Posts tagged ‘Minnesota’

May 26, 2011

A no-new-taxes philosophy guided Tim Pawlenty’s budget approach …

Pawlenty: An economic pro or crafty budget setter?
May 25, 2011, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A no-new-taxes philosophy guided Tim Pawlenty‘s budget approach as Minnesota governor.

Accounting tricks, a well-timed infusion of stimulus money from Washington and word games kept the Republican mostly on that course.

The newly minted presidential candidate hopes Republican primary voters will see him as an economic pro accustomed to dealing with red ink and capable of confronting the nation’s colossal fiscal problems.

“We balanced the budget every two years in my state without question,” Pawlenty said Wednesday at a conservative think tank in Washington. “We have a constitutional requirement, as almost every other state does.

It must be balanced, it has to be balanced, it always will be balanced. In fact, the last budget that I finished ends this summer, here in about two months. And it’s going to end in the black.”

On the campaign trail, the Republican eagerly highlights his many tax-increase vetoes. And he boasts of enduring a partial government shutdown as well as a workers’ strike to contain costs.

But his record also carries vulnerabilities for foes to exploit.

There’s the carefully crafted “health impact fee” on cigarettes. It’s a euphemism for a tax increase in the eyes of some allies and most opponents.

Minnesota lurched from one deficit to another under his eight-year tenure. The state’s books technically balanced when he left office in January, but by then a mammoth deficit was forecast for the first budget his successor would need to craft.

When asked about that legacy, Pawlenty said the analysis is off-base: “It’s based on a big increase in projected spending — 20-some percent increase — that I never would’ve allowed.”

Pawlenty distances himself from that projected $5 billion shortfall, but it’s partly attributable to temporary fixes he either proposed or consented to. Schools are owed more than $1.4 billion in state IOUs, one-time stimulus dollars used to prop up ongoing state expenses are drying up and short-lived spending curbs Pawlenty first enacted using his executive powers are expiring.

His defenders, including former Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum, say Pawlenty had to work within the confines of a politically split state government and wanted to be more aggressive than Democrats in the Legislature would permit.

“It took some patchwork, no doubt,” Sviggum said. “But the fact is, we were able to meet the constitutional charge of balancing the budget without raising taxes.”

Taxes did rise in the Pawlenty era, although his fingerprints aren’t on them.

His veto of a gas tax increase was overridden and voters raised the sales tax through a ballot measure. Property taxes shot up in the Pawlenty years, mostly those enacted by city, county or school governments as they coped with stagnant or falling state aid. The year he entered the governor’s office, Minnesota land owners paid about $5.1 billion in property taxes; the total take topped $8 billion when he departed.

“Tim Pawlenty consistently passed the buck — onto local governments, onto the Legislature, onto anyone he could,” said state Rep. Paul Thissen, the top House Democrat. “His budgets were filled with shifts, tricks and gimmicks that created perpetual state deficits and set Minnesota behind the rest of the nation.”

Then there are fees.

The state slapped higher surcharges on everything from speeding tickets to marriage licenses. None was more controversial than the 75 cent-per-pack levy on cigarettes, which helped break the stalemate that pushed Minnesota to a government shutdown in 2005.

Pawlenty insists the cigarette “fee” is directly linked to health costs attributable to smoking, and the state Supreme Court vouched for that terminology when tobacco companies sued to block it.

Anti-tax groups, including the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, regard it as clear blemish on Pawlenty’s record.

“I still call it a tax increase even though the Supreme Court blessed it as a fee, not a tax,” said Phil Krinkie, the league’s president and a former Republican legislative colleague of Pawlenty.

GOP primary voters looking for a Pawlenty scorecard will find a mixed appraisal from conservative groups.

The conservative Club for Growth gave Pawlenty a less-than-flattering review Tuesday, saying his ideological moorings may not be as strong as he’s projecting.

“A President Pawlenty, we suspect, would fight for pro-growth policies, but would be susceptible to adopting ‘pragmatic’ policies that grow government,” the group concludes in a report it prepared on him.

But the Cato Institute, which advocates for smaller government and hosted him, gave Pawlenty one of four “A” grades for governors in its latest rankings.

He wasn’t always in the group’s good graces.

Chris Edwards, Cato’s director of tax policy studies, said Pawlenty’s frequent vetoes, ready use of executive budget-cutting powers and advocacy of corporate tax cuts account for his high marks now.

“In the last four or five years, he has followed very much of a small-government approach on fiscal policy,” Edwards said. “Perhaps he knew he was going to run for president.”

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May 20, 2011

Tim Pawlenty: A laid-back Midwestern Republican is running for president and will declare his candidacy on …

APNewsBreak: Aide: Pawlenty running for president
May 20, 2011, 2:49 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a laid-back Midwestern Republican who governed a Democratic-leaning state, is running for president and will declare his candidacy on Monday in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa, an adviser told The Associated Press.

The adviser, who disclosed the plans on the condition of anonymity in advance of next week’s announcement, said Pawlenty will formally enter the race during a town hall-style event in Des Moines, Iowa.

He’s choosing to make his long-expected bid official in a critical state in his path to the GOP nomination. Advisers acknowledge that Pawlenty, 50, must win or turn in a strong showing during next winter’s caucuses in the neighboring state of Iowa to have any chance of becoming the Republican who will challenge President Barack Obama, a Democrat, next November.

After Monday’s announcement, he will head to Florida, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, D.C.

The move is no surprise.

Pawlenty been laying the groundwork for a national campaign since John McCain passed him over in 2008 as his vice presidential nominee. He has worked to boost his national profile, assemble a staff, travel the country and build a fundraising network, all while positioning himself as a Republican with a record of resisting increases in taxes and government spending. He left the governor’s post in January and he took the first step toward the presidency two months later by setting up an exploratory committee.

In the early stages of the campaign, he has struggled to raise his standing in polls or attract a niche constituency as Republicans with more star power — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and celebrity businessman Donald Trump — dangled themselves as possible candidates, only to opt out of bids.

Pawlenty has some big obstacles as he seeks the GOP nomination in a wide-open field.

He is not nearly as well known nationally as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and even libertarian-leaning Texas Rep. Ron Paul. And others with even bigger names — Sarah Palin — still may enter the fray. So too may a fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is a darling of the tea party and has indicated she’s likely to launch a campaign soon.

The low-key Pawlenty also is fighting an impression at least within the GOP establishment that he’s too bland to excite voters. He also has no personal wealth and isn’t uniquely aligned with any one Republican faction — like social conservatives or fiscal Republicans — as are other candidates.

But in a GOP field with no clear favorite, Pawlenty hopes that he can cobble together a winning coalition of voters by attracting a wide array of Republicans, from religious conservatives to tea party adherents to establishment figures. As he travels the country, he boasts of reining in state spending and blocking tax hikes during two terms as Minnesota’s governor, as well as stressing his working-class roots and evangelical Christian faith.

“I’m the only candidate in the field who can unite the whole Republican Party, not just one part of it, in a genuine and authentic way, and then go out an appeal to the whole country,” Pawlenty said this week before a fundraiser in Minnesota.

He points to his record in Minnesota as proof that he can have appeal across the ideological spectrum.

Pawlenty, who passed up an opportunity to run for a third term as governor to seek the presidency, won the governors’ office twice without a majority of the vote in races that included third-party candidates. During his tenure, Pawlenty had to contend with a Legislature that was partly or fully controlled by Democrats the eight years he was governor.

Minnesota’s divided government led to repeated legislative battles and a partial government shutdown one year. Pawlenty also frequently vetoed tax and spending bills, earning a reputation in the GOP as a fiscal conservative. He pleased social conservatives as well by signing new abortion restrictions and laws favored by pro-gun groups.

But some of his past actions also have drawn tea party skepticism.

Even some Republicans flinched when he used billions in federal stimulus dollars and once agreed to hike state cigarette charges to balance Minnesota’s budget. And Democrats pound him frequently over the $5 billion deficit his Minnesota successor is coping with for the upcoming state budget, although the state will turn a small surplus this summer when the last fiscal year under Pawlenty’s direct control ends.

Pawlenty’s former embrace of energy policies scorned by conservatives — such as a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of greenhouse gases — have also been problematic. Pawlenty has disavowed his former stance and apologized for the “clunker” in his record.

Even so, it’s not his record that’s likely to be his biggest challenge. It’s being heard in a crowded field.

Part of the reason: unlike others, he typically shies from the caustic comments and headline-grabbing issues. It’s part of a strategy to come off as a serious-minded candidate in sober times. But his approach has also played into the characterization of him as dull.

Advisers hope that Pawlenty’s ability to connect with small crowds in diners and living rooms will help him win over skeptics in the places where he needs to shine — Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters demand their candidates engage in that type of retail politics. He’s somewhat of a natural at it. He’s good with small talk, often makes goofy poses in keepsake photos and sticks around to shake all hands, helping explain why he’s notoriously behind schedule.

In those settings, he discusses not just what he’d do for the country but also much about his personal story: his boyhood in a blue-collar household in a meatpacking town, his mother’s death of cancer in his teen years. As an adult, he went on to a white-collar job as a lawyer and set down a political path took him from a suburban city hall to a seat in the state Legislature to, eventually, the governor’s post.

“He is doing the soft sell and the soft sell works in the long run,” said Andy Brehm, a Republican strategist in Minnesota. “This is an entirely self-made guy. I don’t think you could ask for a better spokesman for the free market ideas. He’s worked himself up really from nothing.”

Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, a former judge, have two teenage daughters, Anna and Mara.

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May 16, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann, now a three-term congresswoman and tea party favorite who may run for president in 2012

Rep. Bachmann: Always rising, never compromising
May 15, 2011, 5:10 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Michele Bachmann was a self-styled “education researcher” making a run for a Minnesota school board seat in 1999 when the question came up at a candidate forum: If elected, would she serve all four years?

Maybe not, she said.

Bachmann, now a three-term congresswoman and tea party favorite who may run for president in 2012, opened up about a confrontation she’d had with a state senator over Minnesota’s new school standards.

“I told him that if he’s not willing to be more responsive to the citizens, that I may have to run for his seat or find someone else who would do so,” she said, according to a newspaper account of the meeting.

Bachmann lost the school board race, but then knocked off the senator, a fellow Republican, just months later using the standards as her primary issue.

It was an early indicator of a recurring theme: Bachmann often wins by losing.

She stands ready to shake up the GOP race either by running herself, with a decision expected by June, or influencing those who do get in.

The race would test her resilience because she would start far back. But as a little-known House member only a few years ago, Bachmann became hero of the conservative tea party movement in part by fighting losing battles with the GOP establishment. Her path to Congress was paved by failed efforts to pass a ban on gay marriage in the Minnesota Legislature.

“She is very good at turning lemons into lemonade all the time,” said Sal Russo, a California political consultant who came to know Bachmann through the tea party.

Some Republicans fret about her propensity to freelance and question whether she’d appeal to a broad voter base. Democrats who have opposed her warn that she’s politically adept and not to be taken lightly.

“If you go attend a town meeting, she’s normal, she’s articulate, she’s a mother, she’s thoughtful. She can play the part,” said Ted Thompson, a Democrat defeated by Bachmann in a state legislative race.

From her first involvement in politics, the 55-year-old Bachmann has shown a determination to keep pressing forward and find opportunities, even when the way seemed blocked.

In the late 1990s, Bachmann was a stay-at-home mother of five in Stillwater, a scenic St. Croix River town east of St. Paul. Then she was drawn into a revolt over education standards.

Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, were members of a theologically conservative Lutheran denomination, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. She was trained as a lawyer at the faith-driven Oral Roberts University. She had strong views about traditional education, and the state standards emphasized student projects over lectures and book work.

She became an organizer of the opposition. She invited concerned parents to a banquet hall where she described the standards as a government plan to teach students attitudes, values and beliefs.

Bachmann and four others eventually formed a slate to make a run at control of the board. The race roiled the community, with some alleging a “coup attempt” and others cheering on the “Boston Tea Party“-style uprising.

None of the newcomers prevailed. But Bill Dierberger, who ran alongside Bachmann, didn’t find her “overly discouraged” by the defeat.

“She got right back up in the saddle and said, ‘I’m going to fight'” the education standards, he recalled.

Early on, Bachmann showed potential as an articulate and magnetic speaker, said Bill Pulkrabek, a Republican leader who helped assemble the school board slate.

“People had been predicting her demise since Day One: ‘Oh, she’s a radical, she’s too far right, she’s too outspoken, she’s too inflammatory,'” Pulkrabek said. “The fact of the matter is, with the exception of the first race, she wins.”

Parlaying her school board defeat into a victorious legislative campaign, she moved to the state Senate and seized on a new issue.

Around Thanksgiving 2003, justices in Massachusetts ruled the commonwealth couldn’t prevent same-sex marriage. Bachmann hit the phones, reaching out to fellow conservatives about making sure gay marriage would stay illegal in Minnesota.

Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, was among those summoned by Bachmann to the Capitol just days later to begin pushing for a state constitutional amendment clearly stating that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

“She threw herself into the issue,” Prichard said. “The activist in her came out.”

Jeff Davis heard her public appeal through his car radio. Not politically involved at the time, Davis came to the Capitol and pledged to help Bachmann. The technology company worker formed what would become a well-financed group running ads aimed at getting Bachmann’s measure on the ballot.

“She’s an energizer. She influences people around her,” Davis said. The drive instantly elevated Bachmann’s political profile, he said. “It was a launch point.”

Bachmann didn’t waver even when her lesbian stepsister went public with her feelings that Bachmann’s effort was “hurtful to me and so many others.” Although the measure foundered, Bachmann could draw on her enhanced standing with social conservatives to shoot past more seasoned Republicans when a seat in Congress opened ahead of the 2006 election.

Bachmann’s victory in that race brought her to the national stage and prompted a new focus on fiscal issues. She harnessed the outrage of the tea party, a fledgling political force inflamed by debates over government bailouts and a far-reaching health law pursued by President Barack Obama.

Her outspoken opposition did not stop the health law, but it got her much more television exposure and helped make her a face of the new resistance. In one Fox News interview, Bachmann urged viewers to flood Washington and “go up and down through the halls, find members of Congress, look at the whites of their eyes and say, ‘Don’t take away my health care.'”

Amy Kremer remembers seeing Bachmann’s television plea while on a Tea Party Express bus heading between rallies in Washington state. The next week, Kremer joined Bachmann in the nation’s capital for a big tea party protest.

“You can tell the ones who have the passion, the fire in the belly and are truly speaking from the heart. She’s one of those,” Kremer said. “That comes through.”

In January, Bachmann delivered a tea party response to Obama’s State of the Union address. In some quarters, the speech was seen as an affront to the official GOP response given by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman. Bachmann unsuccessfully campaigned for a spot in leadership in the weeks after the GOP won back control of the House.

Bachmann shrugged off the defeat in a recent Associated Press interview. “That’s life isn’t it? Sometime life takes interesting turns,” she said, while adding, “I think from a governing point of view, I think for my political party it would be very good to have that view represented at the table.”

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: 

Thank you for visiting, do come back for more news…
Warmest regards,

PS., Hello Reader, What Party Do You Want Running The US Government 2013? Make Your Selection Below!