Posted at 8:42 AM on September 1, 2006
by Mike Mulcahy
DFLer Becky Lourey will be on public television's Almanac program tonight and on WDSE in Duluth after Sept. 8. She will not be joined by her primary opponent Mike Hatch. Why? Because Hatch is refusing to appear at any debates that don't include Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty of course won't be on the ballot with Hatch and Lourey on Sept. 12.
Here's what Lourey had to say:
"Democracy is well served by the efforts of Twin Cities Public Television, WDSE in Duluth and the Duluth News Tribune Editorial Board. They understand that democracy can succeed only through a well-informed citizenry. The Sept. 12 primary is the first step in the actual voting process, and its importance should be honored. My hope is that both Mike Hatch and Tim Pawlenty will begin looking past narrow political calculations and broaden their outlook to interests best served by a well-informed electorate."
MPR had hoped to bring you a forum today at the State Fair with all the major party candidates running for governor on the same stage. But Pawlenty declined our invitation as did Hatch.
As Mr. Scheck notes we will have Mark Kennedy, Amy Klobuchar and Robert Fitzgerald on at 11 today on Midday. If you're at the fair come to the park near the grandstand, not the MPR booth. Tom and I will both be there and we're hoping it doesn't rain.
Gov. Tom Pawlenty's campaign said today it will forgo taxpayer subsidies and not abide by campaign spending limits. It's the first time in nearly 25 years a candidate for governor has done that. Pawlenty reported earlier this week he has $2 million in the bank compared to Mike Hatch's $1 million. His decision means Hatch and IP candidate Peter Hutchinson will split more than $400,000 Pawlenty would have received in subsidies.
Pawlenty campaign manager Michael Krueger said Pawlenty made the decision because of the outside groups poised to make independent expenditures on behalf of Hatch:
"The real story this year in Minnesota will not be how much Tim Pawlenty and Mike Hatch spend, it will be how much Mike Hatch¹s allies spend on their smear campaign" Krueger said.
"Just this week, Minnesotans for Change purchased almost $800,000 in television air time and Alliance for a Better Minnesota began airing a very negative ad. This decision allows us to remain competitive against the onslaught of spending from liberal special interest groups."
Posted at 9:52 AM on September 1, 2006
by Bob Collins
Politicians are aghast this morning, trying to figure out why the heck the FAA violated policy and put only one air traffic controller in the tower overnight in Kentucky when there were supposed to be two.
According to an AP report...
In a letter dated Wednesday, Minnesota Rep. James L. Oberstar, the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Illinois Rep. Jerry F. Costello, ranking Democrat on the aviation subcommittee, asked the Transportation Department's acting inspector general to investigate how well the rule is being followed.
And now...the background of the story that nobody will report because, well, it's too hard.
The federal government levies a 19.4-cents-a-gallon tax on aviation gasoline used by piston-powered airplanes in this country and a 21.9-cents-per-gallon tax on JetA fuel used by the big boys.
When you buy a ticket, you pay a tax, and that money also goes into the Aviation Trust Fund, which was (and is) intended to provide the money to modernize the aviation system in this country.
Back around 2000, the House and Senate, H.R. 1000, or AIR-21, passed the House to move the money "off budget," so that the money could be spent on what it was intended to. However, when it went to the Senate, Sen. John McCain, then-Sen. Tom Daschle, and Sen. Trent Lott engineered a change, removing the provision that would have mandated the money be spent on its intended target. A battle ensued before the fund was finally reauthorized.
The administration has wanted to limit the expenditures to the FAA out of the general fund to 13-percent, and says the Trust Fund is no longer adequate because revenues declined, which they did in 2003 and 2004 (think recession and 9/11).
But according to the White House budget office, the trust fund could have a $4.2 billion surplus by 2011.
The airlines, meanwhile, as well as FAA administrator Marion Blakey, are anxious to impose user fees on all users of aviation, even though this money is available to fund the aviation system (Disclaimer: I'm a general aircraft pilot and have a horse in this race.). So those are the two sides facing off in what will be a major debate in the coming year: the aviation trust fund vs. user fees.
According to the FAA’s own figures 2,580 controllers are eligible to retire between 2005 and 2007. But the agency only hired 13 air traffic controllers in fiscal year 2004. There simply aren’t enough controllers to meet the traffic demand today, and even fewer in the pipeline to replace those leaving in the coming years.
So what you have here is -- depending on whom you believe -- a fund that is (a) nearly depleted or (b) busting at the seams, and allegations that an administration and some congressmen have cooked the books to make the (a) scenario lead to user fees.
Who's right? That's the question that will be settled by the person you vote for for Congress or Senate in a couple of months. And after Sunday, we have a little better idea what's at stake.
Candidates for Congress have a pretty good idea what questions will come to them during a debate, so their answers are well rehearsed. But if you want to see one stutter and stammer (the exception being Rep. Jim Oberstar, one of the leading authority on aviation issues in Congress), try asking about this issue.
It's not a sexy topic, it's a little wonky, and the only time it matters to most people is when they're actually in an airplane. Politics is crazy like that.
Background: (Wonks only) NATCA on the Aviation Trust Fund.
Posted at 9:58 AM on September 1, 2006
by Tom Scheck
This was a joint release sent by DFLer Amy Klobuchar and Republican Mark Kennedy. No word on if the I-P candidate will be in any or all of these debates. Robert Fitzgerald has the I-P endorsement but faces a primary challenge.
Mark Kennedy 06 and Klobuchar for Minnesota
For immediate release
September 1, 2006
The U.S. Senate campaigns of Amy Klobuchar and Mark Kennedy have agreed to a debate schedule and to a statement of principles governing such debates.
To date, the candidates have participated in three debates or joint appearances. They have agreed to participate in seven additional debates:
1. September 1 -- Minnesota Public Radio, State Fair.
2. September 19 – AARP, TCPT studios, St. Paul.
3. October 10 – Debate Minnesota, Moorhead.
4. October 15 – Meet the Press, Washington, D.C.
5. October 29 – League of Women Voters, Channel 5, St. Paul.
6. November 2 – Minnesota News Network, Rochester.
7. November 5 – Minnesota Public Radio, St. Paul.
The campaigns have left open the possibility of an eighth, televised debate later in the campaign, to be scheduled by agreement.
The campaigns have agreed that the candidates will attend and participate in the seven debates, unless compelling official business dictates otherwise. Invitations for debates or joint appearances not on the above schedule will be declined by both campaigns and there will be no challenges to one another for additional debates.
The campaigns have agreed to the following principles for the debates, which will be conveyed to the debate sponsors:
1. The debates should be substantive and dignified.
2. The campaigns should have reasonable involvement in the specific format, stage setting, and other arrangements.
3. The candidates should have an opportunity for detailed answers to questions, with initial answers of at least two minutes.
4. In the model of Jim Lehrer, the role of the moderator should be to facilitate, rather than control, candidate dialogue. The moderator should not express opinions and moderator questions should reasonably well balanced. Candidates should have equal time to respond. Moderators should be acceptable to the candidates.
5. No campaign should attempt to dominate audience attendance or disrupt debates by applause or otherwise. Provisions should be made within each venue for the attendance of an equal number of campaign representatives. Campaign representatives should be courteous to one another.
6. The candidates should not use visual aids or challenge one another with proposed pledges.
7. The debates should include, and be limited to, candidates of each of the major political parties as defined by Minnesota law.
8. The campaigns commit to communicate and negotiate with one another promptly and in good faith to implement these principles.
# # #
Tim Pawlenty is not the first candidate for high office to blow off public financing so that he's not bound by spending limits. Both George Bush and John Kerry left the dough on the table in 2004. And it's hardly a secret that getting elected to public office is requiring more and more money.
Aside from the question I have, wondering where the money goes that people checkmarked on their state income tax returns, dedicating a portion of their return to a particular party (is there suddenly more money now available for, say, auditor candidates?), can we now safely say that the concept of public funding for campaigns is dead?
Craig Westover, the Afton blogger and PiPress columnist, says Pawlenty made the right decision, but missed a chance to make a principled statement.
Make no mistake, I think Pawlenty made the right decision, but once again he fails to seize an opportunity to make a principled point. Public subsidies and campaign finance laws are simply bad ideas. The rationale that campaign finance laws promote more democratic participation in the election process is admirable in theory, but as the rise of PACs supports, it is impractical in application.
In a world where candidates issue press releases extolling their superior fundraising ability, is it hypocritical to condemn Pawlenty as the DFL is doing today? Or are they spot on?
A couple of days ago I wrote a Polinaut item on the Pew poll on religion and politics in America and tried to make a distinction that the term "religious" does not necessarily refer only to evangelical Christians, even though it seemed to be a term that has been hijacked by the political media to mean exactly that.
It's as hard to discuss this issue without being called anti-religion as it is to discuss race in this country without being called a racist. But discuss we must.
The reason Michael Barone (not the Pipedreams guy) makes the big bucks is that he's a better wordsmith than I am, as he demonstrates in saliently referring us today to an article expanding this topic.
Essentially, Walter Russell Mead seems to suggest, what we have now is not a non-religious vs. the religious scenario that the folks who latched onto the poll might suggest, but that we have a religion vs. religion scenario.
Yet the balance of power among the different religious strands shifts over time; in the last generation, this balance has shifted significantly, and with dramatic consequences. The more conservative strains within American Protestantism have gained adherents, and the liberal Protestantism that dominated the country during the middle years of the twentieth century has weakened. This shift has already changed U.S. foreign policy in profound ways.
These changes have yet to be widely understood, however, in part because most students of foreign policy in the United States and abroad are relatively unfamiliar with conservative U.S. Protestantism. That the views of the evangelical Reverend Billy Graham lead to quite different approaches to foreign relations than, say, those popular at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University is not generally appreciated. But subtle theological and cultural differences can and do have important political consequences. Interpreting the impact of religious changes in the United States on U.S. foreign policy therefore requires a closer look into the big revival tent of American Protestantism.
Why focus exclusively on Protestantism? The answer is, in part, that Protestantism has shaped much of the country's identity and remains today the majority faith in the United States (although only just). Moreover, the changes in Catholicism (the second-largest faith and the largest single religious denomination in the country) present a more mixed picture with fewer foreign policy implications. And finally, the remaining religious groups in the United States are significantly less influential when it comes to the country's politics.
I'll have to read his book because -- so far -- it's lightbulb material. And if I'm reading his writing correctly -- and I acknowledge I may not be -- the constant to-and-fro' of liberalism/conservatism does not necessarily start with a shift in political thought; it starts with a shift in religion.
I didn't get a chance to listen to the MPR debate among the Senate candidates live, so I'm now listening through the miracle of the Web. I guess I can non-live blog it since I'm sitting here listening now.
Both Kennedy and Klobuchar seemed to ignore Independence Party Senate candidate Robert Fitzgerald, which is too bad because he seems direct and pleasant, including admonishing the audience that "the applause and catcalls aren't doing any good." What? Civility? This could catch on. Plus you've got to like a guy who had to take his two-week vacation from work to campaign at the State Fair.
(Times relate to the time from the beginning of the RealAudio file)
9:00 - Kennedy took on Klobuchar for saying she supported the troops but saying she was against a bill that would provide body armor and other supplies for troops in Iraq. Klobuchar called Kennedy's remarks "outrageous for implying that I don't support the troops." "I'm not implying it," Kennedy said.
Fitzgerald responded by saying the real issue is why the troops were sent over to Iraq without body armor in the first place.
13:31 Klobuchar says "we have to send someone to Washington who's willing to take on the oil companies. Fitzgerald says Klobuchar needs a stronger position for energy independence. BTW, he's campaigning in a bus that runs on vegetable oil. Kennedy again connects Klobuchar to the body armor issue, and proactively takes on the allegation that he's too close to President Bush before having the issue raised by saying there are "twice as many people who vote with Bush" more than he does. Outlines his energy independence plan to take tax credits back from the oil companies.
Eichten cuts him off because his time ran out. I mention that because my son was the guy who held up the signs to the candidates when their time was running out. Yes, I'm proud. Now back to our story.
17:00 - Klobuchar blames Kennedy for supporting tax breaks to oil companies. Fitzgerald says this whole deal is what happens when special interests pollute democracy.
18:33 - Kennedy challenges Klobuchar to name one difference between she and Mark Dayton, Ted Kennedy or Howard Dean. Klobuchar says she hasn't studied their voting records but says there are things she'd do differently than Dayton (would've supported CIA chief).
Fitzgerald says it's true George Bush's name isn't on the ballot (Kennedy's response to the questions of his voting record). But says neither is Mark Dayton's.
20:55 - Health care. Fitzgerald says health care should not be tied to employment, but says he won't support universal health care as an unfunded mandate. Says if the feds write the plan, it'll be as bad as the Medicare Part D. Kennedy says "we don't want government-run health care." Says businesses should be allowed to band together to buy coverage at a discount. "That's backwards," he said. Klobuchar said health care premiums have gone up 60 percent since Kennedy has been in office. Says Medicare Part D was "a $90 billion Christmas gift to the prescription drug companies." Calls for small businesses and self employed to buy into the federal insurance program with tax credits.
25:24 Eichten gives candidates a chance to ask another candidate a question. I bet my wife $1 that nobody will ask Fitzgerald a question.
26:08 Kennedy asks Klobuchar if she's troubled by her mutual fund's largest holding is ExxonMobil at a time when she's "demonizing" oil companies. Klobuchar says she doesn't know where all the investments in her mutual fund are but says Kennedy is running an ad saying he'll go after oil companies when he's "taken $55,000 from oil company PACS." "I don't think this was the best question to ask, Congressman Kennedy," she said.
27:30 Klobuchar's turn to ask a question. She asks Kennedy (as I collect my $1) why he doesn't favor reimportation of drugs from Canada. Kennedy hammers her on the mutual fund issue in response. "I would expect somebody that had an education at Yale and Chicago Law School to be able to figure that out." Kennedy, answering the question, said "we cannot set aside the safety concerns."
"So you think Gov. Pawlenty is endangering the health of our state," Klobuchar responded?
"I'll ask my question now, " said Fitzgerald.
30:55 - Manure is the topic. Fitzgerald asks Kennedy why he doesn't think manure is a hazardous waste, citing several liquid manure spills. "Is it not better to have more farmers raising fewer animals," he asks. "I would support the Clean Water Act that's in place," Kennedy said. "There's already state rules in place" to make sure the requirements are followed, saying "we should enforce the laws that are out there right now."
33:18 Budget deficit. Kennedy says the budget deficit has declined in the last two years by growing the economy and says cutting taxes is the solution. "15% growth in revenue last year and 12 percent this year, " he said. He also wants a line item veto to "get the junk out of there."
Klobuchar says Washington took "a $200 billion Clinton budget surplus and turned it into a $300 billion Bush budget deficit." Proposes rolling back tax cuts on "wealthiest 1%." Says her plan would only "derail a few yacht sales." Proposes eliminating offshore tax havens and eliminating tax subsidies to oil companies, add pay-as-you-go policy.
Fitzgerald says "only in Washington can elected officials pat themselves on the back for a $300 billion deficit because it wasn't $400 billion." Says Klobuchar's plan isn't enough and says Social Security and Medicare have to be reconsidered. Advocates means testing for both.
38:05 Social Security. Klobuchar says "we're using Social Security as collateral for the debt." Says "number one focus" should be on paying off deficit/debt. Advocates fiscal responsibility. Kennedy says the Social Security fund should be "locked up." Says $1.54 tax increase would be three times bigger than the largest tax increase ever passed. He criticizes Klobuchar for threatening the growth of the economy through tax increases.
40:14 Fitzgerald questions where "this growth" is happening that Kennedy is talking about. Klobuchar talks about a coffee shop where 100 people showed up to talk about their problems. Kennedy says he has proposals. "There's no question I'm not as good at complaining. There's no question I'm not good at criticizing. But you need to put forth proposals, not just complaints and criticisms."
42:08 A farmer from Alexandria calls in to say how much energy prices are hurting. Says he's worried about the concept of "punishing oil companies," noting the increase in a pack of cigarettes since the government started punishing tobacco companies. Asked about drilling up in ANWR and opening Yucca Mountain for nuke waste storage.
Fitzgerald: Nay on ANWR but says it's not off the table. "Kind of a yay?" Eichten asked.
Klobuchar: Opposed to drilling in ANWR but said drilling in the Gulf (of Mexico) has possibilities and suggested more nuclear power.
Kennedy: Opposes ANWR. Supports Yucca Mountain and suggests drilling in the outer continental shelf.
44:14 Audience member asks about immigration. Asks Klobuchar to describe key components of Senate immigration bill. Klobuchar says "we need adequate border patrol." No amnesty for companies hiring illegal workers, she says, and calls for "some sort of earned citizenship." Fitzgerald the borders could be secured if the National Guard would come back from Iraq. Calls for stronger visa compliance. Doesn't like guest-worker program. Kennedy rejects components of Senate bill that gives illegal immigrants apparent breaks on back taxes. Says the U.S. doesn't need permission from Mexico to build a border fence. Objects to $50 billion in "welfare type payments."
48:00 - Eichten asks about stem cell research and asks if President Bush "did the right thing." "I don't believe he did," Klobuchar says. "We must move forward on stem cell research," she said. Kennedy said "we are moving forward. We've made great breakthroughs... dealing with cord blood." Says he supports doubling investment at the National Institutes of Health. Fitzgerald says he approves investing in stem cell research.
50:50 Each candidate was given a minute to summarize. Nothing you haven't heard before.
Did I mention my son was the timekeeper? He called his mother tonight to talk about the debate and about how much he enjoyed Midday's second hour, which featured ex-governors. He noticed that since nothing was at stake in their comments, he found them more -- and I'm not sure this was his word -- sincere.
My kid. Talking politics. Working at MPR (he's an intern and, yeah, he got the job on his own). If he ever realizes how much he's like me, it'll horrify him.