As goes Minnesota’s Third District, so goes the nation? Where things stand with Dean Phillips’ challenge to Erik Paulsen

Rep. Erik Paulsen door-knocking on a recent Saturday afternoon.
MinnPost photo by Sam Brodey
Rep. Erik Paulsen door-knocking on a recent Saturday afternoon.

To Erik Paulsen, 2018 is just another election year.

Standing in the parking lot of Champlin Park High School on a recent Saturday afternoon before setting off to knock on doors, the five-term Republican congressman from Minnesota’s 3rd District said that not a whole lot feels different this year.

“There’s more money being spent on the outside,” the congressman told MinnPost, venturing one thing that might be different in 2018. “But I don’t know if there’s too much else that would be different from two years ago. I mean, it’s always a competitive race dynamic. I guess it feels a lot like that again.”

On paper, the 3rd District, which encompasses the suburban communities of the western metro area, has the makings of a perennial battleground district: It has voted for Barack Obama and George W. Bush for president; in 2014, voters here narrowly preferred Republicans Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden for governor and U.S. Senate.

Since first winning office in 2008, however, Paulsen has never won by fewer than 13 points. Election after election, Paulen’s moderate tone and noncontroversial, suburban-dad brand has helped ensure the dynamic in CD3, at least when it comes to its U.S. House seat, is hardly ever competitive.

Paulsen may say otherwise, but it’s hard to argue that things in CD3 are same-old, same-old in 2018. Two years after voters here rejected Donald Trump, Paulsen is now waging the fight of his political career against Democratic challenger Dean Phillips, whose campaign has been fueled by the simmering anti-Trump sentiment in the district — something he’s trying to harness toward defeating Paulsen.

Phillips, a multimillionaire son of the Phillips distilling family of Minnesota, is running an energetic campaign that is marketed as slickly as a blue-chip tech startup. He is seen as one of Democrats’ best candidates in these midterms, and so far he’s done what other Democrats here have failed to do: make the unflappable Paulsen really sweat.

With a week to go until Election Day, Paulsen might not only be sweating: He might be losing. The only public polls of CD3 have shown Phillips with healthy leads; meanwhile, Paulsen’s campaign and his GOP allies have blanketed Minnesota airwaves with a scorched-earth strategy of negative advertising.

And unlike past elections, there’s a national spotlight on CD3: It’s the exact kind of district Democrats need to win to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. After a career of positioning himself above the political fray, Paulsen now finds himself in the thick of it.

Literally running for office

On the leafy streets of Champlin, a suburb along the Mississippi River in the district’s northern edge, Paulsen is going door to door — literally running in jeans and tennis shoes across lawns between homes — to emphasize the message that has never failed him here.

“Minnesotans want their elected leaders to be working and getting things done,” Paulsen said. “Certainly, there’s a little more chatter in the news about dysfunction in Washington. The good news is, I can talk about a positive record of actually getting things done.”

Emerging from a long driveway of a home situated on the river, the congressman said he had just spoken with a man who was disheartened at polarization in D.C.; Paulsen pointed out to him that he ranks number three in Congress for bipartisanship. (The legislative watchdog website GovTrack has Paulsen tied for third place with several other lawmakers, in terms of the number of bills introduced with a lawmaker of the opposite party.)

Paulsen, who says he tries to knock on 200 to 300 doors each day in the campaign’s home stretch, says he almost never hears about Donald Trump in his brief chats with constituents on their doorsteps.

The congressman would probably like it that way: No other GOP candidate for federal office in Minnesota is as tepid on Trump as he is. In the final stage of the 2016 election, when the infamous Access Hollywood tapes broke, Paulsen declared that he could not support the president. He says he wrote in Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on his presidential ballot, as Hillary Clinton carried CD3 by a nine-point margin and Paulsen outperformed Trump by 16 points.

Over the past two years, Paulsen has gone out of his way to emphasize points of difference between himself and the president. Like many Republicans supportive of free trade, Paulsen doesn’t like the president’s tariff-heavy approach to negotiating trade deals. But another point of daylight between Paulsen and Trump has a distinctly local bent: the issue of mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota.

Paulsen’s colleagues in Congress have worked with the White House to undo obstacles to copper-nickel mining in Superior National Forest that were set up by the Obama administration in late 2016. The Republican has opposed those moves, and is telling voters in CD3 — home to many who enjoy the outdoor opportunities of the Boundary Waters — about it at every turn. (Paulsen’s first campaign ad featured him paddling the pristine wilderness and talking up his independence from his party.)

“At some doors, you may hear, where are you different from the president and the party?” Paulsen said. “But I get a lot of positive feedback on the Boundary Waters, that has definitely resonated with folks. There’s an awareness on that… that crosses party lines.”

While the efforts of Paulsen and others to uphold the Obama administration decisions on mining in northern Minnesota fell short — Trump dealt the final blow in September — the congressman has been a key ally for the president and GOP leadership on their most important legislative priorities.

As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Paulsen had a role in shaping the Republican-led House’s two biggest bills: one to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and another to implement sweeping tax cuts for people and corporations.

Both pieces of legislation were backed by Trump, and neither earned any Democratic support. Several House Republicans representing Clinton districts voted against both bills, but Paulsen supported both, helping to ensure their narrow passages out of the House. Ultimately, only the tax cut bill became law, and Paulsen — long an advocate for changes like those advanced in the bill — is now broadcasting his support for the tax cuts and what he says are their positive effects on the economy.

“People feel good about the strength of the economy and how well things are going,” Paulsen said. “But on a handful of issues where I’ve been directly outspoken, opposite to the president on trade policy, that’s important around here.”

Making it about Bigfoot

Walking down Water Street in downtown Excelsior a few blocks from his campaign headquarters — situated in a cozy home dubbed the “Conversation Cottage” — Phillips was tailed by an entourage that included his partner Annalise Glick, his brother Tyler, several campaign workers and Bigfoot.

The Phillips campaign scored a publicity coup in September, when his campaign released an ad featuring “Bigfoot,” who was searching to find out whether Paulsen — supposedly in hiding in corporate boardrooms — actually existed.

The ad went viral; now, a campaign staffer in a Bigfoot costume under a shirt that asks “Does Erik Paulsen really exist?” accompanies Phillips on trips like these, a spectacle that sparks conversation with passersby and, on this Saturday before Halloween, either terrifying or delighting their small children in costumes.

Bigfoot is a walking reminder of the central point of Phillips’ candidacy: that Paulsen has gone Washington, acting at the behest of moneyed special interests and making himself inaccessible to the everyday folks he’s supposed to be representing.

Phillips, whose anodyne campaign slogan of “Everyone’s invited!” is more pointed than it seems, seemingly keeps a constant mental note of how much money Paulsen has taken from corporate political action committees and lobbyists — today, the Republican ranked fourth among all members of Congress — and frequently connects that fact to the votes Paulsen took on Obamacare and tax cuts. (Phillips said his opponent is an “example of someone who has been consumed by this system.”)

The 49-year old first-time candidate, long a major donor to Democratic campaigns and causes, has used that critique to animate the policy point he’s running on most heavily: campaign finance and democracy reform. He has attracted national attention for refusing contributions from corporate PACs, lobbyists, or even other members of Congress, and spent much of this campaign urging Paulsen to sign something he called the “Minnesota Way,” a pledge to forego PAC contributions and self-funding in their campaigns.

Paulsen did not agree to the pledge; in October, Phillips put $1.3 million of his own money toward funding his campaign — half of the amount, he says, that Paulsen has received from special interests. The move prompted blistering criticism from Paulsen supporters, who have ridiculed Phillips as a hypocrite on his signature issue. (Phillips responds that he understands the irony of a rich, self-funding candidate running on campaign finance reform. “Frankly, I’ve got to play by some rules I hope to change,” he said. )

Phillips’ sunny and earnest persona is almost cartoonishly consistent — out in Excelsior, he told at least five people they had made his day — but sitting in a Bloomington coffee shop later, he was far less sanguine about the direction this race, which he has been running since April 2017, has taken in its final months.

Walking down Water Street in downtown Excelsior a few blocks from his campaign headquarters, Dean Phillips was tailed by an entourage that included Bigfoot.
MinnPost photo by Sam Brodey
Walking down Water Street in downtown Excelsior a few blocks from his campaign headquarters, Dean Phillips was tailed by an entourage that included Bigfoot.
Paulsen’s campaign had just funded ads that blamed “Shady Dean Phillips” for a sexual harassment scandal at Allina Health, the Minneapolis-based health care nonprofit where Phillips sat on the board of directors for several years. The ad received a D- in a KSTP fact check; the attorney representing female victims of harassment at Allina asked Paulsen to take down the ad.

“I never imagined in my wildest nightmares that a sitting member of Congress would overtly and knowingly run such a dishonest campaign. And that’s sincere,” Phillips told MinnPost. “Being aggressive, being negative is one thing, but being dishonest — even in the face of being called out on that dishonesty — and doubling down on it, unfortunately is a symptom of a much more significant disease in this country.”

The tone of the ads in this race, which has attracted $10.5 million in outside spending, have become a top campaign issue in their own right. One woman stopped Phillips in Excelsior and told him she would be voting for him because of those “asshole ads” from Republicans — a sentiment that was repeated by others who came up to talk to the candidate.

Phillips hates the ads — including, he insists, the $3.5 million worth of ads run by Democrats attacking Paulsen to benefit him — and cites them as a reason why his campaign finance reforms are necessary. But he credits Paulsen for “going nuclear,” as he puts it. “Nobody knew who I was until Erik Paulsen started advertising,” he said. “I didn’t think there might be a silver lining in his miserable approach, but it did give me name recognition I never would have been able to generate without him. I’m grateful to him for that.”

Workhorse or showhorse?

Phillips may decry the direction of the race, but most observers and public polls are signaling it has developed in his favor. A win in CD3 for Democrats, said St. Cloud State political scientist James Cottrill, could be a bellwether for their fortunes nationally, and whether they can pick up the 23 seats they need to win control of the U.S. House on Nov. 6.

In early September, a New York Times/Siena College poll found Phillips with a nine-point lead over Paulsen; later in the month, a KSTP/SurveyUSA poll gave Phillips a five-point advantage. (The Paulsen campaign has not made public any of its own surveys.) In response, several nonpartisan election forecasters, like the Cook Political Report, have moved the CD3 race from a “toss-up” to one that “leans Democratic.”

The KSTP poll also found that one out of six voters surveyed who supported Paulsen in 2016 are now supporting Phillips. That statistic has put some evidence behind a Phillips campaign strategy of putting the spotlight on former Paulsen voters who have defected to the Democrat. (In response to that, Paulsen said “they can make up whoever they want.”)

Some Republicans believe Paulsen’s reputation insulates him from an unfavorable national environment for Republican candidates — and the challenge posed by a tougher opponent. They often bring up the high hopes Democrats placed in state Sen. Terri Bonoff, who ran in 2016 when many believed that linking Paulsen to Trump would sink him.

Annette Meeks, CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota and the former running mate for Tom Emmer in the 2010 governor campaign, said Paulsen’s reputation as a hard worker will protect him in 2018. “Every two years, the DCCC thinks they have the perfect candidate to defeat Erik and they never do,” Meeks said, referencing Democrats’ House campaign arm. “He’s just a terrific congressman.”

Democrats counter that they finally have a candidate who has what it takes to defeat Paulsen. Gretchen Wronka, a retired librarian from Bloomington, has been active in CD3 DFL politics for years. At the DFL field office across the highway from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Wronka told MinnPost “I haven’t seen this much energy about a candidate since Paul Wellstone.”

Though Trump is unpopular in CD3 — the KSTP poll had his approval rating 18 points underwater — Phillips doesn’t spend much time attacking him directly. Unlike Democratic candidates in other districts who are focusing intensely on bread-and-butter issues like health care, Phillips is running primarily on fixing what he says is a broken political system. The number one issue for voters, he told MinnPost, is “anxiety” and “fatigue” over the division plaguing the political system.

“Many people, an extraordinary number of Republican-leaning people, independents, are voting singularly for a check on this administration, plain and simple,” Phillips said.

Paulsen admitted some frustration with the president’s messaging, which lately has focused more on wedge issues like immigration and the migrant “caravan” than on achievements like the tax bill, on which Paulsen is staking much of his re-election in this business-friendly district, the state’s most affluent.

“I think people may be happy with tax cuts, but I don’t think the president is out there talking about those things,” Paulsen said. “All of a sudden [he] is moving on to something else and is chatting about something else that might not be as important to people around here.” (Something else that may not have helped: Trump’s endorsement, via Twitter, of Paulsen, which came last week. Phillips’ campaign blasted out the president’s “Strong Endorsement” of their opponent in a press release.)

Despite headwinds that are clear to others, Paulsen insists that 2018 is the same as cycles past. “I always run hard, run strong, and I’m not going to be out-hustled,” he said. “The bottom line is, the race will come down to being, do you want someone who has a bipartisan record of getting stuff done, someone who walks the walk, versus a lot of people who go to Washington and they just want to be show horses or talk. They want to be someone rather than doing something.”

“My style of leadership,” Paulsen said, “is appreciated by a lot of folks I represent.”

Comments (33)

  1. Submitted by Ellen Hoerle on 10/30/2018 - 11:55 am.

    I for one hope that this is the last year I’m represented by Erik Paulsen at either the MN state house or in Congress. Enough already.

    Paulsen is not bi-partisan in his soul. He just uses the occasional/isolated issue to try to persuade people he is.

    His support for the tax cuts and repealing Obamacare is perfect proof that he is incapable of considering the bigger ramifications of his votes on any constituency other than the Chamber of Commerce and affluent voters in his district.

    There are two precincts full of the most affluent voters in Eden Prairie that will probably vote for him by 30 point margins. Let’s hope the rest of the CD-3 can turn us blue.

    • Submitted by Paul Yochim on 10/31/2018 - 05:16 am.

      So Dean Phiilips will be bipartisan and work with the Republicans in the house? I doubt it.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 10/31/2018 - 02:47 pm.

        Good point. Look how the party of no pledged absolute resistance to anything Obama proposed. Hopefully Phillips figures that out faster than Obama did.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 10/31/2018 - 02:48 pm.

        Translation – ” Will Dean Phillips capitulate completely to Republicans in the House?” I doubt it.

  2. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 10/30/2018 - 01:12 pm.

    Paulsen votes with Trump 98% of the time. He is a Trump foot soldier. He voted to take health insurance away from 30 million Americans and supports a bill that would allow insurance companies at a state level to restore preexisting condition restrictions or price care so high people cannot afford it. He runs negatives ads against Phillips and Ellison (??) as he has done nothing for his district or Minnesota. Time to give him the opportunity to make big money as a lobbyist ala Pawlenty.

  3. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/30/2018 - 01:34 pm.

    “The bottom line is, the race will come down to being, do you want someone who has a bipartisan record of getting stuff done, someone who walks the walk, versus a lot of people who go to Washington and they just want to be show horses or talk.”

    Really?

    If Paulsen actually had that “bipartisan record of getting stuff done” he should have used a few of the millions he has spent in his campaign getting the word out on that. Who knew???

    Instead, he has spent millions telling us that Dean Phillips had an $89.00 delinquent tax bill and Dean Philips does not give healthcare benefits to part time workers in his coffee shop and that Phillips, Bill George and other civic leaders who helped on he board for non-profit Alina are coddling workplace sex offenders.

    Paulsen has lost control of his campaign. Why? Maybe due to the same lack of courage that he has shown in congress for the last 10 years when confronted with issues that divided party interests with third district interests.

    Jim Ramstad stood up for his constituents, Erik Paulsen? Not so much….

  4. Submitted by Karen Seay on 10/30/2018 - 02:04 pm.

    I have lived in Paulsen’s district since before he was elected. I was proud to vote for his Republican predecessor, Jim Ramstad, a real and conscientious moderate who truly did work to bring both sides of the aisle together. Paulsen may say he does that, but those of us who have watched this district for many years know better.

    As for Paulsen’s stand on mining in northern Minnesota, what he would really like his voters not to know about his efforts to protect that part of the state from mining’s environmental dangers is that his votes represent a cynical level of NIMBYism. I’m sure Paulsen and many of his donors enjoy the pristine nature of the BWCA and the surrounding areas in northern Minnesota, and for that reason Paulsen’s votes to preserve its health and vitality are popular. What remains largely hidden is that Paulsen does not carry that concern to other vulnerable parts of the country, specifically coal country, where coal mining interests have begun running rampant in pumping their toxic run-off into streams and rivers. Legislation to protect not just recreational lakes, but actual drinking water, from such pollution, has not been on Erik Paulsen’s list of priorities. He has consistently voted AGAINST protections from mining pollution in other parts of the country than in his own state. This represents a level of self-interest that many of us find cynical and unacceptable. (Please see the League of Conservation Voters website for particulars on all Paulsen’s votes concerning the environment; he has an abysmal record overall.)

    I have been very proud to support Dean Phillips’ campaign for representative, and if for some reason Phillips does not succeed in this campaign, I will continue to support Paulsen’s opponents for as long as it takes to replace him as my representative in Congress. He does not represent me or many others in the Third District with his positions and his votes.

  5. Submitted by Stephanie Sarich on 10/30/2018 - 03:26 pm.

    What happened to the “moderate,” Plymouth, Minnesota, representative Erik Paulsen depicted in prior election ads, you know, where his wholesome, Nordic smiling teen daughters chortle how their nice dad, sensible “math guy,” saves us all money? (Funnily enough, Paulsen voted for Trump’s tax cuts which drove the U.S. deficit way up Forget how to add?.) He’s gotten downright nasty, sneakily misleading and condescending. How dumb does he think we are? I’m sick of that creepy-voiced guy growling about how a darkly-lit Dean Phillips supposedly offers no health care to his coffee shop employees, and how as an Allina board member, he supposedly wanted to cut union nurses’ pensions. If anyone believes Paulson wants any unions, pensions, or health care for anyone, he/she needs to wake up and smell the coffee Phillips’ employees are now brewing — fast. Who’s the real hypocrite here? You’re showing your fangs, Erik. And supposedly it’s a crime for Phillips to be rich – because he’s a Democrat? Hey, Erik Paulsen, here’s hoping you count the many votes we cast to kick you out in November, then go head over to Phillips’ coffee shop – there’ll be lots of times for lots of latttes.

  6. Submitted by R. Hanson on 10/30/2018 - 04:54 pm.

    Paulsen is a fraud. He is the Jeff Flake of MN politics. His main concern is keeping his job in the House. He’s hosed financially if he loses.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 10/31/2018 - 07:14 am.

      Hosed? Why won’t he get one of those cushy K Street lobbying gigs? A fat salary, and no need to suck up to wealthy donors to run every two years.

      • Submitted by R. Hanson on 10/31/2018 - 01:15 pm.

        Yes, that is his problem. He won’t get one of those gigs. Those jobs are competitive now. With his vaguely anti-Trump stance he’s also iced himself out of the wingnut welfare circuit. He’ll probably be relegated to writing Strib op-eds.

    • Submitted by Stephanie Sarich on 10/31/2018 - 08:06 am.

      Perfect, succinct analysis.

  7. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 10/30/2018 - 05:59 pm.

    I would think Democrats would be quite happy with Paulsen. He’s a big govt guy right up there with all of the Democrats in Congress.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 10/31/2018 - 05:47 pm.

      Do you think he’ll swell the deficit the GOP Congress and Don Trump did with the tax giveaway? That’s a high bar they’ve set.

  8. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 10/30/2018 - 07:18 pm.

    Certainly I think that it is fair to point out that the national debt has increased by a trillion or two (after doubling over the Obama years), but the tax cuts that are responsible for this have only been in effect for just over a year, could we give them a chance to see if overall revenue increases?

    The millionaire wins easily in less than two weeks and we still don’t know if he will vote to make Rep. Pelosi the Speaker. And, right it down, whatever town halls that Rep. Phillips holds will be sparsely attended after all the angst about soon-to-be-former Rep. Paulson’s lack of live town hall meetings. You heard it here first!

    • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 10/31/2018 - 08:48 am.

      It’s virtually impossible to even conduct town hall meetings these days because political opponents of whatever’s being discussed start to scream and interrupt. Have you watched Minneapolis City Council meetings these days? The lack of civility in political discourse has ruined the chances to have rational discussions of political importance in any public forum.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 10/31/2018 - 02:45 pm.

        Reminds me of those Tea Partiers at town hall meetings in ’09.

      • Submitted by Kelly Guncheon on 11/05/2018 - 11:54 am.

        You can theorize that, but the reality is different. We had a town hall meeting for Paulsen a year ago that he refused to show up to despite being assured civility would be enforced (We drawn up rules of behavior that people had to agree to to enter the building, which we’d sent to him in advance). Democrats, Republicans, Independents were among the 650 who were inside for the meeting, the more than 2,000 people who didn’t get in, and the 19,000 who watched it streamed on online. the discussion was passionate at times, but always civil.

        BTW, CD-3 is not Minneapolis

    • Submitted by Kelly Guncheon on 11/05/2018 - 11:49 am.

      Good to know the source of such nonsense.

  9. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 10/30/2018 - 08:02 pm.

    I tend to vote republican. I don’t live in the 3rd District, so I don’t have a vote in this contest. If I did, I would be voting against Eric Paulsen for ONE reason. The horrible campaign ads.

    I am totally fed up with these ridiculous negative ads. Phillips’ ads are for the most part a breath of fresh air.

  10. Submitted by Tory Koburn on 10/30/2018 - 08:41 pm.

    It seems odd to me that the tax cuts might play well in Paulsen’s upper middle-class district. I would think that the changes to the SALT deductions, which were left unaddressed in the last MN legislative session, would harm such a district more than they might more rural or urban districts. Upper middle-class homeowners are precisely the kind of taxpayer who would be able to make those deductions (and since they can’t anymore, will cost them $1000s), but not necessarily the kind that would directly benefit from the corporate tax cuts and other possible benefits from the bill. It seems to me that the tax cut bill would hurt the 3rd district more than any other in MN.

    I would actually be more surprised to see Paulsen win this election than I would be to see the GOP keep control of the house this November. The latter is, at least, arguably plausible.

    • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 10/31/2018 - 08:52 am.

      The doubling of the standard deduction will likely take out almost all need to even claim a SALT deduction. You’d have to have a pretty high mortgage not to benefit by a doubling of the deduction. So the SALT limitation is probably going to have less of an impact than you think. Plus it’s a good bet that state lawmakers will retroactively pass tax conformity, which is exactly what they’ve done in the past, so that issue will be even more moot.

      • Submitted by Michael Hess on 10/31/2018 - 10:27 am.

        The size of your mortgage doesn’t come into effect with regards to SALT, it’s your local property tax and your state income tax – which with Minnesota very progressive income tax structure those two can easily exceed $10K for a couple professionals . so the new larger standard deduction likely does not make them whole compared to that previous codes full deduction, mortgage interest, charitable giving and personal deductions (even with some phase out).

        • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 10/31/2018 - 04:29 pm.

          I should have made it more clear that the mortgage interest is one of the biggest if not the biggest deduction people take and you’d have to have a large mortgage payment to have enough deductions to still itemize at which point the lack of the SALT would come into play.

      • Submitted by Mark Raabe on 10/31/2018 - 03:33 pm.

        @ Mark Kulda — Your comment was so blithely reassuring that it inspired me to pull my own 2017 return and calculate the impact of the new tax law, as if it had already been in effect when I filed this year.

        Without being too detailed about my circumstances, I’ll just say that I’m married, filing jointly, with a decent combined income that is still squarely middle class. I pay MN state taxes and Hennepin County property taxes, so I’ve always looked forward to the SALT deduction each year. And I’m in the 4th year of a mortgage on a nice but not opulent house in Champlin.

        The impact? The almost-doubled (for couples, $1400 short of a true doubling) standard deduction doesn’t even come close to making me whole. I would pay close to $3000 more in taxes.

        I am hardly an outlier. Thousands in CD3 have to be in similar circumstances — and millions across the nation.

        There will be a reckoning for Republicans. It might not be in November, but in April there will be hell to pay. If Paulsen is, God forbid, still in office, he’ll be hiding from his constituents in a deeper hole than usual.

        • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 10/31/2018 - 04:37 pm.

          But how can you be comparing anything honestly when you don’t even have the tax tables yet? If you compare the 2017 Tax Rate and tables versus those for 2018, the actual tax rate went down….way down. And the lower rate was applied to a higher income. And married taxpayers will be subject to a $24,000 standard deduction. Middle income taxpayers are getting a break on the order of thousands of dollars a year. If you think SALT needs to be considered as a key missing element to itemized deductions then you’d need to be paying a pretty monstrous mortgage interest payment. The numbers you cite are politically expedient for you. It’s too bad they mostly likely just aren’t true.

        • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 10/31/2018 - 09:32 pm.

          So your taxes are going up, which means more money for the government, which is exactly what we want to help pay for our short-changed schools, failing bridges and infrastructure, and helping the lower class. Isn’t this what progressives and liberals want? And wouldn’t this help fix the national debt too?

          • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/01/2018 - 12:22 pm.

            So we’re going to raise taxes on the middle class and upper middle class to pay for the tax giveaway to the point one percent and the corporate conglomerates who spent the money on stock buybacks instead of increasing wages?

            • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/01/2018 - 07:04 pm.

              No, the rest of the country won’t be reimbursing Minnesotans for their high taxes. In every tax law there are winners and losers. The AMT created lots of losers. The rich were losers after both President Obama and Governor Dayton took their pound of flesh. The soon-to-come gas tax from Governor Walz will make losers of everyone that purchases gasoline (but it will affect the poor and middle class more).
              Given that affordable housing is such a problem, we can only hope that the home mortgage deduction goes away to help pay for those that can’t afford housing at all. Surely we want the poor to become winners and the more fortunate to become losers…

          • Submitted by Tory Koburn on 11/02/2018 - 06:32 am.

            Since the prospective tax increase in this scenario would be for federal, not state taxes, no, it wouldn’t help our local schools or roads since those are paid for by state taxes.

            Just because we can’t do SALT deductions anymore doesn’t mean more money goes to the state government.

            As far as the the tax bill lowering the national debt goes, I’ll refer you to the consensus of experts who have proven otherwise.

            • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/03/2018 - 11:40 pm.

              I’ll await a list of just 5 of the “consensus of experts” that you cite that explain how more tax money going to the Federal government actually raises the national debt.

  11. Submitted by Ray Lewis on 10/31/2018 - 12:10 pm.

    I moved across Districts to CD3 and hoped my US Representative would be more aligned with my interests than Michele Bachmann was. He does not represent me or many others in the Third District with his positions and his votes.

    Introducing bills with authors of the opposing party is a first step, and both can claim bipartisanship, but shaping the tax bill and ACA repeal on the Ways and Means Committee seems to be a better measure of impacts of policy for people.

    Has Paulsen shown leadership in opposing any Trump policies by organizing local voices that are affected by them? I believe representing constituent social interests is broader and more important than a simple business, tax and profit focus to help finance his next campaign.

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