Gov. Pawlenty’s, uh, “principled stand” against intrusive big government is about to have a real-world impact on Minnesotans … maybe. The Gov has ordered all state agencies not to apply for federal money attached to the six-month-old health care reform legislation (i.e., “ObamaCare”). The National Journal story says: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, speaking today at an event in Washington, warned that Pawlenty’s move could ultimately jeopardize newly designed programs already in play. Sebelius cited measures in the reform package that help defray the costs of prescription medications and prevent insurance companies from dropping patients once they become sick, along with efforts designed to catch and prevent illnesses in seniors, as just some of the programs created by the law. ‘So I have no idea if those are the kinds of benefits he attempts to eliminate for the citizens of Minnesota,’ Sebelius said. ‘I can only hope not, because I think they will, overall, help lower costs and improve the health of citizens of Minnesota and citizens across the country.’ “
The Wall Street Journal writes: “The order isn’t likely to significantly affect how the law is applied in Minnesota. It says the state can’t seek further discretionary money for demonstration projects and grant funding unless the governor approves it. In some cases, Minnesota’s legislature has already put in place plans to seek federal money under those programs. The order lasts only until Mr. Pawlenty’s term ends around the end of this year. Minnesota won’t be restricted from participating in the biggest pieces of the overhaul, including the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and new tax credits to offset the cost of insurance for lower earners. Those steps take effect in 2014.” It then goes on to say: “Mr. Pawlenty … is challenging uncontroversial parts of the law on the grounds that they burden states and encroach on personal liberties. ‘It is a really upsetting intrusion by the federal government into matters that have been reserved to the states or private markets,’ he said in a phone interview.
This latest comes after his decision to decline $850,000 in federal cash for teen pregnancy prevention (i.e., “sex education”) while accepting $500,000 (with $379,000 required from the state) for an abstinence program. His detractors are sputtering. Tim Pugmire’s MPR story interviews onetime DFL gubernatorial candidate, Paul Thissen, who says: “]T]he effect of the governor’s executive order is unclear, because state law passed earlier this year requires Minnesota officials to apply for several specific federal health care grants. Thissen said the order looks to him like political theater. ‘To some extent, it’s what he’s done over and over again throughout his administration, which is to make a big public splash about doing something, but there’s no meat behind it,’ Thissen said. ‘And I think that may be the case in this situation as well. But, it’s to advance his presidential ambitions and to play to the folks who arguably put him in the place of being the Republican candidate for president in 2012.’ ” Can you say, (cough) “TeaPartycred” (cough)?
The PiPress editorializes about budget plans from the three gubernatorial candidates and likes more of what it hears from Tom Horner than the other two. It says: “The plan would seek to end certain (unspecified) tax breaks but would also begin a long-term process of eventually eliminating the corporate income tax. This sounds a lot like Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 21st Century Tax Reform Commission, which argued for broadening the sales tax to cover more goods and services, an increase in cigarette taxes and an end to the corporate income tax. On the spending side, Horner sets a $2.45 billion target for cutting programs and saving money by redesigning services. He suggests reductions in water and solid waste grants, Pawlenty’s JOBZ enterprise-zone program and ethanol subsidies. He said he would immediately freeze state spending, launch an early retirement program and get ‘redesign teams’ to work reshaping government.”
Got to check and see what John Hinderaker on Power Line thinks of that latest poll showing a dead heat between Dayton and Emmer. He doesn’t disappoint: “We have been reporting on the Minnesota gubernatorial race among Tom Emmer, a solid conservative; Mark Dayton, a deeply flawed and wackily liberal Democrat; and tax-raiser Tom Horner playing the traditional spoiler’s role as the representative of the Independence Party.” He adds: “If you want to help save Minnesota from the embarrassing prospect of a Mark Dayton administration — Dayton makes Jesse Ventura look like a model of stability and good judgment … read about Emmer and donate to his campaign.” Has anyone done a “good judgment” analysis of Jesse and T-Paw?
Interesting piece in Politics in Minnesota by Charley Shaw. The angle: the “purpling” of the once reliably Republican upscale western suburbs. Why? Well, I think you know. Says Shaw: “The once-reliable haven of rock-ribbed red votes in western Hennepin County has turned a deep shade of purple in the last three election cycles. One centrist DFLer after another has vaulted through the opening created by the GOP’s move to the right on divisive social issues.”
As most Minnesotans know you don’t mess with the State Fair Board. A body of legendary power, the Fair elders are not pleased with Rep. Michele Bachmann, and it has nothing to do with her many, uh, “colorful” statements. Rather, it’s her use of the Fair’s logo in her latest “Election Guy” attack ad on rival Tarryl Clark. (Did you know Clark’s responsible for the price of chocolate-covered bacon?) Eric Roper in the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics” blog writes: “While Clark voted ‘yes’ on a bill that would increase the tax on liquor sales, Bachmann’s claims about corn dog and bacon taxes are a bit misleading. Her campaign says Clark favored a transportation bill that included a metro sales tax hike, which affects corn dogs and bacon but does not specifically target those things.” He adds, “Bachmann’s campaign announced Wednesday afternoon that although they believe they have the legal right to keep the image in the ad, they will switch it out for a generic one ‘out of good faith.’ ” Just as I thought, it’s a “faith-based” issue.
In a 6th District-related item, Roper puts up another item, this one about Bob Anderson the independent candidate who drew 10`percent of the vote in ‘08 while spending only $800 (essentially he was a walking “none of the above” candidate). Says Roper: “He describes himself as a ‘right-leaning’ independent, and his policy views largely align with the Republican Party. Anderson says he would have voted against the recently passed health care bill, the bailouts of the financial sector, cap-and-trade legislation and the stimulus. He views the multimillion dollar spending from both of his opponents as fiscally irresponsible.” He also gets Elwyn Tinklenberg adviser John Wodele, saying: “ ‘The great frustration there was we should have won that race based on the independent vote, and we ended up losing it based on the independent vote.’ “
Back from China, Mankato Mayor John Brady, he of the 0.24 alcohol level … on a Saturday afternoon … with an open bottle of vodka in the car next to him … says he won’t resign. No way, baby. He has rights, maybe even constitutional, if you look it up. The Mankato Free Press’s Robb Murray covers Brady’s press conference and reports: “Brady told reporters and a few dozen onlookers that he was remorseful and embarrassed about his drunken driving arrest on Aug. 21, and that he’s battled alcoholism for years. He said turmoil in his personal life drove him to drink heavily — he cites the death of his son, Tracy, and the tragedy that hit the Krueger family in rural Waseca; Hilary Krueger, who was severely injured when a gunman entered her home and murdered her husband and son, is Brady’s step-daughter.” Well, that’s terrible. But other details emerge: “One area that still seemed unclear after Brady answered questions involved the first accident he’d been involved in that day. It occurred near Jordan on Highway 169. Brady said he was en route to the airport to catch his plane to China, which reportedly was set to take off at 8 a.m. But the crash in Jordan occurred at roughly 7 a.m., and he was still 30-40 minutes away from the airport. He said he believed he still had time to catch that flight.” Thirty to forty minutes to MSP, parking, check-in, security … no problem.
The casual reader may be having the same problem with each day’s new home prices/sales figures as he/she does with breaking medical news. What sounds lethal one day is good the next and vice versa. The Business Journal’s Katharine Grayson covers news that Twin Cities home prices rose in July and writes: “ ‘The worry starts when you remember that the [tax credit] has expired, foreclosures are still at high levels and July data on home sales and starts were very, very weak. The inventory of unsold homes and months’ supply data were particularly troubling. If this relative weakness in demand continues, it will likely filter through to home prices in coming months,’ said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, in a press statement.”
Need quick cash? Maybe you ought to think about selling your classic 2001 Daewoo. According to Fox9’s Jody Ambroz, used car prices have spiked up on tight supply. She says: “Auto Luxe in Golden Valley specializes in late model used cars. Lately, filling the showroom is a challenge. Ric Fohrman said in his fifty years in the car business, he’s never seen this kind of slim supply. Demand is high, and it’s driving up prices. Fohrman said, ‘Prices at wholesale are ridiculously high. Dealers are screaming, pulling their hair out. We just really refuse to overpay.’ Fohrman said he doesn’t have a lot of selection on hand. Instead, he’s been finding cars to fit his client’s specific needs. The automotive website Edmunds.com is reporting a jump in used car prices nationwide. Edmunds.com found that the average price for a three-year-old car in July was $19,248, up $1,800 or about ten per cent over last year.” Need wheels? I can save you THOUSANDS! Call now.