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Thursday, August 27th, 2015
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With the budget, the President calls the shots


By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Feb 23rd, 2015
Posted in All Commentary



It may not be obvious from the news coverage, but a good bit of Congress’s 2015 agenda just landed on Capitol Hill with a thud. I mean this literally. The federal budget that President Obama recently submitted runs to 2,000 pages.

This is the most important government document produced each year, so its heft is more than physical. The budget is how we decide what share of this country’s economic resources we should devote to government—and how we should spend them. It’s where we set out our national priorities, sorting out how to allocate money among defense, the environment, education, medical research, food safety, public works... You get the idea.

Which is why you saw the political maneuvering begin the moment it arrived. In a press conference after President Obama submitted his budget, House Speaker John Boehner dismissed it out of hand. “The president gave the American people a good laugh yesterday,” he said. Every year, politicians play some variation on this theme. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard a budget declared “dead on arrival”.

Yet here’s what you need to remember: Congress changes only a small portion of the budget. Well over half is mandated spending—interest on the debt, entitlements, contractual obligations of the government. And even when it comes to the roughly 40 percent of the budget that is discretionary spending, Congress never rewrites it wholesale; in general, all but five or ten percent of the White House’s spending blueprint will make it through intact. The President’s budget, in other words, is never “dead on arrival”.

This is not to say that what Congress does will be unimportant. The debate from here on out will be specifically about taxing and spending priorities—about how much money should go to defense, or homeland security, or social welfare—and more generally about who has the best ideas for addressing the country’s needs.

There will be times in upcoming months when it sounds as though our economy’s health depends on what our lawmakers do. The budget, after all, is where the President and Congress can have an impact on the economy. I’m not persuaded, however, that it’s as large as they’d have us believe. For one thing, the Federal Reserve, through its control over the money supply, has its hands on an immensely important economic lever. So do the big banks, major corporations and, most .....
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New sanctions sabotage negotiations and risk war

By Robert K. Johnson

Mon, Feb 23rd, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

In 2006 Bibi Netanyahu told the Jewish community in Los Angeles, “it’s 1938 and Iran is Germany...racing to arm itself with atomic bombs”, recalls Patrick J. Buchanan, a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate, Inc. in an arti ..... 
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Town of Harmony situation

By Cody Hendrickson

Mon, Feb 23rd, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

When I look at all the comments pertaining to the parking situation behind the high school, the so-called disruption of public with the band, and all the other comments I become sick to my stomach. Is that seriously the main thing you have to compla ..... 
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Small towns vs. big boxes

Mon, Feb 23rd, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

I went to high school in Mabel: Cougar Class of 2003. Back then, you could go downtown and get a burger at two or three places, or maybe grab a soda at the former IGA. I distinctly remember my friends and I grabbing marked-down-for-quick-sale quart ..... 
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STANDING GUARD: Tax reform, funding for school maintenance, and mandatory buffer strips

By Jeff Erding

Mon, Feb 16th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

These issues may appear unrelated, but in reality they are inextricably linked here in Minn. and affect us all in ways some of us seldom think about. Paying for education in Minn. amounts to about half of the annual State General Fund spending, ..... 
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One Moment, Please... A higher education

Mon, Feb 16th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

The greatest investment in America is human capital. It’s not our products. It’s not our services. It’s what’s between our ears. But it is only as effective as ambition. President Barack Obama thinks that giving graduating high schoo ..... 
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Can we have a regular Congress?

By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Feb 9th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

You probably didn’t notice, but the Senate passed a milestone a couple of weeks back. Before 2015 was a month old, senators had already had a chance to vote up-or-down on more amendments than they did in all of 2014. This is a promising sign tha ..... 
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We fight

By Col. Stan Gudmundson

Mon, Feb 9th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

What should we call them? What is permissible in mixing the words extremist, radical, fanatic, barbaric, and terrorist with Muslim, Islam, Jihadist or some other term? Can we or can we not use language that includes the possibility of saying Musli ..... 
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Correction-“Divided government returns to Minnesota”

Mon, Feb 2nd, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

Minnesota Republican legislators are against raising new revenue for transportation, but have suggested that $750 million could be raised over four years to fix state roads and bridges through efficiencies. The number was misstated in the article ..... 
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