Posted at 7:28 AM on October 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Gov. Pawlenty will hold the first major fundraiser for his federal PAC today in Washington D.C.
Pawlenty is aiming to ramp up his PAC website with more bells and whistles (and merchandise).
Pawlenty is also asking the nation's other governors to band together to allow the purchasing of health insurance across state lines.
Under the Dome
Asian business owners filed a complaint over the Central Corridor.
Meanwhile, Northstar gets a trial run.
The DNR is adding more lakes to its "infested waters" list.
A study shows where Minnesota could improve in teaching math and science.
Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing a nursing home owner for alleged health care fraud.
Minnesota will get $5 million for rebates on appliances.
There will be a rally at the State Capitol to support Climate Change this week. DFL Rep. Keith Ellison and DFL rep. Betty McCollum will attend.
Thirty members of the MN House created a Small Business Caucus.
The AP says Minneapolis Police Officer Sharon Lubinski is the first openly gay U.S. Marshall in the nation's history.
Democrats are aiming to end the antitrust exemptions for insurance companies.
The health bill exempts some large employers.
President Obama is trying to shift the bailout from Wall St. firms to small businesses.
Obama also orders steep pay cuts to firms that got the most federal aid.
Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet today.
Poland will accept a new, more mobile, missile defense system after Obama scrapped a Bush era plan.
Obama's decision on a troop boost may come after the revote in Afghanistan.
I missed this one earlier. The Rochester Post-Bulletin says DFL Sen. Al Franken doesn't believe sending tens of thousands of U.S. troops to Afghanistan is the answer.
Franken wants to end a tax break given to drug companies for advertising.
The Wall St. Journal picks up DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar's bill that would reduce indoor emissions of formaldehyde.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison wants to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Ellison is holding a hearing on the subject on Saturday.
Republicans want to kill the idea.
Democrats are criticizing GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann for trying to build a list of supporters.
Bachmann also detects a conspiracy to weaken the dollar.
The House Ag bill approved a derivatives reform bill. DFL Rep. Collin Peterson is mentioned.
Peterson reportedly opposes the public option and is undecided on a health care coop.
The Washington Post says Democrats in the House are considering a second stimulus. DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar wants more spending on infrastructure and transportation.
Oberstar doesn't compose music or lyrics. He composes legislation.
2010 Race for Governor
Some labor unions are ramping up efforts to back candidates.
Former DFL Rep. Matt Entenza visited a school near Rochester.
The Minnesota Daily interviews GOP state Rep. Paul Kohls.
Governing Magazine calls Minnesota a toss-up.
2010 Race for Congress
The Minnesota Independent sees if GOP state Sen. Julie Rosen is running for Congress in Minnesota's 1st and got a maybe.
Posted at 9:11 AM on October 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
The National Consumer Law Center is awarding Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson with the Champion of Justice Award. In a news release, the organization said Swanson is receiving the award because of her work in consumer protection and legal rights:
"Attorney General Swanson has been a tireless champion for consumers in America, whether leading the charge against predatory mortgage lending, protecting seniors from marketing abuses, or defending our basic American right to have credit card disputes resolved impartially and not through a stacked deck," said Will Ogburn, Executive Director of the National Consumer Law Center.
The National Consumer Law Center particularly acknowledged Attorney General Swanson's groundbreaking work to reform the use of pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses in credit card and other consumer contracts.
Swanson, a Democrat, was first elected to her position in 2006. She said she will run for reelection.
Posted at 10:17 AM on October 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
A new poll by Public Policy Polling (a firm with Democratic ties) says President Obama is leading Governor Tim Pawlenty in a head to head matchup. Obama received support of fifty percent of those polled. Pawlenty received thirty percent support.
Obama leads in head to head matchups against Pawlenty, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Pawlenty had the lowest numbers of all of the GOP candidates polled but the firm said Pawlenty has the best upside:
Somewhat counterintuitively the best news in this poll might be for Tim Pawlenty. Only 27% of respondents have an opinion of him and it breaks down negatively, 16/11. He trails Obama by the widest margin. But with all of the better known Republican candidates looking pretty weak the door is really open for someone like him to step in and have a big impact on this race. No one expected Barack Obama to be the Democrats' 2008 nominee at this time four years ago, and the best hope for Republicans in 2012 may be to move beyond the Huckabee/Palin/Romney trio that all has the loser stench from last year.
You can read the full results here.
Posted at 11:06 AM on October 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher just released her list folks who are backing her campaign for governor. The list includes 34 current state lawmakers, Former Secretary of State Joan Growe, Former State Auditor Judi Dutcher, Former Congressman Martin Sabo, Former Speaker of the House Dee Long and Former Speaker of the House Robert Vanasek.
You can view the entire list here.
Posted at 12:03 PM on October 22, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
The 10 DFL candidates for governor took turns making their pitch to small groups of voters last night during a political event in Rochester.
About 100 people showed up for the gubernatorial forum, sponsored by the Olmsted County DFL. In a format described as speed dating, each candidate spoke to about 10 people at a time. And the small groups rotated every 15 minutes.
Former state representative Matt Entenza talked about his support for alternative energy, public education, health care reform and rural economic development. Entenza also highlighted his time as DFL House minority leader and battling with Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.
"And you can contrast that with what's happened in the last couple of legislative sessions, where I don't have to tell you things have not gone particularly well," Entenza said. "So, I'm proud of the fact that when the chips were down, I was there to make things work."
In another group, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher described herself as a leader who brings people together. She pointed specifically to the override of a transportation funding veto. Kelliher also talked about her appeal to voters statewide, including independents.
"I'm actually already attracting a lot of the supporters of Peter Hutchinson into my campaign as donors and supporters already," Kelliher said. "I actually have a district where those folks have lived and given, and I think it's important to go there and attract them into what we have to do."
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak explained that the governor is a chief executive, not a legislator. He described how his own executive experience would help navigate the state out of a looming budget deficit. Rybak also said he would look at expanding the state sales tax to clothing.
"I think clothing is a necessity for many people," Rybak said. "Underwear, yes. Fur coats, maybe not. So maybe over $100 we would introduce a clothing tax. That's one example. It's not something I'm glued to but I think it's only fair for me to say something."
Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner was also stressing her management experience, including the oversight of a $34 million budget. Gaertner says she wants to give Minnesota an opportunity for a fresh start.
"We've lost a lot of ground as a state. A lot of things that we've been so proud of as Minnesotans just isn't the same any more."
Posted at 12:30 PM on October 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
House Democrats announced today that they have reached an agreement that would eliminate the regional payment disparities in Medicare. The National Journal is reporting that the measure means Democrats have 218 votes in support of the public option in the House.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum and DFL Rep. Tim Walz both say they can now support a public option now that the Medicare disparities are fixed. McCollum said she now supports a public option
"Now that the Medicare reimbursement issue has been solved for Minnesota taxpayers and recipients, yes, I do support a public option," McCollum said.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for DFL Rep. Tim Walz says he's also open to supporting the public option. Meredith Salsbery sent a statement to reporters saying Walz is pleased with the Medicare deal announced today. She said he could now support the public option if it's in the final health care bill. She said, however, that he will not take a position on the final bill until he's seen it.
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar and DFL Rep. Keith Ellison have also indicated strong support for the public option. DFL Rep. Collin Peterson reportedly opposed the public option but that was before the Medicare deal was announced.
Posted at 9:00 PM on October 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
MPR News asked the ten members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation where they stand on the health care proposals currently moving through Congress. Specifically, we wanted to know if the candidates supported the public option and the health care Co-op. Here's what we found:
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar (in a written statement):
"I want to see more competition in the insurance market, and I believe one way to achieve that is with a public option, but I want to make sure that any public option plan goes hand-in-hand with significant Medicare cost reform. I have been working hard for that cost reform in the Senate bill. I think co-ops should be considered, but am concerned they may not have enough leverage to drive down costs."
DFL Sen. Al Franken is a strong supporter of the public option. His spokeswoman said Franken "has some serious concern about how the co-ops will build the critical mass of beneficiaries needed to be effective. However, we are open to all options that will create competition in the health insurance market. Basically, at this point, we don't have enough detail to make a definitive decision."
DFL Rep. Tim Walz says he's more inclined to support the public option now that it fixes the geographic disparities in Medicare. Listen to his comment on the public option from this afternoon's conference call: Listen
A spokeswoman for Walz also said Walz "finds the idea of co-ops an intriguing idea, especially since they've succeeded in Minnesota with organizations like HealthPartners. If it helps provide competition and lower costs, it should be a part of the mix."
GOP Rep. John Kline (through a spokesman):
1. Public option: A public "option" for health insurance essentially enables the federal government to make the rules, play the game, and act as a referee. In sharp contrast to the claims of the proposal's authors that a public option would improve access and drive down costs, a June 2009 study put forth by the independent consulting company, the Lewin Group, found that a government plan based on Medicare-level reimbursement rates, would result in almost 114 million Americans losing their current private insurance coverage. More recently, an analysis released by the President's own Department of Health and Human Services this week concludes that our nation's health care spending would increase by 2.1 percent in the next 10 years under the Democrat House proposal.
2. Health co-ops: Mr. Kline has been a longtime supporter of Association Health Plans, a proposal to allow small businesses and other associations to join together to get health insurance at lower rates - the same way large businesses and labor unions do today - and there are some similarities between Association Health Plans and co-ops. However, the co-op proposal being considered in the Senate includes $6 billion in taxpayer funding and layers of federal red tape. Government control over a co-op is no better than government control over other types of health care plans. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office has cautioned that the co-op proposal under debate will do little to drive down costs. Simply put, from what we've seen so far, there is no guarantee co-ops will be able to provide small businesses and individuals across the country the flexibility they need to secure affordable health care coverage, which Mr. Kline believes is a primary goal of health care reform.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen (through a spokesman):
"Congressman Paulsen opposes the government-run public option. He has concerns with the cooperative proposal, including the massive up-front investment of taxpayer dollars as well as the potential losses taxpayers could face if the cooperatives fail to be self-sufficient."
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum said she now supports the public option now that the geographic disparities in Medicare have been fixed. She said she doesn't know the specifics about the health Co-op proposed in the Senate Finance bill and isn't willing to comment on the plan. Listen to my brief interview with McCollum here: Listen
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison has been a strong supporter of the public option. His spokesman didn't get back to me on whether he supports the Co-op.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann (through a spokesman) does not support the public option or the Co-op language that's included in Senate Finance bill.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson reportedly does not support the public option and is undecided on the health care cooperative idea that's included in the Senate Finance bill. Peterson's office did not respond to my request.
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar is a strong supporter of the public option. His spokesman said Oberstar would vote for the Co-op idea if the public option isn't available and the Co-op ensures that more people will receive health coverage than the current system.