Posted at 7:01 AM on September 15, 2011
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Daily Digest
Good Thursday morning, and welcome to the Daily Digest, where we explore the state's tobacco bonding plan, question whether Bachmann's HPV comments have backfired, and take a look at the latest polls.
Remember the tobacco bonding plan that ended up in the state's budget deal? The bonds are about to be sold, but there are still a lot of questions about how much money they'll make.
Gov. Mark Dayton is weighing an executive order that would allow in-home child care workers to unionize.
Dayton took verbal swipes at his GOP critics.
He wants a larger contribution from the Vikings for the team's new stadium.
The PoliGraph says DFL claims that the school payment shift originated with Republicans are misleading.
The BWCA fire rages on. MPR has an FAQ on the blaze.
Dayton makes a former House speaker a Fourth District judge.
An FBI probe surrounding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is expanding.
President Barack Obama was in North Carolina touting his jobs plan.
Some congressional Democrats say they can't vote for it as is.
A company that benefited from the last stimulus bill is under scrutiny in Congress.
On the Campaign Trail
Rep. Michele Bachmann is courting support from an Arizona sheriff with a tough stance on illegal immigration.
Bachmann's comments about the HPV vaccine may be backfiring.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the target of Bachmann's criticism, is among those saying that her comments about the safety of the HPV vaccine are false.
He's still doing well in polls. A Bloomberg survey has him capturing 26 percent support from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Romney is in second place with 22 percent and all other candidates have less than 10 percent.
A University of Minnesota bioethics professor is offering $1,000 for proof that woman's daughter became mentally disabled after getting the HPV vaccine. Bachmann mentioned meeting the mother after Monday night's debate.
Bachmann's book has a cover - and a name: Core of Conviction.
WASHINGTON - If there was ever a Congressional committee with the power to rivet the attention of Senators and House members, it's the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the "super committee."
The bipartisan, bicameral committee of 12 is the child of last month's debt ceiling deal and has an unusual amount of power to find more than $1.5 trillion in budget savings over the next decade by Thanksgiving. The House and Senate must then approve or reject the entire package without amendments (and in the case of the Senate, with a simple majority vote) by Christmas. If the deal is rejected, automatic, across-the-board cuts worth $1.2 trillion kick in starting in 2013.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of more than 30 senators, including DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, asked the super committee to "go big" and reach a $4 trillion deal along the lines of proposals made by last year's Bowles-Simpson Commission and another framework reached by the Senate's so-called "Gang of Six" earlier this year.
Some of the other signers include Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).
At a press conference, the senators said their goal was to provide political cover for the super committee members to go above and beyond their mandated budget cutting goals, but the letter also reflects another new fact of Capitol Hill life: most lawmakers are now forced to lobby this select committee of Senators and House members instead of having a direct voice in affairs themselves.
Klobuchar isn't alone among Minnesota lawmakers writing these kinds of letters to the super committee.
Yesterday, her colleagues, DFL Sen. Al Franken was one of several Senate liberals who penned a letter to all 12 committee members asking them to spare Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from cuts.
In the House, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison co-wrote a letter on behalf of the Progressive Caucus that he leads asking the committee to add job creation to its mandate.
Some members are counting on personal connections to ensure that their voices are heard. DFL Rep. Collin Peterson is concerned that agricultural programs will be hard hit by the super committee because of the "ideological agendas" of some of its members.
But Peterson says agriculture has at least one ally with a seat on the committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee.
"He's our guy," Peterson said in an interview, "He's been calling me regularly and we've been strategizing."
So far, Minnesota's four Republicans in the House have been quiet about the super committee, but shortly after the bill creating the committee passed, Rep. John Kline expressed concern about the automatic defense cuts that would take place if the committee doesn't reach a deal.
The open question is whether all of the letters and personal contacts will be enough to change the 12 members' minds by Thanksgiving.
Posted at 4:37 PM on September 15, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: MN Legislature
A bit of sad news to pass along. GOP Rep. Jim Abeler's 22-year-old son died last night.
An e-mail was sent to staffers in the Minnesota House today that said Abeler's son, Josiah, died last night. The e-mail said he had a seizure while he was asleep.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman is slated to hold a fundraiser for GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack. Coleman, who lose his reelection bid to DFL Sen. Al Franken in 2008, is holding the fundraiser for Cravaack at The Minneapolis Club on Friday. Individuals are being asked to contribute $500. Political Action Committees are being asked to contribute $1,000.
Cravaack is expected to face a tough reelection battle in 2012. He defeated DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2008.
Democrats are hoping that they can defeat Cravaack. Four Democrats, Jeff Anderson, Tarryl Clark, Daniel Fanning and Rick Nolan are all running or are pondering a challenge to Cravaack.
One key question is how the congressional boundaries are redrawn. The 2010 Census requires Gov. Dayton and the Legislature to redraw the state's political boundaries to ensure equal representation. The state's courts will take over the process if Dayton and the Legislature can't agree on a new set of lines by February 21.
Tim Pawlenty's early exit from the race for the Republican presidential nomination was as much of a surprise to the Minnesota governor's former adviser, Vin Weber, as it was to outside observers.
"I was surprised how quickly he left," Weber said during a talk at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. "I was not part of that decision."
Pawlenty bowed out of the race on August 14 the day after a poor showing in the Iowa Straw Poll, saying his campaign had run out of money. Weber said it was a "fundamental and unfortunate error in strategy" to put all the campaign's hopes on the straw poll.
As the GOP field expanded to included Rep. Michele Bachmann and others, Pawlenty's somewhat more moderate ideology pushed him further and further to the middle, making it difficult for him to appeal to the conservative voters typically found in Iowa, Weber said.
"I think if Tim Pawlenty had been able to stay in the race he would have found that the argument he was making to Iowa, which was that he was the candidate that would unite the party and have the best chance of beating Barack Obama,...I think that our campaign would have had more resonance as you got closer to the vote."
Now Weber is working for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He gave a peek into the campaign.
Weber admitted that so far, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the front-runner and will pose a challenge to Romney as a result.
The question, he said, "is that a solid position that's going to hold, or is he benefiting disproportionately from the 'new guy on the block' syndrome?"
The real message that Romney will have to deliver is one of electability - and stay slightly to the left of Perry during the nomination process as a result. The strategy will work if what drives Republican voters this year is the desire to beat Obama.
Weber also talked about Romney's recent attack on Perry for calling Social Security a "Ponzi" scheme, saying that Republicans walk a fine line on the issue. On one hand, they don't want to alienate the older voters who make up a sizable portion of the party's electorate. At the same time, Republicans have long railed against government spending, but not entitlement reform.
Republicans "can't be in a position of maintaining [Social Security] as the untouchable third rail of politics" if it's ever going to be reformed, Weber said.
Weber dismissed the notion that Romney's Mormon religion will be trouble for him during the campaign. During the last election, Romney was doing well in Iowa until Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, came into the picture. Critics point to that dynamic as evidence Romney's religion will hurt him politically.
But Weber says he interpreted Huckabee's first place finish in the Iowa caucuses differently. Voters there were voting for a Baptist minister - someone like them - not against a Mormon.
Still, Romney's religion could be a challenge in the South, Weber said.
"That's not inconsequential," he said.