The League of Women Voters, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and other groups will hold a series of public meetings in hopes of drawing a new Minnesota political map. The first citizen meeting will be held Saturday afternoon at Minnesota Council of Nonprofits' offices at 1pm at 2314 University Avenue in St. Paul. Other meetings will be held across the state in coming weeks.
Input from the meetings will be used to propose several maps in September, says Laura Fredrick Wang, with the League of Woman Voters.
"These maps really define political power for the next ten years," Wang said. "The people who can tell you best what their community looks like, where people work in their community, where they go to school, where they live in their community and how they relate to each other are the people who live there. And if you don't get out and talk to those people and get a really broad range of input, it's really hard to capture a community."
Wang says the groups hope to submit one proposal to the state courts in October. A court-appointed panel will also hold hearings in October to get input on redistricting. The courts will draw the maps in late February if Gov. Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature can't agree on a map.
The political boundaries for Congress and the Legislature have to redrawn every ten years after the U.S. Census Bureau releases population data. So, the stakes for the new maps are huge because they will be a factor in determining the political makeup of the Minnesota Legislature and the state's congressional delegation for a decade.
Gov. Dayton vetoed a GOP redistricting plan in May because he said Republicans didn't gather enough citizen input about the proposal. He and the Democrats have not submitted a proposal of their own.
(Read more about the state's redistricting battle here)
The League of Women Voters' Yang says she hopes her plan will present the courts with a broader plan.
The commission, dubbed "Draw the Line Minnesota," will be represented by members who hold a wide range of political views.
The panel includes:
Bruce Corrie; Concordia University's Dean of College of Business and Organizational Leadership
Matthew Lewis, spokesman for the Independence Party of Minnesota
Anne Mason; a former spokeswoman for Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy and political director to GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen's Congressional campaign in 2008.
Kent Kaiser; a professor at Northwestern College who also served as spokesman when Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer held office.
Elda Macias; a marketing director for Ameriprise Financial and former member of the DFL Latino Caucus
Posted at 6:47 AM on July 29, 2011
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Daily Digest
It's Friday, and welcome to the Daily Digest.
Legislators didn't fix underlying problems in the state's budget, and that means Democrats and Republicans could be at odds for years to come.
Dayton's raised $80K since the start of the year.
State Senator Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville), says he won't run against incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012.
I missed this a few days ago (sorry), but Gov. Mark Dayton's explanation of why he decided to end the government shutdown is worth a read.
After a day of arm-twisting, House Speaker John Boehner could not rustle up enough votes to pass his debt ceiling plan. Even if there was enough support to adopt the bill, it likely would have failed in the Senate, and lawmakers wouldn't have been much closer to meeting the Aug. 2 deadline.
Rep. Chip Cravaack was among Republicans who was on the fence about the bill. Rep. Michele Bachmann also said she'd vote against the plan.
A coalition of unions and left-leaning interest groups, including Americans United for Change and the Service Employees International Union, is running this ad in the 8th district criticizing Cravaack for holding out on the debt ceiling vote.
Your debt ceiling questions, answered.
Dayton's still waiting for Congress to pass a bill to fund the new St. Croix River bridge.
Farm subsidies are on the chopping block. Rep. Collin Peterson is mentioned.
Race for the White House
Bachmann gave a speech at the National Press Club.
Bachmann will be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida this September.
An opinion writer says Bachmann has a cooler, calmer persona than she did before.
An Iowa radio host asks Gov. Tim Pawlenty if his campaign asked former Bachmann interns to dish on their old boss.
For a special edition of PoliGraph this afternoon. I'll be looking at several claims Bachmann made yesterday in her NPC speech.
In a speech at the National Press Club Thursday, Rep. Michele Bachmann focused on the national debt, the debt limit debate raging in Washington, D.C., and what she perceives as unwelcome government intrusion under President Obama's administration.
PoliGraph reviewed three of her statements and found mixed verdicts.
President Obama's debt limit increase "will be the largest debt increase in the history of the nation."
Amidst ongoing negotiations over the debt ceiling, the new limit is a moving target. But generally, Obama wants to raise the $14.3 trillion debt cap by about $2.4 trillion - enough credit to keep the nation from having another vote on the issue before the 2012 elections.
A $2.4 trillion increase would be the largest in nominal and inflation adjusted dollars since1940, the year after Congress created a universal cap for all the nation's debt (previously, there had been separate caps for different types of spending).
Bachmann gets this claim correct.
"If we allow President Obama to pass the proposed increase in the national debt, we will have - and catch your breath - almost doubled our national debt from the 2006 level when I was elected to Congress."
At first blush, Bachmann's claim is correct. On Dec. 31, 2006, the nation's debt was roughly $8.67 trillion, according to the Treasury Department. If Obama gets the $2.4 trillion increase he's seeking, the $14.3 trillion debit limit will rise to $16.7 trillion.
But Bachmann's claim is misleading because it implies that it's Obama's spending habits that caused the financial mess; it's more complicated than that.
It's true that in 2009, Obama's first year in office, the deficit was a whopping $1.4 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - about $960 billion more than the previous fiscal year. And in fiscal year 2010, the nation's debt increased by about $1.7 trillion.
But the trend started under the Bush administration. In fiscal year 2009, the nation's debt increased by about $1.9 trillion. About $245 billion of new spending inherited by Obama stemmed from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and payments to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And in Bush's last year in office, revenue declined by $419 billion as the result of the economic downturn.
Our debt also stems from Bush's tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for $7 trillion in deficits through 2019, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Of course, Obama's responsible, too. His stimulus bill added $200 billion to the 2009 deficit. And for fiscal year 2011, which ends on Sept. 30, CBO projects a $1.5 trillion deficit, in part due to the extension of the Bush tax cuts under Obama's administration.
Bachmann leaves out details about the origin of our debt, so this claim is misleading.
"Twenty-five years ago or so, almost all student loans were private. Today, 100 percent of student loans are government."
Bachmann's staff didn't provide background for this claim, but 25 years ago in 1986, federally guaranteed aid was available. According to the College Board, roughly $17.6 million of the $38 million in all education aid given out that year was in the form of government in loans.
In school year 2009-10, 44 percent of all school aid came from the federal government, with the rest coming from private loans, colleges and employers.
So, clearly, the federal government isn't giving out all education loans these days; students can easily get a private loan to subsidize their education. According to FinAid, a website that helps students navigate their loans more than $100 billion in federal loans and $10 billion in private student loans are given each year.
Her claim is false.
Minnesota Public Radio News, Midday: Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at the National Press Club, July 28, 2011
Bloomberg News, Reid to Move on Defeating House Debt-Ceiling Plan Tonight, July 28, 2011
Politico, Reid plan's savings trump Boehner's, by David Rogers, July 27, 2011
The White House, Office of Management and Budget, Historical Table: Debt Limit Increases, accessed July 28, 2011
The Congressional Research Service, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, April 29, 2008
The U.S. Treasury Department, The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It, accessed July 28, 2011
The Washington Post, CBO projects U.S. budget deficit to reach $1.5 trillion in 2011, highest ever, by Lori Montgomery, Jan. 27, 2011
The Congressional Budget Office, Revenues, Outlays, Deficits, Surpluses, and Debt Held by the Public: 1971 to 2010, in Billions of Dollars, accessed July 28, 2011
The Congressional Budget Office, Monthly Budget Review, November 2009
The Cato Institute, Don't Blame Obama for Bush's 2009 Deficit, by Daniel J. Mitchell, Nov. 19, 2009
The New York Times, How the U.S. Got $14 Trillion in Debt and Who Are the Creditors, July 28, 2011
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Economic Downturn and Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits, May 10, 2011
The New America Foundation, Federal Student Loan Programs - History, accessed July 28, 2011
Education Sector, Drowning in Debt: The Emerging Student Loan Crisis, July 9, 2008
The College Board, Trends in Student Aid 2010
The College Board, Grants, Loans, and Tax Benefits per Full-Time Equivalent Student over Time, accessed July 29, 2011
Email exchange, Doug Sachtleben, spokesman, Rep. Michele Bachmann, July 28, 2011
Interview, Erin Dillon, Senior Policy Analysis, Education Sector, July 28, 2011
Posted at 11:40 AM on July 29, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - After staying quiet yesterday as the House Republican leadership tried desperately to whip votes in favor of Speaker John Boehner's plan to lift the government's borrowing authority, freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack confirmed this morning that he opposed the Speaker's bill.
In an interview with KTLK, Cravaack said, "We held the line," arguing that Boehner's plan didn't go far enough in terms of spending cuts or reining in the ability of future Congresses to spend. Cravaack said he was encouraged by talk that votes on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would likely be part of any final package that House members vote on today. But his office said the 8th District congressman had still not made up his mind.
At least 25 House Republicans withheld their support for Boehner's plan, depriving the Speaker of the 217 votes he needed for it to pass the House. No Democrats said they would vote for the bill. The Democratic-controlled Senate has vowed to reject the Speaker's bill even if it clears the House.
Cravaack was not the only Minnesota Republican to defy the GOP leadership. Rep. Michele Bachmann has long opposed any increase in the debt ceiling and reiterated her opposition in a speech yesterday at the National Press Club.
In his KTLK interview, Cravaack was asked whether he could simply remain a no vote on the bill Cravaack replied, "We could. That's always an option. That's the nuclear option. But I would prefer to not use the nuclear option unless I have to go nuclear."
Meanwhile, liberal groups have renewed their attacks on Cravaack. A coalition of labor unions is airing ads in Duluth with the not-so-subtle slogan, "If the Social Security Checks, Veterans' Benefits, and Military Pay Minnesotans Are Counting On Don't Arrive After August 2, Thank Chip Cravaack and the Republicans in Congress."
WASHINGTON - Just two and a half hours before a scheduled final vote on House Speaker John Boehner's bill that would make drastic cuts to the federal budget while authorizing an increase in the government's borrowing authority, Minnesota freshman Republican Chip Cravaack says he's still undecided about how he will vote.
Cravaack wouldn't speak to reporters outside his office last night, nor would he speak today with Washington-based reporters from Minnesota news outlets. As he entered the House chamber and was asked whether he had come to a decision, Cravaack said, "I haven't yet, I'm sorry," and continued on.
Boehner's debt ceiling bill has become a litmus test for House Republicans. Fiscal conservatives and tea party sympathizers rebelled against the bill, denying the Speaker the needed votes for passage last night. For the past several days, Boehner's leadership team has been whipping for votes and Cravaack and the 25 or so other insurgents have been plied with a combination of threats and inducements to vote the party line.
Speaking this morning on KTLK, Cravaack said he opposed Boehner's original proposal, which has now been amended to include a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. Cravaack seem favorably disposed to the addition of that amendment.
Some tea party groups have viewed the Boehner plan with suspicion, seeing it as not going far enough with spending cuts. Indeed, one of the KTLK hosts asked Cravaack why he couldn't tell the House leadership, "We don't care what you do, we're not voting for an increase in the debt ceiling?"
"We could," Cravaack replied. "That's always an option. That's the nuclear option. But I would prefer to not use the nuclear option unless I have to go nuclear."
Posted at 5:40 PM on July 29, 2011
by Melanie Sommer
The House Republican bill to extend the federal government's debt ceiling passed late this afternoon despite a conservative rebellion. MPR's Washington reporter, Brett Neely, spoke to one of those rebels, Rep. Chip Cravaack, who represents Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.
Cravaack was elected to Congress last November as part a wave of freshmen determined to cut spending. He said when looked at the numbers, he was worried that the bill didn't cut enough.
Cravaack said he was pleased the Speaker added in a requirement for Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment, but that still wasn't enough.
"I took a look at where it was inserted within the language of the bill and I don't like where it's placed. It's very easily eradicated out," said Cravaack.
The pressure on Cravaack and other insurgent members to support Boehner's plan was intense. There were endless meetings and persuasion sessions.
When asked if he had bruises from that effort, he responded like this,
"I won't take off my shirt, let's put it that way," he said, laughing.
While Cravaack was holding firm on principle against this bill, ultimately it's expected to be for naught since the Democratic-controlled Senate won't pass the House bill.
WASHINGTON - House Speaker John Boehner's plan to cut deficits and raise the nation's debt limit barely made it through the House with 22 members of his Republican caucus - including Minnesota's Michele Bachmann and Chip Cravaack - voting against the final measure. It passed 218-210 with no Democrats crossing the aisle.
Minnesota's other two Republican House members, Erik Paulsen and John Kline, supported the measure, which would raise the debt limit in two steps and make deep spending cuts.
"I was a reluctant 'yes' on this," said Paulsen immediately after the vote. "I'm glad it increased additional cuts in spending. I like the concept of the balanced budget, I think it's fundamentally going to be one of the key reforms that changes the practice of what happens in Washington."
Negotiations over the debt ceiling are expected to continue through the weekend.