Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Poll Trends Confirmed

I love when the Right Wing Smear-o-sphere spends two days bashing the MN Poll and, right on cue, another poll comes out confirming the trend and showing RepublicanMussen as the true outlier.

38 (34) Dayton
27 (34) Emmer
16 (13) Horner
9/29/10 (8/29/10)

Its not over till its over, but I hear MNGOP heads exploding already. And this tidbit was very revealing and just may be a national trend:
So what's changed?

"The big story in September is that the Democrats have woken up from their summer slumber," said University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs, who oversaw the poll.

"When you go back to August, you find 57 percent of Democrats who are likely to vote saying that they had only a little or really no interest in voting come November," Jacobs said. "Now we found a substantial 83 percent of Democrats saying they have a great deal or a fair amount of interest in this election."

That 83 percent enthusiasm number for Democrats matches the Republicans', meaning the GOP has lost the edge in election excitement it had enjoyed over Democrats.
Remember, just a moment in time . . . .


Monday, September 27, 2010

Balancing Acting!

It's hard cutting over a trillion dollars from the budget, while holding Medicare/caid, defense, education, et. al. harmless. I mean, those are the biggest chunks of the budget, forcing even deeper cuts elsewhere which would virtually eliminate some of the programs. And don't misread me, that just may be part, but not the complete, solution. Also, with the goal of continuing tax cuts, we can't count on significant revenues to help. But one advantage I do have, while we heard all the attacks going on this election season, I don't have political viability to sorry about. So I am still reading analysis, from both side of the aisle, as I juggle numbers. But here is a question for you.

When is reform not a cut, or when is a cut, really reform. I think we all agree that there is much opportunity to save, via reform, without effecting the service being provided. Locally, Tea Party Republican candidate Rep. Tom Emmer talks about reform and savings while improving service delivery, specifically in education. Yet the Right wing attack ads against the 'Affordable Health Care Act' talk about deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, when, in reality, there aren't cuts at all, but a plan to streamline and create a much stronger and better program through efficiencies.

When is the electorate going to stand up against the spin words and silly talk? At what point will the people demand honest answers? When will a candidate have the guts to actually present the cold hard facts, make the tough decisions, and put themselves out there to do what is right?

I am no candidate, yet, but I'm trying to give it a shot!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pledge to America Preview

I haven't had time to delve into the 'Pledge' (PDF), but it does touch on the Spending cut issues I am working on. I am delaying that post till I review the GOP's options. Specifically:
Our Plan to Put Government on a Path to a Balanced Budget

We will have a responsible, fact-based conversation with the American people about the scale of the fiscal challenges we face, and the urgent action that is required to deal with them. We will curb Washington’s spending habits and promote job creation, bring down the deficit, and build long-term fiscal stability.

• Act Immediately to Reduce Spending:
There is no reason to wait to reduce wasteful and unnecessary spending. Congress should move immediately to cancel unspent “stimulus” funds, and block any attempts to extend the timeline for spending “stimulus” funds. Throwing more money at a stimulus plan that is not working only wastes taxpayer money and puts us further in debt.

• Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels:
With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children’s future.

• Establish a Hard Cap on New Discretionary Spending:
We must put common-sense limits on the growth of government and stop the endless increases.

Only in Washington is there an expectation that whatever your budget was last year, it will be more this year and even more the next.

We will set strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis. Budget caps were used in the 1990s, when a Republican Congress was able to bring the budget into balance and eventual surplus. By cutting discretionary spending from current levels and imposing a hard cap on future growth, we will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

• Cut Congress’ Budget:
This year, Congress increased its own budget by 5.8 percent at a time when families and small businesses across the country are cutting back. We will make Congress do more with less by significantly reducing its budget.

• Hold Weekly Votes on Spending Cuts:
Earlier this year, House Republicans launched the YouCut initiative to combat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. Over the course of nine weeks, YouCut produced proposals to save taxpayers more than $120 billion. We will continue to hold weekly votes on spending cuts.

• End TARP Once And For All:
Americans are rightly outraged at the bailouts of businesses and entities that force responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior. We will cancel the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a move that would save taxpayers roughly $16 billion.

• End Government Control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
Since taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that triggered the financial meltdown by giving too many high risk loans to people who couldn’t afford them, taxpayers were billed more than $145 billion to save the two companies. We will reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by ending their government takeover, shrinking their portfolios, and establishing minimum capital standards. This will save taxpayers as much as $30 billion.

• Impose a Net Federal Hiring Freeze of Non-Security Employees:
Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy and should not be crowded out by unchecked government growth. We will impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure that the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector.

• Root Out Government Waste and Duplication:
Once created, federal programs almost never go away, even if the problem they were created to address is no longer relevant. More than 20 states have addressed this problem by requiring that programs end – or “sunset” – by a date certain. We will adopt this requirement at the federal level to force Congress to determine if a program is worthy of continued taxpayer support.

• Reform the Budget Process to Focus on Long-Term Challenges:
We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations. That merequiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for theseprograms and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.
There are some good ideas in here, if you get past the spin. I'm not going to nit pick the spinner bait, that is left for those who want to totally give up on the policy debate and waste time bogging down the conversation in bickering. There are plenty of sites for that.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Doing Both - 1st, Tax Cuts for All

In order to reel in the budget, we can still support and encourage tax cuts for 100% of American's, but still allow the top bracket to return to its old level. All wage earners would still receive the extension of cuts up to the top bracket cut off of $250,000.

Now the Tea Party Republicans, and their 'in the pocket' media drones have tried to tell Americans that only 97% of wage earners would receive cuts. But that simply isn't true. EVERYONE will benefit from the extension all the way up to the upper teir break point. That is tax cuts for 100%. Former tax hawk and Federal Reserve chair Greenspan, disagrees:
"I don't think we have time to wait," Greenspan said. "Our choice is not between good and bad, it's between terrible and worse."

Greenspan said he feels so strongly about the issue that he is now in favor of raising taxes -- a position he could hardly have imagined earlier in the decade, when he famously came out in favor of former President George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 plans to cut taxes.

Greenspan said all the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to lapse -- a position that conflicts with Republicans' desire to extend the cuts and the Obama administration's efforts to let them stand for those making less than $250,000 annually. He said he still believes taxes should be cut, as a general principle, but not at a time when the government is digging a deeper and deeper fiscal hole.
Greenspan is in that small group of people of the 'smarter than me' set, but in this case I believe he is simply wrong. The fragile economy would struggle with an across the board tax hike. But allowing the upper Tier to lapse would begin the stream of much needed revenue. And seriously, would someone making $500,000/yr really notice a $600 tax bump (ed - To be clear, $600 is the average tax bump for wager earners making between 250,001 and $500,000. The additional tax on a $250.001 is 3 pennies, the actually tax burden on a $500,000 is about $7,000, still a pittance at that level of income). They certainly wouldn't change any business decision based on that pittance.

But we can't do it with revenues alone, cuts need to be made. Unlike the State, who has a revenue problem, the federal Government has a spending problem. Tough choices need to be made. And since I'm not running for anything, yet, there are no sacred cows in my budget. We'll get back to that.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Can You Do Both!

As a true fiscal conservative, it is necessary that we reel in the deficits while not further inciting the recession. The problem, of course, is no one wants to cut what needs to be cut to make a difference. The big three, Education, Defense, and Health and Human Services are difficult areas to campaign on cutting. The backlash would be incredible, while the commercials write themselves.

Steve Sack

So where do American's want to cut. The Economist shined a light on this a while ago. Leading the way is Foreign aid. 71% want to cut foreign aid, and easy foil and not to political reality. However, the reality is "• Foreign aid makes up less than 1% of America's total spending." so although a start, it would have minimal actual effect on the budget. In a nut shell:
The most expendable programs, according to poll takers, were mass transit, housing, agriculture, environment and foreign aid, the runaway winner at 71 percent. The problem? These programs together barely comprise 3 percent of the federal budget. Even if the programs were entirely eliminated, the cuts would do nothing to solve the United States’ long-term entitlement program. Indeed, the responses had no obvious correlation with spending size.
I go to thinking when someone tried to tell my that 50% of all Americans receive some form of entitlements, I believe it was from this WSJ article. What it really says is 50% of all households have at lease one person in it receiving government funds. We're going to look into that this week.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Reviewing Cuts, A Policy Debate

A Republican candidate for MN Senate District 64, Tony Hernandez, has listed 10 places he feels we can save about 2 billion dollars. I thought I would share where I am on each of his items:
1. Reduce legislators' and constitutional officers pay by 10%: $1.3 million
No more than a token gesture, but I could support this. However, the consequence of this is making it more difficult to attract competent and qualified individuals to run for these thankless positions.
2. Freeze state employee salary increases for two years: $18.7 million

3. Freeze U of M employee pay increases for two years (via U of M's
"General Compensation" appropriation request): $95 million
To expect only certain groups of employees to be 'taxed' by having their pay frozen seems unfair. If this Republican candidate is in favor of only taxing public employees he should state that. If he is serous about 'freezing wages' which in effect is nothing more than a tax by taking away the nominal increase, maybe he should consider an across the board payroll withholding surcharge so that everyone see a freeze in wages. I am not in favor of this, but I am in favor of fairness. Expecting small slivers of the workforce to bear the brunt is not fair!
4. Change Renters Tax Credit to actual percent of rent paid toward property tax: $60 million
I am open to this
5. Eliminate Integration Revenue- The Intergration Revenue program, a component of the K-12 education funding formula, is supposed to provide money to certain school districts for integration-related activities: $132 million
I am not familiar with this program
5. Reform the Social Security Title IV-D program so child support services are paid only to parents that qualify for public assistance. $258.3 million
I am not sure what this means, Does it mean my ex, who is $60,000 in arrears and hiding in another state would no longer have to be responsible for her obligation. The need for inter agency cooperation is the only way I have seen any of the court ordered payments. Furthermore, a portion of any payments received is deducted from the support I do receive to pay for the services.

I can manage with my ex's refusal to pay her obligations, but how many families currently 'not receiving public assistance' would by thrust back into said assistance if their ability to collect support through this programs help dried up. Now we are back to not only paying to help them collect support, but also to provide for their welfare. This idea might save a dime in one area, only to spend a dollar in another
6. Merge Child Care assistance programs into one for greater efficiency. $23.3 million
I'm all for greater efficiency as long as service remains consistent
7. Eliminate family, Friend, & Neighbor grants--this program puts the state in charge of monitoring and directing childcare by relatives. $743,000
I would have to learn more about this program, but I think I could be persuaded
8. Sell excess state lands-the DNR, the DOT and the IRRB together hold millions of acres of idle, acquired, and commercial lands that should be sold back to private parties.
I would be open to long term, unrestricted leases agreements but am adamantly opposed to selling title to any publicly owned lands.
9. Repeal the public school staff development mandate: $175 million
I have always been an proponent of more local control, so anytime we eliminate state mandates is a good thing.
10. Reduce LGA payments by weaning local units of government off over a four-year period would save the tax payer substantial amounts of money and push cities to enact more responsible, locally oriented budget priorities. $1.069 billion over next 2 biennia
The LGA battle is interesting as it has been shown to not really save taxpayers anything, it only has been shown to shift the tax burden for the state to local property taxes. I do feel the state has some responsibility to compensate local units of government when it is unrealistic to expect their property taxes to maintain local services. Whether this is public safety in rural Minnesota, or local infrastructure support int he larger cities.

As is usually the case here at Centrisity, policy before politics.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tom Spoiler

First, reality at this moment:
38 (46) Dayton
36 (32) Emmer
18 (09) Horner
04 (13) Undecided
This is real simple math, a vote for Horner is no different than voting for Emmer. If those 8% that left Dayton's camp think they'll get change with a Horner vote you are doing nothing but furthering the Mississippiazation of Minnesota. At least have the guts to just pull the Emmer lever.

Oh, and on this media 'in the bag for Dayton' Smear Meme from the Tea Bag Republican set. KSTP using Democrat where Democratic is more appropriate is, frankly, juvenile. I expect that from the Smear Merchants. Liberal Media my ass!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My State Budget Plan

I am not going to raise taxes!

I am going to increase Spending!

The deficit doesn't exists

If you elect me Governor, the budget will miraculously balance itself, because I said so!

I am the Necromancer!

Flash, and I approved this message!

The Spiteful Face of the Tea Party

The extremist Palin Brigade cuts off another nose:
(CNN) -- Christine O'Donnell's upset win over Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican Senate primary is also another major victory for the Tea Party Express and for Sarah Palin.

"I also want to thank the Tea Party Express," said O'Donnell in her victory speech Tuesday night.

The Tea Party Express, a leading Tea Party organization, endorsed O'Donnell on July 21 and spent more than $250,000 to help the once long shot candidate defeat Castle, a brand name in Delaware thanks to two terms as governor and the past 18 years as the statewide congressman.
With this latest result, the Democratic Party, once left for dead just a few weeks ago has new life. The Senate is majority is in much better shape than a month ago. Delaware was prime picking with a Castle victory, but now with an extremist candidate in the R slot, it is a leans Blue, now.

The next 6 weeks will bring a battle in Congress to continue tax relief for the Middle Class, an effort that the Right will resist. Unless the recognize the error in their ways, this just may be enough of a fools errand for the House to remain in the hands of the Democratic Party. You would think the Right would see that, but political intellect has not been their forté of late.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to School Spiel

The President will deliver his back to school message today. Unlike last year, the Right is steering clear of controversy. See, last time they went public with concerns of the President politicizing the event. Of course, all they needed to do was read the pre=released text to know this was about motivating the children, and encouraging them to stay on track. This years' message is quite similar:
But here is what I came to Masterman to tell you: nobody gets to write your destiny but you. Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing – absolutely nothing – is beyond your reach. So long as you’re willing to dream big. So long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education.

That last part is absolutely essential – because an education has never been more important. I’m sure there will be times in the months ahead when you’re staying up late cramming for a test, or dragging yourselves out of bed on a rainy morning, and wondering if it’s all worth it. Let me tell you, there is no question about it. Nothing will have as great an impact on your success in life as your education.

More and more, the kinds of opportunities that are open to you will be determined by how far you go in school. In other words, the farther you go in school, the farther you’ll go in life. And at a time when other countries are competing with us like never before; when students around the world are working harder than ever, and doing better than ever; your success in school will also help determine America’s success in the 21st century.

So, you have an obligation to yourselves, and America has an obligation to you to make sure you’re getting the best education possible. And making sure you get that kind of education is going to take all of us working hand-in-hand.
May everyone have a successful and productive school year!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh, I'm Back!!

I had a GREAT Summer, capped off by a trip to San Antonio that many of you shared as we witnessed the graduation of my Son to Airman! He is currently studying in Tech School at Keesler AFB.

But with less than two months to go before mid terms and State races, I simply can't stay away any longer. It seems that the memories of some is short. You would think that the incredible economic turnaround instituted by the President and his party would be enough to show the people that the old way, which created this mess to begin with, is certainly not a solution. Sure, things are not going as quickly as we'd like, but slow incremental change is far more sustainable than large burst of help for political gain.

The job of both sides is to let the electorate know what happens AFTER November 2. We can continue down the path of growth and recovery, or we can go back to the flawed policies that created this economic tumult.

The choice is easy, and for those still having difficulty, I'll be around to help you along.


San Antonio Shots for those that are interested:

Coin Ceremony and Base Liberty Thursday, 8/19/2010

Graduation Parade and Town Pass Friday, 8/20/10

The Arne Endorsement

The governorship is the DFL's to lose, and they have been good at that. Four years ago the seat was all but secured, but then a mis-step, and mis-speak, and a Right Wing smear machine that can twist reality better than Dune was folding space, turned the tide.

Now the Republicans have a new tool in their arsenal. A Republican Independent Candidate with a plan to protect corporate interests on the back of the Low and middle class. This candidate wants to expand the most regressive of taxes into the sacred cow of clothing. I am convinced it is a way to make him look liberal, to siphon votes, see, it is the only way the Right can win. And Arne is in on it:
Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson is climbing on a campaign bus this morning with Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, whom he is endorsing in the governor's race.

"I'm calling this the Common Sense Tour and common sense indicates you can't grow Minnesota by taxing those people who grow jobs," Carlson said.
But they think they CAN grow jobs by raising taxes on those that don't even have them.

Seriously, the Right knows they have an unwavering base that will vote for anything with an R on it, as long as it is moving, and in some cases, it doesn't even have to be moving. But this base isn't quite big enough to ensure another plurality victory, so they need a splitter, a spoiler, someone who can balance out the remaining voters to allow their candidate to sneak in again. Lest not forget the last two elections:
2002 Gov Race
46.7 Rep
45.7 DFL
06.4 Indy

2002 Gove Race
44.4 Rep
37.2 DFL
16.4 Ind
So in comes Former Republican Governor Arne Carlson with an attempt to keep Horner in the news, with a perception of bi-partisanism. The Right won't budge, they have an election to win, but the Left may start to move which may make Horner appear viable. And THAT is all the Right needs to find an opening.

It's part of the plan, and Arne is in on it!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

The day the world changed . . .

All my hopes to those most closely effected by the horrendous actions of 9/11. And a deep and sincere thank you to those that displayed what the America spirit is all about during the aftermath.

My 9/11 story is here.

As fall approaches, I am going to ease back into the blogosphere following my Summer hiatus. Stay tuned.