Monthly Archives: March 2010

GOP Leaders Noncommittal On Possible Budget Bill Veto

MN GOP House and Senate leaders responded to the jobs bill by asserting that the bill was a “small but incomplete” step forward. On the budget bill, Representative Laura Brod ( R ), who did not vote for the bill, deftly sidestepped questions about whether she believes the Governor should veto it, but she did say that she thinks there should be a “comprehensive strategy” for solving the budget deficit, which today’s bill was not.Senator David Senjem (R ) remarked that since the legislature has passed the bills, they’re now “locked”, and its left to the governor to unlock them if necessary. He added that the “Governor should consider the legislative process” when looking at this bill. Continue Reading →

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Bachmann On Spitting, N-Word “No One Saw It”

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann tells a crowd gathered outside of a boxing ring in Duluth that you can’t believe the stories about Tea Party people spitting and hurling the “N-word” at black Democratic Congressional members because no one has it on video tape. Since she made her statement on Sunday, video tape evidence has appeared in the internet. Transcript:
And as a matter of fact they were smeared by the Democrats this week.  You may have heard that.  Where they were… where Democrats said that they were called the “N” word which of course would be wrong and inappropriate.  But no one has any record of it.  No witness saw it.  It’s not on camera.  It’s not on audio.  They said that they were spat upon.  No one saw it.  I walked right through the gauntlet of where they were walking through. 

There were people for the health care bill…very few.  Most were against.  No one saw it.  There’s a 10 thousand dollar reward right now for anyone who can either produce a witness or a video or an audio.  Don’t you think we would have seen an audio or a video by now if there was something out there.  When I was out there no member of congress could be out there without having a camera in their face or a tape recorder or in their face.  And I Just think we need to call this for what it is.   They want to say that you are the ones that are wrong because you don’t love and appreciate the government takeover of health care.   What do you think about that? That’s right.  I would agree with you.  Continue Reading →

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Tax Credit For Rich At Expense Of MN Poor

 

Representative Bobby Joe Champion (DFL) argues against an amendment that would fund an “angel investment” tax credit at the expense of eliminating a low-income motor fuels tax credit that often helps poor people. The tax credit goes to people who invest in Minnesota to help create jobs. Governor Pawlenty had requested cutting the low-income motor fuels tax credit in exchange for funding the angel investor credit. Despite Represenative Champion’s opposition, the amendment passed 78-54.   Continue Reading →

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Jimmy Carter Not Needed To Reach MN Budget Compromise

After a long day of negotiations with the Governor’s office, House and Senate members agreed to a compromise to cut Minnesota’s budget. At an unusual Saturday meeting of the House-Senate Budget Conference Committee, Senator Richard Cohen outlines the basic agreement. Senator Cohen also notes that the budget dispute between Representative Phyllis Kahn and Senator Don Betzhold had been resolved and then jokes that former President Jimmy Carter was ready to come in and negotiate an agreement in case he was needed in hopes of winning another Nobel Peace Prize. Continue Reading →

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Making College, Health Insurance Affordable

Transcript:
This was a momentous week for America.  It was a week in which together, we took bold new steps toward restoring economic security for our middle class and rebuilding a stronger foundation for our future.  It was a week in which some of the change that generations have hoped for and worked for finally became reality in America. It began with the passage of comprehensive health insurance reform that will begin to end the worst practices of the insurance industry, rein in our exploding deficits, and, over time, finally offer millions of families and small businesses quality, affordable care – and the security and peace of mind that comes with it. And it ended with Congress casting a final vote on another piece of legislation that accomplished what we’ve been talking about for decades – legislation that will reform our student loan system and help us educate all Americans to compete and win in the 21st century. Year after year, we’ve seen billions of taxpayer dollars handed out as subsidies to the bankers and middlemen who handle federal student loans, when that money should have gone to advancing the dreams of our students and working families.  And yet attempts to fix this problem and reform this program were thwarted by special interests that fought tooth and nail to preserve their exclusive giveaway. But this time, we said, would be different.  We said we’d stand up to the special interests, and stand up for the interests of students and families.   That’s what happened this week.  And I commend all the Senators and Representatives who did the right thing. This reform of the federal student loan programs will save taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade.  And with this legislation, we’re putting that money to use achieving a goal I set for America: by the end of this decade, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To make college more affordable for millions of middle-class Americans for whom the cost of higher education has become an unbearable burden, we’re expanding federal Pell Grants for students: increasing them to keep pace with inflation in the coming years and putting the program on a stronger financial footing.  In total, we’re doubling funding for the federal Pell Grant program to help the students who depend on it.  To make sure our students don’t go broke just because they chose to go to college, we’re making it easier for graduates to afford their student loan payments.  Today, about 2 in 3 graduates take out loans to pay for college.  The average student ends up with more than $23,000 in debt.  So when this change takes effect in 2014, we’ll cap a graduate’s annual student loan repayments at 10 percent of his or her income. To help an additional 5 million Americans earn degrees and certificates over the next decade, we’re revitalizing programming at our community colleges – the career pathways for millions of dislocated workers and working families across this country.  These schools are centers of learning; where students young and old can get the skills and technical training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.  They’re centers of opportunity; where we can forge partnerships between students and businesses so that every community can gain the workforce it needs.  And they are vital to our economic future. And to ensure that all our students have every chance to live up to their full potential, this legislation also increases support for our Minority Serving Institutions, including our Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to keep them as strong as ever in this new century. Education.  Health care.  Two of the most important pillars of a strong America grew stronger this week.  These achievements don’t represent the end of our challenges; nor do they signify the end of the work that faces our country.  But what they do represent is real and major reform.  What they show is that we’re a nation still capable of doing big things.  What they prove is what’s possible when we can come together to overcome the politics of the moment; push back on the special interests; and look beyond the next election to do what’s right for the next generation. That’s the spirit in which we continue the work of tackling our greatest common tasks – an economy rebuilt; job creation revitalized; an American Dream renewed – for all our people. Thank you. Continue Reading →

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Obama Goes Shopping

President Obama drops by the Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City to pick up some gifts for his daughters—and a pop-up book for his Press Secretary’s son. Continue Reading →

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Rep. Murphy’s Emotional Promise to GAMC Recipients

Rep. Murphy took the end of the debate on the GAMC bill today to thank those who worked with her on it and make an emotional promise to use the money for this bill to help the sickest and the poorest of Minnesotan’s, even though the bill is underfunded. Her tearful remarks ended her long struggle to pass the GAMC bill, and gave constituents a view as to how truly invested this Representative has been in helping our neediest Minnesotan’s. Continue Reading →

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Rep Thissen: Compromising v. Caving In To Gov. Pawlenty

Gubernatorial candidate and State Representative Paul Thissen gave a surprising speech on the House floor today, expressing the difference between compromise and caving in, and that this bill was indicative of caving in, not compromise. He urged members to not vote for this GAMC bill. Fellow Representative and gubernatorial candidate Tom Rukavina, along with Thissen and 10 others, did vote no on the GAMC bill. Continue Reading →

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Rep Thissen: Compromising v. Caving In To Gov. Pawlenty

Gubernatorial candidate and State Representative Paul Thissen gave a surprising speech on the House floor today, expressing the difference between compromise and caving in, and that this bill was indicative of caving in, not compromise. He urged members to not vote for this GAMC bill. Fellow Representative and gubernatorial candidate Tom Rukavina, along with Thissen and 10 others, did vote no on the GAMC bill. Continue Reading →

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“YES WE DID”- A New Season For America

President Obama signs the historic health care reform bill into law. Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Please, have a seat.Thank you, Joe.  (Laughter.)THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good to be with you, Mr. President.  (Laughter.)THE PRESIDENT:  Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied — health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Today.It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week.  For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America.  In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.  (Applause.)And while the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on this historic legislation — and these are improvements I’m confident they will make swiftly — (applause)  — the bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and marched for, and hungered to see.It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly.  We need to get this right.  But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away.  (Applause.)This year, we’ll start offering tax credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees.  (Applause.)  That happens this year.This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need.  That happens this year.  (Applause.)This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick.  (Applause.)  They won’t be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive.  (Applause.)This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care.  And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old.  That happens this year.  (Applause.)And this year, seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help.  They’ll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will, over time, fill in the doughnut hole.  And I want seniors to know, despite what some have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits.  (Applause.)  In fact, under this law, Americans on Medicare will receive free preventive care without co-payments or deductibles.  That begins this year.  (Applause.)Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance.  They will be able to be part of a big pool and get the same good deal that members of Congress get.  That’s what’s going to happen under this reform.  (Applause.)  And when this exchange is up and running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.   That’s what this reform is about.  (Applause.)  This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades.  It is paid for.  It is fiscally responsible.  And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy.  That’s part of what all of you together worked on and made happen.  (Applause.) That our generation is able to succeed in passing this reform is a testament to the persistence — and the character — of the American people, who championed this cause; who mobilized; who organized; who believed that people who love this country can change it.It’s also a testament to the historic leadership — and uncommon courage — of the men and women of the United States Congress, who’ve taken their lumps during this difficult debate. (Laughter.) AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, we did.  (Laughter.)THE PRESIDENT:  You know, there are few tougher jobs in politics or government than leading one of our legislative chambers.  In each chamber, there are men and women who come from different places and face different pressures, who reach different conclusions about the same things and feel deeply concerned about different things.By necessity, leaders have to speak to those different concerns.  It isn’t always tidy; it is almost never easy.  But perhaps the greatest — and most difficult — challenge is to cobble together out of those differences the sense of common interest and common purpose that’s required to advance the dreams of all people — especially in a country as large and diverse as ours.And we are blessed by leaders in each chamber who not only do their jobs very well but who never lost sight of that larger mission.  They didn’t play for the short term; they didn’t play to the polls or to politics:  One of the best speakers the House of Representatives has ever had, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)AUDIENCE:  Nancy!  Nancy!  Nancy!  Nancy!THE PRESIDENT:  One of the best majority leaders the Senate has ever had, Mr. Harry Reid.  (Applause.) To all of the terrific committee chairs, all the members of Congress who did what was difficult, but did what was right, and passed health care reform — not just this generation of Americans will thank you, but the next generation of Americans will thank you. And of course, this victory was also made possible by the painstaking work of members of this administration, including our outstanding Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius — (applause) — and one of the unsung heroes of this effort, an extraordinary woman who led the reform effort from the White House, Nancy-Ann DeParle.  Where’s Nancy?  (Applause.)Today, I’m signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.I’m signing it for Ryan Smith, who’s here today.  He runs a small business with five employees.  He’s trying to do the right thing, paying half the cost of coverage for his workers.  This bill will help him afford that coverage.I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who’s also here.  (Applause.)  Marcelas lost his mom to an illness.  And she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed.  So in her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children have to go through what his family has experienced.  (Applause.)I’m signing it for Natoma Canfield.  Natoma had to give up her health coverage after her rates were jacked up by more than 40 percent.  She was terrified that an illness would mean she’d lose the house that her parents built, so she gave up her insurance.  Now she’s lying in a hospital bed, as we speak, faced with just such an illness, praying that she can somehow afford to get well without insurance.  Natoma’s family is here today because Natoma can’t be.  And her sister Connie is here.  Connie, stand up.  (Applause.)I’m signing this bill for all the leaders who took up this cause through the generations — from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, from Harry Truman, to Lyndon Johnson, from Bill and Hillary Clinton, to one of the deans who’s been fighting this so long, John Dingell.  (Applause.)  To Senator Ted Kennedy.  (Applause.)  And it’s fitting that Ted’s widow, Vicki, is here — it’s fitting that Teddy’s widow, Vicki, is here; and his niece Caroline; his son Patrick, whose vote helped make this reform a reality.  (Applause.)I remember seeing Ted walk through that door in a summit in this room a year ago — one of his last public appearances.  And it was hard for him to make it.  But he was confident that we would do the right thing.Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable.  With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game-playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve.  It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.But today, we are affirming that essential truth — a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself — that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.  (Applause.)  We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust.  We don’t fall prey to fear.  We are not a nation that does what’s easy.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not how we got here.We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities.  We are a nation that does what is hard.  What is necessary.  What is right.  Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny.  That is what we do.  That is who we are.  That is what makes us the United States of America. And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.  (Applause.)  And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country.So, thank you.  Thank you.  God bless you, and may God bless the United States.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.All right, I would now like to call up to stage some of the members of Congress who helped make this day possible, and some of the Americans who will benefit from these reforms.  And we’re going to sign this bill.This is going to take a little while.  I’ve got to use every pen, so it’s going to take a really long time.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t practice.  (Laughter.)(The bill is signed.) We are done.  (Applause.) Continue Reading →

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U of M Stadium Booze Bill Gains In MN Senate

A key Senate committee today advanced a bill allowing the University of Minnesota to only sell liquor at the football stadium’s suites and premium seating. Currently,the U of M is required to sell liquor throughout the stadium if liquor is allowed. Video from Senate Media Services. Continue Reading →

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Rep. Tarryl Clark On New Health Care Law

During a rally outside the Minnesota state capitol, Representative Tarryl Clark talks about health care reform President Obama signed into law today. Clark is running for the DFL nomination for Congress so she can face Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in the fall. Continue Reading →

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MN GOP Plans Suit To Block Health Insurance Reform

If you can’t beat ‘em, sue ‘em. That appears to be the motto of the Minnesota Republicans who on two fronts yesterday moved to block the implementation of the new Federal health insurance reform law. Governor Tim Pawlenty (a Republican) sent a letter to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson (a Democrat) instructing her to review legal issues being raised by the new legislation. Such a review could lead to a lawsuit. In the Minnesota House, Representative Marty Seifert (a Republican candidate for Governor) unsuccessfully tried to amend the state’s budget to include money to file such a lawsuit. Continue Reading →

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Plan to balance revenue challenged budget advances in MN House

The DFL-controlled Senate defeats the Governor’s proposed solution to resolving the $994 million dollar deficit and advances a plan that cuts $313 million from state government, including a reduction of $105 million in local government aid. Clips from Sen. Dick Cohen, Senate Finance Chair, Sen. Geoff Michel, GOP-Edina, Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, Senator Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley. Video from Senate Media Services

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“This is what change looks like” -Obama On Health Insurance Reform Vote

President Obama comments on the House passing the historic health care reform bill.  
THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.      Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics.  We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests.  We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear.  Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges.  We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.       I want to thank every member of Congress who stood up tonight with courage and conviction to make health care reform a reality.  And I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people.  But it was the right vote.  I want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her extraordinary leadership, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn for their commitment to getting the job done.  I want to thank my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, and my wonderful Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, for their fantastic work on this issue.  I want to thank the many staffers in Congress, and my own incredible staff in the White House, who have worked tirelessly over the past year with Americans of all walks of life to forge a reform package finally worthy of the people we were sent here to serve.      Today’s vote answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform.  To every unsung American who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an e-mail hoping your voice would be heard — it has been heard tonight.  To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up — let me reaffirm that conviction:  This moment is possible because of you. Continue Reading →

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Obama “Confident” Health Insurance Reform Will Pass

President Obama addresses the House Democratic Caucus and says that the time is now to vote for health care reform for America. Transcription:

 THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  
     To Leader Reid, to Steny Hoyer, John Larson, Xavier Becerra, Jim Clyburn, Chris Van Hollen, to an extraordinary leader and extraordinary Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and to all the members here today, thank you very much for having me.  (Applause.)  Thanks for having me and thanks for your tireless efforts waged on behalf of health insurance reform in this country. 
 
     I have the great pleasure of having a really nice library at the White House.  And I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous Presidents and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln:  “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true.  I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”
 
     This debate has been a difficult debate.  This process has been a difficult process.  And this year has been a difficult year for the American people.  When I was sworn in, we were in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Eight hundred thousand people per month were losing their jobs.  Millions of people were losing their health insurance.  And the financial system was on the verge of collapse.  
     And this body has taken on some of the toughest votes and some of the toughest decisions in the history of Congress.  Not because you were bound to win, but because you were bound to be true.  Because each and every one of you made a decision that at a moment of such urgency, it was less important to measure what the polls said than to measure what was right.  
     A year later, we’re in different circumstances.  Because of the actions that you’ve taken, the financial system has stabilized.  The stock market has stabilized.  Businesses are starting to invest again.  The economy, instead of contracting, is now growing again.  There are signs that people are going to start hiring again.  There’s still tremendous hardship all across the country, but there is a sense that we are making progress — because of you. Continue Reading →

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