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What lies ahead


By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Dec 8th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Given all the words and images devoted to the midterm elections over the past few weeks, you’d think the results had told us something vital about the future of the country. In reality, they were just a curtain-raiser. It’s the next few weeks and months that really matter.

The big question, as the old Congress reconvenes and prepares to make way for next year’s version, is whether the two parties will work more closely together to move the country forward or instead lapse back into confrontation and deadlock. I suspect the answer will be a mix: modest progress on a few issues, but no major reforms.

Overall, the deep frustration Americans feel toward Washington will likely continue. Especially since, despite the urgent problems confronting us, the House leadership has announced an astoundingly relaxed 2015 agenda that includes not a single five-day work week, 18 weeks with no votes scheduled, and just one full month in session: January.

Still, there is hope for at least a modicum of progress. The President wants to enhance his legacy. More politicians these days seem to prefer governing to posturing. The Republican Party may have won big in the elections, but it still cannot govern alone: it will need Democratic votes in the Senate and the cooperation of the President. And both parties want to demonstrate that they recognize they’re responsible for governing.

Congress faces plenty of issues that need addressing, which means that skillful legislators who want to show progress have an extensive menu from which to choose. Trade, health care, terrorism, responsible budgeting, rules on greenhouse gas emissions... All of these are amenable to incremental progress.

Which is not to say that progress is inevitable. President Obama acted to halt deportations of millions of illegal immigrants, though he did so without Congress. His action could unleash unpredictable consequences. Meanwhile, the new Republican Senate is almost certain to give the President’s nominees a hard time; while GOP senators are unlikely to want to appear too tough on Loretta Lynch, the nominee for attorney general, the gloves will almost certainly come off for nominees who must negotiate hearings after her.

Yet indications of what next year may be like have already begun to emerge. Bills with a relatively narrow focus that enjoy bipartisan support — boosting agricultural development aid overseas, fu .....
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Thanks and giving

Mon, Dec 1st, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

This time of year, there is one thing on many of our minds: food. Here at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), we are especially interested in food, as we just wrapped up the first annual FEAST Festival and Tradeshow in Rochester in ea ..... 
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The Six Amendments

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Mon, Dec 1st, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

In 1787, 55 delegates from 13 states gathered in Philadelphia and framed what became the Constitution of the United States. When the Constitution was written, compromises were made that were certain to require change in the future. Slaves were incl ..... 
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Depredation tags

Mon, Nov 24th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Ah, it’s finally deer season! A time of year thousands of us live for and dream about for the other 11 months of the year. Here in South East Minnesota we are blessed with a healthy deer herd. But not everyone here is in love with this beautifu ..... 
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Viewing political corruption more broadly

By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Nov 24th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Earlier this year, veteran political writer Thomas Edsall reported an eyebrow-raising fact about Americans’ views toward government. Polling by Gallup, he noted, found that the proportion of Americans who believed that corruption is “widesprea ..... 
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Tin can cranberries

Mon, Nov 24th, 2014
Posted in Mabel Commentary

Thanksgiving was always a big holiday for my family. As a group of seven surviving against the odds as Bear fans raised in the heart of Packer country, family was of the utmost importance. We never really stayed in one place to become established thr ..... 
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A clear message

By Jeff Erding

Mon, Nov 17th, 2014
Posted in Wykoff Commentary

Part 1 - In honor of our veterans “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few!” When Winston Churchill made this famous statement, he was talking about the costly but successful battle waged by the Royal Air ..... 
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What makes a strong lobbyist

By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Nov 17th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Because of its power to influence public affairs, the press has long been known as “the Fourth Estate.” But I think the media may have been displaced. These days, it’s lobbyists who seem to carry the most clout in Washington. Here’s a case ..... 
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Time for Governing

Mon, Nov 10th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

We have again endured another election cycle. An excessive, appalling amount of money, $4 billion nationwide, has been spent ad nauseam on advertising laced with half-truths and sometimes ugly, negative declarations about an opponent. Many ads resor ..... 
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