Saturday, December 04, 2010

MN-02: Kline’s Let Them Eat Cake Moment

The aftermath of the House passage of the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs, the headline writers and blogsophere are obscuring the legislation with talk of Bake Sales. Using the same AP story, the headlines range from Bye Brownies: Bill Could Limit Bake Sales to Hold the sweets; new bill would limit bake sales.
Any difference between these two words “could” and “would” ? Well, not if it can be used to be used as a volley in the Nanny-State Wars … and John Kline (R-MN-02) is right there :
Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, said the federal government “has really gone too far” when it is deciding when to hold bake sales. [Sarah] Palin mocked the efforts last month by bringing a plate of cookies to a school speech in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Kline should know better as the article provides a little bit more detail than the headline :
The legislation would apply to all foods sold in schools during regular class hours, including in the cafeteria line, vending machines and at fundraisers. It wouldn’t apply to after-hours events or concession stands at sports events. Public health groups pushed for the language on fundraisers, which encourages the secretary of Agriculture to allow them only if they are infrequent. The language is broad enough that a president’s administration could even ban bake sales, but Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled in a letter to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., this week that he does not intend to do that. The USDA has a year to write rules that decide how frequent is infrequent.

But Mr. Kline (see this commentary on MN Political Roundtable) has ignored his own committee hearings that addressed the military concern with obesity and support by fellow Republicans Todd Russell Platts (R-PA) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) for child nuitrion programs.

The problems is real. A November 2010 USDA’s Economics Research Service report showed that 17.4 million households had trouble putting food on the table in 2009. The 17.4 million households experiencing food insecurity make up about 14.7 percent of U.S. households, the highest percentage since the survey was started in 1995.
More than 90 nutrition groups, including includes Feeding America, the network of food banks, and Bread for the World, sent House members letters Nov. 15 urging passage of the bill.
The legislation was approved unanimously by the Senate.

But Mr. Kline said NO to the 32 million children who eat school lunch each day and 12 million children who eat school breakfast. In essence offering the same Out of Touch response as Marie Antoinette is attributed to saying when informed that the people were suffering due to widespread bread shortages ... the Queen is said to have replied “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” … Let them eat cake.

Mr. Kline stop the culture war … with 15 million Americans unemployed and many more underemployed, the last thing we need is to oppose child nuitrtion programs.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MN-02 : Why Did Republicans Pledge NO to No Earmarks

On John Kline’s (R-MN-02) House website (which should deal with official government business – not campaign pledges), the Pledge to America is “unveiled” (what a weird word choice that Mr. Kline chose … is it some mystery, cloaked in secrecy, that after time is now safe to reveal).
The Pledge runs almost 8,000 words, complete with charts and graphs and inspiring quotations and photographs of “old” patriots and today’s patriots … beginning with a lengthy preamble modeled on the Declaration of Independence.

Sadly, the “new governing agenda for America” is pretty much standard fare; such as :
We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity.

We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.

We pledge to make government more transparent in its actions, careful in its stewardship, and honest in its dealings.

Hmmm … no mention of “earmarks” which Mr. Kline has pledged to not restrict ? And no mention of “rescissions
which could be an effective tool in reducing spending ?

The Pledge is broken into sections; such as :
A Plan to Create Jobs, End Economic Uncertainty and Make America More Competitive
It’s a good goal to create jobs however it should be noted that on the website that the Republicans used to collect job creation ideas , The Pledge does not address the prime suggestion :
Stop the outsourcing of jobs from America to other countries that do not pay taxes into the U.S. and stop the tax breaks that are given to these companies that are outsourcing. If there company is in the United States, hire people in the United States. That would create more revenue for the government as the American workers would pay taxes and the companies would be paying taxes to America as well.

No, The Pledge is actually to prevent “massive” tax increases by making all current tax rates permanent … okay, will that truly provide the funds to have a “robust defense” ?
Well, in reality whose income tax rates are being threatened … after all, President Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for virtually everyone except for families making over $250,000 per year … so what if they did revert back to the tax rates that existed prior to President Bush’s tax cuts … the top rate would go from 35% to 39%.
Which leads to the obvious question : did the Bush tax cuts help or hurt the country ? David Stockman, President Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget director said “(America’s) debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.” Further, Alan Greenspan stated : “I’m very much in favor of tax cuts but not with borrowed money and the problem that we have gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money. And at the end of the day that proves disastrous.”
Extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest families has not helped our economy, nor will it in the future.

The second topic is : A Plan to End Out-of-Control Spending and Reduce the Size of Government
This is where the Republicans could have embrace Mr. Kline’s personal issue … the end of earmarks … but they did not. This is the charade that the Republicans have used for years.
As Shelley Madore, Mr. Kline’s challenger, has highlighted incumbent John Kline has refused to fund local transportation and other important community projects and recently voted against the Small Business Jobs Act. Incumbent John Kline voted for the Bank Bailout and the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.
Earmarks” are Mr. Kline’s personal crusade … a Don Quixote-ist fight against windmills that his fellow Republicans did not “Pledge” to end. Shelley Madore’s Thirty-Five Cents Tour points out how communities in the Second District have watched their tax dollars be spent in other states while their project requests are unheard by Mr. Kline.
If Mr. Kline cannot get his signature issue included inThe Pledge , why should constituents continue to endure his crusade ?

The last topic is : A Plan to Keep Our Nation Secure at Broad and at Home.

This is purely playing politics. Does any American not want a secure county … but at what cost ? For discussion sake, let’s ignore Iraq and Afghanistan and ask who is the enemy and how will they attack us ? No doubt your answer was a stateless terrorist group such as al Qaeda. The obvious question is : Are we investing wisely or are we spending to fight yesterday’s war ? Why does America need eleven Navy carrier fleets when no other country has more than one ? The simple answer is the one that Mr. Kline has given to explain his support for the F-22 planes that the Pentagon does not want … “it’s a good jobs program”. In terms of global world spending, Russia is under 5%, China is under 7%, NATO is just over 18% while America is over 48% … why are American taxpayers “Securing" the world ?
America can be safe, but still fiscally sound … but not with Mr. Kline’s unquestioning support for the military industrial complex.

My reaction to The Pledge is not alone. Erick Erikson on Redstate writes : This document proves the GOP is more focused on the acquisition of power than the advocacy of long term sound public policy.

I suggest voters take a Pledge to review Mr. Kline’s record and ask what he has done to help families in the Second District.

Monday, September 13, 2010

MN-02 : Madore Has an Ally in George Voinovich

Query : Did Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) read Minnesota Second District candidate Shelley Madore’s press release ?
As the rest of the country struggles to find ways to finance job creation, our district is already in a position to create those opportunities without a tax increase,” Madore continued. “If we had a Representative who would ask for our money back, we could bring back to this district millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Mr. Kline has a grip that won't loosen, despite the loss of more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs in our district. While we were losing those local jobs, John Kline was bailing out Wall Street banks and leaving Main Street behind.”

“I support small business growth. John Kline’s continued lack of support for small businesses is evident, most recently in his vote against the Small Business Lending Fund Act. I look forward to working with local leaders to address our long term economic strategy and put hard-working Minnesotans back to work.”

And just days later, Jonathan Riskind reported in The Columbus Dispatch :
Sen. George V. Voinovich decided to step up and play grown-up last week amid the seemingly intractable and petulant partisanship that grips Washington.
"What I want to do is help our manufacturers and small businesses in the state of Ohio who are unable to find money from traditional sources," Voinovich said in an interview with The Dispatch. "There are some Republicans who, quite frankly, would rather deny the president any kind of victory."

The news was greeted appreciatively in Ohio …
WASHINGTON-- The Ohio-based National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) applauded Senator George Voinovich’s (R-OH) announcement that he would vote to support the Senate moving forward to consider the Small Business Jobs Act, a bill that would help small and medium sized manufacturers access credit needed to help finance their day-to-day operations, invest in expansion of domestic operations …

Senator Voinovich has long been a supporter of fiscally responsible legislation …
-- National Federation of Independent Business names Senator Voinovich "Guardian of Small Business" for his voting record on behalf of small-business owners.
-- Watchdogs of the Treasury presented the "Golden Bulldog Award" for his activities supporting realistic federal spending and controlling runaway debt.
-- Senator Voinovich has long believed that America’s infrastructure is collapsing due to insufficient oversight and funding, introducing the bipartisan National Infrastructure Improvement Act in 2006 and re-introducing it in the 110th Congress. His calls for action fell on deaf ears in Congress until the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minnesota in August 2007, which spurred the full Senate to unanimously pass Senator Voinovich’s bill just two days after the bridge collapsed. The passage was an incredibly important, and long-overdue, first step toward restoring our nation’s highways, waterways and infrastructure systems as well as protecting Americans and the economy.
-- In 2003, he had the courage to oppose President Bush's $750 million tax cut proposal.

Despite Mr. Kline’s NO vote, the legislation was approved and moves to the Senate …. where Senator Voinovich’s support will help.

And what has been the reaction from small business …
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 22, 2010 — Susan Eckerly, senior vice president of the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small business association, issued the following statement on H.R. 5297 the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010:
NFIB commends the U.S. Senate for focusing on small businesses, our nation’s job creators. The Small Business Jobs Act will help some small businesses during these difficult economic times. The tax provisions will make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a new business and invest in their business property.

“We are also pleased that this bill includes the self-employed healthcare deduction which will provide significant savings and tax equity for self-employed individuals who are paying for their own healthcare expenses. Additionally, the lending fund has the potential to help credit-worthy small businesses that have had difficulties obtaining credit, which is a good thing.

Additionally, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) – which reported in a survey earlier this year that 45 percent of small businesses found that their borrowing needs were not being satisfied … there are as bleak as at any time since the surveys were started in 1986. And in a July survey by the National Small Business Association which says it represents 150,000 small firms, 41 percent of companies said they couldn’t raise as much money as they needed – the highest share in 17 years-- has said the new lending fund could greatly ease the credit crunch for many of its members.

So other than “denying the President”, what reasons would someone vote against it?
Earmarks --- there are none.
Cost -- The independent Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Small Business Lending Fund would provide taxpayers with $1.1 billion in savings over 10 years. While CBO also found that this program would not cost the taxpayer a penny as banks repay the loans to the Treasury with interest.

OK, so the regular complaints that we hear from Mr. Kline are not viable, what will the legislation do ?

Supporters say the $30 billion fund, which would invest in small community banks, would allow the banks to leverage the money and make almost $300 billion in additional loans. Banks that step up their lending pace will be allowed to repay the government at much lower interest rates than banks that stay on the sidelines. Thus small community banks will prosper and not the big Wall Street banks. The program has been very explicit in addressing this goal – the program is directed only at small banks, which do the overwhelming amount of their commercial lending to small businesses, and the benefits banks receive are linked directly to their lending to small businesses. Loans over $10 million or to businesses with revenues over $50 million would not be counted.
At the same time, the Small Business Jobs Act is designed specifically to address the range of problems facing small businesses – which is why it includes a series of targeted tax incentives for new investments, enhancements to SBA programs, and a new State Small Business Credit Initiative in addition to the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF).

Yesterday, on CBS’s Face The Nation program, Bob Schieffer discussed the Bush tax cuts with Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). Schieffer pointedly asked if Republicans were willing to hold the tax breaks for most Americans “hostage” to insist on continuing the lower rates for the highest earners, and Mr. Boehner responded :
If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for them.”

That’s the way Mr. Kline should have looked at the legislation --- vote to help small business, vote to encourage job growth, vote to help small community banks, vote for the self-employed healthcare deduction, vote for progress … but Mr. Kline voted NO.

This example illustrates to Second District voters who John Kline is really working for … Wall Street special interests and the Republican Party.

Voters need to take a hard look at Shelley Madore … she will look out for the Second District … not the special interests.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MN-02 : When Kline Votes NO, He Wants to Say YES

John Kline (R-MN-02) recently lamented As long as uncertainty hangs over our economy, small businesses and entrepeuners will sit on the sidelines and job-seekers will abandon the workforce.

Mr. Kline’s words were echoed by Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH-08) in an August 16th letter to President Obama in which he wrote :
During our recent meeting at the White House, I expressed Republicans' concern about the ongoing uncertainty American small businesses are facing as a result of what many believe has been a near-constant stream of new federal rules and requirements on private sector job creators. I conveyed our belief, supported by many economists, that such uncertainty is contributing significantly to the ongoing difficulty our economy is experiencing with respect to the creation of new private sector jobs.”

Previously, on July 16, Minority Leader Boehner endorsed a one-year moratorium on most new regulation saying that a moratorium "sends a wonderful signal to the private sector that they'll have some breathing room."

Unfortunately, Mr. Kline (and Leader Boehner) are advocating a policy that will potentially add more uncertainty. Mr. Kline is a co-sponsor of the REINS Act (H.R. 3765). The Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act requires that Congress must vote to approve any new Major Rule proposed by the executive branch before it can be enforced. Under the REINS Act, the executive agency charged with writing rules would serve a drafting function for major rules. After which the regulations must be approved by both bodies in Congress and signed by the President before being enforced.

Well, well, well ... what an interesting title for the legislation ... Executive In Need of Scrutiny. Timing in politics is everything. And when a Democrat is in the White House, well, let's just say that all of a sudden, "Scrutiny" is in order.

In fact, the last time Congress wanted "Scrutiny" was during the Clinton years ... when it enacted the Congressional Review Act. See below for a description of how regulations now have a 60 day period for Congressional review and the right to reject a regulation. However if Mr. Kline's sponsored legislation is enacted, Congress would be forced to take another vote before implementation ... instead of just providing a window for review and potentially revoking of the regulation.

Talk about adding uncertainty ! As slow as the Senate acts (for example, consider food safety), this will add unnecessary delay and change policy implementers into appeasers of every interest group. This would expand the influence of K Street lobbyists. Would the Republicans really have wanted to empower the Democrats to be able to delay implementing Bush policies ? Or any future Republican Administration ?

At the heart of this is the premise that regulations are bad … err … maybe better restated as regulations implemented by Democrats are bad.
But did you know that Congress gets a review of financial impact of major regulations ?
From the last Bush-era report :

The estimated annual benefits of major Federal regulations reviewed by OMB from October 1, 1997 to September 30, 2007 range from $122 billion to $656 billion, while the estimated annual costs range from $46 billion to $54 billion. These totals are somewhat higher than the benefits and costs reported last year.

During the past year, agencies quantified and monetized benefits and costs for 12 major final rules. These rules added $28.6 billion to $184.1 billion in annual benefits compared to $9.4 billion to $10.6 billion in annual costs.

While the most recent Obama Administration prepared report :

The estimated annual benefits of major Federal regulations reviewed by OMB from October 1, 1999, to September 30, 2009, for which agencies estimated and monetized both benefits and costs, are in the aggregate between $128 billion and $616 billion, while the estimated annual costs are in the aggregate between $43 billion and $55 billion. These ranges reflect uncertainty in the benefits and costs of each rule at the time that it was evaluated.

So under the Bush and Obama Administrations, regulations are being implemented and no doubt that some produce far higher net benefits than others. One agency that is always in the crosshairs is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which produced 60 to 87 percent of the benefits and 58 to 64 percent of the costs.

Let’s look at a recent proposed regulation that EPA has offered for public comment over the current 60 day window. The agency also will hold public hearings.
The proposed rule would reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to meet state-by-state emission reductions. By 2014, the rule and other state and EPA actions would reduce SO2 emissions by 71 percent over 2005 levels. NOx emissions would drop by 52 percent. The regulation will target power plant pollution that drifts across the borders of 31 eastern states and the District of Columbia.
The proposal would replace and improve upon the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered EPA to revise in 2008. The court allowed CAIR to remain in place temporarily while EPA works to finalize the replacement rule proposed today.
EPA expects that the emission reductions will be accomplished by proven and readily available pollution control technologies already in place at many power plants across the country.

The EPA values the benefits as :
“Today’s action would yield more than $120 billion in annual health benefits in 2014, including avoiding an estimated 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths, 23,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.9 million days when people miss school or work due to ozone- and particle pollution-related symptoms. These benefits would far outweigh the annual cost of compliance with the proposed rule, which EPA estimates at $2.8 billion in 2014.

Why would Mr. Kline want to delay $120 billion in annual health benefits ?
The costs are estimated at $2.8 billion ... and existing technology will be used ... and many producers are using this technology ... and is it really small business or major corporations such as AEP, Constellation Energy, Duke Energy, Exelon, FPL Group and PG&E.

During the Obama Administration, Mr. Kline has consistently voted NO, but now he wants to say YES to what is implimented.

What is wrong with the current law :

The Congressional Review Act (CRA, 5 U.S.C. §§801-808) requires federal agencies to submit all of their final rules to both houses of Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) before they can take effect, and also delays the effective date of “major” rules (e.g., those with a $100 million impact on the economy) until 60 calendar days after submission and publication.

The CRA established a special set of expedited or “fast track” legislative procedures, primarily in the Senate, through which Congress may enact joint resolutions disapproving agencies’ final rules. Although the general powers of Congress permit it to overturn agency rules by legislation, the CRA is unique in permitting the use of expedited procedures for this purpose. If a rule is disapproved through the CRA procedures, the act specifies not only that the rule “shall not take effect” (or shall not continue, if it has already taken effect), but also that the rule may not be reissued in a “substantially” similar form without subsequent statutory authorization.
Once a rule has been submitted to Congress, Members have 60 “days of continuous session” to introduce a resolution of disapproval.20 The CRA also provides that, if Congress adjourns its annual session sine die less than 60 “legislative days” (House of Representatives) or “session days” (Senate) after a rule
is submitted to it, then the rule is carried over to the next session of Congress and treated as if it had been published in the Federal Register on the 15th legislative or session day after Congress reconvenes. The purpose of this provision is to ensure
that both houses of Congress have sufficient time to consider disapproving rules submitted during this end-of-session “carryover period.” In any given year, the carryover period begins after the 60th legislative day in the House or session day in the Senate before the sine die adjournment, whichever date is earlier. The renewal of the CRA process in the following session occurs even if no resolution to disapprove the rule had been introduced during the session when the rule was submitted.

Even without the CRA, though, Congress can stop agency rulemaking in other ways. For example, each year, Congress includes provisions in appropriations legislation prohibiting rulemaking within particular policy areas, preventing particular proposed rules from becoming final, and prohibiting or affecting the
implementation or enforcement of rules. However, unlike disapprovals under the CRA, the regulatory requirements that have been put into effect are not rescinded, and the agency is not prohibited from issuing a substantially similar regulation in the

Monday, August 02, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Willing to Risk 3M Jobs to Cut Corporate Welfare ?

Timing is everything in politics.

An issue can be ignored until it’s time to be used to make political hay.

Some would say that the Republican current fixation with deficit spending is an issue whose “timing” will help this November.

So it is that when John Kline posted on his website : Congressman John Kline is inviting Minnesotans to help Washington end its addiction to wasteful spending, that I was not surprised. I expected to see the typical stuff that he likes to talk about … like an earmark added to the 2006 Appropriations Bill (HR 3058) for the Sparta Teapot Museum in North Carolina. But NO, Mr. Kline actually asked about ending a program that is more Corporate Welfare than a Congressman bringing “home the bacon.

Of the four choices, the biggest dollar program with a projected savings of $2 Billion is : “Eliminate funding for a green government project that the private sector is already leading: The “FreedomCAR” and fuel partnership program is a duplicative program already being implemented by the private sector.”

FreedomCAR ? Hmmmm… I will bet that you never heard of the FreedomCAR, but since Freedom is in the name, somehow you are probably thinking that this is a Republican-themed program. The C-A-R in FreedomCAR is an acronym for Cooperative Automotive Research, but what’s the Freedom … simple … to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the foreign dictators that reap monies off our dependence. A goal that every American can agree with … and also agree that we have a long way to go to get there.

The program was created during John Kline’s first term in Congress … that’s when the Republicans controlled the House and George Bush announced the program in his 2003 State of the Union address. Funny, how we forgot about that … but now, the “timing” has a Democrat in the White House and Democrats controlling the House.
Yes, “timing” is everything … especially since President Obama just drove Chevrolet Volt during his tour of the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant last week.

This program subsidizes research by major automakers for developing their own versions of hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and fuel cell vehicles. The subsidies also fund private R&D of light- weight materials, electronic power control, and electric drive motors.

One of the main components in these plug-in hybrid vehicles is the battery … since PHEVs have the potential to displace a large amount of gasoline by delivering up to 40 miles of electric range without recharging— new batteries would have to be developed. The Department of Energy awarded 3M in Saint Paul up to $1.14 million (total DOE/industry cost share: $ 2.28 million) over two years to screen nickel/manganese/cobalt (NMC) cathode materials through building and testing of small-sized cells.

I do not know the status of 3M’s project, nor how many jobs were created or retained, but the objective sure sounds reasonable.

Working with corporate interests is not new … when President Bush gave monies to the auto industry, he said : “In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action." The monies for this came from the TARP legislation that John Kline voted for. Ah, “timing” is everything … while President Obama’s so-called bailout of the GM and Chrysler is now getting repaid, the Bush monies will never be returned.

What seems odd though is the “timing” and what project Mr. Kline included in his choices.

Ending Corporate Welfare is fiscally responsible. Yet, this project is one that may take government incentives from our goal of being energy independent.

The question is why did Mr. Kline and the Republicans pick the FreedomCAR project and not some other Corporate Welfare programs.

The term “Corporate Welfare” actually has many components.

How about ethanol subsidies which cost the US Treasury $6 billion in 2009 ?
Ethanol subsidies are just the tip of the money tree. "Farm subsidies are America's largest corporate welfare program," said Brian Riedl, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation. The question is why federal money flows primarily to growers of five crops—corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice—while livestock, poultry and produce farmers get by without subsidy checks? After the media reported that at least 2,702 millionaires received farm payments from 2003 to 2006 (including such hobby-farmers as Scottie Pippin of the NBA fame and a number of family members of Congress including Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06), the 2008 Farm bill prohibited all subsidies to anyone whose non-farm adjusted gross income exceeds $500,000. The Obama administration said its proposed farm subsidy cuts would save $2.3 billion over 10 years. Its new budget proposal would lower the cap on direct payments from $40,000 per person per year to $30,000. It would also reduce income eligibility limits over three years to $250,000 for non-farm adjusted gross income.

As easy to see Corporate Welfare in the Ag sector, there is a larger sector that is prone to largesse … and that’s is processed by a House Committee that Mr. Kline sits … The House Armed Forces Committee. Interestingly, Mr. Kline makes the argument the FreedomCAR program is a “duplicative program.” Hmmm. Why is Mr. Kline supportive of General Electric’s request for $1.8 - $2.9 billion required for an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ? In essence, a “duplicative program.”

GE claims that its alternate engine will enable the government to have cost-saving competitions across the lifetime of the F-35 program, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. What it leaves out of its talking points is that the government would first have to pay for two production lines, two supply chains and two workforces to build the competing engines, and then split the annual buys between two teams in a way that would eliminate any economies of scale. Once fielded, the two engines would require separate sets of spare parts, separate maintenance procedures, and other redundant items that would increase rather than decrease the cost of operating the plane. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) during debate about whether to fund the alternate engine expressed concerns about having two redundant engines would increase the complexity of the program, potentially undercutting both affordability and readiness.

Lockheed chairman Robert Stevens has stated that the company expects the actual purchase price of each Air Force F-35 variant will be roughly the same as a current Lockheed F-16 or Boeing F/A-18. That would be about $60 million in today's dollars -- less than half the price of an F-22 Raptor -- and it includes all the necessary mission equipment. Remember that Mr. Kline supported an “earmark” to procure additional F-22 that the Pentagon does not want …. Oh, and the alternate engine was not requested by President Bush or President Obama or the DOD … it’s just Corporate Welfare being funded by Mr. Kline and his friends in Congress.

“Timing” is everything in politics … and this “Timing” reeks of a political stunt.
Cutting Corporate Welfare for the FreedomCAR maybe short-sighted. Developing the technology required to ween ourselves from foreign produced oil, will require decades of trial and error in which a variety of bridge technologies are phased in over time.
Cutting FreedomCAR funding may sound good for political purposes but not be a good strategic decision.

Monday, July 05, 2010

MN-02 : Kline - Penny UnWise, Pounds Foolish

Adage : "If you're not part of the solution, you must be part of the problem."

Major General Paul Monroe was called to testify before John Kline (R-MN-02) and the House Education and Labor Committee last week.
Major General Monroe was testifying on behalf of over 130 other retired generals, admirals and senior military leaders in calling on Congress to address an issue that “threatens to diminish our military strength and put our national security interests at risk.
In very compelling testimony, the situation was outlined :
--- At least 9 million young adults, or 27 percent of all young Americans ages 17 to 24, are too overweight to enlist. Since 1995, the proportion of candidates who failed their physical exams due to weight problems increased by a staggering 70 percent.
-- Every year, the military discharges over 1,200 first-term enlistees before their contracts are up because of weight problems; the military must then recruit and train their replacements at a cost of $50,000 for each man or woman, thus spending more than $60 million a year.
-- The journal Health Affairs reports that 80 percent of children who were overweight at ages 10-15 were obese at age 25.

Supporting these comments, former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army Generals John M. Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton wrote : “Our school districts need the resources to offer our children more vegetables, fruits and whole grains as well as products with less sugar, sodium, fat and calories in school cafeterias and vending machines. Yes, this will mean increasing funding for child nutrition programs. But with our nation spending at least $75 billion a year on medical expenses related to obesity, we think these steps will pay off over the long term.”

The legislation in question is H.R.5504, the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act which is being crafted by Mr. Kline’s committee with Representative Todd Russell Platts (R-PA), ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities stating : “Given the serious fiscal challenges facing our country, we must ensure that we devote our limited resources to our nation's most urgent priorities. Providing nutritious meals and improving health standards for our nation's children, especially those most in need, are such priorities. I am pleased to join with Chairman George Miller and Chairwoman Carolyn McCarthy in sponsoring this important legislation."

However, Mr. Kline statement is less than accepting of the military’s plea : “We stand ready on this side of the aisle to reauthorize the programs and improve their effectiveness and efficiency.
What has given us pause, however, is the $8 billion price tag attached to this bill.

But I hope we do not allow an important discussion about nutritional science and wellness policy reporting to detract from our larger obligation to prevent hunger and improve child nutrition responsibly.”
Mr. Kline is once again offering lip service … his job is to offer solutions … but instead he’s being an obstructionist.

First, this is not a free lunch … it will cost money … as it did when it was created as the National School Lunch Act of 1946. Then it was passed as a matter of national security – the military’s concern then was that malnourishment would render American youth unfit to defend the nation.
Mr. Kline’s using the $8 billion price tag does not acknowledge that it is actually over a ten year period, so that is $800 million a year. If $75 billion is spent on medical expenses related to obesity, then spending less than a billion should be a good preventative …sorta wisely spending a Penny today so that a Pound will not be needed tomorrow.

But if the Mr. Kline wants to find $800 million to offset it that should not really be a problem.
Here’s some suggestions.
--- Reduce payments in the Conservation Reserve Program or CRP. Few people outside of the farm belt have heard of this program, but for 25 years, CRP has been the backbone of the government’s welfare system for farmers. The program pays agriculture producers to take highly erosion-able lands out of production and plant it to some kind of cover vegetation—usually grass. The program currently covers 36 million acres or about 8 percent of all cropland.
Farmers elect to enroll in the program which pays a rental fee that averages about $50 an acre. Farmers typically sign 10 year contracts promising not to farm or even graze such lands. In 2007 the federal government paid $1.9 billion dollars to farmers and ranchers under this program -- something they should be doing anyway—which is to avoid farming highly erodible lands.

--- As Brian M. Riedl, of the Heritage Foundation wrote : “Lawmakers who are serious about fiscal restraint should consider farm subsidies one of the most justifiable places to find savings. These corporate welfare programs enrich agribusinesses and other non-farmers at the expense of family farmers, the farm economy, and taxpayers.”
Eligibility for farm subsidies is determined by crop, not by income or poverty standards. A glance at those who received farm subsidies in 2002 shows that many of them do not need federal dollars. Farm program benefits are highly concentrated in the hands of a small minority of subsidized individuals and operations, with the top 1 percent of beneficiaries claiming 17 percent of the crop subsidy benefits between 2003 and 2005. Twelve Fortune 500 companies received farm subsidies in 2002. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance's $2.3 million farm subsidy payment was by far the largest among these companies. The farm subsidies granted to these Fortune 500 companies since 1995 are--on average--70 times larger than those granted to the median farmer.
IF you need details of this program, Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06), Tom Latham (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) can probably give you personal stories ... since they have received subsidies in the past.

--- Of course, if you don’t want to impact Ag programs, there is always the earmarks" that Congress has requested (i.e. F-18, F-22, C-17, etc.) but Pentagon has not requested … Tom Coburn (R-OK) wrote : Not counting the spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the “base” Pentagon budget has increased from $407 billion in 2001 to $553 billion for 2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the newest US defense budget data. Over the past decade, this means a cumulative total increase of almost $1 Trillion for the base DOD budget.

Why highlight Ag and military programs for possible cuts … because Mr. Faux Fiscal Conservative, John Kline voted for the Farm Bill and Republican-sponsored “earmarks”.
“Stop the Pork” is an effective campaign slogan, but Mr. Kline’s votes do not support his rhetoric.

Mr. Kline, the military says Obesity is a national security concern … Republicans recognize it … it’s time for YOU to work for solutions instead of being the obstructionist problem. It's time to quit hiding behind this faux fiscal conservative image ... it's time to invest wisely for America's future.

Monday, June 21, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Puts Out Help Wanted Sign

Don’t want to wait for the full effects of the healthcare reform and get a job in an industry that’s growing ...

In fact, remember when Senator Chuck Grassley was asked by a constituent how he can get the same kind of health care options members of Congress have, Mr. Grassley said “You can. Just go work for the federal government.

Good News ! John Kline’s hiring !

Scheduler/Executive Assistant - The office of Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is seeking a D.C. Scheduler/Executive Assistant. This position is responsible for managing the Member’s DC schedule, making travel arrangements, coordinating the DC intern program, and supervising front office operations and staff. Candidates must possess meticulous attention to detail; excellent communications skills; and the ability to multitask, organize, and balance competing priorities in a fast-paced environment. Candidates must have Hill experience. Minnesota ties preferred. Salary commensurate with experience. Please send resume, and cover letter to:

Ah, how interesting that we keep hearing that if only government would run like a profit-making business. In today’s economy, most companies are taking every opportunity to reduce staff … attrition means reduction in staff … re-assignment of duties … carry a little extra load.

In essence, the message is : “The American people are tightening their belts and making tough decisions, and they expect the same of their elected leaders. It is time for Washington to get its priorities straight, put our fiscal house in order, and give job creators the freedom they need to put Americans back to work.” … or so said John Kline (R-MN-02) on June 4, 2010.

This really brings us to a discussion of how the Congressional staff is funded.
Of course, the answer is : You and me, the taxpayer.
But who decides how those funds are spent : The Representative.

Each member of the House of Representatives has a Member’s Reimbursement Allowance … which is basically the same amount for everyone with those with Committee leadership given additional monies. The first thing to remember is that the MRA does not have to be spent in total … in fact, Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-01) has routinely returned monies every year … and Congressman Walz has never accepted a pay increase.
The member can essentially allocate their MRA however they want with some maximum headcount considerations.
In essence, if the Congressman wants to give out year end bonuses … that’s fine
… if the Congressman wants to pay an “executive assistant” more than his Chief of Staff … that’s fine
… if the Congressman wants to spend it on furniture or salary, it doesn’t matter as long as it doesn’t exceed the MRA maximum.
(Oh, and don’t forget the Franked Mail privilege that members of Congress have.)

So, let’s look at Mr. Kline’s staff.
For perspective, in 2007, his total staff salary was $ 813,195; in 2008, it was $880,628; and in 2009 it was $ 943,552.
What was that about “It is time for Washington to get its priorities straight, put our fiscal house in order … ” ?

The guy you want to be is Paul Teller … who Mr. Kline paid $10,000 to be his Executive Director for one month in April of 2009. Mr. Teller was previously employed by Mr. Kline in August 2008 for $8,000 … WOW … that’s fiscal management !

The most high profile position that many Minnesotans may actually deal with is Mr. Kline’s District Director. In 2007, he was paid $105,575.04. Fast forward to 2009, $116,151.55 … that’s over $10,000 and 10% salary increase.

In fact, reviewing the payroll data, it appears that it is not uncommon for Mr. Kline’s staff to receive “year end pay adjustments” to the tune of $2,000 to $3,000 each year … some as much as 30%.

Why Mr. Kline is accepting applications for this Scheduler/Executive Assistant is not stated in his advertisement. One would hope that this would not be a new creation … or a temporary replacement while a member of his current staff has been moved to his campaign re-election committee.
For example, using Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) as an example … her Chief of Staff Julie Quist temporarily left her Congressional assignment to work on Ms. Bachmann’s re-election campaign late in 2008 … but returned afterward … during the time that she was not on the Congressional Staff, Ms. Quist was paid as a campaign consultant by the Bachmann campaign committee. However when she returned to the Congressional staff, Ms. Quist received a one-time payroll adjustment of $6,250 … in essence, it would appear that the taxpayers paid for her lost wages. Under the MRA rules, Ms. Bachmann controls how and who she pays.

It’s funny that the winner in the second week of the Republican YouCut program was to eliminate federal pay raises. Just makes you wonder what good it would do to eliminate pay raises, when members of Congress seem to spend our monies with so much freedom.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

MN-02 : Does Harvard Study Prove Kline Right About Earmarks ?

A case study in logic, goes something like this :

John Kline is a human being.
Women are human beings.
Therefore, John Kline is a woman.

If you accept that logic, then consider this ...

John Kline opposes earmarks since they “are based on a member's seniority, committee assignment or party affiliation.”
A Harvard study states that obtaining a chairmanship on a “powerful congressional committee” actually damages corporations within the states that receive these federal dollars.
Therefore, John Kline’s opposition to earmarks benefits Minnesota.

In both examples, the logic is faulty.

Yet, that is the assessment suggested in a recent Letter to the Editor proclaiming that “A new Harvard Business School study shows how John Kline’s “no earmark” policy benefits Minnesota.”

I am not sure if the writer read the Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?
report, but its basic question was “Does public sector spending complement or crowd out private sector economic activity?
John Kline is not mentioned ... nor is his "no earmark" policy ... in fact Minnesota is barely a sidenote.

The report analyzed over 42 years of earmarks and various changes of committee chairman and determined that corporations in those states invested less in their business than they may have otherwise.
But what does that mean ?
Well, the report states … “a key feature of our data is that firm-level figures reflect capex, R&D, payout, employment, and sales growth aggregated across all operations of the firm, including divisions located in other states. … To the extent that portfolio capital has greater mobility across states than across countries, the impact of fiscal stimulus may be weaker at the state level than the national level.”
Further, the report states : “This suggests the crowding out of private investment is particularly pronounced in industries operating at a high level of capacity where competition for additional factors of production including facilities and specialized capital is expected to be strong.
My interpretation : if labor and resources are constrained in one state, a company may increase in another state … thus the corporation may grow in total, but not necessarily in the state that received federal funds. Hence one of the reasons why the military industrial complex has operations in virtually every state … when “labor gets tight”, they can re-align.

The report concludes : “Our results demonstrate that the average firm retrenches in the face of government spending shocks, but it is certainly possible (and perhaps likely) that some individual firms do in fact benefit from these spending shocks.

The report uses as an example that Alabama had not had a chairman of a powerful committee until Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) came into power. For example, Shelby’s $15 million earmarks went specifically to the construction of housing and facilities for lower income families … the result was that another Alabama company that produced prefabricated homes saw a decline in activity.
Now, is that bad ?
Do you want mobile homes in your community or brick and mortar homes … plus the mobile home business has had significant changes in profitability and demand caused by a number of other factors (most notably interest rates), so it is difficult to know what the demand in Alabama would have been without Shelby’s earmark.

What the report really confirmed is something that has been widely reported – the largest of recipients of earmarks are Hawaii, Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama: All states which had powerful congressional chairmen over the sample period.

Thus the problem is not earmarks, but that certain individuals look first and foremost to their state and not to the overall country.

It’s the people that are the problem … not necessarily the earmark process. Yes, so Richard Shelby (R-AL) is a problem … there are many examples that taxpayers should be concerned. Senate appropriator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). then-Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Robert Byrd (D-WV) have created imbalances.
But if I think of long-serving Senators that could impact this situation, I think of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, Democrats representing Massachusetts and John McCain and John Kyl, Republicans representing Arizona. In terms of earmark dollars, Massachusetts comes in at 27 yet based on population it should be 13 ( in effect a negative 14) while Arizona is #25 in terms of earmark dollars and #21 in population (a negative 4) … so there are examples of Senators that are not abusing the system. FYI : Minnesota is #37 in earmark dollars while #20 in terms of population ( and coming in second to Indiana as having the worst relationship.)

Returning back to the LTE writer’s assessment, NO, Mr. Kline’s “no earmark” policy DOES NOT benefit Minnesota … if Alabama is not building mobile homes, that does not mean that Minnesota is.
What it does mean is that certain states are getting more federal investment than we are.

The real question is : Is there a better way to ensure that the dollars are invested for the greatest need and purpose ?

John Kline’s “no earmark” policy does not address that … in some ways, the analogy would be that Honor Students are punished when other students abuse the system … the report clearly shows that Minnesota is not abusing the system, yet our dollars are helping other states.

There are some better approaches.
When will the Republicans put some serious fiscal conservatives like Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on the Appropriations Committee ? He has been repeatedly rejected by GOP leadership yet that would be the first step in stopping wasteful government spending.
How about rotating committee assignments, so that no one holds a committee chairmanship for longer than two years ?
How about a maximum amount that any Senator or Representative can request ?
How about getting Senate Republicans to reach agreement with House Republicans on what their earmark policy will be ? Who will control Senators Shelby, Cochran, et al ?
How about Enhanced Rescission Authority legislation ?

Or, something that Mr. Kline could do without the Republican Party approval … following the Tim Walz Transparency process … request input from constituents … give a hard review … and then report back what you will recommend.

But doing nothing, is just that … Mr. Kline your “no earmark” policy does nothing.

All that said, Mr. Kline has opposed earmarks that benefit Minnesota, yet he has been a strong supporter of earmarks that the Pentagon does not want … C-17 cargo plane, F-22 fighter, F-18 fighter, or even alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.

In the end, let’s ask Mr. Kline : How will your crusade change the process ?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Fighting Yesterday’s War with Borrowed Dollars

One of the most challenging questions for Congressional candidates to answer is :
With the U.S. facing a staggering national debt while still feeling the effects of a slow global economic recovery and an aging population that is dependent upon entitlement programs, how should the military budget be spent ? Or, a better question, what’s the best investment to protect the country from a stateless enemy ?

To put that question in proper perspective, the answer should be based on what’s working today and what will work in the future … not what has been our past experience.

Yesterday’s headline was that Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who has been described as Al-Qaeda’s #3 and believed to be the head of al-Qaida in Afghanistan, has been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal area. A website linked to al-Qaida also acknowledged his death.

Predator drones have been used extensively by the CIA to assassinate alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. The CIA does not comment on its top-secret program, though the New York Times reported this month that the intelligence agency believes it has killed more than 500 militants in the past two years. Last year the CIA’s director, Leon Panetta, called the Predator drone program “the only game in town”.
Each army Predator costs $6 million “without payload”. Col Gregory Gonzalez, project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, says drones are equivalent to the use of radar in the second World War, or helicopters in Korea and Vietnam : “They’ve been funding us really well, because they know there’s a bang for the buck.” Col Gonzalez says.
The technology is becoming more accessible. Forty-three nations are building military robots, as are some non-state actors, such as the Lebanese Hizbullah.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley reports the transfer of personnel, weapons acquisition dollars, training assets and other resources from conventional to unmanned aircraft is “being institutionalized and will stay with us for years to come.”
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli said that unmanned aircraft are not just a fad, “They have forever changed the way the Army operates.” The “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap” outlines the Army’s plan to develop its own fleet of UAVs over the next 25 years, when all aviation missions are slated to transition to predominantly unmanned. Some missions, such as cargo resupply, will be performed mostly autonomously, while others, like attack, will be performed mostly by remote operators.

So, to the military, drones are the future … so why are House Republicans still fighting for yesterday's weapons … building up the military for the last war ?

Case in point : the Air Force's most advanced and most expensive fighter, the F-22 has never been flown in combat. Yet, John Kline (R-MN-02) supported an “earmark” offered by Rob Bishop (R-UT) for eight additional F-22 … the cost to produce these would be $2.8 Billion . Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put a 187-plane cap on the program and does not think we need anymore. Mr. Kline defended his support as this was a “good jobs bill” (at least for Lockheed Martin).

Another example is Boeing’s C-17 … Gates said the 205 C-17s that are already in the fleet or under construction are enough, and he included no money in the 2010 defense budget for additional C-17s. But the House and Senate added $2.7 billion to a war-funding bill to buy eight C-17s and seven smaller C-130J cargo planes.

Or the FY2011 Navy budget that was altered by Todd Akin (R-MO), whose district is near Boeing’s defense headquarters in St. Louis, to approve 30 F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet strike fighters which is eight more than requested.

Or, the change to Defense Budget for an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter which both Presidents Bush and Obama Administrations do not want.

Mr. Kline is clear … spending on military programs gets a blank check … even if it spent to fight the last war. Mr. Kline is planning a war against the past adversaries; today’s enemies are not nation states but stateless terrorists. When Boeing, General Electric and Lockheed Martin win, the taxpayers’ do not … even if it means monies for Mr. Kline’s re-election (i.e. Boeing gave $7,500 for his campaign and $5000 to his Security and Freedom PAC.)

Conversely, DFL-endorsed candidate Dan Powers offers a more reasoned approach, “we can’t afford to do that. If we can retool the way we use our military, we can put a lot of money towards infrastructure needs, towards becoming energy independent. There are so many other things we can do to invest in our own country".

Mr. Kline borrowing will grow the national debt needlessly and not help us defend against the enemy that is waging war against us.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

MN-02 : John Kline’s (and Minnesota’s) Missed Opportunity

The explosion that killed eleven workers at the British Petroleum-leased Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana has opened our eyes … to missed opportunities.

“Drill here, Drill now” may be part of the solution to America’s energy needs, but risks are now more clearly seen. That said, it is estimated that by the time that the well is capped, America will have lost the equivalent of what it consumes in 3 hours.

Our future is still the same as it was in 2005, when John Kline (R-MN-02) so proudly suggested that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was the solution … as it will take “unprecedented steps to promote greater energy conservation and efficiency and help lower energy prices for consumers.” Specifically, he mentioned it will “Provide incentives for clean coal technology and renewable energies such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydroelectricity.

Those were the days, when Mr. Kline actually worked to address the needs of the Second District … as illustrated by his other press releases in the 30-day time period highlighted by :
Kline Announces $1,782,330 for Dakota County Hydroelectric Facility,
Kline Announces $45,600 for New Prague water system predevelopment activities.,
Kline announced a federal grant of $70,821 for the Dakota County Drug Task Force,
Kline Announces a federal grant of $222,941 for the Lakeville Fire Department,
and Kline Announces a federal grant of $11,160 for the Cottage Grove Fire Department.
Of course, today, Mr. Kline speaks of the evil of “earmarks” as they were only available based on a member's seniority, committee assignment or party affiliation yet, somehow a newcomer like Mr. Kline was able to get a return on some of the Second District taxpayer’s monies.

Mr. Kline was right in 2005 when he acknowledged the need for greater energy conservation and efficiency and help lower energy prices for consumers but like his walking away from “earmarks”, Mr. Kline seems to have walked away from helping Minnesota developing jobs in “green industries.”

The Bush Administration set goals based on the 2005 legislation, including investing to
make solar power cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity by 2015

And to make that happen, the Bush Administration awarded $168 Million in grants through the Solar America Initiative Funding … but Minnesota-based companies are lacking from the list.

Since then, Mr. Kline seems to have rejected solar and wind as he voted against various bills that would have helped Minnesota and the nation create jobs.

But that doesn’t mean that some of those Bush investments won’t start coming to the market. This year, solar shingles should available for new home construction. These are shingles – not the big solar panels of yesterday – and 250 shingles covering a 1,000 square feet of roof will generate 3.5 kilowatts of energy. That's renewable energy ... that's efficiency ... that's lower cost ... that's a step toward energy independence.

The concern is that even as these new products come on line, Minnesota will be left out in the cold with Mr. Kline standing in Washington.

The Second District needs someone with passion for the potential of renewable energy. Mr. Kline gave it lip service and has walked away.

Conversely, DFL-endorsed candidate, Dan Powers speaks of energy independence as “a goal that everyone can see. They can grab hold of it and work on it. ” Powers is an advocate for energy independence for both environmental and economic reasons. Part of the reason Powers says "we can't wait" to implement technologies which will lead towards energy independence, is that "we have so little control over our own economy... [and] our economy cannot increase without reliable and cheap energy. "

Being a contractor, Dan Powers understands that “solar shingles” maybe part of our homes futures, but that for older homes energy efficiencies can be obtained with more insulation and better windows … these types of programs were key components of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the Obama stimulus) … which Mr. Kline opposed.
The cost for solar shingles may be an increase of $5,000 on a typical home … and some tax incentives may be necessary … but will Mr. Kline once again oppose it just as he did with the Obama stimulus ?

Mr. Kline has had too many missed opportunities … it’s time to give Dan Powers an opportunity.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kline or Walz : Who Sides with the Pentagon and Taxpayers ?

Based on the years in the military, one would think that John Kline (R-MN-02) and Tim Walz (D-MN-01) would support the Pentagon requests … but do they ?


And what about protecting the taxpayers from unnecessary government spending ?


Actually, one does support the Pentagon and the taxpayer while one does not.

Actually, it is striking how different they are.
One is very public about professing the evils of wasteful government spending as a political election tool … only to vote (repeatedly) for “earmark” spending requested by members of his political party.
While the other promotes transparency and seeks input from his constituents for how federal dollars should be invested.

Both make monthly appearances on former First District Congressman Tim Penny’s radio program.
Being that Congressman Penny is currently Co-chair of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Robert, so naturally the discussion focuses on government spending.

Friday it was Tim Walz turn on the air and the subject matter was the previous day’s vote on an amendment offered by Congresswoman Chellie M. Pingree (D-ME-01) to prohibit any further funding for the alternate F-35 engine.
Congresswoman Pingree stated : “ In 2001, Pratt & Whitney won the award for the primary engine for the Joint Strike Fighter through a competitive bidding process. This process was set up to save millions in taxpayer dollars. Since then, Congress has authorized an astonishing $1.3 billion of unrequested funds for the development of this extra unnecessary engine. The Bush administration opposed this program. The Obama administration opposes this program. And yet if this amendment fails today, we will continue to fund a defense program that is a complete waste of money.
I could not put it any better than the Secretary of Defense put it himself: Given the many pressing needs facing our military and the fiscal challenges facing our country, we cannot afford a ``business as usual'' approach to the defense budget. Tough choices must be made by both the Department and Congress to ensure that current and future military capabilities can be sustained over time. This means programs and initiatives of marginal or no benefit, like the F136 engine, are unaffordable luxuries.”

This amendment forces a vote on whether to support an “earmark” or as the Republicans have redefined it as a “ Programmatic Request since for political re-election purposes, the Republicans have announced a moratorium on “earmarks”.

At stake : $485 million dollars in the FY 2011 Department of Defense budget (or to put it in prospective, 53 jets can be built for the cost of the "extra" engine.)

The argument :
On one side is the DOD and the Bush and Obama Administration (The Marines, the Navy, and the Air Force have all said they don't want it) and the performance of the current engine (394 F-35 aircraft test flights planned in the schedule to occur during 2010 have been completed with sufficient results).
On the other side is the “loser” of the original award or as one Congressman said ”let me say how proud I am of the more than 4,000 Hoosier employees of Rolls Royce who worked to develop this engine.”

The result : Congressman Walz voted with the Pentagon’s and taxpayer’s interests while Mr. Kline voted with the special interests. Overall, the Democrats wanted to eliminate this unnecessary expenditure, but because of the strong support from the Republicans, the funding stayed in the bill.

Mr. Kline has a penchant for denouncing domestic spending via the “earmark” process yet fails to acknowledge unnecessary spending authorized through his House Armed Services Committee … be it comic books or seventeen F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet strike fighters, Mr. Kline has proven to be a strong representative for the military industrial complex but not for the taxpayers. On a previous Tim Penny broadcast, Mr. Kline defended his support for Mr. Bishop's (R-UT) "earmark" for F-22 planes as a "good jobs program".

For Minnesotans this is especially hard to see Mr. Kline "waste" our taxdollars. We are struggling ... our communities are delaying replacing police cars, yet Mr. Kline fully supports building unnecessary jets.

Monday, May 24, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Opposes Earmarks But What About Programmatic Requests ?

Today’s Fuzzy Math Problem :
How does President Obama’s $548.9 billion Department of Defense FY2011 Budget become approved as a marked-up budget of $726 billion without “Earmarks ?

Answer : “Programmatic Requests”

John Kline (R-MN-02) of the House Armed Services Committee HASC proudly issued a press release announcing “ the committee’s unanimous approval of H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY-2011”. The word “earmark was never mentioned … although Mr. Kline did congratulate himself for changes in the “the Yellow Ribbon reintegration law I championed three years ago” … a program that was funded via an “earmark”.

Ignoring “earmarks” is easy … even during a moratorium … just follow the instructions in this GOP memo that redefines what used to be called “earmarks” as Programmatic Requests : “For HASC GOP Member purposes the term “programmatic requests” has no current definition.

The memo goes on to give a specific example : "the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, which the committee believes is a national security imperative to reduce the risk inherent in requiring the Air Force, Navy and Marines to fly a common aircraft. This broadly supported action has been included as a matter of policy, and not at the request of a single Member."

Are you familiar with the Joint Strike Fighter second engine ?
It was highlighted on ABC News last week as a $3 Billion Boondoggle and one that was mentioned in the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) Pork Book earning it last year’s The Little Engine That Couldn’t Award.
CAGW writes about the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter as having “received $1.2 billion in pork since 2004. The Senate did not include any funds for the alternate engine in its version of the appropriations bill, but the House version prevailed in conference.
On February 1, 2010 at his briefing on the fiscal year 2011 DOD budget, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “I’m fully aware of the political pressure to continue building the C-17 and to proceed with an alternate engine for the F-35, so let me be clear. I will strongly recommend that the president veto any legislation that sustains the unnecessary continuation of these two programs.”
On February 25, 2010, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell reiterated DOD’s position on the alternate engine, stating, “this money can clearly be better spent buying capabilities that our warfighters do need. This is a luxury we cannot afford.”

For someone that promotes himself as having the goal of “reducing wasteful pork-barrel spending and restoring order to America’s fractured fiscal house.”, why does Mr. Kline continue to fund a program that even President Bush gave up on ?

If only, the alternate engine was the single “Programmatic Requests” but it’s not.
As CAGW reports for last year’s DOD budget, there were “$6,056,565,000 for 35 anonymous projects. This accounted for only 2 percent of the 1,752 earmarks, but 59 percent of the $10.3 billion cost of the bill, which is more than last year’s 57 percent.

And the C-17 that Secretary Gates referred to was also reviewed by CAWG to the tune of $2.5 Billion for the procurement of ten C–17 aircraft. “In a floor statement on September 30, 2009, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voiced his opposition to the C-17 funding: “That’s why the Administration ‘strongly objects’ to the addition of $2.5 billion in funding for these ten unrequested C-17 aircraft. The Department of Defense’s (DoD) own analyses shows that the 205 C-17s that the Air Force has or which are on order, together with the existing fleet of C-5 aircraft, are sufficient to meet the Department’s future airlift needs – even under the most stressing situations. So, I am absolutely convinced that we should not be having taxpayers put up $2.5 billion for these aircraft. Doing so not only misallocates procurement funds this year to buy expensive airplanes that are not needed, but it also imposes a continuing sustainment cost of $100 million dollars per year for every year thereafter for their operation.”

Mr. Kline is quite vocal about his opposition to “earmarks but he commonly refers to small-dollar domestic programs … and although we can all agree that “wasteful” spending must be eliminated, yet Mr. Kline fails to highlight the area that he has direct input … Congress’ appetite for military spending … just ask about the $69,880,000 for 22 projects “earmarked”by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) … and when Mr. Kline was asked about his support for Mr. Bishop’s F-22 “earmark”, Mr. Kline said it was good for jobs.

I hope that Dan Powers, the DFL endorsed candidate, takes a hard look at Defense spending. Mr. Kline will no doubt claim his military experience provides him with greater insight, yet Mr. Kline is addicted to military spending … while America is fighting ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kline’s HASC wants to raise the 286-ship fleet to 313 ships including funding for two SSN 774 Virginia-class submarines — the first time the committee has authorized two ships in one year – and $3 billion to fully fund two DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and support the restart of construction of the class.
With al Qaeda and the Taliban seeming to be headquartered in caves, why does Mr. Kline want to spend so much on ships ?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Safer at War than at Work

April was a deadly month.

Just some of the headlines that you may have missed :
On April 2, 2010, 7 workers were killed by a fire at the Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington;
On April 5, 2010, 29 miners were killed and 2 were injured in a massive explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, in the worst coal mine disaster in 40 years;
On April 20, 2010, there was an explosion and fire on the British Petroleum-leased Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in which 17 workers were injured and 11 workers went missing;
On April 29, 2010, 2 miners were killed at the Dotiki Mine in western Kentucky that is owned by Alliance Resource Partners, based in Tulsa, Okla.

Did you realize that each day, an average of 14 workers are killed due to workplace injuries in the United States … that’s over 5,000 workers who are killed due to workplace-related injuries.

Did you know that more people are killed worldwide each year at work than in wars … in April, US casualties in Iraq were eight deaths while in Afghanistan thirty-four people died.

Soldiers put their life on the line in war, but employees should not go to work thinking that they will not come home.

The other big headline in April was the ID legislation enacted in Arizona. The trigger point of this legislation may have been the murder of Robert Krentz and his dog who were shot on March 27, 2010. As sad as any loss of life is, putting it in perspective, over the past five years the highest number of deaths reported was 241 … a far cry from 5,000 workers that are killed every year.

Realistically there will always be accidents which result in death, but where is the outcry for safety in the workplace ?

Workplace safety is not a partisan issue. We all pay when someone dies … the family is impacted, the business is impacted, the community is impacted.

In the Minnesota Congressional delegation, the representative who has the most influence and opportunity to enact changes is John Kline (R-MN-02) who is the Ranking Minority Member of the Education and Labor Committee. Sadly, Mr. Kline seems only focused on Card Check legislation. A quick search of his website, reveals no recent entries on “Safety” or “Workplace”.

Mr. Kline was eerily silent on the Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch miners deaths and finally issued a press release ten days after the explosion. Mr. Kline wants a “comprehensive” review, yet on February 23, 2010 a Labor Committee hearing was held "to assess whether a backlog of mine safety enforcement actions are adversely impacting [MSHA's] ability to protect miners' safety and prevent future tragedies." Sadly, of the committee's 19 Republicans, just one bothered to show up -- that was the most junior GOP member, Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania. Sadly, when it came time for questioning, Chairman George Miller (D-CA) said "I'd like to recognize the senior Republican on the committee this morning".
Just as the Massey event has a history, so does the Kentucky disaster even though it may have had only two deaths but it illustrates a bigger problem. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) records show the mine was cited 840 times by federal inspectors for safety violations since January 2009, and 11 times closure orders were issued. The records show 214 of the citations were issued in the first four months of this year, and twice inspectors issued closure orders this year.
Yet, even if Mining is ignored, there are a lot of other workers that are killed in other industries.

Legislation has been started in the House, HR 2067 Protecting America's Workers Act while the companion bill in the Senate is S. 1580 Protecting America's Workers Act which lists Minnesota’s Senator Al Franken as a co-sponsor.

The House bill already has 75 co-sponsors.
It has some very good proposals.
A proposed change would eliminate the employer’s right to use the administrative appeals process to delay its obligation to abate serious hazards. Currently employers can postpone abatement while their citations are being contested before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC). This is commonly cited as a problem in the Massey incident.

Another proposed change would expand the rights of victims and family members to receive notice and pleadings, and make a statement before an Administrative Law Judge at OSHRC. Too often, the investigation may just be within the company’s control … the family who may have heard complaints before the death may not be given the opportunity to alert the OSHRC.

Mr. Kline, this is a time to stand up for workers and safety. Mr. Kline is definitively anti-union .. yet, if there are unsafe workplaces, there could be more reasons for employees to unionize … so Mr. Kline become a co-sponsor and work to enact HR 2067 … I am sure that Senator Franken would appreciate your support.

When workers (and families of workers) go the the polls this fall, while Mr. Kline will want to stress his Card Check concerns, the key question should be : What did you do to Protecting America's Workers ?

Monday, April 26, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Supports $4M Earmark for Local School Funding

This week, John Kline (R-MN) issued a press release concerning the Republican Party imposing a conference-wide, one-year ban on earmarks. Mr. Kline said ““Washington needs to earn back the trust of the American people, and a bipartisan ban on earmarks is a step in the right direction. I encourage my colleagues in the majority party to join House Republicans in showing our constituents we are serious about reducing wasteful pork-barrel spending and restoring order to America’s fractured fiscal house.”
House Resolution 1289 is notably because of the absence Ron Paul (R-TX), Don Young (R-AL) and Joseph Cao (R-LA).

Press releases are worth what there printed on … scrap paper. This PR is eerily similar to the one issued prior to the 2008 elections :
“The American people are tired of out-of-control government spending, taxing, and borrowing. To earn back their trust, we need to immediately cut off the earmarks that have given Washington a bad name. Partial solutions are not enough. An immediate earmark moratorium is the only way to wipe the slate clean and allow us to start getting spending under control.”

If the 2008 Press Release meant anything, then Mr. Kline’s Labor and Education Committee would not have had a lot of “requests” to consider. But alas, that’s not true … worse yet, these are for next year when this year’s appropriations have not yet been completed.

Most interesting was the reaction from Ken Calvert (R-CA), "I'm going to enthusiastically support it. The process needs to be reformed, and we're going to come back as a majority and reform the system."
Interesting, because Mr. Calvert has been recognized as a Most Corrupt Nominee for some of his use of earmarks. But this moratorium is for FY 2011 … so the $325,000 that Mr. Calvert requested for Riverside Unified School District, Riverside, CA for a science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiative, including curriculum development and purchase of equipment still stands.

Mr. Calvert is not the only one.
There’s the $150,000 by Roy Blount (R-MO) Missouri State University, Springfield, MO for the Missouri Innovation Academy.
It should be mentioned that Mr. Blount is a candidate for the US Senate … so “pork” could result in some votes …. And Mr. Blount is so important that Mr. Kline’s Freedom and Security PAC gave $5,000 to his campaign.
And by the way, Mr. Kline's PAC also made a contribution to Mr. Calvert.

There are many other “requests” that involved Mr. Kline’s Education Committee; such as, $1 million to be split evenly between four school districts "requested" by Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) USD 402, Augusta, KS Public Schools for technology upgrades, USD 446, Independence, KS Public Schools for technology upgrades and teacher training, USD 373, Newton, Kansas Public Schools for technology upgrades, and USD 353, Wellington, KS, Public Schools for technology upgrades and teacher training
Oh, and by the way, Mr. Tiahrt is a candidate for US Senate this November. I guess that is why Mr. Kline is concerned that “spending priorities [be] based on a project’s merit rather than a Member’s seniority, party affiliation …

Considering that Mr. Kline is “serious about reducing wasteful pork-barrel spending and restoring order to America’s fractured fiscal house”, Second District voters may be interested in the project merits for the $255,000 “request” from John Carter (R-TX) for Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, Inc., Killeen, TX for educational programming . The program originated as a Baptist Church program that is designed for children with chronic/terminal illnesses and special needs to discover their natural abilities and interests and obtain the critical life and coping skills needed to reach their full potential. Sounds worthwhile … but is Killeen that much different than Minnesota … after all, the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota serves many needy children. Maybe, Mr. Kline is hoping that the Peaceable Kingdom Retreat will open a branch in Minnesota.

Yes, “earmarks” should be a concern … but what really is an“earmarks” ?

Earmarks” are funds provided by the Congress for projects, programs, or grants where the purported congressional direction (whether in statutory text, report language, or other communication) specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the executive branch to manage its statutory and constitutional responsibilities pertaining to the funds allocation process.

Well, obviously, Mr. Kline being opposed to “earmarks” he would never advocate for one … would he ? After all, Mr. Kline wants funding “ based on a project’s merit” and shouldn’t the primary focus be on the accountability of taxpayer dollars.

If after review in several Department of Education reports, which cite lackluster progress and unresolved issues about the effectiveness of a program, shouldn’t future funding be re-evaluated ?
That’s what President Obama has done in his Budget
proposal : “$9 million for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a private school voucher program begun in 2004. The Budget proposes to continue to provide private school vouchers for only those students currently enrolled in the program. Based on current program participation rates and the amount of available program funding carried forward from prior fiscal years, it is expected that this will be the final request for Federal funding to support the Opportunity Scholarship program.”

That $9 million has been reduced from the $13 million that was previously budgeted … which would seem to be the smart thing to do if it is not working. The not-for-profit Washington Scholarship Fund has announced it will no longer administer the program that serves an estimated 1,300 children already enrolled in the 55 private or parochial schools in the District.

Don’t know about “ Opportunity Scholarship Program” … it’s classic Frank Luntz codespeak for government money to private schools. And who goes to those private schools … well, a Heritage Foundation study found that in 2007 more than 37 percent of Representatives and 45 percent of Senators sent their own children to private school, more than double the national average of 11.5 percent.

Well, if a program is being cut by the Administration, what should Congress do … accept it or author legislation to change it.

Yes, Mr. Kline is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4312 School Choice Incentive Act.
Great, while Minnesota schools suffer and Mr. Kline opposed the stimulus that brought dollars to School Districts in the Second District, Mr. Kline approves funding for Washington DC schools … Yes, Mr. Kline truly serves Washington and his Party’s interests ahead of Minnesota.

NOTE : A Tip of the Hat to MNPact for first discussing Kline’s press release.

Monday, April 19, 2010

MN-02 : Will Voters Elect an Independent ?

"John Kline has been an independent voice for the people of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District since he was first elected by the voters in 2002. " -- from John Kline's Facebook page.

An independent voice ? OK, maybe when Mr. Kline went to Washington, he had an independent voice ... but his independence was because there were more Moderates in Congress ... good people like Minnesota's Jim Ramstad. Mr. Kline was outside of the mainstream, so his independence came from advancing his agenda.
Mr. Kline is more of an ideologist.
Ideologists do not advance legislation (or society), just their own vision – and voting against any change that does not advance their ideology even if it serves the general public.

For years, Mr. Kline could claim to being an independent ... voting his ideology ... even on proposals that had wide Republican support.
Want examples ? From 2008 (pre-Obama), Mr. Kline voted against :
HR 3221 Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 which 95 Republicans and 227 Democrats supported;
HR 4137 Extend the Higher Education Act of 1965 which 135 Republicans and 219 Democrats supported;
HR 1429 Improving Head Start Act which 142 Republicans and 223 Democrats supported;
HR 2272 21st Century Competitiveness Act which 143 Republicans and 224 Democrats supported;
HR 802 Maritime Pollution Prevention Act which 143 Republicans and 216 Democrats supported;
and there are plenty more ... including many on SCHIP, energy and jobs.

The success of Democrats in recent elections may have to do their appeal to the "independent" voter. The Kline ideology has pushed some Republicans to retire and even to defeat at the polls when the RINOs were determined to be out of their ideology mainstream (see Norm Coleman and Throwing Coleman Under the Bus ).

Mr. Kline is not satisfied with simply serving his ideology interests, but also dictating the “ issues ” for candidates.

Second District voters will soon have an opportunity to re-consider via the ballot box whether Mr. Kline is truly independent.

Voters don't know Dan Powers yet. ... but if Dan Powers takes the Scott Brown (R-MA) approach of "looking out for the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" and tell voters that he will work in the best interests of the Second District, he has a chance. Senator Brown has already proven his willingness to put his State above the Kline ideology when Senator Brown joined eleven other Republicans in February to vote for a Jobs Bill. And last week, he joined with four other Republicans to advance another bill to address the employment issue.

The Second District wants someone in Washington to represent them … not be a part of the Washington party insiders who decide what’s in our best interests. Mr. Kline is hardly an independent.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Needs A New Stump Speech

Why is it that whenever I hear John Kline speak, the memorable quote “The negativity in this town sucks" pops into my head ?

Minnesota sports fans are all too familiar with the Rick Pitino’s words that he used after a tirade against Boston media and fans; as it is often played on KFAN radio to protest anything bad happening in Minnesota sports.

The message is clear … things are not as bad as it seems but if the messengers repeat gloom and doom, people presume the worst.

That’s Mr. Kline (R-MN-02) objective … he wants everyone to blame all of America’s problems on Speaker Pelosi and President Obama … never mentioning the Bush years … which coincided with his years in Congress.

Mr. Kline’s most recent press release states “More than a year after majority leadership enacted their budget-busting government stimulus plan, the national unemployment rate remains nearly two percentage points higher than the White House predicted, and 15 million Americans are still looking for work.

Mr. Kline is right … the Obama Administration did predict a lower number … the fault goes to the Administration for providing too optimistic a forecast. But part of the reason may be to halt the “negativity” that was engulfing the country. This overshot may be more about the difficulty in economic forecasting than the efficacy of the stimulus … but more on that later.

In January 2009 when President Obama was sworn in, the global economy was in the midst of a recession, credit markets were frozen and the financial institutions faced the prospects of huge losses.

The first step to recovery had to be to calm financial markets. That has worked. On Friday, the Dow Jones hit "11,000 with less than 10 minutes left in the session, then closed at 10997, a gain of 70 points for the day.”
That was the first time since September 2008 (during the tenure of President Bush) it had eclipsed 11,000 … in other words, the stock market has recovered nicely under President Obama.

The second step was to halt the bleeding at the state level. So for example, schools got funding to stave off laying off teachers … such as Second District schools :
$ 16,707, 809 for Independent School District 196

$ 10,065,132 for Independent School District 833

$ 7,240,714 for Independent School District 191

$ 6,439,165 for Lakeville Area School District

$ 5,546,590 for Independent School District 112

$ 4,245,664 for Shakopee School District

$ 3,967,430 for Prior Lake - Savage School District

$ 3,704,868 for Independent School District 192

$ 3,226,995 for Hastings Independent School District 200

$ 3,107,745 for Independent School District 656

$ 2,731,768 for Independent School District 659

$ 2,482,639 for Independent School District 199

$ 2,128,638 for New Prague Independent School District 721

$ 1,805,686 for Waconia Independent School District 110

$ 1,280,181 for Independent School District 256

$ 1,040,109 for Watertown-Mayer School District

$ 993,932 for Independent School District 717

$ 959,295 for Belle Plaine Independent School District 716

$ 737,393 for Montgomery-Lonsdale Schools 394

$ 696,034 for Carver County Independent School District 108

$ 584,770 for Independent School District 2397

$ 540,819 for Cannon Falls Independent School District 252

$ 523,237 for Independent School District 255

$ 490,079 for Zumbrota-Mazeppa School District 2805

$ 449,678 for Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Schools 2143

$ 383,269 for Kenyon-Wanmingo School District 2172

$ 307,866 for Independent School District 195

$ 275,163 for Goodhue Independent School District 253

$ 163,166 for Cleveland Public School District 391

All parents (and taxpayers) understand that these federal dollars saved schools from having to make choices that they did not want to make.

And just this week, Governor Pawlenty and MN-DOT released the highway construction projects … once again, the stimulus helped create jobs that otherwise may not have occurred.

Regardless of how it is characterized, the stimulus has done its part to stop the jobs freefall that was inevitable … the key question is would the number of job losses had been greater or lesser without the stimulus … on that, the simple answer is: it worked.

Yes, no one will be satisfied until all Americans that want a job can get one … sadly, we must accept the fact that some of those jobs that have moved overseas may never return. Therefore, job retraining programs being offered thorough the Minnesota’s Technical College programs -something that again the stimulus helped fund – offer great opportunities for workers.

Jobs will come once business are confident and demand is in place.
More good news here.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports : reports "Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 2.2 percent."

Comparing that data to the last year during the Bush Administration, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports "Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- decreased at an annual rate of 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008".
Yep, Bush left us with negative GDP and Obama has already righted that ship.

Another measurement, the Commerce Department reported that U.S. wholesalers have now had eleventh straight monthly increase in sales.

We're not out of the woods, but the vector is turning in the right direction.
Local jobs could still be a problem ... especially for Minnesota ... that's why H.R. 4812, Local Jobs for America Act would ensure that those teaching and firefighters will stay employed a little longer.

Yes, Mr. Kline ... it's time to retire that "negativity" speech ... although in fairness, for the Second District, your performance has been pretty "negative" ... you voted against these programs. And your "Pork-free diet" has only hurt the District.