Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Category
TRC is no fan of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. That’s no secret. We are also no fan of the St. Croix Bridge project that Ms. Bachmann has been pushing for, and recently succeeded in navigating though DC.
But in celebration of that success, I saw this picture, and thought, well, despite my personal thoughts on Bachmann, we do have one important thing in common: she wears Minnesota proudly. Here she is in a Twins apron, serving hot dish to Senator Amy Klobuchar. Doesn’t get more Minnesota than that.
From the Stillwater Patch, which includes the recipe for Congresswoman Bachmann’s St. Croix River Crossing Hot Dish
TRC has made no secret of the fact that we oppose the enormous St. Croix Bridge project that has been sought for many years. Well, it has finally made its way through the labyrinthine process of legislative approval. It has passed both chambers, and is headed to the President.
I don’t like this bridge primarily because it will require the first ever exemption from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, a precedent that we shouldn’t set. We should protect what we have protected. Anytime we decide to un-protect natural resources that we have set aside it is a loss for the future.
Not only that. But it’s too expensive–$690 Million-and too big. It’s just too much. Our Minnesota voice of reason on this issue has always been Rep. Betty McCollum. Here she is on the bridge:
We agree with federal, state and local leaders who believe a new bridge across the St. Croix is needed….National media outlets have scrutinized the cost and scale of the St. Croix bridge project and have questioned whether it actually represents a massive Congressional earmark.
Let’s put the mega-bridge in context. Following the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, a replacement bridge was built to serve 140,000 cars per day at a cost of $260 million — to date, the most expensive bridge ever built in Minnesota. In contrast, the St. Croix mega-bridge would serve only 18,000 cars the day it opens but would carry a price tag that is 260 percent more expensive.
140,000 cars = $260 Million. So naturally, 18,000 cars = $690 Million. That makes sense.
Now it is passed. I will say only that in my opinion this bridge will be a monument of waste. If we were smart, we would build it smart and safe and in a way that does not require us to undo the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. But we aren’t going to. And that’s a shame.
At least Michele Bachmann will finally have a rebuttal to those who said she never got anything done in DC.
TRC has been waiting for real winter to arrive in St. Paul. This year. Yesterday we had our first real “winter storm,” which for St. Paul turned out to be a dump of sleet and rain, upon which about 2 inches of heavy, wet snow fell. The morning shovel felt terrible. And the snow is not going to hang around long. Paul Huttner told me on MPR this morning that it’s going to be nearing 50 degrees next week. So much for MN winter.
But at least our Cherry Blossom Tree looked lovely this morn.
TRC does not know hot to feel about the possibility that our home state could be the springboard for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign. His continued success only helps President Obama’s re-election campaign, in our opinion. And were he to win the nomination, well, that would even further help Obama’s chances in November. So thinks TRC.*
However, as far as TRC is concerned, Santorum is terrible. Just awful. Blech. Frankly, I do not want Minnesota to be the state that brings this man’s campaign to life. But it looks like Mr. Santorum is going to win our state. Oh well. I will give props to Santorum for his visit to the Bemidji factory that makes the sweater vests for which is he so famous. That story did make me smile. Unfortunately, that was the same swing through MN in which he said that God has “spefically blessed” the United States. Then I remembered: Oh yeah, this guy is awful.
We’ll have to wait until tonight to see what happens and how Minnesotans respond to the GOP extravaganza.
What the MN results will mean for Santorum is being bandied about by the pros. If you are interested. It’s fun to see Minnesota’s caucuses getting attention and making a splash in the process.
Is Santorum’s Surge in Minnesota a Sign of Things to Come? Huff Po.
Romney Braces for Santorum Threat as Minnesota Vote Looms. San Francisco Chronicle.
What Rick Santorum can win on Tuesday. Washington Post.
And for the local coverage, which is better than these, GOP Candidates blitz MN in caucus free for all. Star Tribune.
TRC will be sure to cover the results of the Minnesota Caucuses tomorrow. It will likely have something to say about how Santorum won, and how that doesn’t really matter, and will include jokes at Santorum’s expense.
*As a liberal, I will note that over-confidence is often our weakness.
It has been MN’s week in the GOP limelight, as the candidates have made their way to our humble state to ply their wares, proverbially speaking. We’ve had Ron Paul spending his money and Rick Santorum hitting Bemidji and Luverne in recent days, but yesterday was the big haul: The Mitt was in Eagan. The MN Caucus has generally not played a big role in the nominating process, but some of the talkers are saying that it just might this year. Yeah.
But this post is about photos. In the morning Round-Up today, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of the two images featured on the homepages of our two major papers.
First: Mitt Romney in the necessary, and yet still adorable, baby photo, at the Star Tribune:
Holy mackers. That baby is cute.
Then there is the Pioneer Press. A different, yet strikingly similar, picture:
Punxatawny Phil is not as cute. Though to be fair, still somewhat cute.
In the end, these two photos will likely have exactly the same impact on who get’s elected President, and how much longer winter will last…because such things are rarely decided by photos or shadows. Sorry Phil.
TRC is a pretty big fan of Senator Amy Klobuchar. She strikes me as an exemplar of the modern national representative, and I’m happy to have her represent my state in the Senate. That’s not to say we agree on everything (i.e. this bridge, which passed the Senate yesterday–more on this forthcoming), but that does not mean that I have anything but the utmost admiration for her.
And thus, I’m happy to see her polling numbers continue their climb in the latest polling data on Minnesota. She now holds a 61% approval rating in Minnesota, with a negative of 29%. A remarkable achievement, I would say, in this era of extreme partisanship. This makes her the 6th most popular Senator in the US.
As for other Minnesotans, apparently running for president does not help one’s approval ratings. Michelle Bachmann holds a 34% favoribility rating and 57 % negative. That same 57% think she should not run for another term in Congress. Yeesh. Tim Pawlenty also took a hit. 39% view him favorably. 51% said they would ‘definitely not’ support in in a statewide election.
Both Bachmann and Pawlenty have been seen as possible opponents for Klobuchar. How would that go as of today?
In a hypothetical match-up with Pawlenty or Bachmann, Klobuchar also comes out on top. Against Pawlenty, the poll shows her ahead against Pawlenty 54 percent to 39 percent and against Bachmann 58 percent to 35 percent.
I feel like TRC has been hitting the dirt lately. So I wanted to take a time out to praise Senator Klobuchar, and wish her luck in 2012. But I don’t think she’ll need it.
What a weekend for news, right folks?
Newt Gingrich destroyed and annihilated and embarrassed, etc., Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Primary. Which, if you are a liberal hoping to see President Obama reelected, that is only good news. Though it really makes me wonder what the hell is going on in the Republican Party. According to the NY Times, the result totally changes everything (EVERYTHING) about the race, but Romney still is the frontrunner to win the nomination. So I guess it changed nothing.
Elsewhere, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords told the nation that she will not be seeking reelection. Good luck to you Ms. Giffords. You are an inspiration.
But I have one bone to pick this weekend in the media. It was from our local Star Tribune, who ran a story about the future of Amy Koch, Minnesota’s former Senate Majority leader who resigned that position after her illicit affair with a staffer came to light. Koch’s problems are only a small helping of the shit-storm facing the Minnesota GOP (for example), but her affair is her problem, and what happens as a result is her fault.
So I was very disappointed in the Star Tribune’s front page headline: Sen. Amy Koch: Back up after ‘punch to the face’.
What the hell, Star Tribune? No one punched Amy Koch in the face. And if she wants to consider the fallout from her own bad choices a “punch in the face,” then call her on it. Say, I’m sorry Amy Koch, no one punched you in the face. Or, if you you were, you punched yourself in the face. So stopping hitting yourself.
I’m not quite sure why this got me. But it really annoyed me.
Here are a few reactions to today’s MN budget news that I think are worth sharing. It’s worth taking a minute to think about why we in Minnesota went from a projected $5B deficit to a projected $876M surplus for the current biennium. We’ve had our fun on the subject (see the previous post) but, really, what happened?
Sarah Kliff at Wonkblog offers two reasons. Minnesota is doing pretty well economically, at least comparatively. And we have cut spending, especially on health care, and partially by jumping on the Affordable Health Care Act’s requirements.
State officials chalk a lot of the good news up to factors specific to Minnesota. The state has seen its revenue increase as its unemployment rate is lower than the national average. The state has, for example, regained about a third of the jobs lost since the recession began. Nationally, that number stands at 22 percent.
Minnesota has also cut its spending, particularly on health care, in unique ways. It’s one of just four states, for example, to expand its Medicaid program in advance of the health reform law’s required expansion. For doing so, it’s received a higher Medicaid matching rate for some patients from the federal government.
Kliff continues that this is not particularly unique to MN, and that budget outlooks are rosier for many states across the nation, and that news could be harbinger of lighter budget pressures for state governments.
The other important factor will be how this budget forecasts re-shapes the budget fight between Governor Dayton and the MN legislature. All the arguments have to be reassessed when billions in the hole becomes millions in the coffers, including the cantankerous Vikings stadium debate and the unfortunate school shift that occurred to cover the deficit. At the Star Tribune, the problem has been noted.
The surplus will turn the traditional budget fights on their head. Earlier this summer, legislators beat down a $5 billion deficit to end a 20-day state government shutdown. Now, Republican lawmakers and the DFL governor may have to fight over how and whether to spend the windfall, bank it for troubled times or pay back a school shift that rankles all sides.
Come February, the budget picture will get even clearer. But for today, we’ll take a bit of positive economic news.
Dear Minnesota Government,
Please tell me where you found a surprise surplus of $876 million. I am always searching for unexpected money, but unlike you, have been unable to find anything more than a dollar bill once on the floor of a bar. In comparison, that is not very satisfying.
Please do the right thing, and give that money to the public schools, since you earlier took money from the schools to cover your expected deficit. Which has now disappeared. Miraculously.
The Relative Comment.