Archive - February 2013




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Monday Morning Quarterback – 2/25/13

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: February 26th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. MMQ North Shore Edition: This weeks MMQ comes to you from the beautiful Surfside on Lake Superior Resort.   If you haven't visited Lake Superior in the winter, I highly recommend it.  Here is my favorite picture from a true MN vacation (Click) Dancing Mom Style: First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to show off some old, new, and I do not know how to describe them dance moves.  It is actually pretty funny...(Watch)  If that wasn't enough for the First Lady, last night she surprised everyone by presenting the "best picture" award at the Oscars. (Watch) SEQUESTER 2013 If like many Americans you have not heard much about the sequester (29% of Americans according to a recent Pew poll), then the next two articles are for you. The Sequester: Absolutely Everything you Wanted to Know in One FAQ This is great summary from the Washington Post's Wonk Blog: " The sequester was originally passed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), better known as the debt ceiling compromise. It was intended to serve as incentive for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Supercommittee”) to come to a deal to cut $1.5 trillion over 10 years. If the committee had done so, and Congress had passed it by Dec. 23, 2011, then the sequester would have been averted. Obviously, that didn’t happen"...Now what? (Read) The 5 Political Truths About the Sequester Now that you know the facts about the sequester, how do the politics play out: "On March 1st, 2013, the sequester — the this-will-never-really-happen set of automatic cuts in federal spending — is set to kick in. Given that everyone in Washington expects the sequester to happen, it’s worth detailing what we know about the politics before it hits...(Read) WORTH A READ
Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: Government By Freakout:  One of MMQ's favorite writers Peggy Noonan looks at the recent politics of one crisis to another: "Government by freakout carries a price. It wears people down. It doesn't inject a sense of energy, purpose or confidence in those who do business in America, it does the opposite... What effect do all the successive fiscal cliffs, ceilings and sequesters, have on public confidence? On the public's spirit? They only add to the sense that Washington is dysfunctional and cannot possibly help us out of the mire. It shows the world we lurch from crisis to crisis by habit now. This makes us look incapable and beset..." (Read) The Rising GOP Star You Have Never Heard Of: Politico takes a look at Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam: "while attracting scant national attention and eschewing the camera-friendly approach of most up-and-coming Republican governors, Bill Haslam has amassed one of the most extensive conservative governing records in the country. He is, in short, the most important Republican governor you’ve never heard of... Since his election in 2010, Haslam has overhauled the Tennessee civil service, stripped back teacher tenure, cut taxes, enacted tort reform and expanded charter schools. Add up the various items on his agenda, and it looks a lot like a version of the pro-growth platform Washington Republicans have been grasping for. Haslam has done all that during his first term without triggering the kind of large-scale backlash that other aggressive Republican governors have encountered. There aren’t tens of thousands of protesters, or even one irate MSNBC host, camped outside Haslam’s window."  (Read) Dayton's Plan Gives Working Class a Haircut: I thought this was a very well written editorial from the Morrison County Record's Tom West: " The governor is proposing that the sales tax be lowered to 5.5 percent, but expanded to more services, resulting in an increase in the sales tax of $2.1 billion per year.  So who pays the extra money and how much? Unlike the income tax, the sales tax applies to everyone the same, rich or poor.  Approximately 5.4 million people call Minnesota home.  To raise $2.1 billion from them, it will cost an average of $390 per person. The Census Bureau also reports that approximately 2.54 people live in each household. The average household would then have to pay $991 in additional sales tax per year..." (Read) By The Numbers A look at the polls: Who Would you Blame for Sequester? President Obama 31% Republicans in Congress 49% Presidential Job Approval
Real Clear Average
Approve 51,   Disapprove 42.6
Direction of the Country
Real Clear Average
Right Direction  37.2,   Wrong Track  55.5
Congressional Job Approval
Real Clear Average
Approve  15.6,  Disapprove  78.7

Monday Morning Quarterback – 2/18/13

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: February 19th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. This is Your Cruise Director Speaking: Taking a break from politics, I thought SNL opening with the "cruise director" from the Carnival cruise ship was good enough to share (Watch)...Back to politics the Sen. Rubio drink of water spoof was pretty funny as well(Watch). And You Thought Washington Politics Are Bad: The Washington Post has a fascinating look at the internal politics at the Vatican:" Much of the media — and the Vatican — focused on the source of the shocking security breach. Largely lost were the revelations contained in the letters themselves — tales of rivalry and betrayal, and allegations of corruption and systemic dysfunction that infused the inner workings of the Holy See and the eight-year papacy of Benedict XVI. Last week, he announced that he will become the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign." (Read) Tax on Clothing: Most MMQ readers know that my in-laws own The Foursome Clothing Store (www.thefoursome.com), so I have strong opposition to the clothing tax for many reasons.  I applaud the Minnesota Retailers Association efforts to fight this regressive tax that would hurt many small, main street businesses and the thousands of people that work for these companies.  To help oppose the clothing tax and to contact your legislator visit the MNRA grassroots action center : (Click Here) Most Americans Will Retire Worse Off Than Their Parents: The Washington Post looks at an important and growing crisis, that for the first time since the New Deal a majority of Americans will retire worse off than their parents or grandparents: "The economic downturn exacerbated long-term factors that were already eroding the financial standing of aging Americans: an inexorable rise in health-care costs, growing debt among older Americans and a shift in responsibility from employers to workers to plan for retirement. The consequence is that the nation is facing a huge retirement savings deficit — as much as $6.6 trillion, or about $57,000 per household, according to a U.S. Senate report..." (Read) WORTH A READ
Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: Spending Beyond Our Means: How We are Bankrupting Future Generations:  As a father of two, the idea of passing unsustainable debt onto my kids and their kids is a real concern.  If it is not a concern to you, you need to read a the recently published white paper by The Cato institute: "Current U.S. fiscal policy, including the recently concluded “fiscal cliff” debt deal, is placing an enormous financial burden on today’s children and on future generations in order to deliver government benefits to current middle-aged workers and their elders.  Standard government accounting methods hide that intergenerational transfer from the public and make it difficult to calculate how large the transfer is..." (Read) The Co$t of Doing Business in MN Finance and Commerce takes a look at the details of Governor Dayton's tax plan: "Better study your business’ operations — because there are a whole set of services that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton would like to start taxing.  Dayton’s office on Friday provided more detailsabout the governor’s proposed sales tax “reform.” The report provides a list of examples of services that will be taxed a 5.5 percent sales tax starting Jan. 1, 2014: accounting services, admission events/memberships (except for veterans group memberships), advertising services, architectural and engineering services, auto repair, bank charges, investment counseling, computer services, consulting services, design services, digital products, legal services, over-the-counter drugs, personal instruction, personal services, publications, transport/travel services, and veterinary services..."(More) The GOP Does Not Have a 140 Character Problem: Senior Romney Campaign Strategist Stuart Stevens responds to the perceived GOP technology problem on ABC's This Week: (Watch)  Here is the talked about NYT cover story on the GOP tech deficit. (Read) Amazon v Ebay Fairness Battle Will Make You Pay Tax: As the Minnesota Legislature looks at how to tax internet sales in the state, Forbes takes a look at what is happening at the Federal level and the battle between Ebay and Amazon: "Are you paying your state sales tax when you buy online?  If not, you soon will be.  45 states and the District of Columbia have a sales tax. The Amazon model of no sales tax online is fast disappearing. After a hiatus in federal legislation and three competing federal bills to regulate state sale taxes, there’s a renewed push to get federal legislation passed. The revitalized Marketplace Fairness Act has bipartisan support in DC and strong support by retailers..." (More) By The Numbers A look at the national tracking polls: Presidential Job Approval
Average
Approve 50.2,   Disapprove 43.5
Direction of the Country
Average
Right Direction  37.2,   Wrong Track  56.0
Congressional Job Approval
Average
Approve  15.6,  Disapprove  78.7 Happy President's Day! A brief history of Washington's Birthday: "Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present..."(More)

Monday Morning Quarterback – 2/11/13

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: February 12th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

 The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. Inspirational: "Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani girl who rose to international fame after the Taliban nearly killed her for her efforts to promote girls’ education, has been formally nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.  Malala was attacked in October with two other girls while traveling home from school in Pakistan’s Swat valley.  The gunman boarded the van and asked for her by name before firing three shots at her — singling her out for writing a blog that criticized the Taliban for barring girls for getting an education. If Malala were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she would be the youngest by far and one of just 15 female recipients."  You can read the story (read) or watch the NBC News feature (watch). Build Your Own Sales Tax Proposal: MinnPost has a new tool to help you take a deeper look at Governor Dayton's controversial proposal to broaden the sales tax to clothes, business services and more.  Now you can build your own proposal: (Here) Ben Carson For President: Physician and author Ben Carson, sent waves through the political class last week at the national prayer breakfast.  Dr. Carson, with President Obama sitting to his right, challenged Republicans, Democrats and the "politically correct class" in a speech filled not only with criticism but real solutions.  Watch the speech (Here)and then read the Wall Street Journal's editorial: (Here) Good Food at the Capitol: Today is Restaurant and Hospitality Day at the Minnesota Capitol.  This one-day industry event brings together industry operators with a collective voice to advocate for the hospitality & tourism industry to legislators. So for those at the Capitol, keep your eyes open for some of your favorite restaurant operators.  The Rouen Group is happy to work with this great group of job providers around Minnesota.  For more information about this event: (Here) 2014 What Do Minnesotan's Think? KSTP and Survey USA did a comprehensive poll.  Want to know what MN thinks of Governor Mark Dayton? Al Franken? MN Legislature? Sales Tax Increase?  Check out the poll: (Here)  What Do American's Think? Pew Research takes a look at American's growing concerns towards the deficit and debt. "When Barack Obama took office in early 2009, reducing the budget deficit was a middle-tier item on the public’s agenda. Only about half of Americans (53%) viewed it as a top policy priority, placing it ninth on a list of 20 policy goals. But as Obama starts his second term, only the economy and jobs are viewed as more important priorities for the coming year..." (Read) WORTH A READ Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: The Federal Debt Ceiling and Why You Should Care: This is a great video, even for those that think they already understand the issue: "The Federal Debt Ceiling is a looming catastrophe one day and a crisis averted the next. It seems a never-ending cycle. Wall Street Journal's David Wessel explains the basics of the debt limit and why you should care." (Watch) Break Up The Big Banks: George Will and Sen. Sherrod Brown Agree: Yes it is true Sen. Brown and George Will agree on something.  Maybe this is a sign a change brewing: "With his chronically gravelly voice and relentlessly liberal agenda, Sherrod Brown seems to have stepped out of “Les Miserables,” hoarse from singing revolutionary anthems at the barricades. Today, Ohio’s senior senator has a project worthy of Victor Hugo — and of conservatives’ support. He wants to break up the biggest banks....By breaking up the biggest banks, conservatives will not be putting asunder what the free market has joined together. Government nurtured these behemoths by weaving an improvident safety net and by practicing crony capitalism. Dismantling them would be a blow against government that has become too big not to fail. Aux barricades!" (More) Wells Fargo CEO: Why Americans are Saving So Much: In contrast to the above article here is a good piece on "big bank" Well Fargo Via CNN.com: "Can you name America's largest bank? No, it's not J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) or Bank of America (BAC). It is, surprisingly, Wells Fargo (WFC), which has the highest market cap -- recently $170 billion. (That has to make its largest shareholder, Warren Buffett, pretty happy.) Its secret? Focusing on loans to consumers and small to midsize businesses. It also provides one-third of all U.S. mortgages."  Recently Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf discussed how his bank has seen record savings deposit growth, as more Americans look for safe places to put their cash. (Read) State of The Union Tip Sheet: From Pew Research: "President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to the nation on Tues., Feb. 12. We’ve pulled together key Pew Research findings across 10 topics that Obama is likely to discuss. Here are the highlights:" (Read).

Monday Morning Quarterback – 2/4/13

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: February 5th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. Top Productivity Tips: Last week in this space we talked about "Nap Pods" and lack of sleep in the workplace, so today we give all of those overtired people the Wall Street Journal's top tips for increasing productivity: (Read). Superbowl Ads: Of course we know who won the game, (Ravens 34, 49ers 31) but more importantly want want to know who had the best Superbowl ads.   Here is a link to the best of this year's ads: (Watch).  For perspective here is a link to the 25 greatest Superbowl ads of all time: (Watch).  My favorites are the Oreo whisper ad and Paul Harvey Ram truck ad. Something to Celebrate: It has been a long time since Vikings fans have had something to celebrate, but Adrian Peterson winning the NFL MVP less than one year after major knee surgery is remarkable. Check out this "Road Back to Greatness" video: (Watch).  Also, if like me you grew up watching Chris Carter make those incredible tip toe sideline catches, you were excited to see him finally get voted into the hall of fame over the weekend.  Check out these incredible CC highlights here: (Watch) Share: If you enjoy the content of the MMQ please take a moment to tell a friend, share on facebook or tweet.  If you want more MMQ during the week please follow @noahrouen and @rouengroup on twitter. 2014 Can GOP Instill Discipline in 2014 Primaries? A new Super PAC will try to help the GOP focus on finding electable conservatives: "The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate. The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races..." (More)  WORTH A READ Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: The Most Powerful Woman:  She changed the game irrevocably, and now she’s about to transform it again—by walking away. Newsweek takes a look at the career and legacy of Hillary Clinton.  This is a great read: "She’s the most important woman in America. More: she is almost certainly the most important woman in all of our political history. Already, even if this retirement proves to be permanent, which few people think it will be. No? Well, who, then? Who has been first lady, senator, secretary of state? No other woman, that’s for sure. Not many men have held as many high-profile jobs and performed them as well..."(More) A Budget Fit For Our Competitors: MMQ Friend and MN Chamber of Commerce President David Olson pens a thoughtful Op-Ed in response to Governor Dayton's budget proposal:  "Almost line by line, Dayton's budget falls short of his budget promises. The governor fails to advance a balanced approach to resolving the deficit. He raises spending by 7.6 percent, another $1 billion above the already $1.6 billion in projected spending growth. His recommended spending cuts -- just $167 million -- pale in comparison. The governor fails to restore long-term stability to state finances. He was presented with solving a $1.1 billion projected deficit and responded by recommending more than $4.1 billion in gross tax increases. Most of this money goes to fund permanent spending. Expenses already outpace revenues. His budget makes that worse and cannot be sustained without more tax increases. He needed to redesign and restructure programs and services, and we don't see that in the budget..." (More) NRA in Minnesota: As the President holds a major gun control event today in Minnesota, the Star Tribune takes a look at the NRA's strength in Minnesota and how their political clout will be put to the test: "What part of 61 Republicans and seven rural Democrats don't you understand?" said Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, when asked why he believed most proposed gun control legislation wouldn't pass a Legislature his party controls. He is a gun-rights supporter who represents the far northeastern corner of the state. The NRA's power is centered in areas with little or no gun violence and gathers its strength not from big-dollar campaign contributions, but from the sheer commitment and staying power of gun rights activists. Between 2008 and 2012, the NRA spent just $5,240 on Minnesota legislative races. In 2012, the liberal group Alliance for a Better Minnesota spent $144,365 to defeat a single legislative candidate in Edina..." (More)  Sen. Rubio's Immigration Gamble: The Washington Times takes a look at Sen. Rubio's leadership on Immigration and the implications for his political future: "Rubio is widely seen as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate and touching immigration, which remains a, well, touchy subject among the GOP rank and file, brings real risk with it. “This is going to be tough for Republicans and the recidivist elements in our party,” said GOP strategist Alex Castellanos, himself a Cuban-American.”It will all be fine until there is a GOP primary, say for president, and one candidate breaks out as the anti-immigration candidate and appeals to GOP fears and not hopes...” (Read)
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