One Expensive Minnesota: Gov. Walz Budget

One_Expensive_Minnesota.jpgThe state budget unveiled by Gov. Walz last week is better described as a blueprint for “One Expensive Minnesota.”

Steve Elkins, DFL representative in SD49 has written, “the Governor’s budget broadly focuses on driving down high health care costs, improving education overall, and ensuring community prosperity.” In fact, it raises the cost of gas, health care, and many of the other goods and services Minnesotans rely on.

In total, it raises taxes by more than $3 billion over the next two years at a time when Minnesota has a $1.5 billion budget surplus.

GasTax_Raise_Your_Nozzle_One_Expensive_MN.jpgGov. Walz is proposing a massive 70% increase in the gas tax. Rep. Elkins describes this hike as a “modest gasoline tax.” In fact, Minnesota’s gas tax would vault the state from #26 to #4 in the size of its gas tax. This regressive tax hits low and middle-income families hardest, and will increase the cost of food, clothing, other goods and services as well.

Gov. Walz’ budget will make life more expensive for all Minnesota families.

Billion Dollar Health Care Tax Hike: Gov. Walz is proposing to reinstate the "provider tax" (actually a "sick tax" since it's a fee added to each patient's bill) which would add more than a billion dollars to the cost of health care over the next two years. You don't lower health care costs by increasing health care taxes.

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Progressive Economics?

Crowned_chess_piece_pawns_pexels-photo-260024.jpegAs we begin to see Democrats, one after another, announce themselves as candidates for the endorsement of their party for the Presidency in 2020, we can’t help but recognize an emerging pattern: every one is a self-described "Progressive", or even a "Social Democrat" (whatever sort of hybrid creature that might be?). They incessantly rail against the supposedly awful bureaucratic roll-backs and the 2017 tax cut package as a "give away to the rich". In spite of the fact that these measures accelerated a slow-walked recovery from the 2007 recession, and brought unemployment rates to historic lows. In fact, Democrats seem most painfully offended by the idea that the primary beneficiaries might be the very "protected" groups that they’ve been "helping" for all these decades.

This being the case, what sort of economics can we expect from them should they succeed, and what are the likely effects? Well, they’re already loudly proclaiming exactly what they expect to do. They’re telling us that they’ll remake the world to reduce greenhouse gases, drastically increase income tax rates on anybody who has dared to be too successful, as well as any enterprise that threatens to grow too rapidly. They’re telling us in plain English that they’ll reinstate and multiply every regulation and bureaucratic hinderance to any enterprise that dares to attempt even the slightest innovation. And then they’re telling us that they’ll increase the Federal minimum wage to levels that are completely unrelated to any measure of productivity. In other words, we’re headed right back into the slow growth, low opportunity, high unemployment dirge of the Obama Administration.

If one is prone to be charitable, we might just conclude that "Progressives" just don’t get it. That they’re nice people who are just stunningly inept when it comes to comprehending an economy of the scale, complexity and dynamism as ours.

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Move Forward with Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline

For_Newsletter_Line-3-pipeline-Enbridge.jpgLast week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which could have halted progress with the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. On February 8, Members from the Minnesota House and Senate, on both side of the aisle, sent a letter to Governor Walz. The letter urged him to support the project to replace the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline, a project that is the best interests of Minnesota. Governor Walz is scheduled to announce his decision Feb. 12.

The existing pipeline is corroding and in need of replacement. The new Line 3 will comprise the newest and most advanced pipeline technology—and provide much needed incremental capacity to support Canadian crude oil production growth, and U.S. and Canadian refinery demand. Last September, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) voted unanimously in favor of issuing a certificate of need for the project.

Why isn’t it proceeding? Last December, the Minnesota Department of Commerce asked a state appeals court to reconsider the MPUC's decision. The appeal was filed in the final days of Gov. Mark Dayton's administration.

The project has gone through more than three-and-a-half years of review and evaluation by state and federal experts. It has been debated at 65 public meetings held by state agencies. The Administrative Law Judge held three weeks of evidentiary hearings. Tens of thousands submitted public comments.

According to reports, Walz is looking into whether his administration should continue the legal challenge. He now has until February 12 to decide whether to file a petition for reconsideration with the PUC, the first formal step toward a new appeal. If the Governor does nothing by February 12, the Department of Commerce's involvement in legal challenges to the Line 3 project would end.
If he elects to continue, he will be jeopardizing millions in revenue and thousands of jobs. He will be bending to the demands of environmental groups and ignoring the support of Minnesota union workers. We agree with the bipartisan signers from the Minnesota House and Senate: Gov Walz should let the project continue!


Development in Edina and Poverty

By Lew Coffey and Dennis Withers

France_Ave_7200_7250_ows_154411328980089.jpgAccording to his lecture at the December 4th meeting, Councilman Kevin Staunton of Edina is really sure that Edinians have been too successful in life. So successful in fact, that they are morally obligated to part with some unknown portion of that success, to be decided by their betters on the Council of course, to finance “Affordable Housing” to benefit “The Poor”.

In fact, he is so certain of his virtuous instincts, when it comes to dispensing the product of other peoples’ labors, that if you don’t whole heartedly agree with him, he’d be perfectly fine just taking it from you by force and dispensing it according to his own enlightened sensibilities.

But wait a second here! Who exactly are “The Poor”? Are they really the downtrodden and destitute victims of an unfairly ravenous and greed-driven free enterprise system that the Socialist stereotypes would have us believe? Or might a closer look reveal some other facts that the likes of Councilman Staunton would just as soon nobody talk about.

To this point, one of our neighbors from Edina, Dennis Withers, has done some serious digging among the facts of “Poverty in America”, and not surprisingly come up with some very interesting and stereotype-busting statistics that put an entirely different light on “The Poor” and the moral obligation that Councilman Staunton would like to inflict on his neighbors.

What’s the Truth About Poverty?

It’s frequently suggested, by politicians selling programs and supportive news reports, that America has made no progress at all in the ‘War on Poverty’ since the 1960s. Headlines claim “one in eight” Americans live in poverty. Has America’s welfare safety net failed? The truth is: It depends on how you define poverty.

The answer to this is very important in Minnesota, as politicians add to welfare programs and in Edina extensive development adds significantly to the Affordable Housing part of the welfare net. Again, the truth depends on how you define poverty. Do you define it by Household Income or by Household Consumption?

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Observations on the 2018 Elections

Election_Map_small.jpgJeff Johnson noted at the end of his campaign, "I'm proud of the race we ran. The 1.1 million votes we received were more than any governor candidate in Minnesota history - except Tim Walz. That number would have been enough to win in any other year, but the turnout for Democrats, particularly in the metro, was overwhelming."

The 2018 election in Minnesota ended with a DFL win for more than just the governor. With the exception of Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison, the DFL statewide candidates won by larger than expected margins. This was driven by a number of factors. A huge 64% of Minnesota voters went to the polls in a non-presidential election year. Early voting was up three times over the last election.

     Illustration edited from MN Secretary of State election maps, found here

Perhaps most importantly, there was a large voter turnout in the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also a strong showing in the Third Congressional District. Precincts in CD5 composed of UofM housing had 85-100% voter turn-out on election day. Many took advantage of same day registration. 80% voted DFL down the ticket. The Twin Cities campus population is 90,000 alone.

The importance of the metro area vote can be illustrated in the governor race. The DFL ticket of Walz/Flanagan won by almost 300,000 votes statewide. In CD5, they won by over 200,000 votes. They also won in CDs 1, 2, 3, and 4 and came very close to winning in CD8. Johnson/Bergstrom needed to run up the score in CD8 (they won it by just under 5,700 votes) and limit the damage in CD5. Neither of these happened. Further, a big margin for Walz/Flanagan in CD3 (almost 44,000 votes) all but neutralized the GOP-heavy CD6 returns.



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Why Vote Republican

As the days counted down and we got closer to election day, the general outline of the two parties’ campaigns began to gel. Patterns have emerged and ideas larger than mere “positions” take on a more decisive role. In nearly every campaign in this historic election season, the pattern is repeated again and again: DFL candidates see public office as a vehicle for unlimited partisan warfare, while GOP candidates see public office as a vehicle to preserve the rules and customs that allow us to disagree and debate peacefully.

Wardlow.jpgThe most visible example of this evolving picture is the campaign for the Minnesota Attorney General between DFLer Keith Ellison and Republican Doug Wardlow. The office of Attorney General itself is one of the most powerful constitutional offices within the Executive Branch. First, its occupant owes nothing to the Governor who heads the Constitutional Branch that it’s a part of, and second, it allows such a wide range of discretion to its occupant that it could easily be said that he or she can define it by choosing which powers to exercise and which to ignore.

DFLer Keith Ellison has openly promised to use the powers of the office to pursue a laundry list of blatantly partisan PC crusades and mindlessly quixotic “Resistance” litigations, while studiously ignoring the need to rigorously and equally enforce the laws of Minnesota. With all of his massive load of hypocritical baggage, including a long-time association with Louis Farrakhan and credible allegations of domestic abuse, Keith Ellison is a veritable poster child for unequal and partisan law enforcement.
Republican Doug Wardlow, on the other hand, campaigns across the state on exactly the opposite set of priorities. He’s promised a sweeping house-cleaning of partisan advocates within the Minnesota Department of Justice, and rigorously equal enforcement of all the laws, regardless of partisan affiliation or ideological alignment. The choice is starkly clear and painfully central to everything we expect of government in a free society.

At the risk of sounding apocalyptic, it’s not too extreme to assert that the law itself, the skeletal framework of civil society, is squarely on the table. In Keith Ellison’s world, and in the wider DFL world, the law is to be used to punish and destroy those who dare to disagree with Progressive orthodoxy, and to shield those who agree. In Doug Wardlow’s Republican world, the law is to be used to make it safe for ALL OF US to exercise all of our rights, including the right to disagree, with civility. Doug knows that equal ENFORCEMENT of the law is the logical foundation for the equal PROTECTION of the law, and that JUSTICE IS EITHER BLIND OR ITS DEAD!

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Erik Paulsen: the Adult in the Room

Paulsen_at_Convention_389x425.jpgErik Paulsen is the best choice to represent us in Congress. He is hard-working and experienced. He has earned his position on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over health care, economic and trade policy and is the chief tax writing committee in the House of Representatives. He is co-chair of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Caucus to promote trade with Europe.

Erik has authored some important legislation, combatting sex trafficking, reforming child welfare systems, and repealing the Medical Devices tax.

He has stood his ground on issues important to him, speaking against legislation that would deny the Boundary Waters Canoe Area the same environmental protections that other National Forests receive. He has been endorsed by another outstanding former congressman, Jim Ramstad.

Dean_Phillips.JPGPaulsen has been unfairly criticized for accepting PAC money. It should be noted that his opponent, Dean Phillips (photo at right in his "Winnie the Election" costume) has resorted to self-funding his own campaign out of his personal wealth. Phillips had previously issued his “Minnesota Way” pledge, and called such self-funding “Not Democratic”. He’s also broken another pledge by failing to donate to charity any of the millions he has accepted in outside ads running on his behalf funded by the same special interests he claims to oppose.

If you want to be represented by a knowledgeable legislator who is not flamboyant, who works hard for his constituents, and who is in a position to make his experience count, vote for the adult in the room. Vote for Erik Paulsen.


10 Reasons to Vote Republican

Your_Vote_Counts_Button.jpgRecent polls are showing that several of the state and local races this year are tightening. The differences in some polls are within the margin of error, meaning that the race could go either way. It is very important that we take every opportunity to talk with our family, friends, and neighbors about voting. A significant minority of the people polled say they are still undecided. Some even question why they should vote!

Cutting through all of the political advertising and media sound bites, Republican and Democratic candidates in Minnesota reflect a clear difference in governing philosophy and policy priorities. Here are ten reasons to vote Republican:

1. Republicans believe in personal responsibility. We want the freedom to make choices that affect our lives, not have a faceless bureaucracy make those choices for us.

2. Republicans believe that government regulations should be limited to the intent of the laws, not expanded to achieve a political agenda. Regulations are necessary, but over-regulation discourages the growth of business and stifles innovation. For example, we believe that proposed mining operations should be allowed to proceed once fair and reasonable environment assessments and mitigation plans have been completed.

3. Republicans believe in the value of marketplace capitalism and the role of competition. Actions that restrict marketplaces, such as single-payer health care, sustain the status quo, restrain innovation, and do little to reduce costs over the long run.

4. Republicans believe that government has an essential role to play. As Republican State Senator Julie Rosen wrote in an opinion piece in the Star Tribune on October 13, “even the most frugal Minnesotan can get behind good government spending on things like public safety, roads, child welfare and health care for the poor and elderly.”

 

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Principles Matter: Presumption of Innocence

guilty_and_innocent.jpgThe last several months, beginning with the election of 2016 and culminating in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, have made it very plain to even the most casual of observers, that Democrats have adopted the most terrifying set of political behaviors in the last 100 years of American history. With hysterical mobs of screaming protestors in the hallways of the Senate, masked thugs in the streets and a gunman bent on slaughter at a baseball field, the American Left has openly proclaimed that it is willing to abandon even the most basic standards of civilization itself, and return to the days of Lynch Law, to regain its power.

The Kavanaugh hearings exhibited for all to see, that Amy Klobuchar and her fellow Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were perfectly comfortable with the idea that no nominee brought before them could safely rely on any right to the presumption of innocence. In fact, the mere expression of even the flimsiest allegation, without the slightest substantiation or corroboration or evidence, of an offense against any member of any identifiable victim group, was ample justification to demand endless delay, and to slander and smear the nominee beyond any hope of redemption.

When Democrats were challenged by Republicans defending the nominee’s right to due process and the presumption of innocence, they responded with the vapid rationalization that “this is not a criminal trial” so there was no reason for them to respect any such right. From that moment on, the hearings devolved into a ghastly replay of a Stalinist Soviet Show Trial.

The importance of the right of anyone accused of an offense to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, is not simply a minor technicality that can be ignored for temporary political convenience or limited to a formal criminal trial.

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Edina Transparency and Trust: Lid Project

Lid_over_Hwy100_Concept_Image.jpgI didn’t believe it when I read it. Did you?  The Edina Mayor and City Council voted to suspend spending on the “LID”. 

The good news is that the city recognizes that many citizens do not agree with their rush to develop the city and increase density without looking at the consequences.  The bad news is there was no time limit to the suspension.  If they had voted to suspend spending for 3 to 5 years I might have believed their claims that the “LID” is a long term project.

It sounds like politics as usual to make the incumbents look good just before the election.  Here are some things to consider:

  • The city has already spent $368,000 on the “LID” and Metro Transit has spent $100,000. The city has authorized spending $100,000 on lobbying efforts at the legislature on this project. 
  • Before the motion to suspend spending, the city authorized spending an additional $200,000 on the “LID” and to begin acquiring rights to property for the project.
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