Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mark (the Hypocrite) Kennedy has released his fourth campaign commercial.

From a political strategy standpoint, it’s pure genius … from a reality point, it’s misleading at the very least.

One aspect of political campaigning is to recognize that your opponent will point out your shortcomings. So, the best defense is a good offense – confront the weakness; massage the message so that the weakness seems to be strength; and move on before anyone catches on.

The jest of this commercial is that the Senate is full of lawyers but not one Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Wow, think of it, which profession has the worst reputation … newspaper reporters excluded .. that’s right either attorney or accountant … and if your opponent is an attorney, your get bonus points in a lot of voters minds.

According to Kennedy’s bio, he is a former certified public accountant with Arthur Andersen – that’s right the now defunked accounting firm made famous after the collapse of oil giant Enron Corporation . . His Public Accounting work was short - he passed the CPA exam in 1979 and worked at a CPA firm for two years and eight months . In 1983, Kennedy graduated with a master's of business administration from the University of Michigan. From there he climbed the corporate ladder in retail companies. He served as chief financial officer at ShopKo and was a senior vice president at Department 56 before his congressional career began.
Now, the DFL has already leaped on the “exaggeration” of his status as a CPA. As the StarTribune reported : “Kennedy hasn't practiced as a CPA for decades and is on inactive status with the state Board of Accountancy. In his latest application for an inactive certificate from the board, filed in December, Kennedy promised not to "lead a person to believe that I hold an active certificate in Minnesota" and to "place the word 'inactive' adjacent to my CPA title."

But the DFL has missed two other points of weakness.

#1. The need for a CPA in the Senate. Well, I’m not an attorney, but as I recall from grade school civics, the US Constitution in Section 7 states “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”
So, if the attributes of a CPA is desirable and Revenue (Tax) legislation must originate in the House, wouldn’t his education and work experience as a public accountant with Arthur Anderson be best used as a Congressman?

#2. Kennedy’s utilization of his education and work experience as a Congressman. So, according to the ad, if Kennedy was a Senator he could apply his professional skills to the federal budget. So, the obvious question, since Kennedy has been was elected as a Congressman in 2000, “Are the Budgets balanced, and has the National Debt been reduced ?” Are you laughing … in one word … the Budget and Deficit has EXPLODED under CPA Kennedy’s management. In 2000, when Kennedy was first elected to Congress, the Outstanding Public Debt was less than $6 trillion, but by 2002, it passed $6 trillion … and on January 15th 2004, it passed $7 trillion … and on October 18th 2005, the Outstanding Public Debt rose to $8,003,897,406,911.24 -- the first time it had risen above $8 trillion.
The politicians will attempt to defend the rise based on the “Internet-bubble” bursting in 2001 causing a recession and then the 9/11 terrorists attacks. But some politicians will blame it on the Bush tax cuts. Those affect the revenue side, so for discussion sake, let’s ignore that; as Congress also controls the spending side.
There are two notable pieces of legislation that Kennedy was instrumental in passing; meaning that his arm was the last one twisted to gain passage.
The Medicare Part D Program ( although some may think the D stands for debacle but it is actually the new Prescription Drug benefit program that the White House now estimates will cost $1.2 trillion ).
And the 2005 TransPORKtation bill which is chock-full of pork barrel spending. Most interesting to Southern Minnesota, since that is the authorization for the DM&E rail expansion. Fiscal Conservative Congressman Jeff Flake went to the House Floor in last month to complain again about the essessive spending in that bill.
Mr. Speaker, last year's highway authorization bill, better known as SAFETEA-LU, which brought us the bridge to nowhere, seems to be a gift that keeps on giving. It has now cleared the path for a program that may set a standard for fiscal mismanagement and favoritism by the Federal Government. Thanks to changes made to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing, or RRIF, program in SAFETEA-LU, the administration is considering awarding one of the largest loans to a private company in the history of the United States. This would be a $2.5 billion loan to the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroads, or DM&E, a loan larger than the Chrysler bail-out. SAFETEA-LU expanded the loan authority of the RRIF program from $3.5 billion to $35 billion and removed any prohibition on the size of any single loan, paving the way for the DM&E loan application. If drastically expanding the program's loan authority opened the door for DM&E, a handful of other changes to the program all but drive the loan application home. Mr. Speaker, the RRIF program is on the verge of being used to provide a competitive advantage. It is inappropriate for the taxpayers to finance it.

I agree that a CPA would be advantegous in Congress ( I believe that there are at least two now ) … but based on Kennedy’s performance, he hasn’t earned that job. In fact, I shudder at 6 years of Kennedy CPA management. If you are concerned about the sancitity of Social Security, be mindful that entitlement reform will be the BIG issue in the last two years of the Bush presidency. Since Congressman/CPA Kennedy has endorsed borrowing from Social Security to pay for current budget needs, what accounting tricks would a Senator/CPA Kennedy use ? Scary !

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