Posted at 6:30 AM on August 31, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Daily Digest
Welcome to the Daily Digest, where Brodkorb has narrowed his lawsuit, Klobuchar and Bills had a heated debated, the RNC ends and it's on to the DNC.
At the State Fair
MPR's Tom Crann with interview Gov. Mark Dayton today at the State Fair. Noon. Tune In.
Fired Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb has narrowed his lawsuit against the state.
A legislative panel rejected contracts for 27,000 of Minnesota's public workers.
Minnesota job openings are up.
The Race for Congress
Sen. Amy Klobuchar and GOP Rep. Kurt Bills engaged in heated debate at the Minnesota State Fair.
A new poll has Rick Nolan leading Rep. Chip Cravaack by three percentage points. Take note: the survey was commissioned by a Democratic PAC dedicated to putting more liberals in the House and several unions.
The RNC...and on to the DNC
Mitt Romney addressed the RNC last night.
His message? Jobs, of course.
But the other theme at the RNC was women. Romney is trying to snatch the female vote from President Barack Obama, who, at this point, has it locked up.
Many agreed that the strongest speech was Marco Rubio's. Some likened it to Obama's 2004 DNC speech.
Award for the - uh - most creative speech goes to Clint Eastwood, who made a surprise appearance.
Speakers at the RNC had trouble with the facts.
VP Paul Ryan in particular is taking heat for some misstatements in his Wednesday night speech.
Romney didn't always gets his facts right, either.
Minnesota's delegation is going home divided.
The party and super PACs "all but merged into a unified conservative machine" at the RNC, the New York Times reports.
Republicans are considering less expensive, shorter conventions in the future, Politico reports.
Now it's on to the DNC, where voters' emotional ties to Obama's campaign may be one of his biggest assets. Be sure to follow @TomScheck, who will be in Charlotte covering the convention.
There will be no Digest Monday because of the holiday.
Posted at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2012
by Brett Neely
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD3
WASHINGTON - Brian Barnes really wants to share a stage with Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen. Barnes, who's the DFL nominee to challenge Paulsen in the 3rd District, has been trying unsuccessfully to schedule a debate with the two-term incumbent.
Now, Barnes is offering Paulsen a less political, State Fair-themed option although Paulsen would have to act fast, since the Fair ends Monday.
"I challenge him to a contest of cow milking, butter carving or corndog eating - he can take his pick," said Barnes in a statement. "If I had a voting record like his, I would be afraid to debate also."
Posted at 12:28 PM on August 31, 2012
by Brett Neely
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD8
WASHINGTON - Two new polls out today in the 8th Congressional District race show DFL challenger former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan with a razor-thin lead over incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack.
But the results should be treated with caution, since the polls were paid for by Democratic-aligned groups that are spending heavily to oust Cravaack.
One poll of 405 likely voters from Aug. 26-27, paid for the House Majority PAC, Friends of Democracy and two labor unions found Nolan drawing 47 percent support to Cravaack's 44 percent and says Nolan's lead widens to 50 percent when respondents were read "balanced, positive paragraphs about each candidate." The firm behind the polling, Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies, did not provide more information about other questions it asked respondents.
A second poll, also of 405 likely voters from Aug. 21-23 and paid for by the Democratic Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of U.S. House Democrats, shows Nolan with 45 percent support compared to 44 percent for Cravaack and also show Nolan's lead widening once respondents hear about positive biographical details of both candidates. The DCCC also announced Friday that Nolan was being added to the party's "Red to Blue" list of candidates in potential swing districts.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the House Majority PAC has already spent more than $92,000 air ads opposing Cravaack while Friends of Democracy has spent $129,000. MPR's Poligraph gave a recent Friends of Democracy ad against Cravaack a "misleading" rating.
Democrats held the 8th District seat for decades and lost it narrowly to Republicans in 2010. The district has generally supported Democratic candidates for president though it has become more conservative in recent years.
The polls arrive less than a month after Nolan emerged as the DFL's candidate in the 8th after a long and bruising primary contest that has left his campaign with just under $88,000 in the bank as of July 25th. By contrast, Cravaack's campaign had more than $900,000 on hand.
"National Democrats released incomplete results of a poll to prop up former Congressman Nolan's struggling campaign," said Ben Golnik, a Cravaack advisor, in a statement.
On Tuesday, DFL Rep. Betty McCollum, Republican Tony Hernandez and Independence Party Steve Carlson debated issues facing Minnesota's 4th Congressional District residents.
While McCollum and Hernandez agreed on a few things, an area of discord involved the 2008 bank bailout called the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, which McCollum voted for and Hernandez said he opposed.
The affects of the bailout have been devastating, Hernandez said during the debate, which was sponsored by MPR News.
"The reason why unemployment is so high right now is because we bailed out the banks," Hernandez said during the debate. "The reason why the debt shot up $6 trillion since then is because we bailed out the banks."
Economists and financial experts disagree with Hernandez's characterization.
Hernandez argues that his underlying point is that the bailout was a boon for failing banks, institutions that should have been allowed to disintegrate.
"My statement attributing TARP and the bank bailouts to a stagnant U.S. economy was not intended to be a matter of fact, but rather my own opinion and judgment," Hernandez wrote in an e-mail. "I stand by my assertion that the U.S. economy would have stronger employment figures and a lower national debt today if Congress had let the insolvent financial institutions fail and for normal bankruptcy procedures to take place. "
Indeed, there's a reasonable argument to be made about whether the bailout was effective. Hernandez pointed to three news articles that underscore how the bank bailout and the auto industry bailout were costly and essentially prolonged a process that could have ended quickly if the government had stayed out of the picture.
For instance, in 2011, Bloomberg News reported that the Federal Reserve loaned the banks an additional $7.7 trillion - that was on top of the money banks received from the bailout.
Mark Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the conservative Cato Institute, is among those who questions the bailout, but says it's not the primary reason the U.S. is still in a financial slump.
"I think to argue that the bailout itself is the primary reason for job loss is an exaggeration if not outright inaccurate," Calabria said.
Calabria points out that employment peaked in the 4th quarter of 2007, and then declined steadily for a long time before the bank bailout even came into the picture. Those job losses were the product of the housing bubble, Calabria said, and one of the main reasons the job market hasn't bounced back is because the housing market is still struggling.
Michael Franc, vice president of government studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation agrees with Calabria, and says that while the bailout may have indirectly been one of the reasons for some unemployment, it's not the reason.
"One of the conservative arguments against government bailouts in general is that they artificially alter the natural trajectory of a recovery," Franc said. "They artificially prop up and sustain businesses that never would have lasted and would have gone under and would have been reconstructed in some way to allow them subsequently to come back and grow."
General uncertainty about the new health care bill, about whether the Bush-era tax cuts will be extended and about regulation is preventing employers from hiring, Franc said.
Tara Sinclair, a macroeconomist at George Washington University a lack of demand for goods and services has prevented employment from expanding.
"I haven't seen any evidence that the bailouts themselves caused higher unemployment," she wrote in an e-mail.
As for the nation's debt, it's true that it's increased about $6 trillion since 2008. But that debt is the product of many things, according to the Congressional Budget office, including President Barack Obama's stimulus bill, and a massive decline in revenue associated with the recession.
Reasonable minds can argue whether the bank bailout bolstered the economy, as McCollum contends, or whether it slowed the economic recovery, as Hernandez says.
But the economists we spoke with agree that it's disingenuous to say that the bailout is responsible for unemployment and the debt; it's far more complicated than that.
This claim is misleading.
To read Hernandez's entire response to MPR, see the comments section.
MPR News, Fiscal concerns dominate 4th District State Fair debate, by Catharine Richert, Aug. 28, 2012
The Congressional Budget Office, An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022, accessed Aug. 29, 2012
The Congressional Budget Office, Monthly Budget Review, Fiscal Year 2009, Oct. 7, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office, Monthly Budget Review, Fiscal Year 2010, Oct. 7, 2010
Bloomberg News, Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress, by Bob Ivry, Bradley Keoun and Phil Kuntz, Nov. 27, 2011
Forbes, General Motors Is Headed For Bankruptcy -- Again, by Louis Woodhill, Aug. 15, 2012
E-mail exchange, Tony Hernandez, Republican candidate for Minnesota's 4th Congressional District, Aug. 31, 2012
Interview, Michael Franc, Vice President of Government Studies, the Heritage Foundation, Aug. 29, 2012
Interview, David John, Senior Research Fellow in Retirement Security and Financial Institutions, the Heritage Foundation, Aug. 29, 2012
Interview, Mark Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies, the Cato Institute, Aug. 29, 2012
E-mail exchange, Tara Sinclair, economics professor, George Washington University, Aug. 29, 2012(2 Comments)
During their second debate of the election season, the gloves came off between DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her Republican opponent state Rep. Kurt Bills.
The two argued over taxes, Medicare, the debt, the war and veterans issues.
The hour-long debate hosted by Minnesota Public Radio News also gave Klobuchar another opportunity to highlight her history of bipartisanship in the Senate, a broad theme of her re-election campaign.
"The way we do this to get [a budget] through Congress is to have Senators that are known to be able to work in the middle," Klobuchar said. "Two-thirds of my bills are with Republicans."
Klobuchar has her numbers right.
To do this analysis, PoliGraph weeded out resolutions from Klobuchar's record, which don't have the force of law (think a non-controversial, Senate-approved statement to congratulate Brooklyn Center on its 100th anniversary).
We also dismissed miscellaneous tariff bills, which are temporary duty reductions on specific products. Lawmakers regularly ask to have duties lowered for a period of time, and those requests are dumped into one big bill. And we didn't include amendments to legislation, which are sometimes technical or procedural in nature.
According to Klobuchar's voting record, roughly 60 percent of the actual bills she has sponsored over the course of her career have secured Republican support.
For instance, in 2009, Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Richard Lugar of Indiana joined Klobuchar to pass a bill that would make adoption simpler.
However, it's important to point out few of the bipartisan bills Klobuchar has sponsored have actually been put on the books. And Klobuchar's voting record looks much different than her legislative record.
According to the Washington Post, Klobuchar has voted with her party 94 percent of the time this congressional session, making her one of the more loyal members of the Democratic Party.
What Klobuchar said is true: about two-thirds of the bills she has sponsored have Republican co-authors.
This claim is accurate.
MPR News, Senate candidates Klobuchar, Bills tangle in State Fair debate, by Catharine Richert, Aug. 30, 2012
THOMAS, Search Bill Summary & Status 112th Congress, accessed Aug. 30, 2012
The Washington Post, The U.S. Congress Votes Database: The U.S. Senate, accessed Aug. 31, 2012
E-mail exchange, Ben Garmisa, spokesman, Klobuchar for Senate(3 Comments)
Remember this campaign ad that aired in early August?
As it turns out, Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group behind the spot, has spent at least $465,000 on broadcasting it in Minnesota, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission and initially reported by the Sunlight Foundation.
The spot was part of a massive buy recently launched in August by Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by major Republican donors Charles and David Koch that supports small government and lower taxes.
AFP's media blitz includes a handful of states, including Minnesota, and the group has pledged to spend $27 million total on a series of advertisements.
Typically, AFP does not have to report to the FEC where it is buying ads.
An AFP spokesman was not immediately available for comment.