All eyes are on the markets (and 401ks) today to see whether investors get skittish over S&P's downgrade of the country's credit rating.
Stock futures are predicting a tumble.
Asia's markets slipped today.
AP says the economy, not the rating downgrade, are the bigger concern.
The world's global finance leaders are taking steps to calm the markets.
Members of the Obama Administration say the S&P analysis is "way off."
S&P officials, who have been criticized for failing to spot the problems that led to the mortgage meltdown, is defending its decision.
Congress has a shot at passing job creating bills.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will remain in his job.
Thirty U.S. soldiers, many belonging to Seal Team 6, were killed in Afghanistan.
Congress took the month off after passing a bill that would raise the debt ceiling but makes $2.4 trillion in cuts over ten years. Polling suggests no one won the standoff.
The U.S. will start granting waivers to allow states to be exempted from the No Child Left Behind law. GOP Rep. John Kline says he's concerned the efforts will undermine his plan to overhaul the law this fall.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar told corn country that she's looking to soften the blow of federal cuts to agriculture.
DFL Sen. Al Franken and DFL Rep. Collin Peterson support a bid to bring FarmFest to Detroit Lakes.
Franken has joined Bloomberg's fight against Comcast, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Franken also headlined a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in West Virginia.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum will hold a townhall forum on Tuesday night in St. Paul.
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack will hold townhall meetings this week.
Cravaack will also meet with architects in Duluth today.
The PoliGraph says Cravaack's claim about defense cuts is untrue.
Under the Dome
Minnesota's shutdown added to the nation's unemployment rate.
The budget cuts funds that help immigrant doctors to regain their profession.
Gov. Dayton wants a stadium impact study.
Outside groups are pouring money into the Wisconsin recall races.
The races are grabbing the national spotlight.
Race for President
Newsweek puts GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann on this week's cover. The photo, with the title Queen of Rage, profiles Bachmann looking off into distance (instead of at the camera). It's sure to spur anger among Bachmann supporters.
You can read the story here.
The candidates are ramping up their efforts in the week before Saturday's Iowa Straw poll.
Bachmann calls for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to be fired.
She also said a better economy "won't take that long" if she's elected.
Bachmann picked up endorsements from 100 faith leaders.
Was Texas Gov. Rick Perry seeking to edge out Bachmann with his prayer rally?
Tim Pawlenty also pushed his faith during several campaign stops in Iowa.
Pawlenty signed a group's anti-gay marriage pledge even though the campaign said he wouldn't.
He also called Jesus his "political hero."
CNN says Rick Perry is retreating from his tough federalist stance.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination is trying to build support in front of Saturday's Iowa Republican straw poll.
In an email to supporters Pawlenty's campaign manager Nick Ayers is promising "one-of-a-kind prizes" such as: signed T-Paw hockey jerseys, and signed copies of Pawlenty's book, The Courage to Stand, in exchange for help in getting undecided Iowa Republicans to support Pawlenty in the straw poll.
Ayers says supporters can help by placing calls on Pawlenty's behalf from the comfort of their own homes...even if those homes are outside of the Hawkeye State.
"The momentum is on our side and we are not letting up. With just under one week to go, we are asking each Pawlenty supporter across the country to help push us over the top in Ames," writes Ayers in the message.
Ayers also writes that no candidate is working harder for votes in Ames than Pawlenty, whom he describes as "well positioned for a great showing."
Gov. Dayton is taking swift action today to opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind standards. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that the federal government will start granting waiver to states that want to opt out of the No Child Left Behind law that was passed in 2001. Dayton issues a statement today saying he would do just that.
"Any education reform in Minnesota must begin and end with what is best for our children. The decade old federal law, known as No Child Left Behind, has failed to meet that standard. When it was enacted in 2001, nine of the ten members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation, including all three Republicans and myself, voted against it. Unfortunately, we were right. NCLB has imposed rigid testing requirements, many of which have harmed, not improved, the quality of students' learning experiences. It has labeled many schools wrongly, by applying invalid statistical measures.
"We can and must do better for our children. That is why today I have approved Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius' request to apply for the recently announced federal waiver, exempting schools temporarily from the flawed testing requirements and punitive sanctions of the current No Child Left Behind law.
"Such a waiver would allow Minnesota educators to focus on what is working in their schools. It would provide school boards, administrators, teachers, and parents with the flexibility they need to implement the reforms the Legislature and I enacted in the recent session."
As noted in the statement, Dayton voted against the No Child Left Behind Law in 2001. The only member of the delegation to vote for the bill was DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar. DFL Rep. Bill Luther abstained from voting.(1 Comments)
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders may be breathing a sigh of relief that a historic $5 billion projected budget deficit is behind them. The only problem is that they may be facing another budget shortfall when the 2012 legislative session starts in January. Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said the dramatic stock sell off in the past week, concerns over an economic slowdown and high unemployment could all mean fewer tax dollars flowing into the state's treasury.
"Balancing the budget once, unfortunately, doesn't guarantee that it will be balanced for the entire biennium," Schowalter told MPR News. "When big things like this happen, it will have ripple effects throughout our economy and that will affect our revenues and our spending."
Dayton and GOP legislative leaders ended a three-week state government shutdown by borrowing against future tobacco payments, delaying payments to K12 schools and cutting spending. The plan was heavily criticized because it didn't address the state's long-term structural deficit through permanent spending cuts, tax increases or a mixture of both. Schowalter said Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature may be forced to make another set of tough decisions if the state faces another budget deficit when the next revenue forecast is issued near the end of the year.
"Right now, we have a lot of uncertainty whether we're going to have a double dip recession and that means for the state of Minnesota and organizations generally, more uncertainty and more questions. We're going to have to act quickly and responsibly and make sure we keep our financial affairs in really good order."
Minnesota is scheduled to borrow $700 million to help balance the current budget. That money is leveraged by future payments from tobacco companies that the state receives from a settlement of a suit over smoking costs. The state is also scheduled to borrow $500 million to fund public works projects. Schowalter said S and P's decision to downgrade U.S. debt comes on top of two negative reports about Minnesota's credit rating. Schowalter said the state would likely be forced to pay more for that borrowing.
Posted at 8:10 PM on August 8, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - Minnesota's congressional delegation has been slow to react to downgrade given U.S. government debt by Standard & Poors on Friday night and subsequent market turmoil. As of Monday evening, just three of the state's ten House and Senate offices have issued a response.
Not surprisingly, the response has been pretty partisan. Echoing other Democrats, Rep. Betty McCollum has taken to tagging Republicans with the increasingly unpopular tea party label. Here's a sample from McCollum's statement:
Today's turmoil on Wall Street and the ever increasing possibility of a recession are direct consequences of the Tea Party Republican's careless, destructive political conduct which is now devastating the markets and middle class America.
Meanwhile, Republicans fired back with an "I told you so" argument, that said their "Cut, Cap and Balance" proposal, which would have fixed a constitutional limit to the size of government vis a vis the economy, would have prevented the downgrade. Instead, as Rep. Chip Cravaack argued in his statement:
Standard & Poor's downgrade of the nation's AAA credit rating is extremely unfortunate, but not unexpected.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison also took the party line, blaming Republican brinksmanship for the downgrade. But he also tried to use a little of Republican President Ronald Reagan's special sauce saying, in effect, "chin up, America!":
But we should be careful not to take this downgrade at face-value. America remains the strongest economy in the world. It is no surprise that investors turned to U.S. Treasurys last week.
We'll post excerpts from other statements by members of the delegation as they come in.