Sunday, September 14, 2014

MN Elections: What Matters

I just left a somewhat cynical comment over at MinnPost McFadden and Franken

It went something like this.  Is it worth spending any time talking about who will be the most effective politician if elected?

I mean Franken and many other DFL candidates want to make taxes very progressive on people and companies that are financially successful, and they want to give that money to people who are not financially successful whether those people make responsible decisions, work hard, etc or not.

So people who support somewhat arbitrary government mandated wealth transfer will vote DFL and those against it will vote GOP as usual.  With this in mind...
  • Who are the undecideds?
  • What percent of citizens do you think are in this group?
  • What do you think will sway them?
I am guessing less than 20% are in that moderate undecideds group...

MinnPost Mills
MinnPost Gov Debates


Laurie said...

Below is a link the issues that Franken deems important enough to put on his website and share his views. I don't see anything about wealth transfer. I think you need broader, more nuanced views about politics and candidates.


John said...

I probably do... Will it make any difference in who you or I vote for?

The DFL candidates like Franken typically support things like ACA (wealth transfer), stopping the Keystone pipeline, additional government regulations and oversight, etc. The typical ear marks of "big government". That is why Liberals like them.

The GOP candidates like McFadden typically oppose the things listed above.

G2A Political Self Awareness

As long as the DFL wants to continue to push government controlled spending even further to the Left, do the details matter?

jerrye92002 said...

I've perhaps said this before, but I am concerned about the way people make their voting decisions. I believe that about 65% of voters walk into the voting booth and vote based on one piece of information- The "D" or "R" after the candidate's name. That breaks down to the 35% "hard Democrats" and 30% "hard Republicans" in the population. Another 25% could be considered "swing" voters, but they "swing" based on an emotional reaction to the last TV ad they heard, usually negative. We don't do enough "voting for" in this country anymore. And then there are the 10% (and I may be being generous) who are actually making an informed decision based on the issues-- and it is harder to do than simply wishing to do it, because candidates don't generally state specifics anymore, because the airwaves are already clogged with one candidate telling us what awful things the other intends to do. McFadden's views and agenda are told to us by the Franken campaign, rather than McFadden's. It's ridiculous.

John said...

Well here is McFadden's Issue Page.

jerrye92002 said...

I find only one thing on McFadden's page to disagree with, and that's immigration. And the only thing wrong there is that the "path to citizenship" for those already here-- involving back taxes, fines, proof of employment, etc.-- must be MANDATORY, not optional. Personally, I would combine that with a "guest worker program" for those that want to work here but not be citizens, which is a lot of them, and the reason past amnesties have failed miserably.

jerrye92002 said...

Okay, to be fair I also looked at Franken's issues page. He gets credit for being more specific, or at least for using a lot more words, but I still manage to read into it a belief that government has all the answers and needs all of the money to do it. What "solutions" he offers are not only in that light, but pretty much guaranteed to make the problem worse. That's to be expected, I suppose and IMHO, from a 99% Democrat.

John said...

That is kind of what I got out of Franken's page. And I do agree so far that McFadden isn't looking like a stellar candidate yet either.

I was trying to decide if this deserved it's own post, but I think it will fit here very well.

CNN What a Do Nothing Congress Actually Does

It seems to highlight why some people see grid lock as a problem and others are thankful for it.

Imagine all the laws, regulatory controls, taxes hikes and spending increases that would be passing if the Democrats had free rein. The thought makes me shiver.

jerrye92002 said...

The real question, of course, is whether Franken's smooth-talking, do-nothing, style can hide his loyal-Democrat voting record and issues stands, or whether people will vote for a change to a McFadden who is great on platitudes and "nice guy" image but short on real specifics.
In short, is Franken perceived, despite all the media camouflage, as a known commodity coming up short and that "anybody else" would be better?

John said...

I guess as long as we keep the House and Senate happily grid locked, it won't matter too much.

Of course the Liberals will blame the grid lock on the GOP... When they could just as easily give in to being more Conservative and get things moving again. (ie it takes 2 parties to argue)

Laurie said...

One party could completely refuse to compromise / negotiate. They will vote for nothing unless it is 100% their own proposal. Then the other party has to choose- totally cave to the desires of the first party or accept gridlock. The second party could be very willing to negotiate. To me this is is pretty much what is going on. It really doesn't take two to cause gridlock.

John said...

I agree.

The GOP keeps asking the DFL to meet them in the middle... And that pesky DFL keeps saying no.

What are we going to do about them???

Sean said...

"The GOP keeps asking the DFL to meet them in the middle..."

Someone call the Common Man at KFAN -- I've got an entry for the "Preposterous Statement Tournament".

Laurie said...

Let's pretend that both parties would like to reduce the deficit. Would the GOP agree to raise taxes as part of a compromise with the democrats, who would agree to some spending cuts? The answer the whole time Obama has been in office has been a loud and clear No. Do you have an example of

"The GOP keeps asking the DFL to meet them in the middle."?

John said...

The GOP wants to reduce the deficit by reducing spending and reducing taxes (ie grow GDP)

Will the DFL meet them half way by just cutting spending?

jerrye92002 said...

Let me ask a question: Suppose that one Party wants to spend $6 Billion more than the State has in the checkbook, and the other Party wants to spend no more than what is in the checkbook. Where is the proper compromise on that issue?

In modern governance, what tends to happen is that one side is wrong and the other right, so any compromise is more "wrong" than necessary. Gridlock needs to be judged not because two parties refuse to compromise, but because one Party is wrong and the other is holding out for what is right.

Sean said...

"Let me ask a question: Suppose that one Party wants to spend $6 Billion more than the State has in the checkbook, and the other Party wants to spend no more than what is in the checkbook. Where is the proper compromise on that issue? "

That's in the eye of the beholder, of course. One can say that we should only spend what's in the checkbook today. Others can say that maybe we should get more money in the checkbook.

Sean said...

"The GOP wants to reduce the deficit by reducing spending and reducing taxes (ie grow GDP)

Will the DFL meet them half way by just cutting spending?"

We can take the reverse of your question and have it be just as valid.

Laurie said...

"Will the DFL meet them half way by just cutting spending?"

Doesn't meet them halfway imply some kind of concession by the GOP that results in the dems getting part of what they want? (i.e a tax increase)

John said...

I am not sure...

Right now both sides are getting what they want and no one seems happy.

The GOP is keeping spending and taxes from increasing. (for the most part)

The DFL is keeping spending and taxes from decreasing. (for the most part)

The GOP had to increase taxes on th Rich to keep taxes low for the rest of us. The DFL had to cut some spending to keep the rest in place.

Sounds like they are in the half way state, yet Liberals scream obstruction.

John said...

It is the Liberals that keep laying the "grid lock" blame on the GOP. My only point is that both sides can break the gridlock if they truly want to.

Sean said...

"Sounds like they are in the half way state, yet Liberals scream obstruction."

Well, sure. Senate Republicans have used cloture in a way not envisioned by the founders -- essentially requiring every action in the Senate to require 60 votes. Dozens of executive branch positions and court vacancies exist because of these actions.

Sean said...

"My only point is that both sides can break the gridlock if they truly want to."

Well, sure. Capitulation is one way to break gridlock.

Let me give you a more concrete example. In his FY 2014 budget, President Obama embraced a Social Security reform often touted by Republicans -- the use of "chained CPI" to determine cost-of-living adjustments (chained CPI is lower than normal CPI, so benefits would be reduced over time).

What happened? After Obama embraced it, Republicans ran ads against him accusing him of wanting to cut Social Security.

Then, when Obama dropped the chained CPI reform from his FY 2015 budget proposal, Republicans attacked him for not being "serious" about reforming entitlements.

John said...

One more thought.

Imagine a barter system where the last agreed to price is the basis for all future negotiations.

A customer wants to pay $30 dollars for a necklace and the vendor wants $50. They agree on 38%.

The next day they meet and the customer still wants to pay $30, but by the rules of the barter the new starting/zero point is $38. Therefore the vendor thinks the price should be $44...

And with each repetition, the price gets closer and closer to the vendors preferred price...

Now after awhile, the customer stops coming to the store. Whose fault is it, he customers or the vendors? Who stop bargaining in good faith?

This is how I envision the GOP/DFL negotiations... For decades the GOP has foolishly approved spending increases.

And each time the DFL has accused them of not bargaining in good faith. While the DFL consistently raised the benchmark to the "current spend". This graphic shows it well.

Laurie said...

about "The GOP had to increase taxes on the Rich"

I am pretty sure The GOP has not voted in favor of a tax increase in many years. They voted to prevent taxes from going up on the middle class, which is a tax cut. Taxes going up on the rich was written in to law 10-15 years ago.

I think it is dumb to blame the dems equally for gridlock because they won't totally capitulate to GOP policies to pass things

John said...

Technicalities: And wasn't it nice when the GOP capitulated on their beliefs when the DFL held all of our lower tax rates hostage. Personally I would have preferred that they let all those "evil Bush tax cuts" lapse, if it is good for them Rich folks it should have been good for all of us...

I know you think it is dumb to negotiate from the point that each side wants. You believe we should continue to play the continual increase game I described above.

Where as I think the half way point is somewhere the GOP goal of government costing 25% of the GDP and the DFL's goal of government costing 50% of the GDP.

It is kind of ironic that the mid-point is 37.5%, which is about where we are sitting today.

Which would imply that to be fair, we need to slow spending growth or grow the GDP faster...

John said...

By the way, would you keep negotiating up from the last price you paid or stop dealing with that vendor?


John said...

One more question with your last answer in mind:

So the politicians started this "negotiating up from the last price paid" game a long time ago. I mean government used to cost 10% of GDP and now we are up to ~38%...

How far should the GOP folks give before walking away from the fixed negotiation table?

John said...

For Reference purposes: G2A Continuum

Laurie said...

I think your analogy is not relevant. In Mn the price of government is going down. At the federal level the slight increase in the price of government is reasonable, as we have an aging population (if we don't spend more $ people will see their SS and medicare cut.)

Maybe in your example the higher cost of the necklace reflects increases in the price of gold and jewels.

I am still waiting for an example of GOP compromise, which to me involves them voting for something they don't support.

John said...

The cost as a percentage of GDP has been going up for 100+ years. The oldest baby boomers are just hitting retirement age...

Please explain your rationale...

Laurie said...

"By 2038, CBO projects, federal spending would increase to 26 percent of GDP under the assumptions of the extended baseline, compared with 22 percent in 2012 and an average of 20½ percent over the past 40 years."

"Federal spending for the major health care programs and Social Security would increase to a total of 14 percent of GDP by 2038, twice the 7 percent average of the past 40 years. "

"In contrast, total spending on everything other than the major health care programs, Social Security, and net interest payments would decline to 7 percent of GDP, well below the 11 percent average of the past 40 years and a smaller share of the economy than at any time since the late 1930s."

I call from 22% to 26% of GDP a small spending increase, with nearly all of it going to SS and health care spending. Did you notice this bullet point - "all other fed spending will decline to a smaller share of the economy than at any time since the late 1930s."

jerrye92002 said...

Isn't the problem that the government consistently spends far more than its revenues, regardless of what "good" is done with the spending?

MN spending has increased by a factor of 10 over the last 40 years, ABOVE population growth and inflation. I don't care if the cost is "going down," I do not believe that we are qualitatively 10 times better off. Besides, government is supposed to get more efficient, just like every other business and industry.

John said...

Remember that is only the Federal government costs. The other ~16% is made up of local and state expenditures.

What is the source of the quotes?

I want to understand what is between the snippets.

What is the source for your "factor of 10"? I call BS...

Laurie said...

State expenditures are also declining as % of GDP. Maybe property taxes are up, but I think those might have gone down too.

Also, here is a tip for for a quick and easy search for a source of a direct quote. Just copy a sentence or two of the quote and paste into google and the first hit will likely be the source.

John said...

CBO Long Term Outlook 2013

John said...

CBO Long Term Outlook 2014

John said...

State Spending History 1992
MN Govt Growth
MN Govt Growth

jerrye92002 said...

What is the source for your "factor of 10"? I call BS... " -- John

OK, but you are calling BS on the MN Dept. of Revenue, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the US Census Bureau, who provided the data.

John said...

Send me a link or a spreadsheet...

What inflation factor was used?

John said...

Ok I ground the numbers... And I'll try to post the details and sources before Saturday.

In today's dollars, the "local and state government" costs per Minnesotan are.

1964: ~$3,603
2014: ~10,689

This is using an average inflation rate of 3.7% which I got from the FRED.

Therefore "local / state government" costs 3X what it did in 1964. Since much of the additional cost goes to education, special education and health/human services, are we getting 3X the value?

jerrye92002 said...

What spending numbers are you using? I show the '64 spending at about $749 Million, and last year's at $36 B. Even with inflation, that's 10x, not 3.

John said...

MN "Local and State": 2B to 57.5B

MN Population: 3413864 to 5379139

Period 50 yrs

Average Inflation 3.7%
Indicator: 18 to 110

jerrye92002 said...

I think you need to do it year by year, as I did, rather than use an "average" inflator. Then you have to get the annual numbers, not the biennial numbers. You have to use "all funds" for state spending, not just the general fund. When you do that, you find that spending adjusting only for population and inflation, would be 1/10 of what it actually is. It's a lot of spreadsheet work, but it arrives at the same question-- what is all of that excess spending doing for us? My guess is, not much.

John said...

I still think your spreadsheet is flawed. Email it to me if you want it proofed.

I'll post my details when I get a chance.

jerrye92002 said...

Using an average inflation rate is a flawed approach, but I tried it and came up with a number fairly close to doing it year-by-year, and still only 1/10 the current budget. Doing it year-by-year, you take the already "deflated" number from the previous year, NOT the new budget number for that year. Is that your error?

John said...

1964 Cost per capita in 1964 dollars
$2 Bil/3,413,864 =

2014 Cost per capita in 2014 dollars
$57.5 Bil/5,379,139 =

1964 Cost per capita in 2014 dollars

Change is cost
$10,689/$3580 = 2.99 times

John said...

What do you know. I found the sources.

State and Local Spend


MN Population History

Anonymous said...

So, what do you think the State could do for its people with the same level of spending as 50 years ago?

Annual expenditures of $19.257B.

Ready. Set. Go.


jerrye92002 said...

All of the things that government did 50 years ago, when everything was just great. I think it's just like our school district. We still produce the same number of national merit scholars as we did back when we spent half as much. Anyone want to bet that MN has done not quite as well?

Anonymous said...

Everything was great in 1964?

You must be a white, heterosexual male.

jerrye92002 said...

What's that got to do with it? Do you mean that spending vast sums of taxpayer money will make everything better, regardless of the laws of human nature, biology, physics, chemistry and economics?