reach people who question the standard feeds that come from the state run media.

    • Birtherism and half-baked voter fraud conspiracies are “provoking thought”? Seems to me those kinds of stories actually kill brain cells…

      • I didn’t read about any birtherism, what ever that means. Half baked? Did you think the left had that market cornered or something? I’d buy voter fraud before I bought DOMA not defining marriage for example. Talk about half baked.

        • If you read the link from the third Twitter entry I posted, at the bottom it gets into “birther” theories of Obama not being eligible to be President. They’ve also retweeted David Limbaugh birther posts as well.

          • Not really the crux of the post, but I guess if you need to look for something to criticize, there it is. Never mind the rest of the post because of that little tidbit I guess.

            I wouldn’t have tweeted that one, due to it’s criticisms of the parties. And the notion that the GOP is dead or hurting is ridiculous. The convention to elect the new chair of the MN party had the best attendance of delegates ever. Especially Carver County, where only one alternate delegate didn’t show due to other commitments.

            We are strong and united. Our new chair has big plans for the state, and nationally, we are rebounding. Locally, we’ve seen what the DFL has to offer. Just more and more of the same old tired government growth that is unsustainable. A theory that we can’t raise taxes to pay off debt, but rather to increase government first. Lame.

            • Substantively, the post has significant problems as well. For instance, the writer asserts that Obama was behind in Colorado, Virginia, Ohio and Florida before Election Day, yet managed to win them all. Well, that’s just not true.

              Polling averages had Obama ahead in Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio (Romney didn’t lead in any of the last five polls in any of those states), while Florida was considered a toss-up.

              http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/fivethirtyeights-2012-forecast/

              I realize that your local party chair is hopelessly devoted to the voter fraud issue, but perpetuating nonsense doesn’t help the cause.

              • It’s no more absurd than Dayton and the former governor, former RINO now democrat, asserting that fraud didn’t exist, and that the last amendment would prevent the military members and others from voting.

                • It would; as much as you don’t like listening to other points of view, in this case the voter laws of other states are extremely relevant. They were often drafted by good, loyal Republicans, and they all included exemptions for specific circumstances, including military service. From Georgia to Pennsylvania and other states, that exemption was specifically included. The amendment here in Minnesota did not have that exemption; therefore, it presented a direct and unnecessary hardship. That is reality. If the legislature wants to fix those notable flaws, then they are welcome to, but the amendment as written was a poor effort, at best. Even the sources you cited contradicted your arguments on that ground.

                  • Oh baloney. Are you still stuck on things you assume were in the amendment? Still after all of this time? You would have to be completely stupid to think that voter ID amendment meant no absentee balloting, especially our military service members. What Arnie did with Governor Mumbles is inexcusable. He is dead to our party. He’s true blue DFL’er through and through. When I hear Arnie take a position on anything any more, my very first inclination to to disagree with it. He is the very last kind of politician we need in our ranks. Pro-government growth Democrat, is all he is, despite what he claims to be.

                    • The issue was with HOW the absentee balloting was set up, and the hardship that would cause to service members. That’s why other states were careful to avoid that mistake, along with the other flaws in the Minnesota amendment.

                • As for the voter fraud insanity… that came from the culture surrounding the Unskewed Polls nonsense (it is an interesting study on failed polling, if one is interested). To his credit, the host of that site did eat some crow afterwards, conceding the inaccuracy of his predictions, and apologizing for the personal attacks he launched at others (like Nate Silver of the 538 blog).

                  However, some are still supporting that nonsense, claiming those “revised” numbers that showed Romney being in the lead in those states were the truth, even after the pollster who published the numbers admitted he was wrong, that his assumptions were wrong. At least he had the courage to do so; for others, they only believe in the reality they wish to see.

                  • I don’t think the reason the article was tweeted was necessarily in regard to the points you two bring up. The birtherism and counts aren’t the crux of the article. The crux of the article is critical of the agreement and does make for some interesting history behind voter fraud. That’s why the tweet was sent.

                    I know how you like to extrapolate what others mean by their actions or words, but your track record of intent just plain sucks.

                    Here’s what I would do before I popped a bolt over a tweet like this. I maybe tweet back and ask what the point was that was so interesting as to tweet the link, rather than just assume it means every Republican in the county thinks every word is gospel. Get a grip.

                    • The counts are a key issue, as is the false recollection of the terms of the consent decree it references.

                      The consent degree came about because of rampant voter caging efforts that were blatant, illegal, and coordinated across multiple states. The intent was to end such practices, practices where the RNC mailed postcards with the wrong polling date to black neighborhoods, or tried to preemptively remove thousands of legitimate voters through caging.

                      It’s also worth noting that various state and national Republican officials are still carrying out the very policies banned under the decree. In 2007, Kris Kobach, chair of the Kansas GOP, sent an email bragging that “To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!” Hence, the yearly renewal, and the continued legal action, because the settlement is still being violated openly and repeatedly.

                      So at best, the piece is misleading. At no point was Romney up in those states in the days leading up to the election, except in the “Unskewed” polls which deliberately altered the polling results to make the voting electorate more conservative and white than the real polls. Every one of those predictions was wrong, by a wide margin. There was absolutely no evidence of substantial voter fraud; the polls reflected what polling (from all reputable sources, including the Wall Street Journal) had been consistently showing for weeks.

                      And the consent decree doesn’t bar efforts to prevent voter fraud; what is prohibits is efforts at vigilante intimidation or voter interference “where a purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting; and the conduct of such activities disproportionately in or directed toward districts that have a substantial proportion of racial or ethnic populations…” (Quoted from the settlement itself.)

                      So is the Carver County GOP actually questioning why it is illegal to conduct voter intimidation based on race? I doubt it. But this is a strange thing to quote under the party banner and channels of communication; if anything, this article is unduly critical of the GOP, making up facts that paint a picture of Republican complicity and weakness that has no foundation. But it does make this piece, which does hint at such ideas, an odd thing to promote.

                      The piece is also a crappy narrative for the Carver County GOP to be putting out at a time when the national party is trying to argue that minorities should support their conservative positions (and besides the fact that it openly tells people to stop donating money to the GOP at the end of the article). The article openly claims that this was some cabal to get a token black man elected, and then dives head-long into birtherism and secret Soviet communications… really? That’s just nuts, period.

                    • There you go again. Leaping to wild ridiculous conclusions. Maybe your points are why it was tweeted. Do you even know why it was tweeted? I don’t. I did find it an interesting read. Did you perhaps note what I said above that disagreed with the way it bashed the two parties? Do you still come to the wild conclusions that I want to see voters caged? You are out there, man. Way, way out there. I mean people like you make Nancy Pelosi seem reasonable, that’s how far out there you reside. Wow!

                    • Was there any point to your comments, really, other than trying to distract from actually addressing any of the substantive points by whining over slights that only exist in your head?

                      I pointed out how this was an odd article to be posted within the official Twitter feed of the Carver County GOP, but I also pointed out that I didn’t think the county GOP believed in all of the conclusions the article was offering. I actually said that plainly in my reply on one of the key points in question, so your response seems rather clueless and petty, and reads like you didn’t even try to read my response, and see how I criticized the false depiction. Instead, you try to play some fraudulent victim card, when in this case I actually defended the GOP, saying the article “is unduly critical of the GOP, making up facts that paint a picture of Republican complicity and weakness that has no foundation.” My exact words, so please, stop lying about what I’m saying, and for once keep your remarks in the realm of reality.

                      I would agree with you that I wouldn’t have put this out, but for different, substantive reasons, which is why both Sean and I are questioning it. This article reeks of conspiracy theories and falsehoods, and even goes into the racial ideas of a token black candidate. It’s one thing for an individual to post this and tag the BPOU in the tweet; it’s another for it to come out from the local party itself, and it sends an odd message, one that neither you or I would have sent. That’s my point; at no time did I state or imply that you sanctioned anything at all. My criticism was targeted at past illegal practices, and the poor research quality of the article itself, and its false conclusions against both parties. So even when people agree with you, you need to be on the attack? How sad.

                    • Sorry, I misread that part of your previous reply. We agree on the fact that it was an odd thing for the BPOU to promote. Not sad, anymore?

                    • Yes, indeed, thank you.

  4. I notice Ernie and others are sponsoring a bill to deal with the stadium revenue problem. Did that bill come out after your post? Seem the legislators are indeed working on a way to solve the problem.

    But the crux of the issue is how many were pushing so hard for this stadium, that they didn’t perform the necessary diligence to get this right. There’s a lot of blame to go around on that, but at least some are working to correct this flawed revenue stream.

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