Thursday, June 18, 2009

Musical production credits God for "favored nation" status

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

—from "America the Beautiful," by Katharine Lee Bates

Is the United States just another member of the "community of nations?" Or perhaps we are more than that because of our unique belief that, as Newt Gingrich puts it, "your personal rights come from God directly to you, the individual, and you loan the government sovereignty."

The premiere production of the musical Favored Nation will answer these questions unequivocally and remind you why American conservatives think that every day is the Fourth of July. From the production company's web site:
Favored Nation is a dramatic musical that powerfully demonstrates God's hand in the history of the United States. Supported by a large choir, wonderful soloists and a professional orchestra, the musical features beautiful, historical and original songs, dramatic lighting and a powerful story presented in the grand tradition of musical theater! The songs are drawn from many musical styles, and 95% of the script is the actual words of our founding fathers and historical figures, culled from speeches and letters. Through Favored Nation, experience American history, from Columbus through the Civil War, in a way that will move your heart, enrich your mind, lift your spirit and challenge your faith.

Tickets are $15. Favored Nation will be performed at Calvary Church, 5300 France Avenue South in Edina, on June 26 and 27.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Where should some of the HHS cuts come from?

Part 3 of a 3-part series

By Brian W. Grogan

Where should some of the cuts come from?

First, we should be reducing welfare fraud by hiring auditors to eliminate the estimated $10 million in fraud already identified.

Secondly, we need to pay monthly welfare benefits that are in parity to neighboring states so as to reduce the incentive for non-residents to migrate to our state solely for better monthly benefits. We need to enact legislation that denies welfare benefit coverage to people who have lived less than 6 months in our State. We need to deny health care coverage to non-resident Minnesotans and illegal immigrants. In addition, MNCare (State of Minnesota’s Health Care assistance program) should not be available to parents who earn over $30,000.

We also need to understand that the health care system challenges in Minnesota are due predominately to our regulations and laws. Since the early 1990s, legislative leaders have been meticulously building a government-run health care system by passing laws that require private citizens (you and me) to buy more and more coverage benefits whether we want them or not (coverage mandates). In addition, our legislators have passed laws that effectively limit our access to health insurance providers (limit competition). Thirdly, our legislators have refused to pass tort reform.

Minnesota has more mandated coverage requirements (in 2008 there were 64 mandates) than any other state in the nation. For every one mandated coverage requirement, we pay an additional premium so it shouldn’t surprise us when we discover that Minnesota residents pay some of the highest health care insurance premiums in the nation. For example, a 25-year-old must pay for hearing aid coverage and a 55-year-old must purchase fertility drug coverage.

In addition, Minnesota lawmakers have erected barriers to entry of health insurance providers which means our choices are purposely restricted. We are essentially forced to purchase coverage from three companies who control nearly 90 percent of Minnesota’s market.

Do we have a health care crisis in our state? Minnesota has the highest number of insured people (93%) in the nation. We don’t have a health care crisis in our state. We have a health care insurance regulation problem. If we restrict health and human services (HHS) MinnesotaCare access to non-Minnesota residents and illegal immigrants as well as pass legislation to address mandates, tort reform and restricted competition, we could dramatically reduce the growth of HHS.

Brian Grogan, Minnetonka, was the Republican-endorsed candidate in state House District 43B in 2008.

Monday, June 08, 2009

What to do with Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin, Irondog snowmachine race, January 2009
"My concentration is on bettering our country. I've never been known as an obsessive partisan. In fact, I've taken on my own party. I've run against members of my own party in order to reform at a local level and a state level. And on a national level I'd do the same thing...

"I think those who would criticize what I believe I represent — and that is, everyday, hardworking American families who desire and deserve reform of government — I think they are out of touch with what the rest of the nation is talking about today. It's a reflection of some elitism that assumes that the best and the brightest of this country are all assembled in Washington, D.C., and I beg to differ. You can walk out in the rally that we are going to attend in a minute, and you talk to anyone there, and I believe you will hear the same thing. Enough of that arrogance. Enough of that assumption that unless you are a part of that Washington elite that you aren't worthy of serving this great country."

—Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, "I Haven't Always Just Toed the Line," by Kimberley A. Strassel, The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2008

"...many in the [Republican] party establishment...would prefer [Sarah Palin] remain in Alaska and leave the party rebuilding to others who may appeal to the broad middle of the country." —"Sarah Palin in, then out, back in -and now again out of fundraising dinner," by Jonathan Martin, Politico, June 7, 2009

How's that workin' out for ya, guys??

The Washington establishment of the GOP knows that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is a solid conservative rock star who can't be counted on to follow the focus group-tested story line and stick to the teleprompter, and neither will her "fans." But Palin is no loose cannon: on the contrary, she is just one of those rare politicians who puts her traditional American values and conservative principles over, well, politics. Palin's remarkable record of cleaning house in Alaskan government speaks for itself, which could be why the Beltway boys are so befuddled about Sarah Palin — and why America needs her now more than ever.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Why are DFL leaders crying foul on HHS cuts?

Part 2 of a 3-part series

By Brian W. Grogan

Since 1960, Minnesota’s state budget (general fund) has grown by over 18% annually. The media, liberal commentators and DFL legislators are trying to tell Minnesota taxpayers that our $4.6 billion deficit is due to the economy, but this is only part of the story. The unsustainable growth of government spending is the real cause for the deficits we are facing. What is the response of the DFL Minnesota House and Senate leaders to this enormous deficit? For the last four months they have been trying to sell Minnesotans on our "shared responsibility," which means an increase in taxes. Let's understand their proposals.

The DFL-controlled Senate proposal raised taxes by $2.3 billion and cut spending by $2.3 billion, but the proposed spending cuts are based on a budget that is increasing by 4.8%. In other words, the DFL leaders in the Senate don't want to actually cut government spending but essentially hold the line at 0% budget growth while increasing our taxes.

The DFL-controlled House wants to raise taxes by $1 billion while cutting expenses by $3.6 billion, which is better than the Senate's approach but it still only cuts overall spending by 5% while raising our taxes. We are in a 12% deficit hole and half of the DFL leaders don't want to cut spending while the other half only want to cut spending by 5%. Gov. Pawlenty wants 12% in spending cuts to address the 12% deficit. Which approach between the three is the most fiscally responsible especially in light of the fact that MN government spending has grown by over 18% annually since 1960?

Do you know any fiscally-responsible person or family that would maintain or only slightly decrease their spending at a time when they have a 12% drop in income and have insufficient funds to pay future obligations? Most financially-responsible families and individuals would be analyzing the books to find out-of-control spending problems and where to make cuts.

There is a reason why Gov. Pawlenty is predominately cutting the Health and Human Services (HHS) budget. It is the most out-of-control piece of the budget and Minnesotans should be greatly concerned that the DFL party refuses to accept the fact that HHS growth is unsustainable. In fact, the only way we can support the DFL’s vision for HHS obligations would to raise personal income taxes to 20% or more.

Unfortunately, our media outlets and liberal commentators are not talking about the reality of the HHS problem. Under current eligibility standards and growth projections, the HHS obligation will grow to over $40 billion by 2025 which would represent 80 percent of the budget. How will our State be able to fund K-12 education in addition to our state college system, city government, law enforcement and prison system if our HHS obligation represents 80% of the budget?

The DFL majorities are screaming how Gov. Pawlenty is reducing benefits to the indigent and uninsurable. This is simply not true.

The 2010-11 budget had HHS growing by 26% ($2.4 billion increase) from its 2008-09 biennium budget. Gov. Pawlenty proposed a $1.7 billion cut from the $11.4 billion HHS 2010 budget which represents a 10% cut. But even after Pawlenty’s proposed cuts, the HHS budget grows by 10% over the 2008-09 biennium budget.

The DFL counterproposal is to cut $500 million in the 2010-11 biennium but then reinstate the cuts in 2012. The DFL is still committed to growing HHS's obligations at an unsustainable pace. Thankfully, Gov. Pawlenty is committed to slowing HHS's growth.

Unfortunately, our media sources are refusing to challenge DFL party leaders during these tough economic times. As a state, we need an honest debate on what we can and cannot provide to Minnesota's indigent population and uninsured residents. I feel strongly that tough decisions need to be made by our political leaders in order to serve our state's long-term interest.

Brian Grogan, Minnetonka, was the Republican-endorsed candidate in state House District 43B in 2008.