ECM Editorial: Obermueller’s moderate politics a fit for 2nd District

The political center isn’t a place Republican John Kline has had to worry much about in his five terms as U.S. representative in Minnesota’s 2nd District.

That may prove true again once the ballots are counted on Nov. 6, but redistricting has given the 2nd a more purplish hue. Gone are Carver, Le Sueur and western Rice counties. Hello, South St. Paul and West St. Paul — older, first-ring suburbs that like to send Democrats to office and are used to having one, Betty McCollum, in Congress.

Mike Obermueller, an Eagan attorney who served one term in the Minnesota House of Representatives, is the fifth Democrat to try to unseat Kline, a Lakeville resident and retired Marine colonel.

Obermueller deserves to be elected. He’s young, bright and determined to win the expanded center in the new 2nd. His views and political instincts are a rebuke of the obstructionism that has discredited the Republican House majority.

Raised on a dairy farm near Marshfield, Wis., Obermueller worked his way through college and law school before settling with his family in Eagan, where he is active in the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Columbus, the Eagan Art Festival and the Eagan Athletic Association.

He proudly proclaims that he was the first Democrat to win former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s old Minnesota House seat since Eagan was still cornfields.

A notable achievement, but it was in 2008, an especially hospitable year for Democrats. Likewise, Obermueller was unseated two years later in a nationwide sweep by Republicans.

As a legislator, he voted against several DFL Party tax-raising initiatives and voted for a vetoed 2009 budget fix that would have imposed a $1 billion tax hike on the state’s highest income earners. It included a “blink-off” provision for better fiscal times, he says.

At the federal level, he supports keeping the middle-class breaks in the Bush tax cuts and says the economy can withstand an increase on upper-bracket earners.

Obermueller’s critique of the historic Affordable Care Act — Obamacare, which he supports and Kline wants to repeal — is spot-on.

“I don’t think we did enough on the cost-control side of things,” he told ECM Publishers news staffers in Dakota County. “There wasn’t a real true discussion about how you change the payment model so that we keep the person healthy rather than just paying for service going down the line.”

A central plank in Obermueller’s campaign is rooting out government waste, fraud and abuse. Citing a recent Government Accountability Office study, he says tens of billions of dollars can be saved through measures such as procurement reform and modernization of medical record-keeping.

Waste, he says, undermines government credibility in taxpayers’ eyes.

“When they feel that way, they don’t want to pay any taxes for things they do care about,” he says.

Obermueller opposes the “premium support” plan for Medicare backed by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Kline is rigidly conservative, with consistently high  ratings from the American Conservative Union. Unlike many of the Tea Party members of his Republican caucus, he voted in 2011 to raise the federal debt ceiling. But he supports “Cut, Cap and Balance” — excessively harsh budget medicine that includes calling for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

He chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee and wants to slash federal involvement in local schools. Yet he opposed the No Child Left Behind waiver in Minnesota while the state’s educators cheered.

Kline is a favorite of the for-profit college industry, which showers him with campaign donations, but the industry has been called out in Congress for unsavory student-loan practices.

Kline also has a growing reputation in his district for not making himself available during election season. His office rebuffed efforts by the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce to recruit him for a candidate forum with Obermueller.

And this is the second straight election cycle in which Kline’s press office refused requests from Sun Thisweek Newspapers to make the candidate available for an hour-long endorsement interview.

The new 2nd District deserves a representative who’s less ideological and more respectful of its voters. Mike Obermueller is that candidate.

This editorial is a product of the ECM Editorial Board. Sun Thisweek Newspapers and the Dakota County Tribune are part of ECM Publishers Inc.

  • TAXPAYER28

    not a moderate, but rather yet another marxist. but I would expect no less from an editorial staff of collectivist who’s philosophical bent is that of altruism.

    • RollieB

      Really, TP28, really!?!

    • Realtaxpayer

      Yes. “Altruism,” that destroyer of societies. The Greatest Generation certainly couldn’t be bothered by something so nefarious as THAT.

  • RollieB

    Altruism is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It’s the opposite of selfishness. I don’t see altruism as a bad trait. Some do – which is disappointing and points to the cause of a few of our societal problems.

    • TAXPAYER28

      To say that you are obligated to take care of someone else has consequences.
      The one being cared for can reason that he is not responsible for his decisions.
      The one doing the caring has the government holding a gun on him, forcing him to carry a burden he is not responsible for. This is not charity, it is force!

      not a supprise that this generation cannot reason having been indoctrinated through the government school systems.

    • Jan Dobson

      ALTRUISM, AN EVIL MYTH

      Brother A is a businessman. Brother B a self declared altruist. Each inherits a million dollars.
      Businessman Brother A risks his legacy to form an innovative company. He puts in fourteen hour days, six day workweeks and is on call 24/7. Before long he employs a dozen people, provides them with health insurance and in-house day care, creates marketable products that makes life better for his customers, pays taxes, hires a nationwide distribution network that employs ten thousand workers of its own and sponsors a local kid’s ball team.
      Altruist Brother B, after alerting the media, takes his million to skid row and distributes it to the most needy and vulnerable. Local alcohol and illegal drug sales temporarily spike. Bro B gets an international philanthropic award and much public acclaim.
      Five years go by. Altruist Brother B’s inheritance is long gone. He’s living rent free in an apartment over Brother A’s garage, collecting food stamps and has reinvented himself as a one man registered non-profit that offers paid speeches on the virtues of selflessness and shared sacrifice.
      In the same five years, Businessman Brother A’s company has grown to employ three hundred well paid employees, added education reimbursement to its benefits package and invented an affordable device that saves thousands of lives each year.
      Which brother is selfish? Which is greedy? Which has demonstrated that he truly cares about his fellow man? Which better serves his community?
      Is either of them an altruist?

      (I first heard a version of this story about forty years ago as told by Dr. Andrew J. Galambos.)

      • TAXPAYER28

        well put

  • RollieB

    “evil myth”… really?

    • TAXPAYER28

      one needs only to look at Europe to witness the natural outcome.

  • wageslave

    Nice parable — potent! — but I trust you intend nothing more than broad symbolism.

    OK, here’s one: “Wall Street forges capitalist pipsqueak millionaires out of thin air, people educated enough to know better. Local drug and alcohol sales temporarily spike.”

    A cheap shot, but be careful to whom you ascribe weaknesses.

    Another parable might find ..0005-percenters like Gates and Buffet giving not just their riches but applying their know-how to eradicating solvable conditions of extreme poverty. Altruism? Or smarts?

    No philanthropist, other than your witless foil, would open his, her or its wallet without asking something in return — such as staying straight in return for a bed, or laying out a job-seeking plan in exchange for MFIP government benefits.

    Yeah, that bump in food stamps in this economy sucks. Just ask House Republicans, who are holding up the farm (food) bill.

    Your mythical creator of good jobs with benefits (including education reimbursements) who produces an affordable, life-saving device is the kind of altruist everyone wants and every community is competing for.

    But from my reading of the news, most of the jobs being created in the wake of a super-recession aren’t the kind you describe. After a systemic financial crisis, lenders and consumers alike are winding down unsustainable debts. This is not a cyclical downturn; the pain is prolonged.

    Your parable might end with people (some, yes, paying for mistakes of overconsumption) straining to find work with salaries they’re accustomed to, or flocking to the Walmart employment offices in Burnsville or Lakeville to find whatever they can get.

    It’s a great time for altruism — not the Rand-ish evil you describe, but a link in society’s chain.

    • Jan Dobson

      TO: wageslave
      FROM: Jan Dobson

      You offer many words. You offer many liberal talking points. What you don’t offer is any substance whatsoever. What you offer even less of is a clear picture of exactly what the heck you’re talking about.

      Businessman Brother A is a Capitalist and a believer in American style free enterprise. He risks, innovates, toils and produces stuff. For his efforts he makes a profit. For his efforts the community gets jobs and a long-term robust local economy. And the whole world gets new products that make life better everyone. It’s a win—win—win.

      So-called Altruist Brother B is a Redistributionist and a believer in Marxism. His efforts, such as they are, produce nothing worthwhile for the community or the world as a whole. It’s an exercise in mumbo-jumbo futility.

      In the upcoming election we will choose between a Capitalist proponent of American style free enterprise—Mitt Romney—and a Redistributionist proponent of Marxism—Barack Obama. Vote with me for a better economy and a better life. Vote with me for Romney.

      • LeeAnn

        Altruist Brother B scenario is one way to look at altruism ethics, however we are a nation that has been raised with the religious maxim of ” do onto others as what you would have done unto.” I see brother B investing his/her money in the education system where the future A’s & B’s can grow, support, and defend the freedom we enjoy today for generations to come.

        • Jan Dobson

          LeeAnn:
          When you refer to “the education system” are you talking about government schools or for-profit schools?

    • TAXPAYER28

      try not to substitue crony capitalists for the real thing

  • wageslave

    You needn’t repeat your fairy-tale parable. I read it the first time.

    Brother A is the kind of guy everyone wants in their community (I thought I said that before). Brother B is a straw man created for your parable, a yang for your yin, a personified distortion of what a reasonable person would understand as altruistic.

    Even more absurd is the idea that the president is “Marxist.” Only in the last five or so years has such hyperbole been swallowed and regurgitated with such frequency by the Ridiculous Right. Do you suppose your guy Romney would call the president “Marxist?”

    Do you suppose that scholars of Marxism would deem the president “Marxist?”

    You offer rigid talking points (twice!) so dubious that I can’t take you seriously.

    • RollieB

      :-)

  • Jan Dobson

    Okay, wageslave. You’re missing the whole point of the Brother A – Brother B example. Both brothers are equal when it comes to nature, nurture and seed money of a million bucks. It’s ideology that makes them different.

    Brother A engages in capitalistic activities that make life better for him and the rest of the world. He creates progress.
    Brother B engages in redistributionist behavior and has nothing to show for it. He creates malaise.

    Redistribution of wealth—from each according to his ability, to each according to his need—is the cornerstone of Marxism. Obama believes in redistribution, which makes him a proponent of Marxist philosophy. You don’t have to take my word for it. Listen to BHO say it in his own words at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0PUUpa5X4E

    Anyone who expects the positive results of Capitalism while engaging in the negative practice of redistribution of wealth, Marxism, is deceiving himself.

    • Real Taxpayer

      Seems being Jan Dobson means living one’s day pretty angry. Why so upset about everything? Why the need to try to convince people of stuff on some small town news paper’s web site? What’s the point? Live your life. Everyone should just live their life, not just Jan.

      I tried my couple of comments on this thing, but that just took up too much of my time. I can’t imagine spending each day searching for articles and comments to comment on over and over again using the same arguments with such hatred. Not even original arguments, just ones big brother fox tells me. Must repeat! Must repeat!

      God bless.

      • Jan Dobson

        Real Taxpayer:

        1. Please provide specific examples of words you perceive to be angry and provide links to them.
        2. Please provide specific examples of words you perceive to be hateful and provide links to them.
        3. If you find engaging in online commentary to be such a waste of one’s valuable time, why are you now engaging in online commentary?
        4. Do you have anything to offer about the topic being discussed in this thread or are you interested only in hurling irrelevant personal attacks?

      • Jan Dobson

        Propaganda 101

        Step 1. Fabricate an out and out lie by calling names and making false accusations.
        –An example would be, “Ms. X is an angry, bitter person.”

        Step 2. Treat the Step 1 fabrication as fact and elaborate upon with further lies and sarcasm to engineer a desired inference.
        –An example would be, “Ms. X is an angry, bitter obsessive person who regularly engages in online commentary. Everyone “knows” that engaging in online commentary is trivial. Therefore, Ms. X is “obviously” irrelevant.”

        If the technique outlined above sounds familiar it’s probably because it gets used so often by the Obama campaign. It’s also a technique favored by bullies and malicious gossips. In the end, it’s up to each of us to recognize when we are being lied to by bullies, gossips and political spinners.

        The upcoming election will decide if America continues on Barack Obama’s path of Marxist redistribution. Marxist redistribution flies in the face of the principles of individual rights outlined in our Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. And history proves that a redistributionist path ultimately ends in national destruction.

        It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, a Conservative or an Independent. This election isn’t about party loyalty. It’s about saving our country and about saving the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution for us and our posterity. Even if you are not a Republican, even if Mitt Romney isn’t your idea of a perfect candidate, he at least represents a bridge to less government and more individual freedom. Barack Obama represents a destructive path to the end of America.

        Vote with me for Mitt Romney.

        • RollieB

          If Obama’s redistribution path makes him some kind of Marxist, then Mitt Romney is a Marxist, too, and so is Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan and even libertarian Rep. Ron Paul – all believers that the federal government has the right to tax citizens and spend that money on its chosen priorities.

          • Rosie from Rosemount

            Rollie, A quick read of the Constitution nullifies your thoughts on who is and who is not Marxist. Frankly, if a REAL socilaist, let alone a Marxist walked up behind most Americans and bit them in the butt, they still would not be seen as a true socialist or Marxist. There are not enough hungry (literal use of hunge, not figurativer) people in the US to give TRUE Marxism a leg to stand on. In terms of socialism, one needs to go to a Nordic country to get a small glimpse, but even there, it is not the “real thing.” Communism? It does not exist today. There are dictatorships and totaliarian regimes who claim to be communist, such as N. Korea or ROC, or even Vietnam, but they are not truly communist. The closest thing to communism is Cuba, which I will admit, works well under a economic embargo but its grandest fault is human rights. Even so, it is not a pure communist state. My point is Americans throw around the terms Marxism, Communism and Socialism as if they are interchangable, and they think they know what a true Marxist is. I know, I have seen real Marxists, and it is an exageration to call Obama a Marxist, and hilarious to call Romney one. Even FDR did not meet the stict defining criteria of a socialist. However, it is obvious Obama wants to redistribute wealth instead of generating new wealth. This will be his demise. You can not generate wealth by taking it from some and delivering it to others.

          • RollieB

            Yes, I know, Rosie. I was simply pointing out the absurdity of the claim.

          • Jan Dobson

            Call them redistributionists. Call them socialists. Call them communists. Call them communitarians. Call them collectivists. Call them whatever you wish. In the end, it comes down to the same thing. They all want control of the fruits of my labors. They all want my stuff and your stuff, too. And that’s immoral.

          • RollieB

            …and the absurdity continues…

    • wageslave

      Good God, I get it already. I got your point the first time (was that two times ago?)

      Your parable isn’t real life. It’s instructive to your world view, which I respect. But the world, as polarized as it is these days (particularly our country), might not fit the contours of parables you use to justify your world view.

      I have no parables, which leaves you to project whatever you want on me. I’m sure it won’t be pleasant.

      For the last time, I love Brother A. A brother from another mother. I love the jobs he creates.

      Brother B — Malaise Guy — now, he’s a guy I don’t know, or know of. Unless you mean heads of foundations from the likes of McKnight, Cargill and Pillsbury. But they don’t fit your Brother B description, so I guess not. I’m still searching for your Brother B. He doesn’t signify anything to me.

      “Marxism?” Your delusion that the reasonable conduct of government as we know it suddenly amounts to “Marxism” is your delusion.

      Hardcore conservatives are the ones who have swung the political dictionary to the right in recent years. I hope most people see through your crap. Some may even remember the Marxist marginal income tax rates of the Clinton years.

      • Jan Dobson

        Despite your exasperated claim of, “I get it already” you clearly don’t get it.

        1. Businessman Brother A believes in and practices the principles of Capitalism. So-called Altruist Brother B believes in and practices the principles of what we will call—in the hope if minimizing nitpicky parsing—redistributionism. The point of the story is that Capitalism works. Capitalism produces. Capitalism makes progress and prosperity. Redistributionism devours production, progress and prosperity. It never works.

        2. It’s important to point out that in this Brothers A and B story, Brother B is redistributing his OWN wealth. His indiscriminate public largess is imprudent and it exacerbates rather than relieves the desperation of its recipients. Such behavior may be misdirected or even sleazy but it’s not necessarily immoral. If Brother B were redistributing public funds acquired through taxation to support something utterly impractical that has no chance of working (like Obama’s green energy debacle) or to buy votes (like Obama’s free cell phones), now that would be immoral.

        3. Please provide a definition of what you refer to as “the reasonable conduct of government.” I’m not seeing it. The Obama administration is currently involved in covering up the cover-up of the Benghazi attack and covering up the cover-up of what caused the horrendous deaths of four Americans. Not at all reasonable.

        4. Interesting that you would invite discussion of political terminology, specifically the term “hardcore Conservatives.” These days, Americans that support principles of individual rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independences and the US Constitution are called—at the most charitable—right wing fanatics. The US Constitution was an offspring of the Declaration and it is the law of our land. If proponents of the law of our land are right wing fanatics, I’d be very interested in your definition of a centrist.

        5. Finally, the invitation to “project whatever you want on me” is mystifying. Your words are the only things we readers of this thread have to go on. For all we know, you could be a kid living in and posting from his or her grandparents’ basement. For all we know, you could be anywhere and anything. Why in the world would any rational person waste time on projecting scenarios based on no verifiable information? When words are used to make a point instead of to encourage theater of the mind, nobody has to “project” anything.

        Capitalism works. Vote for Capitalism. Vote for Romney.

  • TAXPAYER28

    Shared sacrifice, except if you’re a bureaucrat or government union employee. Redistribution of wealth,
    Nationalization of businesses, (GM, Dodge, Health care)
    The only thing left is to disarm the public and impose martial law and you would have a Marxist state.
    “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.”

  • wageslave

    Nice slogans.

    Will insurance companies no longer provide health insurance or profit from it?

    • Rosie from Rosemount

      Hmmmm. Profit incentive accommodates innovation. Innovation betters services and competes on cost. Wage slave, can you say, “US Postal Service.”

      Let’s remove the profit incentive from other sectors, like computing, energy and shipping. I’m sure we will become the envy of the planet, just like that other country,,,,what was it called? Oh! Yes,,,The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Back in the USSR, you don’t know how lucky you are. Back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR!

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