The turmoil in the global markets leads the Digest today. On Monday, Americans watched their stocks, 401ks and pension funds take a hit in a stock sell off blood bath.
Tidbit: Another factor to watch is how big Minnesota's pension funds are hit. The State Board of Investment didn't return calls to MPR to discuss the situation.
Others worry about the cost of borrowing on the state and local level.
Minnesota cities are bracing for higher interest rates.
The markets tanked as President Obama urged calm.
Obama called for the political will to deal with the challenges facing the nation.
Freddie Mac seeks $1.5 billion more from taxpayers.
Under the Dome
Minnesota seeks a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Meredith Salsbery, deputy chief for DFL Rep. Tim Walz, is leaving her position to become the spokeswoman for the Met Council.
Politics in Minnesota says some GOP activists are unhappy with the Legislature.
The Accuser of 1990 gubernatorial candidate, John Grunseth, died.
Recall elections will be held today for several Wisconsin state senators.
Minnesota's delegation starts reacting (slowly) to the credit downgrade.
The Star Tribune says a Minnesota man was one of the Navy Seals killed in Afghanistan over the weekend.
A court allows a torture lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The House page program will end.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson worries the Super Committee tasked with finding $1.4 trillion in deficit savings will make big cuts to Ag.
A congressional chair subpoenas the National Labor Relations Board regarding an investigation into Boeing's decision to open a non-union factory in South Carolina to punish union workers in Seattle. GOP Rep. John Kline is mentioned.
Race for President
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to announce a 2012 run on Saturday. Perry will be in the key presidential states of South Carolina and New Hampshire. Saturday is the same day as the Iowa Straw poll.
The Washington Post says Tim Pawlenty is working to pick up steam in Iowa. The paper points out a problem for Pawlenty: He needs to do well (a close second) or supporters may move to other candidates like Perry.
GOP candidates criticize President Obama over the credit rating downgrade.
The National Journal points out that Obama's approval rating is the same as Ronald Reagan's in 1983.
Politico says Obama's plan is to "destroy Romney."
Michele Bachmann leads a GOP poll in Iowa.
The New Yorker profiles Bachmann.
The National Organization for Women criticizes Newsweek for the Bachmann cover.
New Hampshire's The Union Leader editorial page rips Bachmann for her vote against the debt ceiling bill.
Tim Pawlenty launched an "Ames All-Stars" Iowa GOTV event.
WASHINGTON - It's recess for members of Congress, which means they're back in their districts. If you're DFL Rep. Tim Walz, it means your constituents are getting Republican robo-calls blaming you for the downgrade of the nation's credit rating.
The latest salvo of calls, which happen frequently when Walz returns to the 1st District, are targeting his no vote last month for the Republican "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan. Just five Democrats voted for the proposal, which would have amended the Constitution to require a balanced budget and would have capped the size of government at 18 percent of the previous year's Gross Domestic Product.
The Republican calls blame Walz and fellow Democrats for failing to support the plan, which the call says led to Standard and Poors' downgrade of the federal government's credit rating. The script goes on to to warn listeners that their retirement savings are in danger and interest rates on mortgages, car loans and student loans could all go up as a result of the downgrade (for the record, yields on U.S. Treasury bonds, which are the basis for most interest rates, have fallen over the past few days despite the downgrade as investors seek safer assets than stocks).
Democrats, including conservative Minnesota Blue Dog Collin Peterson, opposed the "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan because they said it would arbitrarily fix the size of government and would require huge cuts to safety net programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
Walz, who was elected in 2006, is the Republicans favorite target in Minnesota because he sits in a potentially conservative-leaning district.
UPDATE: Walz's campaign responds with this brief quote:
Washington Republicans are distorting the truth about Congressman Walz's record. Southern Minnesotans know Congressman Walz remains focused on creating jobs, reducing our deficit and getting our economy back on track.
It's also been pointed out to us that robocalls are technically illegal in Minnesota, so we've put the question to the National Republican Campaign Committee, which is paying for the calls, about whether their calls are in compliance with state law.
UPDATE 2 An NRCC spokeswoman writes:
The calls comply with MN law and are live calls. A live operator will state the purpose of the message, the name of the organization represented (NRCC) and obtain the recipient's consent to hear the recorded message.(1 Comments)
The head of the one of the state's pension funds says the funds are positioned to ride out the market downturn. Laurie Hacking, executive director of the Minnesota Teacher Retirement Fund, says the recent turmoil in the stock market is a concern but she said the state's pension fund managers are investing over the long term. She said retirees and state employees shouldn't be worried about the market fluctuation.
"We accumulate money and invest over the years well before we have to pay an individual's benefits," Jacking said. "We have lots of time to have good returns on those investments. Yes, we're going to have some down years and we plan for that but we know that eventually that the markets will get back on their feet."
Hacking said the return on investment in the state's pension fund has a good track record. She said it averaged a 10 percent return over the last 30 years.
Posted at 4:38 PM on August 9, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: Campaign 2012
WASHINGTON - The White House says President Obama will travel to Minnesota next week as part of a campaign-style three-day, three-state bus tour of the Midwest.
The White House hasn't released much in the way of details but says he'll be in southern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and western Illinois to, "discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation and hear directly from Americans."
The trip is scheduled to start Monday, Aug. 15 and end Aug. 17. That puts Obama near the gaggle of GOP presidential contenders, who have been tromping around Iowa this week ahead of the Ames Straw Poll this weekend.
We'll have more on the details as they come out.
The Minnesota Family Council sent an e-mail to supporters today encouraging them to volunteer to help pass a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriage. Minnesota Family Council CEO John Helmberger said in the e-mail that the group would include the Minnesota Family Council, the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the National Organization for Marriage:
For our campaign to be successful, however, we need people of faith to rise up, speak, and participate in the campaign. We know that those who want to redefine marriage to their own purposes will benefit from millions of dollars in support from wealthy donors in Hollywood, New York, and other centers of "popular culture". They will not lack for resources. We must counter that with the power of our people, who will volunteer their time, speak the truth, and contribute of their resources to help our campaign.
Our campaign plan relies on recruiting and deploying thousands of volunteers throughout the state of Minnesota. We will be conducting a massive voter education effort - speaking one-on-one with every Minnesota resident about the amendment and why it is necessary to preserve traditional marriage in our state and prevent activist judges or legislators from ever redefining it without the support of voters.
(Full e-mail below)
Helmberger also said the media "overwhelmingly against the amendment and they slant news coverage to make it seem as if we are going to lose" and suggested that they would be outspent by opponents of the amendment.
Both sides are gearing up for what is expected to be a costly battle. 31 of 31 states have voted to amend the constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Groups working to defeat the amendment include Project 515, OutFront Minnesota and the Human Rights Campaign. The Minnesota AFL-CIO also announced yesterday that the coalition of labor unions would work to defeat the amendment.
"The labor movement is, and has always been about protecting and advancing the rights of all people," said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson in a news release. "We will not stand by and allow discrimination to become part of Minnesota's constitution."
Voters in the 2012 election will decide whether the Minnesota Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman. The constitution will include the marriage definition if a majority of those voting in the election vote yes.
Here's the e-mail:6 Comments)