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capitol2A couple of days ago.
 

Mary Lawrence, a Minneapolis doctor who had been a deputy executive director of the Vision Center of Excellence for veterans, has filed her paper work for jump into the race.
 
“After serving our nation’s Veterans and Service members as a physician at the VA for over 17 years, practicing and teaching medicine, I’ve seen first-hand the negative consequences a hyper-partisan government can have on the people it’s supposed to serve,” Lawrence said in a statement released to the Pioneer Press. “But there’s nothing wrong with Washington that can’t be cured with some Minnesota commonsense.”
(Pioneer Press)

Angela Craig has previously announced her run as a Democrat.

 
You can click on John Kline, on the topics bar above, for starters on why he needs to go. And you can go to MN Political Roundtable, the best source in the world for all that’s wrong with John Kline in elected office, and read all day.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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First, this:
 

 
So, now Ted Cruz joins past presidential candidate wanna-bes on the right in proposing a flat tax.  Flat taxes have been proposed by most recently Herman Cain and the Nut Gingrich, but have also been floated in the past as far back as Steve Forbes when he wanted to be the right wing nut candidate. There is a problem with the Fat Tax.  It doesn’t work, in that it does not offer the promised benefits in tax revenue or growth.
 
What it DOES do — and why we should expect it from the right wing, hand maidens to the wealthy, is to benefit the rich and to expand wealth and income inequality.  It also tends not to have provided adequate revenue — much the way the Bush tax cuts failed to produce adequate (much less increased) revenue and economic growth.  The flat tax also does not promote adequate revenue or optimal job growth, much the way we have seen the tax cuts in regressive states like Kansas and now Wisconsin have not produce either economic growth or job creation and increases in business growth. There has been experimentation with the flat tax, mostly in formerly eastern bloc European countries and Russia.  Many of those countries, after implementing a flat tax, DID see economic growth, but for other reasons than the flat tax, and those countries have been hit hard by the 2008 global economic recession.  And another factor not generally noted – most of the countries that have implemented the flat tax have also been widely regarded as highly corrupt, with Russia being regarded as the MOST corrupt – one of the most corrupt in the world, which should be considered in any reference to increased tax compliance. This is significant because Cruz also wants to abolish the IRS, making compliance apparently entirely on the honor system.
 
Yeah, like THAT is going to work.
 
So lets start with the famous IMF study of flat tax implementation and success/failure from 2006 — before the big global economic collapse.  At that point the range of time during which there was evidence on the implementation of the flat tax ranged from ten years to two years in the countries examined:
 
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MNGOP transportation plan relies on magic money

by Eric Ferguson on March 25, 2015 · 1 comment

mncapitol2The State House GOP has released its transportation plan and apparently they’re a caucus full of people who clap for Tinkerbell, given that fairies wouldn’t be a much less plausible source of financing.
 
The MNGOP offers to spend another $7 billion dollars on roads and bridges, without raising taxes. Speaker Kurt Daudt cited polls showing majorities want more transportation funding, but don’t want taxes to pay for it. What a surprise that the most people want more money spent on them — without any taxes. So Republicans came up with the funny money to make a play for votes, begging the question of whether they get that being in the majority means you’re supposed to actually govern. Roads, bridges, and math, couldn’t care less about what looks good on a campaign mailer.
 
Their sources of funding:
— $228 million from the surplus. OK, that’s the reasonable sounding part.
— $3 billion dollars from auto-related sales taxes. Not unreasonable on its face, but dedicating these to transportation means cutting $3 billion somewhere else. They seem to have left that part out.
— $2.3 billion will be borrowed. Borrowing seems to be the Republican default when they’ve promised new spending with no new taxes: let’s just run up the debt. Problem solved! Bonding is perfectly normal and reasonable for infrastructure investment, but the bonds do have to be paid eventually. No, seriously, they do. You know, like how when Gov. Dayton wanted more bonding, he was also trying to raise upper income taxes. Instead, Republicans actually want a couple billion in tax cuts. While raising spending. And besides cutting taxes equal to the surplus, remember cash source one was part of the surplus. Can no one there do math?
— $1.2 billion from making the Department of Transportation more efficient. Really. There’s that much money being wasted and no one has spotted it? Basically, since the DOT handles roads, the Republicans propose to find money for roads by cutting funding for — roads. Why make it $1.2 billion? As long as we’re just making up some amount of money being wasted, why not $1.6 billion? An even $2? Or did they need some number to produce the magic number $7?
 
Whatever anyone thinks of Gov. Dayton’s proposal to pay for increased transportation spending through increased gas taxes, there’s no denying that at least he pays for his proposal. A gas tax will provide an ongoing funding source, compared to the GOP plan to have new spending with no new revenue.
 
Daudt is right that public polls show that the majority don’t want gas taxes raised. People want more spending on what benefits them, but without paying more taxes … surprise! This contradiction is great if you’re running for election as a Republican, since your core platform is “I’ll hold down your taxes, and cut other people’s spending,” but sucks for governing. I don’t doubt there will be a lot of public support for spending more on roads without raising any taxes, but at some point, when reality has again shown its disdain for phony math, Republicans will have to explain reality to their voters. If you want your road fixed, you’re going to have to pay for it. Good transportation infrastructure and low taxes are very much either/or.
 
Though given how GOP taxophobia has withstood even the collapse of bridges, buckle your seat belt, because we’re in for a bumpy ride.

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greedWith the releases of Republican budgets, full of attacks on earned benefits, I’m passing along a few relevant items that I’ve had sitting around.
 

Both (Bernie) Sanders and (Sherrod) Brown make the same accusation. The alleged problem with disability funding, Senator Sanders said, is a “manufactured crisis which is part of the long-term Republican agenda of trying to cut Social Security.” Senator Brown said, “Attacking disability insurance is only the first salvo in the Republicans’ plan to attack social insurance and make harmful cuts to Social Security.” The GOP created a false shortfall for disability benefits by blocking an accounting reallocation that is so routine it has been made eleven times in the past under presidents Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Clinton.
 
But here is my question for the Washington press corps. Why aren’t reporters writing about this? Why don’t they examine the Brown and Sanders analysis and determine if their accusations are correct? Instead of writing endless dope stories about a presidential campaign in 2016 and what might happen a year from now, shouldn’t the news media be alerting people to the fight over Social Security the GOP is starting in early 2015?
 
The dysfunction of Washington involves the failure of major media to examine the gritty politics of issues that truly matter to citizens. Political reporters typically find these subjects boring, and reporters who cover the candidates and campaign usually don’t know that much about how government really works. Both political parties work on warping the subjects by feeding pre-tested clichés and avoiding hot-button issues. The messaging thus reduces campaigns to empty slogans and opaque generalities.
(The Nation)

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Conservatives ARE HYPOCRITES

by Dog Gone on March 25, 2015 · 0 comments

Much as I hate to give him credit for anything, at least a few folks on the right are at least consistent in their birther insanity.  It should be fun to watch those same birthers struggle with the internal conflict in what they believe…….but they seem simply to ignore it.  THAT is the hypocrisy in the conduct and the ideology of the right, the blithe inconsistency, the overt and the incipient bigotry of it.  The application of a double standard of conduct is intolerable.  This is not a unique pattern to the legitimacy of President Obama.  It is systemic on the right.

 

Or perhaps ‘the Donald’ is just as much a bigot towards the Latinos as well as ‘the blacks’, as he calls them; perhaps he doesn’t want to see EITHER minority in the White House.

 

I couldn’t have put it better than this image via FB The Blue Street Journal. I can only wait for Hillary (or someone else from the left) to point this out should the opportunity arise (and it will) in 2016.

 

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Facepalm 42Hann

In a recent interview on MPR, State Sen. David Hann was asked the begged-for question on the proposal he and Sen. Sean Nienow are making to break up Minneapolis into six separate school districts. Why didn’t he talk to any legislators who represent Minneapolis? His amazing answer wasn’t anything like, “Of course I talked to them”, or “I sought their input, but they didn’t respond”, or even “I did talk to other people connected to Minneapolis schools”. No, his reason for not talking to legislators from Minneapolis is that they’re DFL. Yes, they represent the area in question, but wrong party, so he’s willing to propose bills that affect their districts without talking to them.
 

[This comes 5:50 into the program.]
Tom Webber: Senators who represent the city of Minneapolis, who are all DFLers, say “you can’t possibly be serious about this because you never talked to us about this.” What are your thoughts on that? Why didn’t you consult them on this idea?
 
Hann: I don’t recall the governor consulting with Republicans about his tax proposals or the Democrat majority in the legislature coming over to talk to me about what they want to do.

I don’t claim to know who the governor consulted about his tax proposal, but I feel on safe ground in assuming he talked to people from Minnesota. Maybe if the governor had ignored Minnesotans and just talked to people from Iowa and Wisconsin, Hann might have a point. Likewise, I feel pretty sure that if DFL legislators decided to make a law for one specific area of the state, and decided against talking to legislators from that area because they were all MNGOP, it would have been a quite commonly and unfavorably remarked upon. Hann, however, not only won’t talk to the legislators from Minneapolis just because they’re DFL, but I haven’t been able to tell that he talked to anyone from Minneapolis, and presumably he would have said who he talked to instead of coming up with such a partisan excuse, “Talk to Democrats? Do people really do that?” Rather arrogant behavior for someone making law for Minneapolis, and so concerned Minneapolis will react poorly, that though he’ll let Minneapolis draw the districts, he won’t make the redrawing optional. “So Minneapolis, you are required to implement my lousy idea I’m inflicting on you an no one else, but I’m letting you implement how you like. I’m such a nice guy!”
 
Minneapolis legislators I’ve checked with said he still hasn’t talked to any DFLers since that interview.
 
Maybe we can’t blame Hann for refusing to talk to DFLers. After all, he’s already pointed out the DFL is rife with corruption, such as daring to hold policy positions he disagrees with.
 
In my happy Minneapolitan fantasy, the bill passes, but Hann forgets to provide any guidelines on how districts should be drawn. So we pick a lake, divide it into five districts, and all the land makes up the sixth district.
 
The House version is being carries by Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, who represents a district even further from Minneapolis than Hann’s Eden Prairie. So far, I can’t tell that either of them has talked to anyone at all from Minneapolis. If Hann and Erickson really want to help our schools, they could change state law so charter schools no longer get to suck up our money while being unaccountable to our elected representatives on the school board. They could fund Minneapolis schools enough to offer the same sort of programs they can afford in the suburban schools that get our students and our funding through open enrollment.

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mncapitol2There are strengthening indicators that, for all the beginning-of-session talk about finding “common ground,” not much beyond what is most needful will get done during Minnesota’s current legislative session. Which at least means that, in this context, the education deformers probably won’t be able to advance their contemptible agenda, for the time being. They will of course continue to try to do so in every other way they can. Lots of money and power at stake.
 

Explain to me what is the measure of an educated person. Winning a Nobel Prize? Few do. Making a Bill Gates/Warren Buffet fortune? Few do. Writing a Pynchon novel is something only Pynchon has done. Without having to take a multiple choice test about novel writing.
 
Scoring in the 99th percentile on the LSAT? Is that a measure of an educated person? It may help get you into a law school, but will you have the talent in pressing circumstances to fashion an acquittal on, “If the glove don’t fit, you’ve got to acquit?”
 
Of those legislators pushing for standardized testing, how many will publish their own SAT scores?
 
Financial genius Nienow? Suppose he did score highly. That proves what? That the SBA and taxpayers should mop up his personal fiscal bad-judgment mess?
 
These are bozos leading a bozo parade, union busting being the actual aim, and some should know better.
(Developers Are Crabgrass)

From my observations, “success” in corporate, and for that matter political, life is far more about tenacity and focus, than it is about intellect. That’s just a declarative statement; I’m not trying to pass judgment, here, on whether that’s always a good or bad thing.
 
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Don’t concern yourself with Strib polling

by Dan Burns on March 22, 2015 · 1 comment

schoolPerhaps you’ve seen this morning’s in the Star Tribune, purporting to show huge public support for “quality over seniority” in teacher layoffs. It’s a classic example of reducing a complex issue to a quick soundbite. Do you really think most parents would want to see their own kid’s beloved math teacher let go, because some newbie at a school with more privileged kids had those kids produce higher test scores?

 
Let’s be clear about what the education deformers want, here. “Quality” is to be “measured” by standardized test scores. This will force teachers to rote-drill students to the tests, rather than emphasize learning to think knowledgeably, rationally, creatively, and independently. Because if most kids grow up doing the latter, that spells longer-term doom for the plutocratic, warmongering status quo. Which is in fact what’s been going on for a while, and, obviously, said warmongering plutocrats are desperate to reverse that, no matter what vile, shameless means are employed.

 
It won’t surprise me if the rest of the week is devoted to poll questions like “Do you favor or oppose a gas tax increase?” and “Should the state refund the budget surplus?” Remember that if poll results other than “Who would you vote for if the election were held today?” mattered politically, this country’s policies would overwhelmingly reflect the progressive agenda that the public massively supports. And the MN GOP is still probably going to get crushed in 2016, and there’s nothing Glen Taylor’s Strib can do about that. Though he’ll make sure it keeps trying.
 
Comments below fold.
 
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Savage Love: A Wanton Act of Economic Miscegenation

by Invenium Viam on March 21, 2015 · 5 comments

tarzan-and-jane-disney-costumes-15

Tarzan primers Jane on the fundamentals of development finance using “This Little Piggy” as a model.

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”  ~ Warren Buffet

 

It’s often said that American politics makes for strange bedfellows, but the same is never said about American finance — which is expected to be licentious, incestuous, pansexual, excessive, usually perverted, and often depraved.

 

Don’t believe me? Then you’ve never seen The Wolf of Wall Street.

 

After all, there’s a reason those ever-jocular financial advisers (why, those rakes!) define ‘broker‘ as the state they leave you in after they flog off that d*gsh!t stock on you; ‘cash flow‘ as the movement your money makes circling the porcelain bowl before it disappears forever; ‘market correction‘ as the excuse they make after the lame stock they saddled you with finally zero’s out and gets delisted; and ‘Standard & Poor‘ as the quality ratings they’ve given the contents of your nutsack. There’s a reason you’ve earned their contempt: if you were a smart investor you wouldn’t be investing with them, would you?

 

Still, it comes as something of a surprise to even the most jaded observer of poly-gendered romantic liaisons, finance bedfellow-wise, when two economic systems whom one assumes to be reliably antagonistic somehow manage to embrace in sweetly amorous, respectfully pro-genitive behavior for the benefit of all mankind. O wonder! O brave new world! Perhaps it’s another case of ‘opposites attract,’ but it gives a whole new meaning to the notion of ‘capital formation’ (think about it; it’ll come).

 

Witness, for example, the weird and wonderful union of Socialism and Capitalism that has been enjoined with impugnity by the Northeast Investment Cooperative (NEIC), a husbandry of distinctly separate species within God’s economic animal kingdom, but one which has already offsprung powerful issue that — like the ever-stalwart but much maligned mule — is sure to have a storied history of service to humankind.

 

NEIC (www.neic.coop) is the brainchild of a brainy group of Nordeast Minneapolis residents and small business owners who love their community and felt compelled to take direct action to ensure that it would continue to thrive and grow in a marvelous way. Early on, the action centered around the Eastside Food Co-op, a fixture of the Northeast community and a key contributor to the resurgent Central Avenue business district for more than a decade. In November 2011, some of Eastside’s members got together over fair-trade coffee and formed the nucleus of NEIC — a brand new kind of co-op with a brand new plan to buy, rehab and manage vacant and under-utilized commercial properties in the community and the goal of driving neighborhood redevelopment to make their community a better place to live and work.

 

In a nutshell, rather than allowing properties to languish empty and unused, the NEIC founders, and the owner-investors they recruited, quite literally made it their business to ensure that needed commercial redevelopment in the community would take place timely and would get done right. That, in itself, is a radical departure from the norm.

 

Unlike development finance models that are dependent on the goodwill of faceless investors and absentee landlords — who care nothing about the local community where they own property and are only too happy to pocket a daily Franklin from Tony the Fence, who runs the metal scrapyard where the kids go to smoke pot — NEIC comprises local residents and businesses who have a personal stake in development outcomes and for whom development finance serves as a foundation from which they can re-imagine their neighborhood in creative, sustainable and compelling ways.

 

Using the co-op business model, together with micro-financing obtained through inspired crowd-sourcing, NEIC recruited more than 200 individuals and businesses willing to invest $1000 each to create a capital investment fund. From the membership, they formed a board of directors that includes individuals with broad-based talents in architecture, construction, finance, business law, commercial development, and more. Then they set about finding properties to redevelop and specifically targeted the Central Avenue corridor, Nordeast’s thrumming business sector, where you can partake of many the world’s cuisines without buying a plane ticket or booking a hotel room. Seriously.

 

One year after it’s inception, NEIC had a capital investment fund exceeding $270,000 — sufficient to buy two empty buildings at 2504 and 2506 Central Avenue — a collective act of faith on the part of several hundred people. Then they got down to work.

 

More Below the Fold

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Bibi’s Big Butthurtz

by Dog Gone on March 20, 2015 · 3 comments

Bibi Netanyahu’s not having a good time after his Likud party victory in Israel.

 

Bibi got that win by peeling off other extreme conservatives from minor parties, by claiming he would oppose and obstruct a two state solution, ie a separate Palestinian state.  He and his party also ginned up a lot of fear through robocalls  that “Arab Israelis were being bussed to the polls in droves”.  His foreign minister has made claims that Israeli Jews should engage in genocide, beheading Arab Israelis with axes as we noted last week.  That party is again at the core of any coalition government Netanyahu could assemble.
 

Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beitenu party that is based on Russian immigrants, has a long record of inflammatory statements toward Arab Israelis, including a recent comment that suggested Israeli Arabs with sympathies toward Palestinian Authority be beheaded. “Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an ax,” he said last week.

All of that did not sit well with President Obama, given that the U.S. has been acting in the U.N. on the premise that Israel was acting in good faith when Netanyahu claimed he supported a two state solution. There has been criticism for years that ol’ Bibi was never honestly in support of that solution, as shown by his actions in moving more Jewish settlers into the west bank, as well as the racist legislation supported by conservatives in the Knesset that would further limit the civil rights of Palestinian Israelis.

 
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