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Cravaack takes heat from all sides

MORNING EDITION

The bull's-eye on Chip Cravaack’s back was pretty big and bright before the weekend. Now, as Brett Neely of MPR writes: “Cravaack is likely in the doghouse with the House Republican leadership after voting against Speaker John Boehner's bill to raise the debt ceiling and slash spending. That could mean no help from the party in what's expected to be a hotly-contested election for Cravaack's seat next year. Instead, Cravaack's reelection campaign is capitalizing on his no vote against the party leadership, using it to raise money from supporters. In an email sent Saturday entitled ‘On My Own,’ Cravaack writes: So now, I'm in a bit of a pickle. Big Labor Union Bosses, MoveOn.org, and other liberal special interests are increasing their attacks against me. Meanwhile the Republican establishment in Washington isn't happy that I stood on principle.”


The AP tried to put a little lipstick on T-Paw’s foundering campaign. It followed him around Iowa and wrote: “Despite spending the past 18 months building a campaign for the lead-off caucuses, Pawlenty has faced a series of bumps in the road this summer, including a rocky debate performance, lackluster fundraising and a poor single-digit showing in early Iowa polls in the wake of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s rise. Undeterred, the low-key Midwesterner brushes off conventional wisdom inside political circles that says he’s in trouble; he’s pressing ahead with his workmanlike approach to winning over Iowa Republicans and putting his back into his Iowa campaign with a steady-as-she-goes demeanor.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of Mike Huckabee and now an adviser to T-Paw, did her duty in an interview with NBC News. She tells Andrew Rafferty: “The environment is very different now than it was four years ago. You’ve got a much more aggressive electorate than you did four years ago. But at the same time there are a lot of similarities in the sense that Iowans take their role extremely serious; they’re very responsible voters. They ask hard questions and actually show up and ask questions. They don’t just come because they’re supporting, they come because they want to know who you are. They want to look you in the eye, and they want to be able to ask you something that’s important to them, and then see how you respond to it.”

Maybe like sharks, bean counters never sleep. Mike Kaszuba’s Strib story tells of UPM Blandin asking for lower taxes on property the state has already given it $44 million for preservation. “The move has caught state and county officials off guard and could mean big revenue losses for those counties if UPM Blandin succeeds in having its property assessments lowered. In Aitkin County, the tax challenges involve 126 property parcels, most consisting of 40 acres apiece. One township has 36 parcels with estimated market values ranging from $34,400 to $58,500. ‘This is going to be a big thing,’ Brian Connors, Itasca County's assessor, said in addressing the potential property tax losses for his county. In one of their property tax petitions, which may indicate their overall strategy, Blandin officials said assessors had erred in two ways: They set the property's market value higher than its actual value and assessed the property ‘unequally’ when compared with other properties.” In fairness, Blandin, now owned by a Finnish conglomerate, hasn’t called the assessments “job killers,” yet.

Our guy, “The Body”, is back in the movies. The AP writes: “Jesse Ventura will portray the governor of Indiana in the movie ‘The Drunk’, now filming in Terre Haute. The former wrestler and occasional actor joins veteran actor Tom Sizemore in the cast. Terre Haute natives William Tanoos and Paul Fleschner of Tanoos Fleschner Productions wrote the film in which Tanoos stars as the fictitious grandson of 20th century labor leader Eugene Debs. His character is running for governor of Indiana, and Fleschner plays his attorney and campaign manager. Sizemore portrays a corrupt prosecutor also running for the Democratic nomination.”

Strib outdoor writer Dennis Anderson bids farewell to 100 years of conservation: “The money's gone, and with it — in Washington and in state capitals across the land — the legislative will to sustain the nation's natural heritage by funding land and water conservation at historical levels. Perhaps it should be no surprise. Jobs are scarce, money is tight. And it's long been known that the largest share of the population doesn't give a rip about natural resource protection. Not if they have to pay for it, or exert effort toward that end. It was a good run. Beginning with Teddy Roosevelt and extending, with varying levels of intensity and effectiveness, through the administration of George W. Bush, the conservation of the nation's lands and waters was an idea whose basic validity never was challenged. ... The sea change that has occurred in recent years suggests much of that is history. Some of it is ideological: Republicans in state legislatures and in Washington simply don't seem to believe the natural world, or what's left of it, deserves a place at the table as the nation's more limited financial resources are divvied up. Consequently, the list of state and federal conservation programs on the chopping block is nearly endless.”

By now, we know that a fact-based discussion of taxes is nearly impossible, given the split between the “reality-based” world and the other one. But U of M Economics professor C. Edward Runge drops in some familiar but useful statistics in a Strib commentary: “In June, Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington watchdog group, released a partial list from a major forthcoming study of effective tax rates paid by Fortune 500 companies. The 12 corporations analyzed were American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, General Electric, Honeywell, IBM, United Technologies, Verizon, Wells Fargo and Yahoo. From 2008 through 2010, these companies together reported $171 billion in pretax profits, but as a group, their federal income taxes were a negative $2.5 billion. In other words, they were collectively subsidized. Eight of these firms reported negative taxes, including Minnesota's Honeywell International, with three-year profits of $4.9 billion and federal taxes of a negative $34 million. Wells Fargo, with $49 billion in profits, received a net tax benefit of $681 million. GE was the largest net negative taxpayer from 2008-2010, with $7.7 billion in profits and $4.7 billion in negative taxes.”

U of M-Morris professor P.Z. Myers on his popular blog, Pharyngula, gets into the odd view taken by former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges of the roots to the Norwegian terror attack: “Hedges has been totally nuts for the last few years: he's got this crazy irrational hysteria about atheists that makes him utterly unhinged whenever he writes about us. His latest is of a piece with his mania:

The gravest threat we face from terrorism, as the killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik underscore, comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of observant Muslims and those defined as our internal enemies. The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik. This filth has poisoned and degraded our civil discourse.’

… What? Muslims riot over cartoons, Breivik massacres young people in the name of reactionary Christian nationalism, and Hedges blames the atheists? Madness. Pure madness. Don't read Hedges. Read Sam Harris, who as calmly as is possible when you've been slimed by a lunatic, tears Hedges to pieces. It's a lovely read.”

“St. Paul Labels,” one of the bloggers at the conservative Fraters Libertas, is very excited about today: “The winner of the $100,000 Power Line Prize will be announced on Monday morning. I think the submissions and runners-up released so far have been terrific in fulfilling the stated mission of the prize: effectively and creatively dramatize the significance of the federal debt crisis.” He links to several pieces of art, a music video and adds, “The theme throughout all of the most effective Power Line Prize submissions, which I didn't foresee, is the affect of the National debt on the children. Our supposed inability to survive without borrowing TRILLIONS every year, borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend, is going to sentence future generations, who get stuck with the bill, to a far cruder and bleaker existence. Protection of one's children is supposed to be a fundamental human motivation. In America, one's efforts were always directed toward making sure one's children have a better life than you did. The primary moral pose of modern liberalism is the protection of the children. If any of this is true, why don't the adults of today care enough about the debt to do something about it?”

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Comments (17)

To Chip Cravaack: Keep standing by your principles. Don't let the republican establishment discourage you. Hang in there.

Could dean (#1) explain where the country would be in 6 months, one year, and five years if there are no new taxes and no rise in debt ceiling.

Or perhaps he could point to a position paper or speech by Cravaack or other such believer that explains the consequences to the economy of such a policy.

Surely a person taking such a principled stand is fully cognizant of the effects of their policies.

Or not?

Could Neal (#2) tell me why all the liberals can talk about is raising taxes and the debt ceiling? None ever talk about stopping and cutting spending. I'm glad I am not in a household that follows your philosophy. Again, hang there Chip.

I talk about raising taxes because the effective tax rates on the top tax brackets and corporations have fallen to almost the lowest rates on record.

I talk about raising the debt ceiling because it is about paying for what Congress has passed into law. If Congress had not approved the expenditure, there would be no need to raise the debt ceiling.

If Mr. Cravaack or Ms. Bachmann would provide a budget outline that incorporates their vision of no additional taxes and no debt ceiling rise perhaps they would have some credibility. Or at least show they are prepared to deal with the reality and fallout from their posturing.

labelling demeans people and reveals a weakness and lack of reasoning skills in the writer.

"liberals", "libs", "tea"anything, Repugnant, we all recognize these when we see them. They become a ruse to avoid reasoning with a position by defaming the opponent as unworthy of input.

To reply to the point, (although I'm unclear who "liberals" refers to) I have not heard reports of anyone in politics suggesting tax and spend, rather "cut mostly, tax some, spend less".
Do you have sources for your assertion?

The current debt issue is the direct result of previous decisions in the House. That's where the spending decisions get made, not in the Executive. Dealing with overspending by restricting debt ceiling is equivalent to running up a credit card bill then deciding the solution is to stop payments on the credit cards.

To Don (#5) Several points:
1) Is calling a liberal a democrat instead less repugnant?; 2) Anyone with just a little intelligence can see that Obama is the one who really wants to tax and spend. Look what he has done since taking office; and 3) you suggest in you last paragraph, the way to solve debt problem is to borrow more on the debt. I don't think thats the way to pay off a credit card.

dean, if Congress passes legislation and Obama signs it, who is responsible for the cost of the budget? The debt ceiling increase is to pay for what Congress passes, not for some nefarious "Obama slush-fund".

That is exactly what is so two-faced about the current Republican party. If they want a balanced budget, they should propose and pass a balanced budget. If they want to cut next years budget by 40 or 45% so that it is balanced without new taxes, then write up a specific budget plan to do so. Flesh out the details, enumerate the cuts. Stand up to the heat.

Until they are willing to do so, it's all just posturing for people who like you who believe slogans instead of real, feasible plans.

And if they can't get enough voted to carry out their plans, dean, learn to live with democracy and the hypocrisy of the Republican party that talks tough but refuses to detail the consequences that would come with the realization of their bluster.

At least with the Democrats, it's pretty clear what they want.

Libs--Repugs---Whatever. It's all namecalling. What's more important is that you (especially Mr. Braun) are ignoring the story about how the government is paying a handful of companies BILLIONS of dollars to profit several BILLIONS more. That is, the Corporate Welfare is spending billions of dollars to make rich people richer. The $2.5 billion could be better spent to directly employ 25 THOUSAND Americans at a level of $100,000 each. If you ignore all but one of those companies--GE--you could employ nearly 50 THOUSAND Americans. They might even actually pay taxes. Instead, we the taxpayers pay those companies to remain American, essentially in name only, to hire people for pennies on the dollar in SE Asia so that when you call their customer service, you need a translator (less than half of GEs approximately 280,000 employees are in the US http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/40545/000119312511047479/d10k.htm...). And THAT is what's bankrupting our country. But our politicians and some of our own citizens think that that's ok.

By the way, dean, the way you pay off a credit card is to pay it off--not by refusing to pay for the stuff you already bought home.

What would you call not paying for the things you already bought with your credit card? Defaulting? Stealing?

Debt is debt--it's a done matter. Refusal to pay is default. The real issue is what you do in the future--raise revenue or cut spending, or both.

Take it up with your congressperson. Ask for a plan with real, verifiable numbers. See how it would affect you, your family, your neighbors.

If you know anyone who works in any medical field, any area of education, any area of defense and defense contracting, or anyone who holds stock in a company associated with any of those fields, or receives benefits from any of those fields, they WILL be adversely affected by a 40 to 45% cut in federal spending. That 40 to 45% cut would be necessary to balance the budget this year and perhaps in the years to come.

#9: Great posts! I found myself wishing that Cravaak and Bachmann would read them, but then I remembered their my-way-or-the-highway "principles."...never mind.

"2) Anyone with just a little intelligence can see that Obama is the one who really wants to tax and spend. Look what he has done since taking office; and 3) you suggest in you last paragraph, the way to solve debt problem is to borrow more on the debt. I don't think thats the way to pay off a credit card."

2) actually, Obama has cut taxes & has added less to the debt than his predecessor.

3) absent other factors, paying off a credit card ASAP is often the best plan of action. However, other factors can change this basic formula. For instance, students are often better off completing their studies in order to boost their income potential - and start paying off debt once they've established a steady income.

Its really a question of priorities. The current majority in the US House swept into office by campaigning largely on jobs. Since taking office, they've done little to address the jobs problem & instead are focusing on the debt problem. While the debt problem needs to be fixed, a higher priority has to be returning the economy to a state of stability & growth. That, itself, will go a long way towards closing the deficit (not all they way, but its a start). Once the economy is growing, the deficit/debt problem can be addressed. Taking the problems in the inverse order - trying to balance the budget first, makes solving the second problem harder. Like it or not, gov't spending makes up a significant portion of GDP. Cutting gov't spending pushes the GDP down - more - which will further depress the rest of the economy. As more people lose their jobs, the drain of the treasury increases - with higher unemployment costs, medicare costs, etc.

The President's failure in the debt ceiling negotiations is in neglecting to drive this point home over and over again. We're going to be worse off for it.

Pawlenty's campaign began and ended with "Obamneycare". It was his moment for attention and then he blew it in the debate backing off. He won't recover as that event pretty much defined him to the public.

Don't hold your breath waiting for republicans to present a balanced budget. Saint Reagan never did. Nor did Pawlenty. The only recent balanced budgets that come to mind were Bill Clinton's and Arne Carlson's last ones, at the turn of the century. Both were instantly and gleefully deep-sixed by their conservative successors, who somehow failed to cut spending to match their tax cuts, because they knew they'd be flayed alive if they tried. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Back in those heady days I actually dared to hope that balanced budgets and surpluses were the wave of the future, that we would pay off the debt, and we would have money to invest in education, infrastructure, and human capital. But noooooo. Thanks to third party candidates and disgraceful electioneering we've had a very different decade than what beckoned so hopefully back then.

And now, republicans know that doing something so foolish as presenting a balanced budget that honestly reflected their so-called principles would turn them into an instant minority party. Look no further than the reception the so-called Paul Ryan plan got from both sides of the aisle.

Ain't gonna happen any time soon.

The proposed Balanced Budget Amendment, assorted "pro-life" legislation, the repugnant Defense of Marriage Act and all their cousins were/asre never intended to be enacted into law. They are tools to raise fear and loathing...and considerable campaign dollars...and nothing more. Everytime this stuff shows up in public discourse we play THEIR game, instead of the real one. Same thing with the phony/artifical/manufactured/artifical/erstaz "debt ceiling" hysteria: it's not the real issue...they/Libertarians (and their fellow-travellers the Republicans) know it and will be de;lighted with the agreement that "resolves" this sideshow......but don't expect them to fasten laserlike onto the real issue of liveable wages and suffient jobs for real, living families, and a responsive government with integrity and credibility.

And by the way, the principles by which the gentleman from New Hampshire, Mr. Cravaack,should continue to stand would be what, really?? Certainly not those by which he declared one of the nation's and state's best legislators unfit for office and arranged for his political demise.

Will (#13) And look in vain for any mention in the media of the Democratic Progressive Caucus's budget plan. It was released about the same time as the Ryan plan-to-create-disaster, but was ignored by both the media and the Democratic leadership.

Please google The People's Budget for a fair and effective piece of legislation that would wipe out the deficit and replace it with a surplus in 10 years, get rid of corporate giveaways, raise taxes on the rich, end the seemingly-endless wars and create a public option for health care. In addition, it calls for public investment in infrastructure, clean energy, broadband, housing and R&D -- all of which would create tens of thousands of good jobs and heal our truly sick economy.

Just an interesting aside... Just learned something that makes a lot of sense. The people who are running Wall Street are Libertarians for the most part, as is, guess who, Greenspan. Makes a bit of sense in hindsight and why interest rates are so low that no one uses savings accounts much.