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Congress keeps ceding power to the President - 1/24/11


Fri, Jan 28th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

I've never been able to figure out why Congress seems so interested in giving up power. When you're sworn in as a member on Capitol Hill, you take an oath to uphold the Constitution, which places Congress first in the firmament of national governance and makes it coequal to the presidency. Yet over the years, members of Congress have repeatedly handed the executive branch more power, in everything from going to war to budget-making to designing the specifics of financial-industry reform.

Capitol Hill's latest exercise in self-shrinkage is its proposed ban on earmarks. These are the moves by individual legislators to direct federal dollars - usually in the form of spending or tax breaks - to specific projects, interests, or companies. The unsuccessful attempt to fund Alaska's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" was through an earmark. On the other hand, earmarks were used to develop the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the Human Genome Project, and the Predator drone missile. They also may well have helped fund the highway improvement you drive to work on, the flood control project that protects your home, or the federal contract that keeps some of your neighbors employed.

You would think, given the rhetoric we've been treated to recently on earmarks, that they're a significant part of federal spending. Not even close. As Daniel Inouye, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, pointed out recently, earmarks make up less then one-half of one percent of total federal spending. We have a $1.3 trillion deficit, he told fellow senators, and "if we accept this proposal to eliminate all earmarks and take the second necessary step of actually applying the savings to deficit reduction, the total deficit for the United States would still be $1.3 trillion."

There is no question that the earmark process has been misused and abused over the years. Members have curried favor with powerful constituents, steered federal funds to prominent campaign contributors, and supported projects whose benefit to their districts, let alone their country, was dubious at best. All of this was usually done in total secrecy.

But any dispassionate look at earmarks would suggest that most of them have been useful and defensible. Over the last few years, moreover, Congress has made the earmark process more transparent, detailing members' requests so that the names of their sponsors are public information and readily available.

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One Moment Please - We make progress when we buy local - 1/24/11

Fri, Jan 28th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone: 507-251-5297

Today marks the second consecutive year in which we have dedicated our resources to sharing the "State of the Union" for Fillmore County in what has been titled the Progress E ..... 
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One Moment Please - Our Super Bowl

Fri, Jan 28th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone: 507-251-5297

In July, the 2011 MS TRAM will be rolling through this area with a resting place in Lanesboro on the eve of Wednesday, July 27.

A bike ride like the MS TRAM presents a ..... 
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It may be up to us

Fri, Jan 28th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Our best intentions about health care may be a dream for another century. Who, really, is big enough to take on the most profitable industry in the economy? Taking on Wall Street bankers and the Auto Makers is baby food compared to Big Pharma and th ..... 
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The Monopoly game and economic recovery

Fri, Jan 14th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Americans seem to constantly ask the pressing question: of "When will economic recovery be accomplished?" We are not patient people and demand instant return to economic stability.

I recall from my past, the time spent playing that famous bo ..... 
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A New Year's resolution for politicians

Fri, Jan 7th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

The last few years have been especially tough for many and for the country as a whole. I don't know if the last decade has yet been named, but "turbulent" would sum it up. We have endured two wars, 9/11 and the worst recession in history.

T ..... 
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One Moment Please - Constant reminders are important

Fri, Jan 7th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone: 507-251-5297

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Do you know your new Commissioner of Agriculture?

Thu, Dec 30th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Do you know your new Commissioner of Agriculture?

Eunice Biel

Former Minnesota state Senator and Murdock area farmer David Frederickson

will become the new Minnesota Secretary of Agriculture when Mark Dayton

becomes the s ..... 
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Bullying has been around for awhile

Thu, Dec 30th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Peterson, MN

I asked a person employed by the Lanesboro school district, "What's going on with all the bullying?" He said it goes on in all schools way back from the time Moses came down from the mountain. I said I didn't think so, but remembe ..... 
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