WASHINGTON - With the economy and job creation as the top issue on the minds of voters, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is making it known that she's reaching out to business leaders across the state.
Over the past few weeks, Klobuchar held an Innovation Summit, met with business leaders across Minnesota and invited Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins to President Obama's State of the Union address.
"I got on the Commerce Committee four years ago with the focus of working with businesses both big and small," Klobuchar said when asked about the more public emphasis on business issues. "You look at the fact that I've been working with these business from the beginning. You don't turn over in a few months. I've been doing it the day I got here."
Klobuchar may have been working quietly on economic and business issues over the past four years but it's clear she's touting those efforts now. She was careful to mention during an interview tonight that she's coauthoring a bill with Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown that aims to cut regulations on business. She says she hopes the bipartisan effort will allow business leaders to spend less money on regulations and more money on investments.
"Now is the time to start building," Klobuchar said. "Building our economic edge, adding private sector employees and looking at not just stabilizing but how to compete..."
Klobuchar also said reducing regulations on medical device companies is her top priority - a clear message to Minnesota's Medical Alley that she's trying to help improve their bottom line - especially after those companies had a difficult 2010. Her efforts to reach out to Minnesota's Medical Technology companies are also aimed at circumventing a potential political problem in 2012.
Republicans, including GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen, have criticized a tax on medical device companies. Klobuchar was careful to mention at the time and in the interview that she convinced those negotiating the health care law to lower the tax.
It's no mistake that Klobuchar is making business her public business in 2011. She's up for reelection in 2012 and has high approval ratings. A signal that she's reaching out to business in an economic downturn shows that she intends to keep those approval numbers high.
Bill Hawkins, not Jeff Hawkins
Argh! I know that. Sorry for the mistake. I fixed.