Those killjoys at NPR teamed up with the St. Petersburg Times PoliFact folks and graded statements made in last night’s GOP debate, including those of Our Favorite Congresswoman. Bill Adair and Angie Drobnic Holan write: “Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann put the blame on federal requirements about mortgages. We checked similar claims about the financial crisis in 2008 when Sen. John McCain blamed the crisis on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We rated those claims Half True.
Bachmann also said that “15 political appointees will make all the major health care decisions for over 300 million Americans.” The appointees she’s talking about will look for ways to reduce costs for Medicare, the government health insurance program for people over age 65. We rated her statement False.
… Bachmann, to make her point that the government spends too much, said the U.S. borrows 40 cents for every dollar it takes in. We’ve rated that True.” Hey! Only two out of three inaccurate. That’s a pretty good day for Our Gal.
Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s fact checker, files his assessments, noting: “It’s hard to know where to start with Michele Bachmann’s characterization of the problems with the federal budget. According to Bachmann, ‘every year we are spending about 40 percent more than what we take in,’ the reason is out-of-control spending and the debt-limit deal that gave Obama ‘another $2.4 trillion blank check to spend.’ Whew! Let’s start with the debt-limit deal. Congress approved an increase in the debt limit to pay bills already incurred by Congress. It does not give Obama new authority to spend more money. It just lets the federal government continue sending out Social Security checks, feeding soldiers in the field and paying doctors who see Medicare patients. And guess what? Even if Obama wins not a dime of additional spending, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling again in early 2013. Even the House Republican budget, an austere document drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), calls for nearly $2 trillion in additional borrowing by the end of next year. So, the debt-limit deal let Obama keep the government functioning, not spend more money. Now, it is true that the federal government has spent dramatically more than it has taken in over the past few years, since tax collections collapsed in the wake of the housing meltdown, the banking crisis and the recession. In 2009, the nation borrowed about 40 percent of every dollar it spent (spending 67 percent more than it took in — Bachmann got the proportions wrong).” Detail guys … they’re so boring.
Not to be left out of the fun, The New York Times’s Binyamin Applebaum looks into a couple of Bachmann assertions. The best of them is this: “Bachmann suggested that the federal government caused the boom in subprime mortgage lending by pushing banks to lower ‘platinum level’ lending standards. There are two problems with that assertion. The most important problem is that the vast majority of subprime loans were not made by banks or other lenders regulated by the federal government. They were made by mortgage companies that were not subject to regulation of any kind. The problem, if anything, was the complete lack of government supervision. The assertion also mis-characterizes the historical relationship between the government and banks. Regulators can sometimes prevent banks from acting, but there is almost no evidence that the government can push banks to make loans they don’t want to make. This point has been underscored over the last two years, as the Obama administration has begged and pleaded with banks to start making loans, and banks have largely declined to do so. Banks did make sub-prime loans in large numbers, and the reason they did so, according to their own executives, was that they saw a chance to make lots of money.”
The day after all the big news on the Vikings’ Arden Hills stadium dream finds the AP reporting: “Dayton, in a news release expressing his neutrality on site of the project, told team owners they must tell the state ‘whether they will accept the possibly longer timeline to build the stadium at their preferred Arden Hills site and whether they will pay for any resulting additional costs.’ ”
The early freeze last month wasn’t as lethal as first feared. Mark Stiel of MPR writes: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest harvest estimate for Minnesota shows the September frost may not have caused as much damage as first feared. State farmers reported the frost was hardest on their still-maturing soybeans. But the USDA’s October outlook estimates the state’s average soybean yield at 41 bushels an acre. That’s unchanged from the previous forecast, which was issued before the frost hit. But grain analysts say the frost damage may still show up in later calculations, after the harvest is complete.”
Better business minds than mine will have to decide if this is good news. But Mia Lamar of the Dow Jones Wire says: “Huntington Bancshares Inc. (HBAN) is expanding its auto-dealer financing business into Wisconsin and Minnesota in a bid to seek new growth markets. The Ohio-based regional lender’s automobile-financing business offers financing for retail customers of auto dealers as well as to dealers themselves for inventory purchases. As of June 30, the business served 2,800 dealers with $6.2 billion of indirect automobile loans and $1 billion of floorplan loans. ‘This expansion into Wisconsin and Minnesota continues our strategy of providing auto dealer financing into markets where we see opportunity for profitable growth,’ said Rich Porrello, director of Huntington Automobile Finance. … Huntington, one of the largest regional banks in the nation, saw earnings surge in the second quarter as its provisions for potential loan losses fell to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2007. It continued to find growth in lending.”
There was an outbreak of bad gas over the weekend, and it wasn’t your brother-in-law. Mike Klein of the Rochester Post-Bulletin says: “Gasoline with higher than allowable levels of ethanol was delivered to gas stations and convenience stores in 21 Minnesota communities over the weekend. The gas from the Magellan Midstream Partners Petroleum plant in Mankato contained more than 10 percent by volume ethanol, a Magellan spokesperson confirmed in media reports. Bruce Heine, a spokesperson with Magellan, said that he didn’t yet know the cause of the extra ethanol but called the error ‘an operational issue’ that the company was investigating. The communities are: Austin, Mankato, North Mankato, New Ulm, Redwood Falls, Sleepy Eye, Albert Lea, Renville, Owatonna, Olivia, Winnebago, LeSeuer, Springfield, St. Peter, Belle Plaine, Blue Earth, Hector, Winthrop, Morgan, Gaylord and Fairmont.”
Housing sales increased in September, but prices continue to fall. Gita Sitamariah of the PiPress reports: “The Twin Cities median home price fell nearly 7 percent last month to $155,500, despite a hefty rise in sales and decreasing inventory. The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors on Wednesday reported a 26 percent rise in closed sales to 3,569 last month from the year-ago period. Realtors view increased sales and lower inventory as a move to market balance, though they haven’t bumped up prices yet.”
Dave Orrick of the PiPress covers the tragic story of an experienced kayaker over-matched by high winds on Mille Lacs: “Miles offshore in 4- to 6-foot waves Friday on Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs, Todd Ellison and his friend clung to the friend’s kayak. Ellison’s boat was gone — swept away in 20- to 30-mph winds after he capsized about 2-1/2 miles from shore. The pair couldn’t both get aboard the tippy, solo racing kayak they clung to, and it would take hours before the wind blew the men to the windward shore, some eight to 10 miles away. The three other paddlers they had been with were far off. Their only means of contact, a cell phone in a waterproof case, had drifted off with Ellison’s kayak, according to an account from members of the group. The two stranded men calmly talked over their situation and agreed on a plan: Ellison would stay in the water, and his friend would paddle for help. That was the last time anyone saw Ellison alive. He was found dead in the water Saturday about a mile from where his boat capsized.”