Hi, I’m Al Franken. I was behind on votes until my lawyers outmaneuvered Norm Coleman’s lawyers and the courts made me the 60th Democrat in the Senate. Not one single Republican voted for Obama-care but I’m proud to say I cast the last vote needed to make Obama-care the law of the land. Without me, it never would have happened. I’m Al Franken, I’m responsible for Obama-care, and I approve this message.
“I’m good enough by a standard that includes Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer. I’m not sure what I’m smart-enough for, and doggonnit, people are nuts to like me because for the first five-year period of my life, I’ve been able to stay innocuous”
Back in March, we broke down the various Republican contenders and pretenders looking to make a statewide bid in 2014. Since then, there’s been a bevy of candidates and plenty of armchair analysis that’s been backlogged.
We start by breaking down the emerging GOP race for US Senate. We take a similar look at the Governor’s race here.
On the surface, Minnesota Republicans should have 312 reasons to want a strong challenger to Sen. Al Franken.
But with a party mired in debt and warring factions, and following a nearly one million vote margin of defeat against Sen. Amy Klobuchar, there have been ample reasons why Franken has been off the GOP radar as a potential target. Running for Senate is an extremely expensive proposition, with a price-tag likely around $10-15 million minimum (Franken raised $22.5 million in 2008) – a tall order for anyone, especially candidates with limited name ID.
Still, Franken remains the candidate who won in a bitterly contested race and whom even Democrats had doubts about, hence the last-minute primary candidacy of Priscilla Lord Faris in 2008. Franken leads potential rivals right now by margins around 15-16%, a testament in part to the incumbent’s name ID. Keep in mind, Norm Coleman lead Franken by 15% as late as July of 2008 (an admitted outlier of a poll, to be sure), reminding activists of all stripes of the “tempest in a tea pot” nature of all polling data.
Time for the monthly newsletter. Senator Franken’s projects and grades:
Preventing the Next Financial Collapse. Al is working on amendments to banking law relating to credit ratings. Sorry, Al, but phony credit ratings didn’t cause the collapse, that was a combination of existing government regulations: CRA forcing lenders to make bad loans in the name of affordable housing, FNMA downgrading its definition of “prime” to guarantee the bad loans, Chris Cox at SEC suddenly implementing “mark to market” rules that panicked investors and triggering Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. All those regulations remain so tinkering with credit rating law isn’t even closing the barn door after the horses are gone, it’s more like gilding the weather-vane on the barn roof, worse than useless. Grade: F.?
As the economy “recovers” but never improves, it’s necessary to keep up appearances by continuing to try to throw blame off of government, for the benefit of the low-information voter.
Creating Jobs with the Energy Section of the New Farm Bill. Al’s really proud of this section, it’s chock full of subsidies for wind, advanced biofuels, biomass, the whole nine yards. We’re sure to wean off foreign oil this time! Geez, Al, ever heard of Solyndra? If you want to make America energy independent, open up federal lands. The President brags that his administration has signed leases to look for oil, but forgets to mention that they denied permits to actually pump the oil. North Dakota is showing the world that the best way for government to help energy production is . . . get the Hell out of the way. Throwing another boatload of money down the same Alternative Energy rathole will produce jobs only for smooth talking hucksters. Grade: F.
Upgrading Minnesota’s Water Infrastructure. Any time a Democrat talks about infrastructure, I grab my wallet. This bill might be the exception to the rule. He’s talking about the Water Resources Development Act, which is Congress’s way of funding a bunch of water-related activities ranging from flood control to water treatment plants to wetland preservation projects. It comes up for renewal every few years and contains most of the funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, for example. We always can nitpick particular line items but as spending bills go, this one isn’t too bad. Control of federal waters is a reasonable component of regulating interstate commerce so this act is more Constitutional than most. Grade: C+.
Breaking the Veterans Affairs backlog. Al, in the Senate, and Tim Walz in the House, introduced the Quicker Benefits Delivery Act. It prohibits the VA from requiring additional medical exams by in-house doctor if the disabled veteran already provided one from a non-VA doctor. They also tinker with the rating system for full or partial disability, hoping this will speed claims processing. Veterans are a federal responsibility so this is Congress’ job and the backlog is a disgrace. We spend millions of dollars every hour sending men and women to fight wars all over the world; the very least we can do is take care of our disabled vets when they come home. I don’t know enough about disability law to know if it’ll work but kudos to Al for at least trying to do something to make it right. Grade: A.
He co-sponsors legislation to reverse federal law and let us unlock our cell phones and choose our own carriers. Airwaves are interstate commerce so properly federally regulated. Free market is good. Excellent work, Al. A+
He sponsors a poetry contest for children of military families. This is pandering, Al, not substantive help for veterans or their families; but it’s a harmless waste of time that could be spent doing worse things. C.
He co-sponsors federal legislation to give Minnesota money for courthouse security, arising out of the shooting in Cook County two years ago. How much to spend on local courthouse security is not a federal issue, it’s a county issue, Al. F
He co-sponsors a meaningless resolution to keep wrestling an Olympic sport. Might as well urge The Donald to drop the Miss USA swimsuit competition. It’s a private entertainment business decision, Al, not a federal issue. F
Minnesota’s two senators sought Monday to delay a tax on medical devices that was expected to add $28 billion over the next decade to help pay for health care reform.
Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken pointed to thousands of high-paying jobs that device companies support in Minnesota, headquarters to such giant devicemakers as Medtronic and St. Jude Medical. The industry has painted the tax as a job killer that would hurt innovation.
“The delay would give us the opportunity to repeal or reduce that tax,” said Klobuchar, co-author of a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seeking the delay.
So that means the Senators will join 3rd CD Congressman Erik Paulsen and support his bill in the House to repeal the tax, right?
Franken is among the letter’s signers who would not support Paulsen’s plan. “I felt the offset in the Paulsen bill would have undermined the architecture of the Affordable Care Act,” Franken said.
Oh, don’t bother us with details! Franken and Klobuchar – and say, doesn’t she just look stunning in the photo the Strib opted to use? – are coming out strongly in favor of delaying the tax!
So what’s missing from the Strib story, bylined to Jim Spencer?
Look it over. Carefully. Carefully…
How about any mention that both Senators voted for the tax initially?
Both Franken and Klobuchar participated eagerly in jamming Obamacare down the American people’s collective throat; both have timidly objected via friendly media in the least obtusive way possible; never bucking their caucus, never ruffling the Administration’s narrative, never standing up for the thousands of constituents that are already being harmed by the tax in any way that would bring them any risk whatsoever. Both of our Senators have invested facile lip service to delaying or repealing the tax – but neither of them have ever put a vote, or any substantive political capital, on the line.
Spencer’s loathsome Strib piece is what we call “public relations”. It’s what the Strib and most of the rest of the Twin Cities media is there for.
It’s no secret – American trade unions have been hemorrhaging membership for decades. Outside government, there really is very little future for unions; in the private sector, they are a cost that generally can not be sustained.
And so when the unions can find a hidden trove of tens of thousands of workers that can be unionized in one fell swoop, it’s like candy at Christmas.
The proposed merger between ATT and TMobile will release just such a stockpile of fresh potential dues-paying recruits. ATT is unionized; TMobile is not, but being the absorbed entity, its employees – 20,000 of them – would be potential union recruits.
That’s a lot of money.
And the unions knew it. And so the unions – almost all the big ones – aggressively lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve the merger. The record is long and ornate; the unions really, really wanted this deal.
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO., sounded off when the news of the proposed merger broke: “Yesterday’s announcement of the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T hasimportant, positive implications for consumers in the U.S. and Germany, forthe U.S. telecom workforce and for our country’s economic future. The acquisition ensures AT&T a strong telecom workforce well-positioned tocompete globally, while offering tens of thousands of T-Mobile USA employees the opportunity to make their jobs good jobs by benefitting from the pro-worker policies of AT&T, one of the only unionized U.S. wireless companies”
The AFL-CIO’s house blog was similarly effusive: ““The announcement over the weekend that AT&T is buying T-Mobile USA could benefit both consumers and employees”
And Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America. also spoke up: “For more than a decade, the United States has continued to drop behind nearly every other developed economy on broadband speed and build out. The Federal Communications Commission sounded the alarm more than a year ago with its broadband report, and President Obama in his State of th eUnion address called for increased efforts to bring the U.S. back to global parity as a key stimulus for economic development. Today’s announcement of the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T is avictory for broadband proponents in both the U.S. and Germany. For the U.S.,it means that T-Mobile customers will get quick access to the AT&T network,soon to include LTE or data speeds of at least 10 megabits down stream.More important, as part of the deal, AT&T is committing to build out to nearly every part of the U.S. within six years” Bear in mind that Cohen and the CWA are not cheerleaders for big telecoms; they’ve fought a long, losing battle with Sprint over their practice of contracting out labor, rather than hiring expensive union employees and taking on their pension burden.
And here in Minnesota – the state Franken represents, and whose unions worked themselves into a fine froth getting Franken elected three years ago?
And Edward Reynoso, political director of the Teamsters’ “Democratic Republican Independent Voter Education” (DRIVE) project, who estimated the long-term upside for the unions, and the private economy, at up to 96,000 jobs. Not to mention Mona Meyer, president of the Minnesota Communications Workers of America, the union that’d be most affected by the merger.
There is no doubt that labor has close ties with Democrats in Congress. A list of eighty members of the House of Representatives – including Betty McCollum, of Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District, signed a letter to the FCC also supporting the merger.
So it’s a big deal for the unions.
And as such, it should be a big deal for Democrat – right?
Last Wednesday, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl recommended that the FCC spike the almost-$40-billion deal:
”I have concluded that this acquisition, if permitted to proceed, would likely cause substantial harm to competition and consumers, would be contrary to antitrust law and not in the public interest, and therefore should be blocked by your agencies,” Kohl said [last] Wednesday.
The unions seemed flabbergasted. Candice Johnson, communications director for the Communications Workers of America, wrote to tell the FCC that no, they were not amused:
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Tuesday urged regulators to stop AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile, saying the $39 billion deal would drive up prices for consumers and threaten jobs.
We’ll come back to that last sentence in just a moment here.
In a filing sent to the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission, Franken said the deal would lead to a market duopoly and that conditions attached to the merger wouldn’t stop what could be as much as a 25 percent increase in wireless costs for consumers.
“The competitive effects of a merger of this size and scope will reverberate throughout the telecommunications sector for decades to come and will affect consumer prices, customer service, innovation, competition in handsets, and the quality and quantity of network coverage,” said Franken, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ”These threats are too large and too irrevocable to be prevented or alleviated by conditions.”
Now, in a sense, this isn’t a surprise. The far left, the “Nutroots”, hate this merger. Behind the banner of “Net Neutrality”, they’d much prefer the government to control the world’s bandwidth.
Franken’s move comes after committee chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis. wrote a letter to federal officials last week, saying such a merger would violate antitrust law.
But we’re not here to debate Net Neutrality. We’re here to talk Al Franken.
Franken has two main bases of support in Minnesota, which pushed him – a political neophyte, albeit a pundit with portfolio – over the top in the 2008 Senate race against Norm Coleman; the Netroots – the mass of far-left “alternative” media activists – and the unions.
And on this issue as few others, those two bases are very much in conflict.
And if you’re a union worker, you need to know what Franken did.
The Jester recounts his “accomplishments” thus far and blames the GOP for Congress’ Low Ratings.
What a joke.
…no less coming from a man whose qualifications for the job never exceeded telling them. From the gaping maw that is Al Franken:
I’d say the proudest accomplishment is just the overall impact I had on the health care bill. It may not have been the highest-profile stuff, but I think it’s stuff that both reflects Minnesota’s values and what Minnesota has done well, and will also ultimately not just benefit Minnesota, but benefit the whole way that health care is delivered.
…save the fact that clearly Americans and Minnesotans are against government reform of health care, hence the lack of transparency, closed-door negotiations, and blatant political payoffs to the unions of late on the part of our Democrat-led congress.
His self-aggrandizement defies the imagination of any sane voter, but not moreso than his take on Congress’ abysmal approval rating:
I would like to see give and take. I think the most surprising (is) sort of the lack of real debate, especially between the two parties, especially on the health care thing. …
I must have done between 10 and 15 roundtables on health care, with providers, doctors and hospitals, with insurance companies, nurses, health care economists, with public health people, rural health, one on health care disparities. And, you know, that was because I wanted to reform health care. … And every member of the Democratic caucus did the same. And I felt like the Republican caucus in the Senate did not do that. And that they were not invested in reforming health care; they were invested in stopping the Democratic … reform of health care.
What was disappointing to me was what came from the other side, or from opponents of health care.
[It is telling that liberals now synonymize "health care" with "government health care"-JR]
(It) seemed to be kind of talking points. There wasn’t much behind them. And also quite a bit of disinformation.
I think [our low rating is] because they see things like that. I was sort of saddened by that.
Boo Freaking Hoo, Al. Save the crocodile tears for another day. When it’s a Democrat speaking it’s reasoned debate. When it’s a Republican, it’s “talking points”, right Al?
Al Franken opines that the American people hold Congress in such low esteem because Republicans haven’t paralleled the Democrats’ enormous investment of time, effort and political capital pursuing health care reform that a growing majority of Americans no longer want.
He went on to say that the next task at hand will be to tackle job creation, as if ten percent unemployment hansn’t warranted more immediate attention than health care reform, that again, for emphasis, most no one wants.
Yet it’s the minority party’s fault that Congress suffers such low esteem among the populace?
Ten Democrats, including our own embarrassment, Al Franken, are flirting with the idea of turning a near global economic collapse into a full economic collapse. In the name of what? An ever-evolving political land-grab called Global WarmingCooling Climate Change.
The Chinese have already grown in both their skepticism of our solvency as well as their ability to wreak havoc on a US economy that has only recently been moved from the ICU.
…Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, Carl Levin of Michigan, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Al Franken of Minnesota.
From a friend, mentor and founder of a successful money management firm, Peter R.:
“Let’s collect a carbon tariff on imports so we don’ t offshore our carbon production. I’m sure that a trade war with China won’t affect their desire to finance our deficits.”
Those deficits being the bi-products of the failed Bush/Obama “Stimulus” packages and the recently resuscitated CARS fiasco, among a myriad of other unfunded, wasteful and ineffective government expenditures.
The wars of the future may be fought on the internet and in the currency markets. We have allowed the Chinese to gain the upper hand via decades of arrant government fiscal policies. We have found ourselves in the unenviable position of relying on their goodwill.
Color me surprised, but as of this posting, the clear initial winner was “The Senator from New York”
After recounting and recounting however, I was able to arrive at a result more in keeping with the end I had in mind. I will hereby refer to The Senator from New York as Stuart Smalley, and in limited engagements Big Fat Idiot.
Thank you for your participation. I apologize for your disenfranchisement*.
The unanimous opinion ruled that Franken “received the highest number of votes legally cast” and is entitled “to receive the certificate of election as United States senator from the state of Minnesota.”