Monday, November 17, 2008

Paulsen should seek Gutknecht’s seat

This is a big week that will decide whether Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03 Elect) has an impact for Minnesota in the 111th Congress. Paulsen will make his first votes on the leadership of his caucus and press his case for which committees he would like to serve.

When Tim Walz (D-MN-01) was faced with the same opportunity, he saw the openings left by Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy who would not be returning to be part of the 110th Congress. Walz hit a home run on committee assignments … taking Gutknecht’s spot on Agriculture and Kennedy’s spot on Transportation … plus Veterans Affairs and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. His resounding re-election proved that the District approved of his work on those committees.

Paulsen has expressed a desire to assume Jim Ramstad’s seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Arguably that is one of the most powerful committees in the House, and as such many other experienced legislators will be vying for that assignment.

Unfortunately, one of Gutknecht’s committees no longer has a Minnesotan assigned. In fact there has been a vacancy that the Republicans did not fill during the 110th session. Interestingly, the ranking Republican, Ralph Hall (TX-04) was elected as a Democrat in 1980 and did not switch parties until 2004.

If Paulsen wants to serve Minnesota’s interests, he should aggressively seek an assignment to the Committee on Science and Technology.
By now the chants of “Drill, Baby Drill” have died down, but the energy crisis has not … even as the credit crisis has expanded.
The Science and Technology committee can have a major impact on America’s future … and Minnesota needs to part of it. The future of energy may be created by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E. Much like the Defense Department’s DARPA program which developed the Internet as well as GPS, ARPA-E may be the answer to our energy needs.
DOE and private-sector research can easily produce long lists of energy technology projects, but what Congress needs to do is to separate the “wheat from the chaff”. With programs like Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology (AMET) at Minnesota State University- Mankato, the University of Minnesota’s Department of Forestry’s woody biomass project, or the use of biomass gasifier at the University of Minnesota-Morris, Minnesota has plenty of “ideas” that just need a “champion”.

The Bush Administration requested no funds for ARPA-E in FY2009 while candidate Obama proposed $150 billion in spending on advanced energy technologies. This will be an important assignment that Paulsen should seek out.

While some may say that the private sector should pay for their own research, that “Pollyanna” idea will be seriously challenged as businesses go through their own evaluation of their financial outlook where too often the first things that are cut is Research and Development funding.
There is no doubt that the national debt should cause some serious funding questions be asked … including Bush’s human missions to Mars and other NASA programs. For that matter, I would hope that Congress takes a good hard look at the Bush’s funding of such programs as $13 million for Iraq Cultural Heritage Project (ICHP) which will train new professionals to preserve Iraq's historic treasures and to protect archaeological sites in Iraq … as well as the $300 million for "information/psychological operations" in Iraq (also known as propaganda) ... and $45 million for polls and focus groups to monitor Iraqi attitudes. The Department of State estimates it will spend $5.6 million on public diplomacy in Iraq in fiscal 2008.
A good chunk of that money should be re-assigned to Science and Technology projects.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Coach Walz Call a Time-out !

Good news, Coach Walz … the Scarlets of Mankato West are returning to the Minnesota State High School League Championship Game. This will be the school’s fourth appearance, and is vying for their third championship, winning Prep Bowl titles in 1999 and 2002.

Obviously, this is a great source of pride for the student-athletes, school officials and the community at large. But everything must be kept in perspective. You’ll recall when you were involved with the team that the key was to keep focused on the job at hand … not dream about the future.

It’s easy to project that high school star going to NCAA Division I-FCS college and to dream of a professional career. But the let’s keep everything in perspective. Does it happen – sure – my high school never lost a football game in four years and every senior was offered a college scholarship … one of my classmates went on to become a QB at Purdue and was drafted by the Colts … but my high school may be the exception (even though there are not many that can claim a Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl MVP as their alumni.) But my high school coaches were smart … they recognized that not everybody could get to the highest level so most of the schools were not Big Ten but smaller schools … some declined the opportunity to play football … but they had an offer if they wanted it.
Sometimes it’s just nice to be considered as their talents might lead them to another career … as another kid from my high school went on to serve as a member of Congress and even visited Minnesota as a guest of then-Congressman Tim Penny.
Sometimes a multi-talented individual has a talent but that actually is bested developed and expanded upon, and not switching to other areas.

So Coach, it’s time for Congressman Walz to call a time-out and squelch these stories that he is being urged “to consider running for Governor in 2010.”

Congressman Walz, I voted for you to represent the First District in Congress. That’s the job that needs your full focus … and a job that you are good at. Politics and policy can be at crossroads … they sometimes connect but too often, people like to speculate about “who should run for this job” … and obviously, it’s nice to be recognized … but your talents are needed in Congress.
At the Federal level, Congress can impact our lives significantly --- positively as well as negatively.
At the State level, the impact is small as a balance budget prohibits making major policy changes … hence as Governor Pawlenty’s $86 million "Green Jobs Investment Initiative" may be a “good idea”, it will face the question of balancing “financial resources”. As will his 21st Century Tax Reform Committee … as will his Teacher Quality proposal, or his plan to revamp health care by permitting access to online personal health portfolios.
Sure some aspect of these programs may be implemented, but it’s like playing football at NCAA Division III … the opportunities are limited by the budget. Congress is NCAA Division I-FCS … it’s the game you want to play in.

The players are different … and there are plenty of “candidates” in the state legislature that appear to be willing to step up. Let them play … stay in Washington and provide them the assistance the Federal Government should provide. That’s the best way to serve the people of Minnesota. Please stay focused on the job at hand … let others dream about the future.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Durenberger goes Country First suggesting Walz for Senate

There’s a growth that can be seen in many politicians that is rarely exhibited while in office. When first elected, it seems to be Party First but after they are out of office, or face a defeat, the spirit of compromise and bipartisanship produces a Country First veiwpoint. Nationally, look at John McCain after his 2000 Presidential defeat or Trent Lott after losing his Majority Leader position.

In Minnesota, former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger has been an underappreciated Country First voice of reason. In a 2006 commentary, Durenberger’s efforts on behalf of Minnesota Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs was cited. Durenberger continues to nudge our state’s elected leaders on health care writing recently “Governor Tim Pawlenty, like most Republican legislators, believed the key to improving value was getting working families to "put more financial skin in the game" by making them buy high deductible indemnity insurance outside the employer market. What he has apparently come to understand is that is putting the cart before the horse - making people pay for stuff they don't really understand. That may work in cosmetic surgery, or lasik surgery for your golf game, or to create markets for retail clinics and urgi-centers. It doesn't for the 15% of the chronic or potentially terminally ill cases that currently generate 82% of the healthcare costs in Minnesota.

Durenberger expressed his support of Barack Obama for President and suggested that Coleman is pushing health care reform that we need - and can pass in giving his endorsement in this year’s Senate race.

Today, Amy Klobuchar and Durenberger discussed the 2008 election results and their implications, at an event sponsored by the Minneapolis Club and the Minneapolis Foundation.

Durenberger praised Klobuchar for her first 22 months in office which wasn’t a surprise since he written in his e-newsletter that “she has a record of performance both with Democrats and Republicans which make her a most successful and influential Democrat from Minnesota. He stated that Norm Coleman shared his assessment.

Durenberger was not as kind to candidate Al Franken who he describes as a totally committed liberal Democrat that we don’t know how he would perform in the US Senate. Durenberger went on to state that the DFL had not offered their strongest challenger and suggested First District Congressman Tim Walz.
That’s an assessment that I shared after hearing Walz in a debate and realized that he would be a more effective voice in the Senate than Senator Coleman. For the record, this election was too important for me to “waste my vote” on someone who couldn’t win … so Mr. Franken got my vote, but it was certainly reinforcing to hear that somebody that puts Country First recognizes Congressman Walz’s potential.
After all, with Country First people, we don’t ask about political party.
Minnesota and the country need more people like Dave Durenberger.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bachmann misses Television Appearance

It is common knowledge that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN:06) has pledged to never to vote for a new tax or tax increase , as well as pledged to not pursue earmarks, and even a pledge against legislation involving climate change, but has she made a pledge not to appear on television ?

Heaven forbid that after appearing 23 times over seven weeks starting in September, I would hate to think that one minor setback on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews would stop her from appearing on the only television worth viewing … CSPAN.

On Wednesday, November 12, Bachmann’s House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on Mortgage Modifications. Considering that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan called the current situation “a once-in-a-century credit tsunami” one would have hoped that Congresswoman Bachmann would be there to represent Minnesota.
Sadly, it was broadcast on CSPAN and no Bachmann in attendance.
I hope that the Congresswoman has not gotten camera-shy.

Republicans were well represented by Spencer Bachus (AL-06), Tom Price (GA-06), Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), Judy Biggert (IL-13) and others.
Bachus spoke with concern not only about the foreclosure problems, but also about the automobile industry since he has two plants in his district.
But the best comments came from Steven LaTourette (OH-14) who expressed outrage at the potential tax benefits used by banks to acquire each other. “When you have a handful of people picking winning and losing banks and deciding how to spend hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, transparency must be required,” LaTourette has stated. Describing the PNC buyout of National City Bank, “This was no ordinary bank acquisition once the government stepped in with billions of dollars. We need to shine a light on this and see if it was on the up and up.”
Further, LaTourette expressed grave concerns with the slowness in $300 billion "Hope for Homeowners" program which is intended to keep homeowners in their homes yet has only received only 42 applications in the first two weeks, a dismal fraction of the 400,000 homeowners it was intended to help. Congressman LaTourette said the current financial situation in the U.S. "is a mess."
Additionally, the New York Times has reported there is a lobbying frenzy by an army of hired guns for banks, savings and loan associations and insurers for access to the Treasury program; making citizens ponder if government is the biggest friend of corruption..

It should be pointed out that Congressman LaTourette, as Congresswoman Bachmann, voted against the bailout bill … yet his concern did not end with his vote.

And if Bachmann thought they she could skip this hearing because she had a “tough election”, that wasn’t any acceptable excuse to Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-PA-11) who had a come-from-behind re-election victory. Kanjorski expressed Instead of placing blame, we must work together toward a solution.
In fact, there was a great degree of bi-partisan spirit by the members in attendance.

At a news briefing yesterday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson emphasized that the consumer credit market "has for all practical purposes ground to a halt," which is "raising the cost and reducing the availability of car loans, student loans, and credit cards."

Next week, Congresswoman Bachmann has two more opportunities to participate in hearings Oversight of the bailout and aid for the auto industry . These are critical hearings and Congresswoman Bachmann would be advised to skip her announced “basic educational Israel trip”.

The election is long over but time for attention to her Congressional duties is now. Bachmann is campaigning for a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee … based on her lack of participation in Financial Service hearings (she also missed the October 21st hearing on the shadowy banking practice of credit default swaps), she has not earned it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is one Minnesota Congresswoman going too far to say Thank You ?

Following Tim Walz election victory in November, 2006, he launched a “Thank You” tour of cities – large and small -- throughout the First District. The New Ulm Journal wrote : “The common-sense, pragmatic people of southern Minnesota are ones you should look to on what they’re going to do so I’m honored to be your representative there,” Walz told a gathering of about 60 in the Grand Hotel. “We won, and for that I’m incredibly proud. So, it was a great day the other night. Electoral politics still works in America. This is still the best democracy in the world. It doesn’t matter what you were up against. The people here in this country decided they wanted to see a change, and each and every one of you did everything possible to make that change. It wasn’t for yourselves; it was for those future generations.”

That tour wasn’t the last time that voters would see Congressman Walz … sure he was there when there was a natural disaster … but he was also there at Hy-Vee groceries stores throughout the District – talking with citizens regardless if they voted for him. He also held hearings in the District on the Farm Bill, legislation for seniors and legislation for Veterans. That’s why Walz was overwhelmingly re-elected winning every county and taking 678 out of 749 precincts.

There is another member of Congress who is about to go on her own “Thank You” tour.
The Star-Tribune reports : Sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council, the trip will be what a Bachmann staffer referred to as “just your basic educational Israel trip.” The excursion will last for all of next week, but she isn’t expected to meet with any VIPs while there.
So, why is Congresswoman Bachmann taking another trip to Israel ?

Could it be to make a formal “Thank You” to her contributors … which have earned Bachmann a slot in the Top Ten of PAC Contributions in 2008.

Taking junkets to Israel to develop some future business for Minnesota firms is cited by Governor Tim Pawlenty as his reason for taking a Jewish Community Relations Council trip. Considering Israel and America have been active trading partners, it may not be an earth shattering event … as would be a Pawlenty mission to Cuba (which Govenor Ventura did and considering a new Obama Administration, it is more likely to develop new Minnesota businesses opportunties first.)

But Bachmann’s reasoning - “just your basic educational Israel trip” - just doesn’t make sense … . In August of 2007 Bachmann went on a privately funded trip sponsored by the America Israel Education Federation (AIEF) to Israel. On that trip, she met with foreign leaders.
How many trips does the Congresswoman need to take to get “just your basic education”?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she hopes Congress can return this month to approve spending measures to stimulate the depressed economy. The election campaign may be an excuse for Congresswoman Bachman to miss Congressional hearings regarding the roll of Congress in the failure to regulate credit default swaps. But there is no excuse for not being there after the election. Of course, if Bachmann had attended the hearing, she may have learned that her misguided blaming of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) as being the driving force for the credit crisis with her allegation that "loans started being made on the basis of race, and often on little else" was refuted. There are three reasons to exonerate the Community Reinvestment Act in the mortgage meltdown:
• The CRA applies to banks. Most subprime mortgages came from lenders that were not banks -- so the CRA did not cover them.
• The nonbank lenders made more reckless lending decisions than banks did.
• Regulations didn't drive the subprime lending boom. The pursuit of profits did.
But then again, we don’t know what “Thank You" tour, Congresswoman Bachmann has for her contributors from the Banking Industries.

When voters went to the polls last week, the message was loud and clear --- we want action … and Bachmann is enjoying junkets.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Will Republican Minnesota Congressman Words Be Heard and Proven Correct ?

"People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote -- a very different thing."

In America, we have a representative democracy whereby voters select representatives to make their decisions. Obviously, it would be impractical otherwise as voters would have to decide via a referendum process all collective actions for the peoples common good.

The quote above is from Walter H. Judd who represented Minnesota’s Fifth District and the real question is who will participate. Potentially, 3,199,307 could participate.

It’s the people that participate that will decide these elections. The Republicans will be motivated especially in the three key Congressional Districts where they have incumbents. The Second ( Kline – Sarvi ), the Third ( Paulsen – Madia ) and the Sixth ( Bachmann – Tinklenberg ) will have strong turnout. Unfortunately, the districts represented by the Democrats will only turnover if there is low voter turnout.

Playing into a low turnout is the Electoral College in which Minnesota is not considered to be competitive.

Voters please don’t be dissuaded from participating in process. Remember that every House seat in the Minnesota Legislature is on the ballot.

Get out, VOTE and BE HEARD !

Sunday, November 02, 2008

In MN, House more important than US Senate vote

Last year when I wrote a Vote 60 commentary, my assessment that Minnesota will not be a factor in the Electoral College this time is proven to be correct.
However, I have come to change what part of this year’s ballot is most important.
It's not the US Senate, but the House.

Although I am still concerned with the rules of the Senate that allow for Holds and Filibusters, I believe the next Senate will be more bi-partisan. The 2008 elections put a number of Senators, like Norm Coleman, in a position of trying to work with the Democrats and the 2010 class looks like the Republicans will be in a similar position. Of the seats up for election, 19 are held by Republicans and 15 by Democrats. Of the Democrat seats, none may be lost while Arizona (McCain), Iowa (Grassley), Kentucky (Bunning), Louisana (Vitter), and Ohio (Voinovich) could have challenges. Of those, McCain, Grassley and Voinovich are most likely to join Maine’s Senators Collins and Snowe on select issues (job creation, climate change, etc.)

No, the most important choice Minnesota voters will make on Tuesday is who will represent you in the House.
The critical issue is the economy and what will government do to improve it?
What tax policy will be put in place?
Will some be asked to pay more or will services be cut?

These are critical questions with unemployment hovering in the 6% range, consumers not spending resulting in lower sales tax revenues, and a housing and stock market collapse. The result is a budget shortfall approaching $2 billion dollars (although some project it could be $4 billion.)

Obviously, I am referring to the Minnesota House.

Who does your next representative want to support ?
Being in southern Minnesota, my focus has been on the 24B (Tony Cornish and John Branstad) although the candidates in the 21B (Paul Torkelson and Bob Skillings) and 24A (Bob Gunther and Dale Hansen) seem to have the same approach to the issue.

Cornish approach is clear.
"What it is, is a problem when - if the state has less money coming in - we have to find some place to cut," Cornish told the Fairmont Sentinel. "Just like the county is going to have less money coming in. They're going to have to disappoint people. In the lack of the state's ability to print money, when we get shorted in our revenue ... what other choice do we have to cut? As far as transportation, we just passed a gas tax. The last thing in the world we're going to look at is more revenue for transportation."

Branstad, agrees that finding a funding solution will be difficult but has a more realistic, long-term view telling the Mankato Free Press Cuts aren’t made without repercussions. It is going to be a very challenging environment. When you have limited pie, any increase or decrease for one piece has an impact on another piece.”

Well said, Mr. Branstad … it’s how the pie will be cut.
And Mr. Cornish, what a cavalier attitude that embraces "going to have to disappoint people" instead of how to serve people.

Governor Pawlenty has tipped his hand as to how he wants the pie cut when he established the 21st Century Tax Reform Commission which is reviewing how to improve Minnesota business competitiveness. Pawlenty has already asked all state agencies to submit budgets cutting expense 5% which equates to $2 billion.
Anyone willing to take the bet that Representatives Cornish, Torkelson and Gunther would follow the party line and give tax cuts for business and cut existing state programs ?
[I wish the slogan “Country First” was more evident in Minnesota where it appears to be “Party First”.]

As Minnesota faces the implications of this financial crisis, the next Congress will be asked to support the states. In fact, even though this is campaign season, the US House of Representatives has held a number of hearings and may bring forward a $100 billion economic stimulus package to the floor during a lame-duck session the week of Nov. 17. Democratic leadership indicate that it might include "federal matching funds for state Medicaid programs, an extension of unemployment benefits, expanded food stamp spending and money for infrastructure projects" in the package.
An October 2008 survey of public transportation agencies by the American Public Transportation Association identified 559 ready-to-go transit projects at a total cost of $8.03 billion meaning construction jobs starting within 90 to 120 days.

That’s the key. The federal government will want the states to participate.
When I heard Congressman Tim Walz on the radio endorsing John Branstad for 24-B, it was evident that Congressman Walz knows the problems facing Minnesotans and wants members in the state legislature that will work with Congress.

A vote for Branstad and Walz is not a vote for party politics, but for progress for Minnesota.

(Note: The next US House of Representatives will have a dominate Democrat slant including the possibility of an increase in Minnesota delegation. Voters in Minnesota’s Second District and Sixth District have a choice of embracing Republicans John Kline and Michele Bachmann who have not supported the earmark process that determine those ready-to-go transit projects or Democrats Steve Sarvi and El Tinklenberg who will address jobs and infrastructure improvents.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Club For Growth TV Ad for Doctor in the First District

I bet you haven’t seen the Club for Growth PAC television ads which portray the Democrat as someone who “is trying to present himself as a moderate, but it is clear from his positions that he is far outside the mainstream. His support for universal health care and his relationship with Big Labor is out-of-touch with voters in First Congressional District” while encouraging support for the Republican challenger who is a medical doctor and will fight “for lower taxes and less government spending. He will be the kind of representative taxpayers can count on.”

As a matter of fact, have you noticed that unlike last election where there were a number of independent groups (such as Chamber of Commerce) running television ads in the First District supporting Gil Gutknecht, that this year they are absent ? Where are the illegal immigration ads ? Heck, remember the Freedom's Watch ads attacking Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-01) over FISA or when the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care and the American Health Association attacked Walz for his vote on the CHAMP Act ?
This year … very quiet … too quiet … its spooky.
My guess is that those interest groups have learned that these attack ads don’t work in southern Minnesota. Walz didn’t change his views as his office was inundated with letters and calls supporting him.

The Club for Growth PAC commercials are real but are not being run in Minnesota’s First District, but instead in Maryland’s First District. The similarities between the candidates … a perceived Moderate Democrat against a Medical Doctor Republican … is eerie … yet the money that the PAC is spending in Minnesota is going to the Sixth District to defend Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Why ?
Could it be that Bachmann is in serious trouble and the Club for Growth does not want to lose one of its minions ?
Or, could it be that the Club for Growth feel that its advertisement could be detrimental to Dr. Brian Davis in his bid against Congressman Walz ?
Both are probably correct.

For Davis to win, he needs a low voter turnout. The evaluation of the District’s newspaper editorial boards is that Moderate Everyman Tim is deserving of a second term and that the unabashedly conservative, political novice Dr. Davis is the one that is out of sync with the district.

So is the election is over, right … hardly.
Unlike other states, Minnesota does not have an early election period … as the media continues to report that Obama will win Minnesota’s electoral college votes and voters see long lines at the polling booths, there is the temptation to turn back when the lines begin to expand. Apathy is Walz’s main challenger … and the lack of independent expenditures lulls the voter into a state of complacency.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MN-01 : Davis needs more time to Study Taxes

Dr. Brian Davis, the Republican candidate in Minnesota’s First Congressional District responded to an inquiry from KEYC-TV regarding a national sales tax : “It’s a good idea in principle” adding that he needed to “study it more”.
That comment is just another example that Dr. Davis is too inexperienced to be trusted to represent the district in these critical economic times.

So what would a national sales tax do?
Representative John Linder (R-GA) first introduced a version of the Fair Tax in 1999 and each session thereafter including most recently H.R. 25, the “The FairTax Act of 2007.” Former First District Congressman Gil Gutknecht (R) was a co-sponsor and strong advocate. Currently, John Kline (R-02) is the most recent cosponsor. During the Republican primary, Governor Mike Huckabee was a strong supporter while Senator John McCain distanced himself from it although he spoke favorably about it earlier.

Here are the highlights of the legislation :
---- Imposes a national sales tax on the use or consumption in the United States of taxable property or services.
---- Sets the sales tax rate at 23 percent in 2009, with adjustments to the rate in subsequent years.
--- Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to allocate sales tax revenues among: (1) the general revenue; (2) the old-age and survivors insurance trust fund; (3) the disability insurance trust fund; (4) the hospital insurance trust fund; and (5) the federal supplementary medical insurance trust fund.

In short, payroll taxes including funding for Social Security and Medicare are eliminated … as are income taxes and estate taxes.

If this was such a good idea, why didn’t the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress move this legislation beyond simply introducing it ?
Obviously, it is too radical of a change.
Social Security and Medicare would be at risk if revenues from sales tax collection slowed up.
This would be a repeal of the progressive nature of income taxes; replaced entirely by a consumption tax. In these iffy economic times, where many families are delaying purchases, now is not the time to rely exclusively on a national consumption tax.

This would be a major change in America’s economic activity. There is no home mortgage deduction (which is cited in the Fairmont Sentinel’s endorsement of Dr. Davis) nor deductions for local property taxes, medical expenses, or charitable contributions. All the tax deductions that taxpayers have been accustomed to are gone.

All that said, it is incomprehensible that a candidate that has spent virtually a year campaigning for this office, cannot definitively tell voters if he favors a national sales tax.
Davis has voiced his skepticism of climate change, denounced mandates for automobile efficiencies and extolled that China is drilling off the coast of Cuba, yet he cannot comment on a tax policy change that has been written about for almost a decade.

The next session of Congress will have to address the national debt and operational budget imbalance while putting in place tax policies that are equitable and foster job growth. For Fiscal Year 2009, without the recent Wall Street bailout package, the federal deficit was $562 billion including the borrowing for the war. The national debt will have virtually doubled during the Bush years. Now is not the time for radical changes to our tax system.

The simple answer that Dr. Davis should have said was “No” to a national sales tax and a “YES” to PAYGO … but that would have meant that current Congressman Tim Walz is correct.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

MN-01 : Davis Endorsement – The End of Mortgage Tax Deduction

As the newspapers are issuing their endorsements in the First District, Congressman Tim Walz (D-01) has converted the New Ulm Journal to a supporter (after endorsing Republican Gil Gutknecht in 2006) as well as earning the support of Rochester Post-Bulletin (which withheld an endorsement in 2006.)

However, the Fairmont Sentinel found that the Republican challenger Dr. Brian “Davis has a better grasp of the key issues.
To voters who have heard Dr. Davis in the debates might disagree, but maybe the Sentinel had the opportunity for extended interviews to glean information that may not have been widely disseminated to the public. It should be noted that Dr. Davis has failed to provide questionnaire answers regarding ethanol subsidies, illegal immigration, agricultural trade policy, environmental quality issues, and senior citizens issues but the Sentinel was able to discern that he “has a better grasp of the key issues.

The endorsement is clearly hinged on tax policy. One aspect that is mentioned is mortgage-interest tax deductibility, which Congressman Walz supports, but the Sentinel cites as part of the problem with the housing debacle. Did Dr. Davis tell the Sentinel that he wants to end the tax deduction for mortgage-interest ?
The most important deduction for most itemizing individuals is the mortgage-interest deduction. While many will defend this deduction as encouraging home ownership; it is not all that unthinkable that it could be eliminated since the deduction disappears under the Flat Tax. Previously, First District Congressman Gil Gutknecht was a major proponent of the Flat Tax. The Flat Tax has been supported by many Republicans including John McCain who in response to a question during an October 29,1999 debate, stated : “Sure, I’m for a flat tax. I’m for a tax system where average Americans can fill out their tax return on a postcard and send it in and not have the fear of an audit.” Today, McCain may be not so inclined since there could be problems with implementing a flat tax that might be resolved by grandfathering pre-existing mortgages; but with (initially) higher tax rates.
One of the major concerns is what the sales tax rate would be ? Projections range from 23 to 30 %.

Now, there is an advantage to a Flat Tax as payments are collected at the sales tax level. No doubt the current system is ripe for underreporting. For example, Forbes reports that “the rich are different when it comes to paying taxes: They hide more of their income. The previously unreported study estimates that taxpayers whose true income was between $500,000 and $1 million a year understated their adjusted gross incomes by 21% overall in 2001, compared to an 8% underreporting rate for those earning $50,000 to $100,000 and even lower rates for those earning less.
Since Dr. Davis has not released his tax returns, voters have no idea if Dr. Davis has reported all his income, but voters do know that Dr. Davis has repeatedly not paid his property taxes on time.

For this voter, I would rather have a Congressman supporting IRS’ efforts to collect all taxes including from the “rich” who probably won’t like losing their mortgage-interest deduction either.

Dr. Davis needs to explain if he had any discussions with the Sentinel concerning any changes in tax policies other than retaining the Bush tax cuts and what he would advocate that the federal government do to resolve the housing crisis. Until he responds, voters may not agree that “Davis has a better grasp of the key issues.

Should I vote for a Minnesota maverick for US Senate ?

It’s just a few day until Election Day and I am still not sure who to vote for in the US Senate race.
I’ve listened to the candidates, watched the debates, and read a lot, but my mind is not made up.
Should I go with an experienced candidate? … or, the person that most closely adheres to my view on the issues? … or waste my vote on somebody who won’t win? Actually, the odds are pretty good that I will vote for the loser … so maybe “waste my vote” isn’t that off-base.

Norm Coleman has been endorsed by the Star-Tribune calling him “the Minnesota maverick”. Frankly, I have to wonder if Coleman would be just like “the Arizona maverick” John McCain … there are similiarities and that should be a concern. McCain started out as a dye-hard Republican and then showed some individualism and voted against his party elders, only to return to Party when it needed him. McCain’s pattern could be Coleman’s in the next term.

Let’s look at McCain’s “Maverick Claim to Fame” --- campaign finance reform. It’s true that McCain bucked his party and joined the Democrats to vote for a campaign finance reform, but the legislation was vetoed by George HW Bush (aka 41). Clinton said that he would sign that legislation, but McCain joined the Republicans to filabuster the legislation. When George W Bush (aka 43) became President, McCain joined with Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) and enacted legislation that was agreeable to the Republican majority. The result was a reduction in influence by labor unions that would make large contributions, and produce the rise in 527 independent groups. Today it would be hard to say that the campaign finance system is better under the new rules, but it is easy to say that McCain was not a maverick.

That would be the concern with Maverick Coleman. Would he revert to his 2002-2006 “Protect the Republican Party” persona, or would he be what the Star-Tribune considers to be a compromiser ? Frankly, I think the Star-Tribune is giving Coleman more credit than he is due. They cite the funding for I-35 reconstruction … well, do you think that after Katrina and film footage being shown globally, that any Senator would have gotten any different support … plus didn’t Senator Klobuchar have any impact?
IF Coleman has been the compromiser that the Star-Tribune thinks that he has been, he has been late and ineffective. His support for biofuels is mentioned, yet the Farm Bill was not completed on time, and Senator Chambliss (R-GA) probably had more to getting Republican support than Coleman. Also, Coleman missed an excellent opportunity to promote biofuels and show his compromise skills if he had joined Sens. Chambliss, Conrad (D-ND), Issakson (R-GA), and Thune (R-SD) when they established the Gang of 10 to address energy legislation … plus he could have joined with Senator Graham who joined the group to promote the nuclear industry (something that Coleman supports). Now, Coleman is joining to be part of a Gang of 20 … better late than never … however the legislation is not as good as the bi-partisian legislation (which included those sources but also wind) supported in the House (notable Minnesotans Tim Walz (D-01), John Kline (R-02) and Michele Bachmann (R-06).
Yes, Coleman did support SCHIP, but he knew that Bush’s vetos would stand … and isn’t that one of Franken’s main positive points. Coleman has been steadfast in his support for maintaining the current tax policies while others like Congressman Walz want to lower taxes for the middle class.
Based on current polls, it appears that the Democrats will gain seats in the Senate relegating Coleman to a lower influence … in fact, Senators Snowe and Collins (R-ME) are more likely to have influence on legislation since for years they have supported Democrats proposals.
Coleman is hardly a maverick … more of an opportunist than anything else. He stood strong with Bush on issues ranging from FISA to the recent bailout.

Oh, I could vote for Al Franken as I am encouraged by the comment in the Pioneer Press endorsement “We initially took Franken for a hard-core partisan, and that gave us pause. But we sense that he is learning to fight for a "progressive" agenda with less rancor and more reason.” Although I have concerns that Franken could become a showman on cable television (taking Congresswoman Bachmann’s slot since I have hunch she will be declining those YouTube opportunities in the future), he would be restrained the next President’s desire for a second term. It’s safe to assume that there will not be any middle class tax increase or major expansion of government managed health care regardless of who is elected … maybe in a second term but not the first term.

Dean Barkley appeals to my fiscal conservatism and may be the true “the Minnesota maverick” that the Star-Tribune desires. Barkley has been consistent in the polls at 18 % … so he would need to virtually double his poll numbers to be elected. If he was rising in the polls, that might be possible, but he has stayed where he is at since the primary election. Historically, as voters realize that a third party candidate is not going to win, they switch to one of the two major party candidates. Voting for Barkley may be wasting my vote.

Somehow I must balance “wasting a vote” with voting for the candidate that best matches my issues. A maverick may be a good vote … but if I want somebody that supported funding for I-35, the Farm bill, a new energy policy featuring wind, SCHIP, a tax policy that benefits the middle class, opposes FISA and the bailout, my maverick vote would be a write-in vote for Tim Walz who would be part of the new Democratic majority.

OK, so since you took the time to read this, tell me why I should vote for someone else other that a write-in for Walz ?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Credit Crisis : Walz –v- Bachmann : Engaged –v- ill-informed

Do you remember the 60’s question “What if they gave a war and nobody came ?” …
well ”What if America had a crisis and only ONE Republican showed up ?”
or “What if American had a crisis, would your Representative report for duty ?”

When the Bush Administration stated it wanted a bailout package totaling $700 billion giving unlimited powers to the Secretary of the Treasury, Congress – Republicans and Democrats – were alarmed.

The vote was actually the easy part … either you accept this legislation or continue to redefine it until acceptable legislation is created. Eventually, a package was approved at a higher amount but with curtailed powers … with notable NO Votes from Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-01), Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) and Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN-07).

After approval, it would be easy for Congress to let the Bush Administration work out its plan during this period prior to the November elections.
That would be wrong.
With America’s financial future changed by government intervention and partial nationalization of the nation’s largest banks, it’s clear that we want our Representatives involved. The key question is what new regulations would be enacted — and how can Congress ensure that the regulations will work.

Peterson in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture was concerned about the failure of American International Group (AIG), Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and Washington Mutual, among others and the impact of shadowy banking practice of credit default swaps (CDS) and other derivatives. The Ag Committee has oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission with the obvious implications of the Commodity Exchange Act in this crisis.

Congressman Peterson responded to the crisis by scheduling a hearing despite this being “campaign season”.
After the hearing, Chairman Peterson offered this scary warning “There is an estimated $55 trillion in credit default swaps somewhere out there, but no one knows for sure if any of these swaps offset each other, exactly who is on the hook for these swaps, who is trading with who and on what terms; and worst of all, no one has any idea who is solvent and who is upside down. The first step we need to take is to shed some light on just how the unwinding of these obligations will take place.”
Congressman Walz went off the campaign trail, participated in the hearing, and offered his assessment.
Sadly, as important as this issue is, only ONE Republican participated in the hearing … Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

While Peterson did his job, he wasn’t alone. The Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, October 21st “to examine our failure to regulate credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations and their derivatives, and the other fruits of their deregulatory push from 1995-2006. The results of that effort are now in—a crisis that is sweeping the global economy and threatening tens of millions of working families. The committee’s job is to see that this never happens again and that is the purpose of the hearing.” The hearing was broadcast via C-SPAN and offered expert opinion and suggestions from a panel of witnesses.

Sadly, Minnesota’s member of the committee, Representative Bachmann was not there to participate.
$55 trillion in credit default swaps problem and Bachmann is a no show.
IF Bachmann has problems with the course the Committee Chairman is pursuing, by skipping the hearing as a means of protest, she is doing a disservice to the process.
Rather than listen to solutions, Bachmann blames the Community Reinvestment Act for the problem, yet the CRA’s impact has been wildly exaggerated.
Where was Bachmann ? At a Rotary meeting !

If you are a regular viewer of CSPAN you have noticed the lack of Republican participation as well as there use of procedural tactics to delay votes.
Enough is enough.
Members of Congress will often cite the number of roll call votes they participate in as a symbol of their involvement; I suggest that they also tell voters how many Committee hearings they missed and to provide a reason why they were not there.

From my vantage point, none of these Members of Congress liked the bailout bill but Congressmen Peterson and Walz are actively working to ensure taxpayers interests are properly considered while Congresswoman Bachmann’s absence is inexcusable. During the August recess, Bachmann was expending Congressional funds to fly back and forth to Washington (and blogging ) that the House should be called “back immediately so we can debate and vote on the legislation that has been offered to deal with rising energy costs.” Drilling was her issue, not the housing crisis even though her district has a higher foreclosure rate than the rest of Minnesota and the rest of the country.

Minnesota voters need to know whose working for them (Peterson and Walz) while Bachmann may be more concerned with her relationship with her number one campaign contributor --TCF Bank, which is also one of the top-ten mortgage lenders in the state.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

MN-01 : Davis Endorsements Highlight Debate

The Debate Minnesota event held in Mankato on Monday, October 13 between Congressman Tim Walz (D MN-01) and Republican challenger Dr. Brian Davis revealed a difference between the two candidates that projected who each would work for next session.

This debate followed a typical format --- opening remarks by each participant, questions from the moderators and audience, and closing comments. Obviously, the opening and closing comments were scripted such that each candidate could shape their messages for the audience.

Dr. Davis introduced himself and explained that he was running because of a concern that Congress was becoming a liberal branch of the government. He then recounted a story that concluded with his daughter stating that she would not vote for him … my spouse reaction was that it was a “cute” story … I thought she displayed remarkable insight for such a young age.

The questions were unscripted but Davis answers were enlightening for their lack of having a vision … especially regarding education but that is for another post.

It was Davis closing comments that were most insightful.
He talked about his endorsements.
Naturally, he cited his endorsement by the Republican Party (interesting that he does not have that printed on his yard signs, etc.), but also FREEDOM CLUB FEDERAL PAC , Associated Builders and Contractors of Minnesota (ABC), Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Federal PAC , and Minnesota Medical Association MEDPAC .

It was a stark contrast to Congressman Walz closing comments. He repeated that he never thought he would be a member of Congress and that he was working for everybody.

Davis seemed to be cueing that these special interest groups would get his special interest.
So, who are they ?
Freedom of America would seem to be an impressive sounding group, but it is an “organization of conservative Republican contributors” which is based in New Hope Minnesota and has contributed most of its money to Davis, Congressman John Kline (R-MN-02) and candidate Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) and John McCain.
The Associated Builders and Contractors of Minnesota (ABC) was the first business group to endorse Presidential candidate John McCain and has access to President Bush --- most recently on August 12, 2008 when the President hosted members from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Executive Committee.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) is a well-known advocacy group regarding pro-life and same-sex marriage issues. The MCCL commonly advertises on television based on “issues” and not “candidates”, so their ads are not authorized by the candidate.
Minnesota Medical Association, as previously
stated, would be advocating for doctors (protecting tax rates and objecting to medical malpractice rates).

Wow !
The special interests have their guy and Davis is proud to have their support.

Surprisingly, Davis fails to mention other endorsements.

The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund endorsed Walz for 2008 after being a supporter of Gil Gutknecht in 2006.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee endorsed Walz for re-election. Apparently, Veterans realize their Congressman can make a difference as Disabled American Veterans rated Gutknecht a “F” in 2006.

While the National Farmers Union PAC endorsed for the second time Walz, Kevin Paap said that the Minnesota Farm Bureau's PAC would not be endorsing in this year’s congressional race although they had endorsed Gutknecht in 2006.

One slightly humorous line from the debate that should be noted. In May of 2007, Dr. Davis went to Washington to lobby on behalf of a bill stating "Excuse me Congressman. I would really like your support on this project. By the way, I would also like your job."
Interesting because the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, whose mission is to advance the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving healthcare environment, have rated Congressman Walz at 100 % meeting their goals.

The message is obvious. Walz is willing to work for everyone … regardless if they support him (or supported his opponent in the past … or even are represented by his opponent).

FYI : If you care about Walz’ endorsements they range from Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association to the Human Rights Campaign. No doubt, Walz’s list will grow.

The question for the voters is : Who will you endorse on November 4 with your vote… someone who will represent “special interests” or everybody ?

Monday, October 13, 2008

MN-01 : Does Dr. Davis Oppose States Rights ?

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution (“ The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”) is the basis for the States Rights argument that the States, Congress, the Executive Branch and finally the Courts have tussled over since McCulloch –v- Maryland.
For example on the abortion issue, John McCain’s position is that Roe v. Wade should be reversed thus returning the abortion question to the individual states.
In fact, even though abortion is legal, individual states have enacted laws that impact obtaining the surgery such as 48-hour waiting periods, parental notification and requiring information or counseling be provided. The idea is that states have rights to legislation that can affect the practice without denying the right to the procedure.

Since Dr. Davis opposes abortion, one would think that he would agree with the Republican Party’s nominee and that advocating a States Rights position would be the first step. The alternative would be a Constitutional Amendment which Congress has never acted upon.

But Dr. Davis has expressed opposition to States regulations that dictate coverage for certain illnesses.

During the League of Women Voters debate, the candidates were given an opportunity to ask each other a question.
Congressman Tim Walz asked Dr. Davis about his position advocating eliminating state regulations that mandate coverage for certain illnesses. Specifically, Walz reminded Davis that Minnesota has a law requiring insurers to cover the full cost of a mammogram, less a co-payment.
A great question since it goes to the heart of health care reform …it is not just about saving money, it's about saving lives.
Why would a doctor deny encouraging mammograms ?
Dr. Davis responded that he wouldn’t.
And that just shows voters that Dr. Davis doesn’t truly have a plan to address health care.

Yet, it does led to the question, what state regulations would Dr. Davis want to change ?
As states have moved to change laws regarding smoking, and require insurance plans to a range of procedures ranging from well-baby exams to providing hearing aids for minor children who have a hearing loss that has been verified by a physician and an audiologist.
The states that are making these changes are advocating a “States Rights” position … becoming the incubator to test out what may work at the state level before the Federal government enacts laws … while helping its citizens.

Congress has acted in the past and voters will want to know how Dr. Davis would have voted. Would he have supported Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 which amongst other matters required insurers to provide coverage for a patient seeking a second opinion from a specialist on a cancer diagnosis ? He can now look over the past decade and tell voters whether this legislation was good for the patients or if caused an excessive financial impact on the insurance industry and to its customers that paid the premiums.

Be sure to watch the debate when it is broadcast. Dr. Davis makes some assertions that should be questioned. He alleges that Minnesota (operating under their prerogative of the 10th Amendment) is enacting mandates that are driving up the health insurance cost. In fact, Minnesota is one of the lowest-cost states in the nation for health care. In 2007, it saw its private health insurance premiums climb no faster than wages. The average increase in premiums was 4.3 percent compared to 6.1 percent nationally for employer health benefits. Yes, it is a lot of money, but Minnesota is improving quality and reducing costs. Dr. Davis should be well aware that his employer, the Mayo Clinic is a five-star "best" rating for cardiac care. For example, heart bypass surgery at the Mayo Clinic has an average cost of $66,529 while other facilities charge as much as $98,227 for the same care. Further, Dr. Davis is concerned with medical malpractice insurance, yet the American Medical News reported that 84% of liability companies reported in 2007 rates held steady or dropped while the lowest rates for internists ($3,375), general surgeons ($11,306), and Ob-Gyns ($20.626), are all in Minnesota.

It’s astonishing that Dr. Davis is so critical of our state … he should be campaigning on a program that he would take Minnesota mandates nationwide.

He is embracing an ideology that the Federal Government should not be interfering in our lives, without understanding that these mandates serve a purpose … and may save lives.

It makes voters wonder if Dr. Davis wants to go to Washington to protect the Insurance Industry ... or advocate for the citizens ?
Currently, the First District has someone who is a Patient's Advocate and deserving of another term.

Friday, October 10, 2008

MN-01 : MMA picks Doctor over Patient Advocate

The Rochester Post Bulletin has reported two endorsements for Minnesota's First District : The Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee announced its endorsement of Congressman Tim Walz for a second two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives while the Minnesota Medical Association endorsed Republican challenger Dr. Brain Davis.

The VFW endorsement should not surprise anyone as Walz has been graded highly for his work … including most recently earning an A+ rating from the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans for America . The quote in the article sums it up best :
"He hasn't just served the veterans of the First District of Minnesota. He's served the veterans of the United States of America."

Davis’ endorsment by the political arm of the Minnesota Medical Association was modestly surprising.

Based on Walz’ record, he should have earned their support.
After all, Walz was a co-sponsor of the recently enacted Mental Health Parity legislation that the MMA wanted.
Walz worked to enact H.R. 6331: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008; had Walz failed it would have resulted in a 10.6% cut in Medicare’s payments to doctors.
Walz held two forums in coordination with MMA as part of his efforts to reform the way that Congress funds Medicare.
Oh, and let’s not forget, Walz unequivocal support for SCHIP designed to serve the health care of low-income children.

But that’s Walz … advocating for health care.
Health care is a major issue for Minnesotans. A recent report, Private Health Insurance Cost Trends in Minnesota, 2007 , states that Minnesotans saw the largest premium increase since 2004 with an 8 percent jump which was 33 % higher than the national increase. The largest cost drivers were physician services which accounted for about 45 % of the spending growth.

Walz does have his supporters including Dr. Sylvester Sterioff, a retired Mayo Clinic doctor, who endorsed Walz stating "He seeks our advice and has an openness to receive information to bring a better and fairer health care system to our country, which we sorely need."

It might be easy to assume the Davis got the endorsement becaause he “knows” medicine, yet I have to wonder if it isn’t his support for the insurance industry and maintaining the current tax policy.

Davis has stated a desire to eliminate state regulations that mandate coverage for certain illnesses and conditions and open market competition across state lines. Both of these concepts do not indicate a strong desire to advocate for the patient (and the taxpayer).

As the country sees the national debt breaking Ten Trillion Dollars, it is obvious that a change in tax rates are required. Somehow, a doctor such as Brian Davis who reported a salary over $411,000 would be in the category of high income wage earners that would be targeted … I wonder how much the MMA endorsement was to send someone to Washington not to advocate for patients but to stymie a change in the tax rates.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

MN 24-B : Congrats to Branstad on NRA rating

The National Rife Association Political Victory Fund has issued it’s 2008 endorsements. Some of the ratings are to be expected (Al Franken getting an “F”) but at least in the Congressional races, their ratings are not biased toward either major political party as illustrated by Tim Walz (D-MN-01) and John Kline (R-MN-02) both receiving “A” ratings.

However, in the state legislature, there is a strong sentiment to support the Republican candidates … if all their endorsed candidates got elected, the Republicans would control the Minnesota House by a sizable majority. In fact, most of the DFL challengers got an “F” meaning “A vehement anti-gun candidate who always opposes gun owners' rights and/or actively leads anti-gun legislative efforts, or sponsors anti-gun legislation.” or a “?” meaning “Failed to answer NRA-PVF candidate questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' and sportsmen's rights.”

Yet, when a challenger to an incumbent, who has had strong NRA support in the past, gets anything other than a failing grade lets voter know that the challenger is worthy of consideration.
In Minnesota House District 24-B, the incumbent Tony Cornish, who is known for his passion for enacting Conceal and Carry legislation, received the expected “A+” rating.
But his challenger, John Branstad got a “C” rating.
That should be assuring to hunters in the district who enjoy their sport, but are also concerned with other issues … like tax fairness, funding for our schools so that we can be globally competitive and addressing our physical infrastructure needs.

No doubt, Cornish has used his strong NRA support to garner campaign donations. On public land throughout the district, Cornish has his red yard signs (white lettering and a “Sheriff’s star” in the center) littered as if a dog was marking its territory. Additionally, he has billboards and has been on the radio for months.
Those donations buy a lot of name awareness.
But voters need to ask, how will the state legislature react to the potential $2 billion dollar financial budget crisis ?
Cornish’s track record is one that has protected corporate businesses and the wealthy.

With a state unemployment rate exceeding 6%, this election will have a lot of important issues for voters to base their selection in addition to gun rights.
Branstad’s NRA rating is enough for sportsmen to look at his positions on the issues and realize that Cornish is not the only name on the ballot.

Monday, October 06, 2008

McCain Kline Walz on Earmarks : Talk -- vs -- Walk

"I got an old ink pen, my friends, and the first pork barrel-laden earmark, big-spending bill that comes across my desk, I will veto it”
-- Republican Presidential candidate John McCain

In this time of economic uncertainty, Minnesotans are naturally growing more concerned with how their tax dollars are being spent. In Washington, we can begin to earn back their trust by enacting comprehensive bipartisan earmark reform -- and stopping the pork. As members of Congress, we should continue to work for Americans, not at the trough of broken principles, but by fighting to rid Washington of wasteful pork-barrel spending.
-- John Kline (R-MN-02)

The economic crisis facing the nation is serious and real. Inaction is not an option. We must move fast to address it, but after you peel away all the extras the Senate added, this is still the same bad deal for taxpayers I voted against on Monday. I cannot in good conscience vote for this bill."
-- Tim Walz (D-MN-01)

By now, we all know the “bailout” legislation has been passed. In what the House started as the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008” designed to provide authority for the Federal Government to purchase and insure certain types of troubled assets for the purposes of providing stability to and preventing disruption in the economy and financial system, became a “Christmas Tree” in the Senate. The “gifts” under the tree include :
--- Exemption for wooden arrows - the estimated cost of the proposal is $2 million over ten years.
--- NASCAR track deprection - cost $100 million
--- Rebate on excise tax for rum from Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands - cost $192 million
--- Allow Income Averaging for Exxon Valdez litigations – cost $49 million (this earmark is authored by Congressman Don Young of the “Bridge to Nowhere” fame … I wonder if Governor Palin will say “Thanks, but no”)
--- Tax incentive program for the film and television industry - the cost is estimated at $478 million over 10 years
--- Allows employers to provide a benefit to employees for costs associated with bicycle commuting - estimated to cost $10 million (at the same time, McCain is proposing to tax health care benefits.)
--- and more that benefit toy makers to suit makers … read about some of the 25 Billion dollar “gifts”.

How can John McCain “suspend” his campaign to resolve this crisis and end up voting for this legislation ? Can voters believe his "earmark" veto threat ?

Why did so-called “earmark” reformer Kline vote to approve this legislation even though he had made a promise to never vote for a bill with earmarks to the people who nominated him at the District 39 (Dakota County) GOP convention.

Yet, Tim Walz recognized that these “earmarks” were not vital to stabilizing our economy and voted NO.

The “bailout” has more to do with “confidence”, “liquidity” and foreign investors than the sub-prime mortgage problem. My concerns with that the Economic Stimulus Package now appear to be correct, and this legislation may do more harm than good.

Voters are sold a candidate’s image based on his/her words … you know, they are good at “talking the talk”.
When Tim Walz campaigned in 2006, he openly complained about fiscal mismanagement and the need to embrace PAYGO.
Creditability is an underappreciated characteristic.
Walz has demonstrated creditability and fiscal responsibility as well as a "good conscience" ... you know, he’s “walking the walk”.

This November, vote for “walkers” not “talkers”.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Public Service Announcement : Absentee Ballots Available

Check with your county elections officials as Absentee ballots are now available for the November 4 election.

If you are in Blue Earth County, applications and ballots for absentee voting can be obtained at the Blue Earth County Election/License Center located in the lower level of the Blue Earth County Government Center at 410 S. 5th Street, Mankato or by calling (507) 304-4341.

Absentee ballot applications can also be obtained by visiting Residents can print and fax applications to (507) 304-4396. All those who fax in an application will receive an absentee ballot by mail.

The Elections/License Center is open regular business hours Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and contacted at (507) 304-4341 with questions.

It's so easy and your civic duty.
Don’t be apathetic, be part of the solution.
It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just vote.

MN-01 : Palin Disagrees with Davis (again)

On January 9, 2008 Dr. Brian Davis sent a letter outlining his positions that he would advocate as Minnesota’s First District Congressman and recently sent a fundraising letter highlighting Governor Sarah Palin.

Although, Palin and Davis differ on taxes, the recent Vice Presidential debate reveals another important difference.

Moderator Gwen Ifel asked : "Let's talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?”
Governor Palin gave a long-winding response, but here are her key comments :
PALIN: "Yes. Well, as the nation's only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it's real. I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man's activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet. But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don't want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts? [SNIP] As governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. We've got to reduce emissions. [SNIP] So even in dealing with climate change, it's all the more reason that we have an "all of the above" approach, tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet and deal with climate change.

After Biden responded, Ifel asked : "do you support capping carbon emissions?”
PALIN: "I do. I do.”

Interesting thought process … she wants to reduce carbon emissions which begs the question : If she doesn't agree that carbon emissions contribute to climate change, than why reduce them ?

The obvious inference is that one method to ”conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons” is though improved mileage standards.

Dr. Davis on the other hand is quite explicit in his January letter.
“Our nation’s energy policy and economic well-being should not be based on the deeply flawed theory that carbon dioxide produced from fossil fuel combustion will lead to catastrophic climate change.”
Further, Dr. Davis states that he will advocate for “Eliminating current automobile mileage standards and government-imposed production mandates. The free market and the laws of supply and demand work much better than our government attempting to mandate conservation and setting quotas.

Governor Palin has been far from impressive, but Dr. Davis’ ideology makes Governor Palin seem that she is the one with the engineering degree.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Public Service Announcement for Congressional Candidates

As the campaigns go into high gear, candidates may forget some of their own personal obligations. Fortunately, some government agencies, such as Blue Earth County, want to make sure that everyone knows that Second Half Property Taxes are due October 15th. Now, I don’t know if Olmsted County issues PSA, but please remind Dr. Brian Davis that taxes are due. After all, according to Olmsted County property records Dr. Davis has had ten late payments since 2003.

Davis should not be singled out as the only deliquent payer as current Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-06) was fined for paying her 2003 property taxes late. Adhering to deadlines may be a problem for Bachmann as she was deliquent in filing her Personal Financial Disclosure Report this year. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (the “Ethics Committee” as it is commonly called) policy is that there is a fine of $200 for failure to submit it by the due date. Voters should not only remind Bachmann to pay her property taxes but also the fine for late filing of her Personal Financial Disclosure Report.

With the salary that a member of Congress receives (which is currently $169,300 per year), paying property taxes should not be a hardship. Based on past practices of increasing Congressional pay based on increasing all federal employees pay, their pay will go up as President Bush has issued his budget proposal for 2009 which includes a 2.9% increase.

In light of the current financial crisis, should Congress give themselves a raise ?

A recent CQ Politics article describes how the political parties hoodwink the public.
• Each party would get roughly three-fifths of its members to vote to keep the pay raise and allow two-fifths of its members to vote “no” (some members always skip the vote).
• Senior members and those who had safe re-election races could vote for the pay raise and those who might fall victim to voter anger could avoid the tough vote without endangering the increase for everyone else.

The CQ article may be based on some fact, but Minnesotans know that some politicians operate differently. Senator Paul Wellstone donated his salary increases to charity. First District Congressman Tim Walz (Dr. Davis’ opponent) goes one step further … not only did Walz not accept a salary increase but in 2007 he returned approximately 7 percent of his Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA). Every member of the House of Representatives receives an annual MRA allowance to fund his or her office activities which in 2007 totaled roughly $1.4 million.

Not only should Congress not accept a raise, they should decrease their pay to the rate that was in effect the last time there was budget surpluses … 2000. And they should follow Walz’ lead and reduce their MRA and not use tele-town hall meetings (as Bachmann and John Kline do) which are just public expenditures for their re-election efforts.

What’s your earliest political memory ?

I remember my father going to a Republican fundraiser because Eisenhower was the speaker … his donation cost was $5. And again from that 1960 campaign, I remember John Kennedy coming to a local park, but I didn’t go as I was only in the second grade.

But actually, my most vivid memory was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. I was ten, and although my parents seemed concerned, I didn’t understand why. But the reason that I remember it was because the televised broadcast of the Yankees – Giants World Series kept getting interrupted. When you’re ten, baseball is a whole lot more important than world events.

Oh, sure there were other special events that could get a kid’s interest. During the Gemini missions, televisions were brought into school … they were exciting … but mostly because we got a reprieve from normal classes. There was no CSPAN as it began broadcasting in March 1979 … just the three major networks. Maybe there was special speeches broadcast on the radio, but I was tuned into only baseball games.

In reality, politics was not a major focus in my youth.
But my life must have been different than Sarah Palin … she must have been extremely interested in politics as she listened to Senator Joe Biden speak "since I was in the second grade."

My what a vivid memory … but how did she listen ?
Alaska Public Radio did not begin until 1978 when she was fourteen … I hope she wasn’t in the second grade in 1978.

And what words of wisdom did Biden impart ?
Biden being a constitutional lawyer and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court during nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, one would have hoped that maybe she could cite some Supreme Court ruling other than Roe-v-Wade.

But my youth and Palin’s youth were different eras … when she was in second grade, Watergate was just unfolding. Maybe Watergate motivated her into paying closer attention to politics … maybe that’s why she became a founding director of the "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors and individuals which would have been illegal for Senator Stevens to do himself. And how did Gov. Sarah Palin react to the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens and the questions if he should resign ? She praised for him as someone "has dedicated his life to the betterment of the state."

There are a lot of questions about Sarah Palin capabilities to be Vice-President, but from my view, her own words are prompting more questions than answers.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MN-01 : Walz Should Teach a Class in Fiscal Responsibility

Before Congress could have an opportunity to weigh in adding $700 billion to our national debt, they had a vote to add $70 billion for the next year. So how did the self-identified fiscal conservatives - John Kline (R-MN-02) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) – vote ? They voted for it. In opposition were Tim Walz (D-MN-01) and Collin Peterson (D-MN-07). The bill passed by a large majority with only 30 Democrats standing in opposition (or in support of fiscal responsibility.) It was the easy political choice … it wasn’t fiscally prudent but being fiscally prudent won’t get you as many votes if it means that voters might be told by their opponent that the vote would be classified as a tax increase.

Walz has been down this road before.
He knows the Ron Carey and the MN-GOP will recycle their press release from the last time this legislation was approved. “Tim Walz promised to stand up for the middle class during his campaign but it’s clear he didn’t really mean it. With his vote against bringing a clean Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch to floor of the House, Walz once more sides with national liberals and against the interests of the First District.”
Hopefully, the Mankato Free Press will once again remind the voters as they did then “Ultimately, the minority Republicans won, utilizing a shrewd political move. They could say Democrats voted against reforming AMT if Democrats did not capitulate to approve the reforms even though there is no money to pay for them. Many Democrats in the House eventually relented, figuring they’d better vote to prevent average Americans from getting hit by the AMT, even if the government can’t pay for it and the vote effectively raises the federal deficit. Some House members, including Rep. Tim Walz, D-1st District, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-7th District, didn’t take the bait and voted for keeping the Paygo rules. Meanwhile, Rep. John Kline, R-2nd District, voted against Paygo, as did Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, and the Concord Coalition, a budget watchdog group, resoundingly thrashed lawmakers unwilling to pay for things they approve. We are just as frustrated but expect to be even more exasperated when the campaigns heat up. As part of the cover, opponents of Paygo will say Walz and Peterson voted for tax increases. We hope voters, who normally have short memories, will have a clearer mind on just what happened last week.

The big difference between last December and now is that the amount just continues to grow … then it was $50 billion and now it is $70 billion.

Ironically, when given the facts, a survey indicate that even Republicans support Walz position.

Fiscal responsibility includes tax fairness. Paying for AMT reform is a key problem. Rolling back the high-income rate cuts and the lower tax rates on dividends and capital gains enacted since 2001 would offset more than half of the revenue loss. If the tax cuts sunset, repealing the deduction for state and local taxes, as proposed by President Bush's tax reform panel, would more than offset the cost of reforming or repealing the AMT. But those choices are not ones that certain fiscal conservative want to address … they would rather ignore the problems … which helped produce today’s financial predicament. They don't even offer their own plan or even find any tax increase acceptable. That's being fiscally irresponsible.

There are many factors that resulted in the current $700 billion bailout proposal, yet I have to wonder if this could have been averted if some reforms had been put in place earlier. One of the points of contention is executive compensation. While the legislation may address “golden parachutes” for top executives, that is a red herring ... the "walk-away pay" may address a few executives, but the problem is deeper. The legislation must also address taxes rates allowed for hedge fund managers and investors who currently pay a tax rate half that applied to ordinary income.

This November, don’t fall for the campaign fodder, look at their votes … Tim Walz has proven that he is willing to confront fiscal responsibilities seriously.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MN-01 –vs— MN-02 : Walz and Kline Should Debate Civic Duty

From a Tim Walz press release :
“I’ve always believed that democracy functions best when people can make informed decisions about the candidates on the ballot,” said incumbent Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01 Democrat). “I think debates are critical to elections because they allow people to directly compare two candidates on the issues. I’m proud of the values I stand for and I believe my vision for the future of southern Minnesota stands in stark contrast to Dr. Davis’ view. I’m eager to ensure southern Minnesotans see the differences between us and I challenge Dr. Davis to join me at three debates.”

Talk about Country First, Walz is rejecting the power of incumbency and seeking an open discussion on the issues critical to our nation’s future. Somehow this smacks of Walz’s background that “civics" is not something taught in a classroom, but needs to be practiced in a democratic society.

From a Steve Sarvi press release :
EAGAN, Minn. – As of this afternoon, Rep. John Kline (R-Lakeville) still had not responded to the Goodhue County United Veterans Organization invitation to participate in a forum on veterans’ issues scheduled for next Monday, Sept. 29.
The Sarvi campaign confirmed Kline’s undetermined status in a phone call with the Goodhue County Veterans Service Office this afternoon. The invitation to the forum is dated July 23, meaning Kline’s office has had almost nine weeks to make a decision about his participation.
Sarvi will be participating regardless of Kline’s presence or absence. The forum is to be held at the Stary-Yerka VFW Post #5727, located at 25 1st Street East in downtown Zumbrota, Minn.
In response to the news about Kline’s undetermined status, Steve Sarvi had the following to say:
We’re creating new veterans every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. I challenge John Kline – who, like me, is a veteran himself – to defend his record and talk about how he plans to care for our veterans – if not at this event, then by working with my campaign to schedule a debate on veterans’ issues. We want to give the men and women who have fought for our country, and their families, a chance to decide who’s going to serve them.

The Second District deserves the same openness that Walz is offering the First District.

Kline’s performance needs to be thoroughly debated and he is doing a disservice by not participating in a debate concerning Veterans issues.
In February, while suicides among veterans were approaching all-time highs, John Kline participated in a hearing held by the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee during which Rep. Kline suggested PTSD is a distraction.
While Kline has “questioned” problems, Walz has led the charge for addressing veterans’ issues.
These problems are not going away. Just today, it was reported that the government plans to substantially increase disability benefits for veterans with mild traumatic brain injuries, acknowledging for the first time that veterans suffering from this less severe version of the Iraq war's signature wound will struggle to make a living.

The Second District deserves the same commitment to Veterans that Walz is offering the First District.
Steve Sarvi will do that.

MN-01 : Davis Poll Reveals Challenger’s Threat

Dr. Brian Davis, Republican candidate for Minnesota’s First District, has commissioned a poll that reveals incumbent Congressman Tim Walz with a commanding 50-32 lead.

The obvious question is why did Davis waste his money on a poll when he could have read Bluestem Prairie and learned why he should lose ?

Let’s look at what Walz has going for him.
Being a former high school teacher, Walz used his “ student council ” to energize the district in 2006 and with 22% of the state’s population being between 18-29; this bodes well for Walz in 2008.
Walz has gotten the endorsement from the NRA. Statewide 41.7 households are gun owners.
Walz was a prime proponent in the passage of the Farm Bill (despite a veto from President Bush). The First District is primarily a rural district. Davis’ performance during the FarmFest debate was less than stellar as the crowd seemed to enjoy Walz’s defense of his support for farmers using wit and knowledge to his advantage.
Walz has listened to Veterans and brought their issues to the forefront during his first term. 10.5% of Minnesota’s households have a veteran.
Statewide, there are more DFLers (Dems) (38% in 2004) than Republicans (35%) leaving 27% as Independents. The inference is that Walz is getting support from Independents while Davis hasn’t even gotten all the Republicans ( not surprising when State Senator Dick Day amassed a third of the votes in the recent primary election. )

Now, let’s look at the poll results from Davis’ prospective.
From the statewide poll, Davis (32%) is underperforming Presidential candidate John McCain (45%) while Walz (50%) is beating Barack Obama (43%). The presidential coattails will certainly come into play in these races, but Davis has a lot to make up.
Also, the poll states that a generic Republican Congressional candidate should get (39%). Nationally and state GOP leaders will have to decide where to invest their monies with the choice being to defend Congressman Jim Ramstad’s MN-03 seat where Erik Paulsen (R) is in a “no clear favorite” dogfight with 30-year old Iraq War veteran Ashwin Madia (DFL) or send monies to Davis.

So, by all accounts Davis should lose … but that’s why they have elections. Polls are just an indicator of select group of people’s feelings --- that doesn’t meant that those people will actually show up and vote. The Davis poll does not tell us if this is likely voters which is a more reliable measure. Walz’ main challenge is still APATHY. Voters may feel comfortable with Walz and not bother showing up at the polls. Conversely, the Republicans have reasons to be motivated. The anti-Obama crowd is further re-enforced by the anti-Franken voters. With the potential of budget problems at the state level where, all House seats are on the ballot, the Republicans will want to have their voices heard. The First District voted for Republicans solidly in 2004 and may do so again.

Davis’ publishing of this poll may have more of an impact to suppress Walz voters and give Davis a squeaker victory. Be warned … Apathy is the real challenger.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

MN-01 : Will Davis Use a Mankato Case to Explain His Health Care Concerns ?

When FBI attorney and whistleblower Colleen Rowley announced that she would oppose John Kline for the Second District Congressional seat for the 2006 elections, voters knew that the Global War on Terrorism would be at the center of their campaigns.
When Brian Davis, a physician associated with the Mayo Clinic, announced that he was seeking to represent the First District for the 2008 elections, I thought that health care would be a prime issue.

Health care is not only a concern for voters individually, but its financial impact weighs heavily on businesses that provide employee benefits and on the Federal budget.

Every voter has questions regarding health care coverage and government involvement, but mine include :
-- How do we get to universal participation (Senator David Durenberger in leading the Minnesota Citizens Panel on Health Care Costs has stated that the resolution of the health care crisis is universal participation) ?
-- How to handle high-risk patients that have pre-existing conditions and unable to procure health insurance ?
-- Should Medicare be subject to means testing ?
-- How do we address the shortage of primary care physicians ? (Specialists – in fields like radiology, orthopedic surgery, cardiology, and other tech fields – take home 2 to 3 times the income of primary care physicians, and have more time off.)
-- How do we reduce the $98 billion a year in excess administrative costs as McKinsey and Company noted in their study ?
--- How do we improve effectiveness of personal physicians ? According to Paul Grundy, MD, Director of Health Care Transformation for IBM says a humanistic, patient-centered approach can cuts costs by 30% and improves outcomes by 20%.
-- And the immediate question of how to fund the Medicare trust fund that covers hospital stays that will start running out in 2011 and may be emptied by 2019 ?

Alas, Dr. Davis has not used the health care as a prime issue in his campaign. His website is extremely lacking in details but he did tell KAAL television "I'd like to see a greater transparency in costs so that individuals can become better informed consumers, I'd like to see us have tort reform, the cost of malpractice is driving doctors and hospitals out of business," says Republican candidate Dr. Brian Davis.

It is disappointing that Davis focuses on malpractice rather than the other aspect of health care.

Essentially, Davis is going down the same road that President Bush has traveled in his successful elections. Although Bush and the AMA used tort reform as a campaign issue, a General Accounting Office report indicated that the crisis was overblown. Malpractice rates were impacted by insurers' losses in their investment portfolios, inadequate reserves to pay claims and artificially low rates set during the 1990s when many companies vied to attract policyholders.

The American Medical News reported that 84% of liability companies reported in 2007 rates held steady or dropped while the lowest rates for internists ($3,375), general surgeons ($11,306), and Ob-Gyns ($20.626), are all in Minnesota. Besides Minnesota, states ranking in low tier are our neighbors -- South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

That stated, malpractice is a serious problem.
But, is it as big as Dr. Davis implies ?

How many malpractice lawsuits may be settled out of court is not readily available, but last week a Blue Earth County jury found a physician liable.
Excerpts from the Mankato Free Press article : The jury’s unanimous award totaled $975,501. The jury awarded $118,001 for past medical expenses, $137,500 for bodily and mental harm, $420,000 for future damages and mental harm, and $300,000 for loss of future earning capacity.
“This was a horrific injury,” said Michael Djordjevich, the plaintiff’s attorney. During the baby’s delivery, her shoulder was injured. The injury, her lawyers argued, will cause lifelong limitations and significantly reduce future earnings. Djordjevich had shown jurors a radiology report that said measurements of the fetus were “suggestive of a macrosomic fetus.” Macrosomia is a medical term describing a fetus or newborn of excessive weight. He said accepted, published medical standards suggest a C-section be done with macrosomic fetuses.
Djordjevich also showed notes made by the obstetrician prior to the delivery in which she suggested she would order a C-section if the labor did not progress well. Djordjevich, using charts of the progression of the labor, said the obstetrician failed to follow her own plans by not ordering a C-section when the labor did not progress as quickly as it should have.

NOTE : The physician’s and family names were omitted in my excerpt but listed in the MFP story as I do not believe that is relevant to the discussion of medical malpractice.

Now, $975,501 is a lot of money … but is it outlandish ?
The $118,001 for past medical expenses is in line with the current Medicare philosophy of not paying for medical errors or mismanagement. The $300,000 for loss of future earnings amounts to less than $7,500 over a normal 40 year working career … if anything that seems small. The concern is that the shoulder, which was injured during the delivery, will experience lifelong limitations … without knowing the extent of the range of motion, it is quite possible that the child may be limited in career opportunities … such as becoming a physician such as Dr. Davis and thus deprived of earning a salary of $411,780 per year … which is more than what the jury awarded.
This jury members did their job … they listened to the testimony and rendered a verdict. In this case, the system worked ... even if my future health insurance rates eventually reflect this verdict.

Instead of crying for tort reform, Dr. Davis should acknowledge that mistakes are made and that is why malpractice insurance is warranted.
Instead of attacking trial lawyers, he should be promoting efforts to get other states to improve to Minnesota’s performance level. It’s not just blind luck that impacts malpractice insurance rates … it’s also by effective management. For example, Minnesota Medical Insurance Company (MMIC) has sponsored aggressive programs focusing on reducing malpractice risks, patient safety, communication, and quality which has attributed to Minnesota's low malpractice rates.
If patients did not have the remedy of lawsuit, the medical community may not be motivated to improve itself.

In July, I wrote about candidate Dr. Davis Prescription for Health Care.
Now, that Dr. Davis is the officially on the ballot, he should inform voters of his past and current relationship with the medical industry.
#1. Davis’ personal financial disclosure form indicated ownership in a pharmaceutical company. Will Davis sell the stock outright ? Senator and Doctor Bill Frist moved his investments into a blind trust and that did not stop a SEC investigation involving sale of his HCA stock.
#2. As a Co-director of the Prostate Cancer Program at the Mayo Clinic and as Vice President of the American Brachytherapy Society, have you ever been compensated (monies or trips) for educational lecturers, participation in seminars, and/or educational research grants from pharmaceutical companies ? From 1997 through 2005, drug makers paid more than 5,500 doctors, nurses and other health care workers in Minnesota at least $57 million. Another $40 million went to clinics, research centers and other organizations. More than 20 percent of the state’s licensed physicians received money.
#3. Will Dr. Davis release for public review his complete income tax records so that voters can determine if any compensation recieved as noted in #2 has been properly recorded ? The Schedule D will provide insight into investments in the medical industry.
#4. Lastly, will he support the McCain health care plan which will make employer-provided health care taxable income for employees (resulting in a average tax increase of $2870 in taxes), deregulating the health care insurance industry and potentially eliminating coverage for 20 million citizens ?

Just as Dr. Davis recommends "a greater transparency” so that individuals can become better informed consumers, voters need the same "transparency” to evaluate his candidacy.

Voters need to know if Dr. Davis will represent the AMA and the pharmaceutical and medical industry ... or the citizens of the First District.