Archive - March 2013




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Monday Morning Quarterback – 3/25/13

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: March 28th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. Tax Code Explained with Beer: Ever needed an easy way to explain the confusing tax code? Well, this article starts: "Ten guys walk into a bar..." and somehow explains the tax code. Find out how: (Read) One Amazing Golf Shot This is for all of my lobbyist friends that are enjoying the Easter Recess and probably a few rounds of golf. Sergio Garcia climbs a tree...(Watch) Big Data and Me: Want to find out what I mean by Data Driven Marketing? This Wall Street Journal article is a good description of what The Rouen Group and our data partner are working on. Can knowing more about your customers, donors, members or voters help you and your organization? Read this article and then let's talk...(Read) Governor Dayton Takes Budget on The Road: This week the Governor will continue his series of town hall meetings around Minnesota. He will be in Moorhead on Monday and St. Cloud on Tuesday. The first meeting in Duluth was open to the public and Dayton took questions both for and against his budget. Many Rouen Group clients were able to engage the Governor on topics that were important to them. Our team will be there again, will you? (Details) 2014 Congrats to the US Senate? The US Senate passed a budget for the first time in 4 years last week. The vote was 50-49. All of the Democrats that voted "No" are up for re-election in 2014 in states Mitt Romney won. Gotta love politics... (Read) WORTH A READ Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: Is the Star Tribune More Conservative or Has the DFL Drifted Too Far: Here is another in a series of Star Tribune editorials critical of the Governor and DFL Legislature's plans to raise taxes: "Nobody but Dayton is yet willing to attach a rate to his proposed new top tax bracket. Dayton’s bid is a 9.85 percent rate for that portion of taxable incomes that exceed $150,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint married filers. That rate raises an estimated $1.1 billion over the next two years — and would be an uncompetitively high fourth-highest in the nation. The House evidently aims to see Dayton’s precariously high bid and raise it for the next two years. The highest marginal rate in the country is California’s 13.3 percent for earners of $1 million or more; Hawaii is in second place with 11 percent. The House majority appears willing to put Minnesota in the California-Hawaii tax league..." (More) Don't be an Also-Ran: The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about various factors that keep us off track from accomplishing our goals: "None of us dreams of being an also-ran. Ask any rising professional, and they are charting a sure course to the biggest office, the most prominent job, the contribution that matters most. But between the planning stage and execution, things can go wrong. Subtle forces sidetrack us in ways we fail to anticipate...(Read) 10 Years After: Can Republicans Recover from Iraq MMQ Favorite Peggy Noonan takes a look at the lasting impact of the Iraq war. It is very interesting and should spark debate: "The air has been full of 10th-anniversary Iraq war retrospectives. One that caught my eye was a smart piece by Tom Curry, national affairs writer for NBC News, who wrote of one element of the story, the war's impact on the Republican Party: "The conflict not only transformed" the GOP, "but all of American politics." It has, but it's an unfinished transformation. Did the Iraq war hurt the GOP? Yes. The war, and the crash of '08, half killed it. It's still digging out, and whether it can succeed is an open question..." (More) PERFECT: Congratulations to the Gopher Women's Hockey team on their perfect season capped off with a National Championship. (Read) By The Numbers A latest look at the numbers: Generic Congressional Ballot Republican 38% Democrat 43% Direction of the Country Real Clear Average Right Direction 33.8% Wrong Track 58.8% Have a great week! To learn more about the how The Rouen Group can help grow your organizations grassroots program please call Noah at 612-419-6909.

Monday Morning Quarterback – 3/18/13

Posted by: Andrew Schmitt | Posted on: March 18th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. It's Bracket Time: If you are looking for a March Madness bracket to fill out, please join me in The Foursome pool this year.  Free to join and great prizes from the best clothing store in town!(Join) Prince Closes Down SXSW As Justin Timberlake and the Smashing Pumpkins headlined other SXSW wrap-ups nearby, MMQ fav Prince, prevailed as the toughest ticket Saturday night. (Watch/Listen) Norm Coleman and the GOP: Norm Coleman and Laura Brod penned an Op-Ed on the state of the GOP based on some telling polling numbers: "In a recent poll done by the Minnesota Action Network, some key facts emerge that conservative activists and policymakers cannot ignore. In Minnesota, there is an 18 point gender gap between the DFL and Republicans, and a significant split on social and economic issues with young people that will continue to grow. The middle class of Minnesota does not believe conservatives understand issues facing them, that we are out of touch and that we don't listen to their concerns. Minnesota conservative activists and leaders may believe our problem is messaging, when in fact, Minnesota independents and many others believe we are too consumed with social issues..." (Read) Governor Dayton Takes Budget on The Road: From the Star Tribune: "Freed from the burden of pushing new sales taxes, Gov. Mark Dayton plans "‘Meetings with Mark’ in communities around the state" to hear from Minnesotans what they think of the state's budget, the governor's office said Sunday. Last week, Dayton, a Democrat, said he backs higher income taxes on the wealthy but no longer supports a sales tax overhaul. His previous sales tax plans drew a battery of criticism from the business community and failed to attack support from many DFLers in the Legislature..."(Read). The Governor also stirred up a bit of controversy when he openly criticized business leaders and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce at business day at the Capitol last week(Watch) Guns:  As the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee takes up 2 controversial gun bills this week, the Star Tribune has a timely and powerful piece on the impact of illegal fire arms in our community.  "Since 2001, at least 116 kids have been shot dead in Minnesota. Nationwide, as many as 2,000 children and teens die a year from gun homicide — the equivalent of 100 Newtowns — the victims disproportionately young black males in beleaguered neighborhoods..."  (Read) and here is the info graphic of the victims (Watch)  2016 It is never too early to talk about 2016, well actually it is a bit too early for me, but with the CPAC straw poll released, the campaign is starting: Rand Paul/Marco Rubio Battle at CPAC Straw Poll: From the Washington Times: "CPAC attendees were overwhelmingly skeptical of government use of drones to either spy on or to kill Americans, and strongly in favor of cutting spending to solve the federal debt problem, rather than raising taxes as part of a solution. But the voters did not like the composition of the budget sequesters, with 68 percent saying they didn’t approve of across-the-board trims.  But it is the presidential preference poll that draws the most attention, and this year’s results will be no exception. In one surprising result, political newcomer Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon whose speech at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year became a conservative rallying point, came in seventh in the poll with 4 percent — tied with Sen. Ted Cruz." (Find Out Who Won)
WORTH A READ
Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: A Sensible Solution to the Minimum Wage Debate: Last week I posted 2 editorials on increasing the minimum wage, one from the Star Tribune and the other from the Pioneer Press.  This week I suggest you read Sunday's featured letter from Pizza Luce CEO JJ Haywood that specifically describe a sensible solution and why in is good for the servers and industry.  (Read)
Caught Between Work and Home, Dads Feeling the Stress: This article hits close to home for me.  As a father first and business owner second, balancing the two isn't always the easiest thing to do.  Good to know it is not just me: "They worry they don’t spend enough time with their kids. They’re exhausted by just how much they have to cram into their days, juggling work with loading the dishwasher, driving to taekwondo practice, supervising homework and planning the Girl Scout camping trip. The pressure is relentless. This isn’t just Mom anymore. This is Dad..." (Read) The Unsung Beauty of Bureaucracy The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the important role of bureaucracy inside organizations and government.  Yes, the Wall Street Journal is talking about the positive role of government bureaucrats: "An appreciation for consistency, quality control and coordination should give us a bit more respect for the world's bureaucrats and an understanding of why there are varying levels of oversight at different organizations. The absence of bureaucracy at startup companies is not necessarily a sign that they are better-managed than established firms; it just means that they have less to lose if they screw up..." (Read) Go Gophers!: Let's all give up the "Fire Tubby" talk at least for this week.  Despite a disappointing season, I have to say I am excited to watch the Gophers beat UCLA on Friday. (Details) By The Numbers A latest look at the numbers:
Generic Congressional Ballot Republican 42% Democrat   46% Direction of the Country
Real Clear Average
Right Direction  33.4% Wrong Track  59.6%
Have a great week! To learn more about the how The Rouen Group can help grow your organizations grassroots program please call Noah at 612-419-6909.

Monday Morning Quarterback – 3/11/13

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

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

 The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. JT on SNL is not to be missed: If you missed SNL this week, you missed a great performance by Justin Tinmberlake as he was the host and musical guest.  Here are a few of the best clips. (Watch) Governor Dayton's Approval Drops: The Star Tribune released its latest poll on the Governor Dayton's job performance.  This should have a lot of GOPers feeling pretty good: Dayton has a 34% favorable opinion. 31% unfavorable.  27% neutral.  8% don't recognize his name.  (Complete Poll Results) Minimum Wage Debate Heats Up: One issue that is quietly heating up at the capitol is the proposal to raise the minimum wage.  A Star Tribune Poll shows Minnesotan's favoring raising the wage, but not as high as some in the legislature who have proposed a minimum wage above $10 an hour (read the poll).  This week the Star Tribune published a thoughtful editorial written by David Burley of Blue Plate Restaurant Group on the "double whammy" businesses may face with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and an increase to the minimum wage... (Read) The Pioneer Press and Star Tribune had competing editorials on the subject this week as well. (Pioneer Press) and (Star Tribune) (Disclosure: The Rouen Group works for The Minnesota Restaurant Association) SEQUESTER 2013 As the politics and policy of the sequester continue to evolve, MMQ continues to provide you with some of the best reads on the subject: Jumping The Sequester: The Wall Street Journal's Kim Stassel looks at the latest in the sequester and for those on Twitter she points us to the new hastag #sequesterThis and #cutThisnotThat : "The phrase "jumping the shark" describes that gimmicky moment when something once considered significant is exposed as ludicrous. This is the week the White House jumped the sequester.  The precise moment came Tuesday, when the administration announced that it was canceling public tours of the White House, blaming budget cuts...We've learned that the White House employs three calligraphers, who cumulatively earn $277,000 a year. The Environmental Protection Agency gave $141,000 to fund a Chinese study on swine manure. Part of a $325,000 National Science Foundation outlay went to building a robotic squirrel. The government gave a $3,700 grant to build a miniature street in West Virginia—out of Legos. It shelled out $500,000 to support specialty shampoo products for cats and dogs. A San Diego outfit got $10,000 for trolley dancing. The feds last year held 894 conferences that each cost more than $100,000—$340 million altogether. But Mr. Obama is too broke to let American kids look around the White House..." (More) Truth Squading Sequester Hysteria: The Chicago Tribune has a harsh editorial on the sequester: "This is how officials sabotage themselves when they manipulate, exaggerate and flout common sense in foolish efforts to prove fallacious points. Months before the sequester took effect March 1, the administration was squandering its own credibility with over-the-top claims of the misery that a small budget cut would necessitate..." (More) WORTH A READ
Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: Have Americans Given Up Saving for Retirement:  Time Magazine takes a look at a new study on attitudes towards retirement savings.  The results are very disturbing and signal huge problems for future generations of retirees: "In the wake of the Great Recession, retirement-minded Americans are feeling an unprecedented amount of futility. They are undersaved and — worse — see little reason to do anything about it. That’s the alarming conclusion in a new report from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, which found that 60% of preretirees believe health care costs will consume their savings no matter how much they save. Similarly, 39% believe investment returns won’t be high enough to provide decent retirement income regardless of how much they manage to put away.  Deloitte found exasperation at every turn: 58% don’t have a retirement plan; nearly 40% don’t know what an annuity or mutual fund is; and 20% expect to rely purely on Social Security for their retirement needs. More than half don’t trust anyone’s advice..."(More)
GOPers On the Move: Thanks to friend, Morning Take author, and fellow Costco shopper Blois Olson, for this tip:   Chris Van Guilder is the new communications director for Americans for Prosperity. Jon Rouleau has been named Executive Director of the Minnesota Majority and Becky Alery is leaving the Senate for a new position at Public Affairs Company. Left, Right, The Brain Science of Politics: Politio.com has an interesting article on "biology and politics" that is worth a read: "Sick of partisanship in Washington? Blame science. A growing body of experimental research is finding evidence suggesting that, to some degree, political inclinations and ideological leanings may be tied to innate factors like a person’s biology, physiology and genetics..." (Read) By The Numbers A latest look at the numbers: Governor Dayton Fav/Unfav Favorable 34% Unfavorable 31% Neutral 27% Do you think that Minnesota’s minimum wage of $6.15 per hour should be increased to $7.50 per hour, increased to $9.50 per hour, not changed and left at $6.15 per hour?
Support $7.50 28%
Support $9.50 41% No Change  25%
How would you Rate your Financial Situation (Minnesota) Excellent/Good 45% Fair/Poor 51% Generic Congressional Ballot Republican 40% Democrat   43% Direction of the Country
Real Clear Average
Right Direction  33% Wrong Track  59.0%
Have a great week! To learn more about the how The Rouen Group can help grow your organizations grassroots program please call Noah at 612-419-6909.

Monday Morning Quarterback – 3/4/13

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

Rouen Group's Monday Morning Quarterback

 The Rouen Group: Grassroots Advocacy, Data Driven Marketing, Strategic Communications. Obama Sequester Press Conference SNL Style: If you missed SNL this week, you missed one of the more humorous looks at the Sequester.  (Watch) Shocking: Most Minnesotans Only Want Tax on Wealthy The Star Tribune released its latest poll on the proposed tax increases, from income taxes, to clothing taxes, to taxes on haircuts.  What do Minnesotans think? (Read)  And for the number junkies here is the complete poll results (Analyze) My Thought One thing that jumped out on the Star Tribune Poll is how differently they asked 2 questions about extending the sales tax to previous untaxed items.  This is how they asked the clothing tax question: "Do you support or oppose applying a lowered sales tax rate to clothing items costing $100 or more?"  This was only opposed by 42%.  Now on the issue of extending sales tax to business services they asked the question this way: " Do you support or oppose extending the state sales taxto services businesses purchase, like legal and accounting fees?  That issue was opposed by 68%.  Does this make you think the wording of questions in polling matters? SEQUESTER 2013 Here is my explanation of the Sequester:  You cut $1000 out of your family budget by cutting everything you spend money on by 2%.  Not the most efficient way to cut, but also not exactly a radical reduction. How Will the Sequester Effect You: Here is a quick video summary from The Wall Street Journal on the beginning of the sequester. (Watch) Hail Armageddon: Charles Krauthammer has a great opinion piece: "“The worst-case scenario for us,” a leading anti-budget-cuts lobbyist told The Post, “is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens.” Think about that. Worst case? That a government drowning in debt should cut back by 2.2 percent — and the country survives. That a government now borrowing 35 cents of every dollar it spends reduces that borrowing by two cents “and nothing bad really happens.” Oh, the humanity!" (Read) Politics and Polling: If you don't care about the policy of the sequester but do care about the politics this is for you.  AEI takes a look at all of the recent polls around the sequester.  The interesting thing is that while a majority (56%) think sequester is a bad idea, which is about the same number of people (53%) that said the had some understanding of the sequester.  The more telling part is that while American's seem to think these spending cuts are a bad idea, 71% of Americans think spending cuts should be tied to raising the debt ceiling.   (Read) WORTH A READ
Here are a few of our favorite articles and commentaries from the past week: The Rich are Paying More, The Middle Class is Paying Less:  This Associated Press story looks at the tax burdens of the high income earners and the facts they find are very different from the political rhetoric we hear: "With Washington gridlocked again over whether to raise their taxes, it turns out wealthy families already are paying some of their biggest federal tax bills in decades even as the rest of the population continues to pay at historically low rates...A new analysis, however, shows that average tax bills for high-income families rarely have been higher since the Congressional Budget Office began tracking the data in 1979. It's middle- and low-income families that aren't paying as much as they used to."  (Read) Sinkholes Not So Rare (Video): Thanks to the Star Tribune's Rachel Stassen-Berger (@rachelSB) for tweeting over the weekend.  As we are in the middle of sinkhole news both locally and nationally, this New York Times piece takes a look at sinkholes including some dramatic video.  (Watch) Must Read: As I shared with MMQ readers one year ago this week, my friend Chris Tiedeman and his wife Sara were in a tragic car accident.  Yesterday he posted this powerful and inspirational message on his Facebook page.  Below is the entire text.  If you don't read anything else please read this and follow his advice: "One year ago this evening, a drunk driver crossed the median, and hit Sara Banks Tiedeman and me head on. The result of that accident was I lost my wife and my best friend. What I gained was perspective, and confirmation/affirmation of faith.  As you relax out there this Sunday, please remember to hug your wife, your husband, your kids, parents, and other family and friends. Not just because things can change in the blink of an eye, but because it is the right thing to do.  Perhaps as important (maybe more), reach out to acquaintances, strangers, adversaries and opponents.  Dig through your pantry and closet to give something to the poor. Or write a check. Adopt a child bouncing aimlessly through foster families to give a child the opportunity for family and permanency. Find an organization and volunteer your time.  Don't take yourself so seriously and find a reason to smile, there are lots of them. All too often people see the silver lining and seek out the cloud. Don't do that. Life is too short, too good and we are too blessed. I miss you Sara." http://youtu.be/1CSVqHcdhXQ By The Numbers A latest look at the numbers: New Tool If you like polling and analysis you should check out Gallup's redesigned state of the States site.  It is fascinating and full of information that lets you compare your state to others or the aggregate of the nation as a whole. (Check it out) Generic Congressional Ballot? Republicans 38% Democrats 43% Presidential Job Approval
Real Clear Average
Approve 50,   Disapprove 44
Direction of the Country
Real Clear Average
Right Direction  34.5,   Wrong Track  57.5
Congressional Job Approval
Real Clear Average
Approve  14.7  Disapprove  77.0 Have a great week! To learn more about the how The Rouen Group can help grow your organizations grassroots program please call Noah at 612-419-6909.
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