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Monday Morning Quarterback – 5/29/12

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: May 29th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Monday Morning Quarterback

Brought to you by The Rouen Group, a public affairs firm, specializing in grassroots advocacy, coalition building, political engagement and communications strategy. Paying Tribute to Our Veterans on Memorial Day: We hope you all took a moment yesterday to remember our veterans - a video that sums it up: "Freedom Isn't Free" Random Fact of the Week: Via @OMGiTweetFacts: Before the 1930's, pink was widely considered a boy's color, while the color blue was often the choice for girls. Obama Stumbles Out of the Gate: Via Politico: "Nothing inspires Democrats like the Barack Obama swagger — the supreme self-confidence on stage, the self-certainty in private. So nothing inspires more angst than when that same Obama stumbles, as he has leaving the gate in 2012. That’s the unmistakable reality for Democrats since Obama officially launched his reelection campaign three weeks ago. Obama, not Mitt Romney, is the one with the muddled message — and the one who often comes across as baldly political. Obama, not Romney, is the one facing blowback from his own party on the central issue of the campaign so far — Romney’s history with Bain Capital. And most remarkably, Obama, not Romney, is the one falling behind in fundraising. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll this week, nearly twice as many people said they were worse off financially under Obama than said they were better off. And more than half the respondents disapproved of Obama’s handling of the economy, for the 20th poll in a row. The next monthly jobs report comes out next Friday, offering the possibility that this narrative will be cemented, or diluted. James Carville, while generally praising the campaign, said: “I’ve always had an issue with them talking about things getting better. When you say that, you kind of signal to people that they don’t feel it yet. And in a weird way, you’re telling them you’re kind of out of touch.” The Beltway Establishment Still Doesn't Get It: Via Jay Cost in The Weekly Standard: "Earlier this month, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein made quite a splash with a lengthy piece that, when boiled down to essentials, blamed the Republican party for what’s gone wrong in Washington, D.C. This weekend, they were back with a list of reforms to fix the problem. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t suggest a constitutional amendment banning the GOP! After all, that seemed to follow most directly from their thesis. I want to make a narrow point about this list, specifically their argument about reforming the filibuster, and then a broad point about their entire premise. The framers of the Constitution had their doubts, which is one of the reasons they invented the Senate! Put simply, a majority in the Senate does not have to equal a majority of the whole country. In fact, you can construct a majority coalition in the Senate with less than 20 percent of the total voting public being represented by the winning side. The American political process is starting to break down because of major changes to the political economy of this country. For half a century after World War II, the economy grew at such an incredible pace that we could have low taxes, high social welfare benefits, and a low deficit. This was one of the major reasons why there could be bipartisanship. Economic growth bankrolled these “great” compromises. It had very little to do with the foresight, courage, or moderation of the pols in Washington. They were just riding the wave generated by the private sector. But all that seems to be over now. For more than a decade (not just the Great Recession but going back to 2000), economic growth has been far below its postwar average, and too low to keep the old regime afloat. You can’t have low taxes, high spending, and low deficits when the economy can’t break 3 percent growth. This is something the D.C. establishment still does not seem to get. For years, their “farsighted,” bipartisan compromises were possible because the guys with the green eyeshades told them that the economy would grow to fill the gaps that they couldn’t fill. But now the economy can’t do that – so we have a mind-bogglingly large deficit and increased polarization in the political sphere." Team Romney's Relentless Driver: Via Sara Murray in The Wall Street Journal: "In February, Mitt Romney's campaign was stung by a triple loss in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado that raised fresh questions about whether the former Massachusetts governor had the staying power for his presidential run. It was a testing moment, and the campaign's manager, Matt Rhoades, responded with an unusual suggestion. "OK, let's win Maine." Maine is a small, out-of-the-way caucus where presidential candidates rarely commit resources. Its results don't directly bear on how the state chooses delegates. But it was next. The campaign deployed a half-dozen staffers to make turnout calls, prep last-minute events and nab local activists. Mr. Romney won, ending his losing streak and reviving his argument that he inevitably would be the party's nominee. Behind the grinding primary victory sits Mr. Rhoades, 37 years old, a low-key GOP operative. People who know him say he isn't inspired by ideology or the pursuit of fame. Mostly, he likes a good fight, and he likes to win. "Matt's going to be faced with his first challenge ever," said Al Cardenas, a Romney supporter and chairman of the American Conservative Union. "The Mitt Romney campaign has been run on a very methodical, success-driven formula. Now it's got to expand its wings." Mr. Rhoades took over a 2012 campaign staffed by many of the same advisers who ran the unsuccessful 2008 bid, which was plagued by dysfunction and staff infighting. An early move was unorthodox, skipping the vaunted Iowa straw poll to show up instead just ahead of the state's caucuses, about four months later. Instead of running flat out, Mr. Rhoades conserved resources. Mr. Romney came in second, after airing a deluge of negative ads to shred front-runner du jour Newt Gingrich. Mr. Rhoades was instrumental in persuading his boss to release his tax returns just before the Florida primary. Occasionally Mr. Rhoades's temper bursts through the unflappable exterior. When news leaked that Mr. Romney would soon be receiving Secret Service protection, Mr. Rhoades was livid, and went on a crusade to find the source. Nearly all his senior staff had spent the prior evening mingling in a hotel bar with reporters. The first to feel the blame were the advance men who handle the logistics of campaign stops. He sees leaks as the "highest level of disloyalty," said Katie Packer Gage, the campaign's deputy manager." Ron Paul Revolution Is Well Beyond the Fringe: Via Craig Westover in the Star Tribune: "Movements all begin at the margins with people who have little or nothing to lose. Unsuccessful movements never expand beyond the sloganeering fringe. Successful movements -- those with an intellectual and moral basis -- mature to attract a mainstream following. Libertarians today are less about provocative issues and more about reversing the expanding scope of government. Government expansion is bad in itself, but the future consequences are worse: Without defined limits on government, our liberties, our American republic, are truly at risk. In Ron Paul, you have a charisma-challenged old white guy who, without pandering or pushing prejudice, inspires young people with the always sexy message of monetary policy. What about that Paul-inspired "wacky," "nutty" "constitutional fundamentalism" found in Republican Party platforms? Sure, abolishing the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Reserve is not going to happen even under a President Paul. But a political party that seriously considers abolishing cabinet-level departments and unaccountable government entities is a political party that probably won't advocate for a new cabinet-level "Department of the Internet" and is serious about monetary policy. It's a party that stands for something. One does not compromise principle. It's a cliché and a fallacy that, given two diametrically opposed points of view, the "truth" must necessarily lie somewhere in the middle. The Republican problem is buying into the "compromise is good" argument and declaring victory for every move to the left that "could have been so much worse." Ron Paul delegates to the RNC will support the nominee. However, integral to that support is holding the candidate and the party to the fundamental principles of limited government and personal and economic freedom. Constancy to principle is the ultimate loyalty." Vikings Stadium Wins Minneapolis City Council's Final Approval: Via The Pioneer Press: "After two hours of debating public funding for professional sports, the city council voted 7-6 to support dedicating a series of local taxes to a new Vikings stadium at the site of the Metrodome. The decision all but ensures construction of a $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis starting next spring, and it ends more than a year of negotiations with lawmakers over the most high-profile public expenditure in recent city history. To pay for the city's portion of the Vikings stadium, the plan extends the life on four existing sales taxes by decades: a 0.5 percent citywide general sales tax, a lodging tax on hotels of 50 rooms or more, a downtown restaurant tax and an downtown liquor tax. Revenue from those sales taxes also will be used to pay off Minneapolis Convention Center debts within the next 10 years. Any excess money can be used for economic development projects, including renovations to the Target Center." Obama to Address Economy During Minnesota Visit: Via the Star Tribune: "President Barack Obama will address the economy during a Friday, June 1, speech at Honeywell's campus in Golden Valley, a White House official says. Obama will urge Congress to act on his "To-Do List," a five-point plan that he says will create jobs and help the middle class. Specifically the plan would call on Congress to pass legislation that would allow for more mortgage refinancing, cut corporate tax incentives, create a Veterans Job Corps, invest in clean energy manufacturing and establish a small business tax credit to encourage hiring. Obama will also attend campaign fundraisers at the Bachelor Farmer, a Minneapolis restaurant owned by Gov. Mark Dayton's sons, during his trip to Minnesota. The president last visited the state when he addressed the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis in August 2011. Earlier that month, he spoke in Cannon Falls during an economic bus tour that winded through Minnesota and several other Midwestern states." THE WEEK IN REVIEW: THREE ARTICLES WORTH THE READ: Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal: Mitt Romney's Moment David Brooks in The New York TimesThe Role of Uncle Sam The Washington Examiner Editorial: Big Spending Obama Frames Himself as Scrooge HIGHLIGHTS: SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT: NBA Playoffs: The Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics 93-79 behind Lebron James's 32 points and 13 rebounds. The Heat lead the series 1-0. The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-98, marking the 19th win in a row by the Spurs, tying the NBA record for the longest winning streak in the playoffs. The Spurs lead the series 1-0. MLB: The Star Tribune has a good piece on the top targets for the Twins, who hold the No. 2 pick in the upcoming amateur draft.  

Monday Morning Quarterback – 5/21/12

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: May 22nd, 2012 | 0 Comments

Monday Morning Quarterback

Brought to you by The Rouen Group, a public affairs firm, specializing in grassroots advocacy, coalition building, political engagement and communications strategy. Random Fact of the Week (trying this again): Via @OMGiTweetFacts: Psychological fact, when someone you know appears in your dreams it's because that person thought about you before they fell asleep. Obama Surrogate, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Denounces Anti-Romney Ad: Via The New York Times: "Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, a prominent Democrat enlisted as a surrogate for President Obama's campaign, sharply criticized it on Sunday for attacking Mitt Romney’s work at the private equity firm Bain Capital. Mr. Booker, speaking on the NBC program “Meet the Press,” made his comments in response to a television advertisement the president’s campaign unveiled last week. It portrays Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as someone who eliminated jobs for the sake of profits during his years running Bain Capital. “I have to just say, from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” Mr. Booker said. “To me, it’s just we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.” Watch Booker's comments on Meet the Press HERE. Our Very Own Greece: Via The American Spectator: "California's economy, with a Gross State Product of about $1.9 trillion, is more than six times the size of Greece's. At $90 billion, the state's budget (excluding the few hundred billion dollars of federal money distributed there) is only sixty percent of the size of Greece's national budget. But, California's budget deficit, estimated at $16 billion for the current fiscal year unless substantial changes are made, represents a stunning 17.5 percent shortfall and a huge miss from January predictions of a $9.2 billion deficit. Greece is now anticipating a deficit under 7 percent of GDP, but even allowing for typical politician optimism, the Greek deficit problem is arguably small compared to California's. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, demographer Joel Kotkin discussed "The Great California Exodus": "Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states. One reason for the mass departure of the Golden State's American-born adults who are entering the prime of their working (and tax-paying) ages is the state's cap-and-trade law and other regulations that raise energy prices: Electricity prices in California are about 50 percent higher than the national average, although nine states have even higher prices. But perhaps the key factor in California's dwindling population of productive citizens is taxes: The current top state income tax bracket is the second highest in the nation. What's arguably worse is that California's tax rates brutalize the middle class: Individuals making between $37,005 and $46,766 pay an 8 percent state income tax. California doesn't just soak the rich; is an equal-opportunity pillager. And this is why it is losing the productive part of its population at a stunning pace." Why Washington Hates Jamie Dimon: Via Lawrence Lindsay in The Wall Street Journal: "Losing money is embarrassing. And an embarrassed Jamie Dimon publicly admitted that J.P. Morgan Chase goofed. Three senior executives lost their jobs as a result. But politicians and regulators in Washington are rushing to leverage the bank's misfortune for their own gain. First, consider the relative magnitude of the company's trading loss: $2 billion on a $200 billion portfolio. A 1% trading loss is hardly the stuff that should make news, particularly in Washington. Consider two other recent episodes. The Obama administration guaranteed a $535 million loan to Solyndra, then lost everything on its bet when the solar-energy company went bankrupt last September. Then there is the auto-industry bailout. According to the TARP inspector general's April 25 report, taxpayers have been paid cash and securities worth $50.9 billion on the $79.7 billion extended to General Motors, General Motors Acceptance Corp. (now Ally Financial) and Chrysler. That is a $28.8 billion loss. A second problem is the cry within the Beltway that J.P. Morgan lost "our" money. But the company did not lose money last quarter: It made a $5.4 billion profit. J.P. Morgan also did not lose taxpayer money. While the company did take a loan from TARP at Washington's insistence—so as not to "tarnish" the reputation of competitors that really needed the money—the loan was fully repaid in 2009. So why is Congress holding hearings? The answer is the bank's CEO: Jamie Dimon. He is a lifelong Democrat and big contributor to Democratic candidates. This is not a way to get Republicans to like you. Since 2008 Mr. Dimon has also become increasingly critical and vocal about Mr. Obama's mishandling of the economy, and financial regulation in particular. Not a way to get Democrats to like you. The lesson Washington intends for all is clear: Cross us and we will make you pay. Unfortunately the media and most of the spectators in the galleries are still cheering." Kurt Bills Wins GOP Senate Endorsement: Via Minnesota Public Radio: "State Rep. Kurt Bills won the Minnesota Republican Party's endorsement for U.S. Senate after two ballots at the party convention Friday. He will run in that party's primary, before facing incumbent Democrat Amy Klobuchar in the November election. Bills, who is in his first term in the Minnesota House, also teaches economics at Rosemount High School. He has repeatedly said that he'll bring "Econ 101" to Washington, D.C. and pledged to reduce the federal deficit. Support for Bills grew over the last several months. He was a surprise entry into the race in March and picked up the backing of presidential candidate Ron Paul, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and more than 40 state lawmakers including Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers." Ron Paul Backers Complete Weekend Sweep in Minnesota: Via The Pioneer Press: "Paul backers won 12 of 13 Republican National Convention delegate slots filled in balloting Saturday, May 19, at Rivers Edge Civic Center. They might have taken all 13 seats if one of the Paul state delegates had not graciously conceded the final slot to Rep. Michele Bachmann. The results mean 32 of Minnesota's 40 national delegates to the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., in August will be committed to Paul. Supporters of the Texas congressman and presidential candidate won 20 of the 24 national delegate slots filled at Republican congressional district conventions earlier this spring. "It shows that the Ron Paul people are extremely organized and very serious about winning those spots, and the non-Ron Paul folks were not as well organized," said Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson. Marianne Stebbins, Paul's state campaign chairwoman, said their victory "sends a message that we're not just giving lip service to liberty and smaller government -- we're serious about it." In Senate Race, a Preview of GOP Strategy: Via Lori Sturvedant in the Star Tribune: "Legislators tend to favor their own kind. That may be how Kurt Bills' two opponents for the Republican U.S. Senate endorsement want delegates at today's state convention to view Wednesday's news that Bills has snagged the backing of House Speaker Kurt Zellers. Bills, after all, is a high school economics teacher and first-term state rep from Rosemount, part of the big Class of 2010 that Zellers helped recruit, mentor and elect. "Kurt Bills has the right message for this year," Zellers said of his colleague. "Listen to what he's talking about. He's talking about the work he did here, balancing the budget, reforming government within, education reform, taking the system we have and turning it on its head. "Bills isn't a guy who goes out and says, 'We have to burn government down.' Bills has adopted what I would call our House mentality: We need to reform government to make it function efficiently." In short, U.S. Senate candidate Bills would reinforce the message of a positive House record that Zellers wants legislative candidates to hammer all summer and fall. The message sounds good in simple, summary form: State had a $6.5 billion deficit in January 2011. State books are more than $1 billion in the black now. Taxes weren't raised to make that happen." THE WEEK IN REVIEW: THREE ARTICLES WORTH THE READ: Star Tribune Editorial: Libertarian Surge Remakes State GOP Stephen Hayes in The Weekly Standard: High Noon in Wisconsin - Governor Scott Walker Hangs Tough Campbell Brown's Op-Ed in The New York Times: Obama: Stop Condescending to Women HIGHLIGHTS: SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT: NBA Playoffs: Lebron James scores 40 points and adds 18 rebounds and 9 assists as the Miami Heat even the series with the Indiana Pacers at two games a piece. Music: Bee Gee singer Robin Gibbs dies at the age of 62 after a long battle with cancer.  

Monday Morning Quarterback – 5/14/12

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: May 15th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Monday Morning Quarterback

Brought to you by The Rouen Group, a public affairs firm, specializing in grassroots advocacy, coalition building, political engagement and communications strategy. Obama, the Underdog: Via National Journal: "This presidential election is coming down to two immutable facts that have become increasingly clear as November draws closer: President Obama will be running for a second term under a stagnant economy, and his two most significant legislative accomplishments—health care reform and a job-goosing stimulus—remain deeply unpopular. The three most recent national polls—Democracy Corps (D), Gallup/USA Today, and the Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll—underscore how tough a reelection campaign Obama faces and why it’s fair to call him an underdog at this point. He’s stuck at 47 percent against Mitt Romney in all three surveys, with the small slice of undecided voters tilting against the president. His job approval ranges from 45 percent (Democracy Corps) to 48 percent (Battleground). Actions speak louder than spin, and the moves of Obama’s campaign officials this past week indicate they are awfully worried about their prospects. The most recent telltale sign is that they went up with an early, expensive $25 million ad buy on Monday in nine swing states, attempting to reintroduce the president in the best possible way. This was no rinky-dink purchase; it cost nearly one-quarter of the Obama campaign’s war chest of $104 million at the beginning of April. Going up with such a significant buy so early is the equivalent of abandoning the running game in football when your team is down by a couple of touchdowns." When the U.S. Really Did Try Austerity, It Worked: Via the American Enterprise Institute: "Now, we all all know “austerity” from deep spending cuts (not the tax hikes, of course) is killing Europe’s economy and would do the same here in America, right? From 1944 to 1948, Uncle Sam cut spending by a whopping 75% as World War II came to end. Spending as a share of GDP plunged to 9% in 1948 from 44% in 1944. Despite cuts which dwarfed those seen in the EU today—not to mention those Republicans are calling for here at home—the U.S. economy thrived. As George Mason University economist David Henderson explains is his 2010 paper, "The U.S. Postwar Miracle": As demobilization proceeded rapidly, employers in the private sector, full of the optimism … scooped up millions of the soldiers, sailors, and others who had been displaced from the armed forces and from military industries. … The number of unemployed people did increase, rising from 0.8 million to 2.3 million, but with a civilian labor force of 60.1 million, the 2.3 million unemployed people implied an unemployment rate of only 3.8 percent. As President Truman said, “This is probably close to the minimum unavoidable in a free economy of great mobility such as ours. Real U.S. output in 1947 was 17% higher than in 1941 despite the decline in government spending. Why was the economy prospering in way it never did during the Great Depression? Taxes were cut a little, and government interference—including price and production controls and rationing—was reduced a lot. But perhaps just as important, Truman dumped many of FDR’s most radical New Dealers. That change boosted business confidence, and companies started to invest again in America." Will Romney Catch Obama Online: Via The Nation: "Organizationally, Romney is simply far behind Obama in plugging staff resources into Web development. Obama did not have a competitive primary, and he has raised money prodigiously, while Romney is playing catch up. “Digital is the biggest department at Obama’s headquarters,” notes Patrick Ruffini, a Republican strategist with a specialty in new media. “They’ve had a big lead time. “Comparing the Obama campaign--who haven’t gone through a primary--with 750 staffers, versus Romney with 87 is comparing apples and hamburgers,” says Zac Moffatt, digital director for the Romney campaign. But there is also a difference in the campaigns’ digital approach. Moffatt says that making the most elaborate interactive widgets on a campaign website is not necessarily any more useful at voter persuasion than static ones. Thanks to social media, any piece of online content is interactive in the sense that it can now be shared and promoted. And most online users are not going to campaign websites, but rather coming across campaign content via sites where they are already spending their time: web ads that pop up while they read a news site, or recommendations from friends on Twitter or Facebook." For all of the attention that expensive television advertising investments by campaigns and Super PACs will generate, TV is being slowly supplanted by the Internet as the most important political advertising medium. Online ads can be carefully targeted to people who fit certain demographic profiles or have shown interest in certain subjects through searches. “A TV ad versus an Internet ad is using a hammer versus a scalpel,” says Moffatt. Moreover, thanks to more advanced recording technology and streaming of TV shows online, increasing numbers of people don’t even watch live TV and therefore don’t see the ads. “One-third of people haven’t watched live TV except for sports in the last week,” notes Moffatt. “You’re missing one-third of potential voters if you just do TV.” As Legislative Session Ends, 2012 Campaign Kicks Off: Via Minnesota Public Radio: "DFL legislators took an early shot across the Republican bow by dubbing 2012 as the "do-nothing session." Republicans are now trying to counter that perception. House Speaker Kurt Zellers doesn't want to look back at just the 2012 session. He wants to include 2011 as well, when the GOP returned to the majority in the House and the Senate. Zellers said he views the total accomplishments over those two years as "pretty remarkable." His list sounds a lot like a campaign brochure: turning a budget deficit into a modest surplus, slowing down the growth of state spending, making government operate more efficiently and blocking the tax increases advocated by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. Zellers and other Republicans tried to accomplish more reform this year, but they blame Dayton for thwarting those efforts. House GOP Majority Leader Matt Dean said Dayton was particularly uncooperative when he vetoed bills aimed at changing teacher tenure and lawsuit rules. Dayton is not on the ballot this fall, but he's still thinking a lot about the election. Even though the stadium passed, the governor said he doesn't think divided government has been very productive the past two years. He now wants to take that message to voters." Dayton, Zellers Disagree on Success of 2012 Legislative Session: Via The Pioneer Press: "Gov. Mark Dayton thinks passage of the Vikings stadium bill and a $496 million public works package were the 2012 Legislature's shining achievements, but the rest of the session was a bust. His take contrasted sharply with that of Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers. Looking at the Legislature's accomplishments in 2011 and 2012 -- the two years of the 87th session -- Zellers told reporters it was "pretty remarkable." Lawmakers wiped out a $5 billion budget deficit last year without raising taxes, helped build up the current $1.2 billion surplus and started restructuring state government "from the inside out." By Thursday, the Republican-controlled Legislature had sent 185 bills to Dayton. He vetoed 30 of them. That means Dayton is vetoing bills at a record-setting pace. He has vetoed 53 so far in two years, for an average of 26.5 per year. Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson set the record for the most vetoes: 179 in eight years, or an average of 22 per year. Dayton's GOP predecessor, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, vetoed 123 bills, or 15 a year." Highlights of the 2012 Legislative Session: The Pioneer Press provides a list of several issues and notes the action items for each one. The list includes: Vikings Stadium, Tax Cuts, Capitol/Bonding Bill, Payout Transparency, Last In/First Out, Voter ID, Beer at TCF Stadium, Early Fishing Opener, Hunting and Fishing Licenses, Stand Your Ground, Right to Work, School Shift, Child Care Providers, Asian Carp, Environmental Streamlining, Armed Prosecutors, Wetlands/Water Protections, School Trust Lands, Health Exchange, HMO Transparency, Cancer Centers and Cuts Reversed. THE WEEK IN REVIEW: THREE ARTICLES WORTH THE READ: Robert Samuelson in The Washington PostThe Boom on the Farm Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens: To The Class of 2012 Jay Cost in The Weekly Standard: Why Mourdock Defeated Lugar HIGHLIGHTS: SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT: A Bright Spot for the Twins: Twins beat the Blue Jays 4-3 as Scott Diamond gets the win and has now pitched 14 shutout innings since his minor league call up. Vikings: The Associated Press Sports Columnist Tim Dahlberg: Vikings Stadium Deal Gets Done and What a Deal It Turns Out To Be  

Monday Morning Quarterback – 5/7/2012

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: May 9th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Monday Morning Quarterback

Brought to you by The Rouen Group, a public affairs firm, specializing in grassroots advocacy, coalition building, political engagement and communications strategy. Noteworthy Notes (by Michael): Over the weekend I had the pleasure of sitting down with former Minnesota Congressman Mark Kennedy (my old boss) at his Foggy Bottom office where he serves as the newly minted head of George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. Our conversation covered a variety of topics, with one in particular that is of mutual interest to both of us: a recommitment toward trade liberalization from policymakers and stakeholders and how best that can be achieved. Mark has a new blog on The Huffington Post in which he will touch on this and many other subject matters that analyze the dynamics in place within our political and business world. Be sure to check it out, a must read. The Incredible Shrinking Labor Force: Via The Washington Post: "If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent. If the percentage was where it was when George W. Bush took office, the unemployment rate would be 13.1 percent. The explanation is a little-watched measure known as the “labor force participation rate.” That tracks the number of working-age Americans who are holding a job or looking for one. Between March and April, it dropped by 342,000. But because the official unemployment rate counts only those workers who are actively seeking work, that actually made the unemployment rate go down. The percentage of Americans in the labor force has been declining for more than a decade. In January 2000, 67.3 percent of Americans had a job or were actively seeking work. By 2007, just before the recession, that had fallen to 66 percent. In January 2009, the month Obama assumed the presidency, it was 65.7 percent. Since then, it has fallen to 63.6 percent, a level not seen since the first year of the Reagan administration." Americans Paying More in Taxes Than for Food, Clothing and Shelter: Via the Tax Foundation: "In 2012, Americans will pay approximately $4.041 trillion in taxes, which is $152 billion, or 3.9 percent, more than they will spend on housing, food, and clothing. Through looking at contemporary data and examining the trend of tax collections and expenditures on housing, food, and clothing, we can compare the costs of government with the necessary costs individuals incur every year. Relative to the basic cost of living, taxes have increased considerably in recent decades. In turn, a greater share of essential private expenditures are now funded through government outlays." Hollande Ousts Sarkozy in French Presidential Election: Via The New York Times: "Francois Hollande defeated President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday, becoming the first Socialist elected president of France since François Mitterrand. Mr. Hollande campaigned on a gentler and more inclusive France, but his victory will also be seen as a challenge to the German-dominated vision of economic austerity as a way out of the euro crisis. Mr. Sarkozy became the latest European leader to lose his post amid economic upheaval and the first French incumbent to be rejected since 1981. Domestically, Mr. Hollande said he would raise taxes in a drive to balance the budget by 2017. He has vowed to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers over five years and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for manual workers who started their work as teenagers. Claire, a 26-year-old engineer in Paris, agreed that change was needed, but still cast her ballot for Mr. Sarkozy. “I would like to believe in the Socialists’ sweet dream, but unfortunately, it is not going to happen,” she said, asking for privacy reasons not to use her last name. “Their program is unclear and not concrete.” Dayton Vetoes GOP-backed Tax Bill: Via Minnesota Public Radio: "Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed a package of business tax breaks, including a freeze on statewide property taxes for businesses, saying it relies on budget reserves to cover the cost of the tax relief while the state faces a financial problem in the next budget cycle. In addition to the freeze on business property taxes, the vetoed bill included an upfront sales tax deduction on business equipment purchases and increased funding for research and development and Angel Investment tax credits. There was also a local tax provision aimed at a Mall of America expansion. Despite their disappointment and frustration with the veto, Republican leaders indicated they were willing to try again to work out a tax agreement with Dayton. House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he still wants to find something that the governor can sign. Senate Majority Leader Senjem said he does too." Vikings Stadium: Monday is Game Day, Bill Supporters Make Final Push: Via The Pioneer Press: "Monday is game day for the Minnesota Vikings' effort to get a new stadium, and supporters are geared up for the final drive. The Minnesota House will vote Monday, May 7, on a bill to help fund a new $975 million stadium. Whether the votes are there to pass it remains to be seen. Opposition is expected to be stiff from foes of the use of public money on a stadium, opponents of expanded gambling and those who think the bill as constructed won't work. "We're going to be working all day, all night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday and all day Monday," said Ted Mondale, who chairs the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission and is Gov. Mark Dayton's point man on stadium issues." House Bonding Bill on Hold For Some Last-Minute Tweaking: Via MinnPost: "House Speaker Kurt Zellers said that the GOP is working to adjust its roughly $500 million bonding bill, which stalled in the chamber Thursday night because of objections from Gov. Mark Dayton. The governor would like more parity between Minnesota’s higher education institutions in the bill. As it stands in the House, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system would receive $145 million while the U would get only $54 million. Here’s a rundown of what’s in the House bill: The U would receive $40 million for general upkeep funding, which is called Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR). It would also receive $4 million for the Itasca Biological Station project and $10 million to bring a power plant back online. MnSCU would get $30 million in HEAPR funds, plus roughly $115 million more for laboratory renovations and other upgrades across the state. The DNR could receive up to $30 million for flood mitigation as part of its total $50.5 million allotment from the House. Renovations for the state Capitol in St. Paul — which could total more than $200 million — would receive $44 million under the bill. The state Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council would receive roughly $66 million for transit upgrades, with a small amount of money going to parks and wastewater treatment. The Department of Employment and Economic Development would receive $83 million, much of it going to grant programs." THE WEEK IN REVIEW: THREE ARTICLES WORTH THE READ: George Will in The Washington PostJon Will's Gift Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Jon Huntsman: How to Manage the China Relationship McClatchy's David Lightman: Romney Team's Path to 270 Electoral Votes HIGHLIGHTS: SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT: Baseball: Willie Mays celebrated his 81st birthday on Saturday, May 6. A look back at "the catch" during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against the Indians. Now fast forward nearly 60 years to last night's ballgame at National's Park, which I had the pleasure of attending, and watch another awesome play by the Nats Bryce Harper where he steals home against the Phillies. Young Bryce has to steal quite a few more to catch Ty Cobb's record of 54 though.  
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