The Pioneer Press reported the Kline For Congress reaction to Mike Obermueller garnering the Minnesota’s Second District DFL endorsement :
Kline spokesman Troy Young issued a statement saying: “Minnesotans want results instead of petty, partisan attacks, and they recognize that whether it’s ensuring our Minnesota National Guard receive the overdue bonus pay they earned or championing a bipartisan compromise with the president to prevent student loan rates from doubling, Congressman Kline is fighting for them.”
First, let’s congratulate Mike on his win but more so congratulate the Kline campaign for recognizing One Definitive Truth :
“Minnesotans want results instead of petty, partisan attacks”
Quick Question : Has John Kline provided the “results” you want or just offered “petty, partisan attacks” ?
The “results” included a GOP shutdown of the government while making “partisan attacks” … as the Lakeville Patch reported the differences between the two candidates at that time :
John Kline : “The House has voted for a third time to keep the government running and protect Americans from the President’s fatally-flawed health care law, while the Senate and White House sit idly by refusing to compromise.”
Mike Obermueller : “Today, thanks to Congressman Kline, we’re just hours from a government shutdown. Congressman Kline and his leaders in Washington put our economy at risk for the sake of political games… Congressman Kline should be ashamed for keeping his paycheck for not doing his job, even while veterans and seniors face the uncertainty that comes with a government shutdown. We cannot allow Congressman Kline and his leadership to keep putting their extremist agenda ahead of what’s best for this country.”
How quickly we forget that it was the insistence by John Kline and House Republicans that they shutdown the government over health care … which now over 8 million people have gained access.
And the cost of the shutdown ?
Financial ratings agency Standard & Poor’s reported the 16-day U.S. government shutdown costs delivered a massive $24 billion hit to the U.S. economy.
“The bottom line is the government shutdown has hurt the U.S. economy,” Standard & Poor’s said in a statement. “In September, we expected 3% annualized growth in the fourth quarter because we thought politicians would have learned from 2011 and taken steps to avoid things like a government shutdown and the possibility of a sovereign default. Since our forecast didn’t hold, we now have to lower our fourth-quarter growth estimate to closer to 2%.”
The lesson is obvious … John Kline is willing to take extreme risks to our future for his beliefs.
Yet, John Kline’s election strategy for a Seventh term is based on two accomplishments (yep, 2 in six terms): “bonus pay” and “student loans”.
Yes, John Kline returns to 2010 to remind the Red Bulls that he fought for overtime bonus even though Representative Kline attributed the pay delay to the slow works of bureaucracy.
“The Pentagon is a gigantic bureaucracy,” Kline said. “You can get lost in the Pentagon. It’s just a morass.”
But this was not John Kline’s standing alone … heck, State Representative Phil Sterner, DFL-Rosemount pushed this issue in Washington as well as introducing a bill at the state Capitol that would provide assistance by borrowing from a special revenue fund to the Minnesota Army National Guard adjutant general to make payments to the soldiers, with the fund being reimbursed when the Pentagon releases the benefit dollars.
In fact, reading the press release on the Minnesota National Guard website includes one mention of John Kline but also quotes from two other Members of Congress :
“We’re glad this is done, but I certainly hope there’s no one pounding their chest over it,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat from Minnesota who was one of several members of Congress to get involved in the issue. “It should have been done a long time ago.”
While Senator Amy Klobuchar, who also worked on the issue said “A lot of these soldiers have been waiting and waiting.”
So John Kline can say that he worked “ensuring our Minnesota National Guard receive the overdue bonus pay they earned” … why wouldn’t we think that Mike Obermueller would do the same … except maybe without the chest pounding that Congressman Walz cautioned should not be done.
Funny that John Kline does not mention that the GOP Shutdown also delayed military re-enlistment bonuses.
When will he every learn ?
But the big claim that John Kline wants to remind voters is that he championed “a bipartisan compromise with the president to prevent student loan rates from doubling”.
That “doubling” claim is misleading … no one wanted the student loan interest rates to double … there was no justification to do that.
As cited many times on the MN Political Roundtable, President Obama recognized that student loan interest rates were too high in comparison to the US Treasury rates. President Obama offered a proposal that included a number of provisions to address exploding student loan debt problem (including income based repayment plans, loan forgiveness, etc), but Chairman Kline gravitated to just to the interest rate portion … and the suggestion that US Treasure rates could be used plus an “adder” of 0.91% to cover processing.
Under Chairman Kline’s The Smarter Solutions for Students Act, Stafford loan interest rates are calculated each year based on the 10-year Treasury Note, plus 2.5 percent and plus 4.5 percent for PLUS loans.
FYI – PLUS loans are federal loans for graduate or professional degree students and parents of dependent undergraduate students.
Chairman Kline’s bill was so slanted that an analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) determined that Chairman Kline’s bill would increase student debt and leave students worse off than if these interest rates were allowed to double.
Note: President Obama’s proposal would have actually lowered rates from the 3.4% to 2.72% while Chairman Kline’s would have raised rates to 4.31%.
Also, it should be noted that Chairman Kline calls this an example of “bipartisan” legislation because four Democrats supported it while losing only 8 Republicans.
The result in this exercise is what Mike Obermueller could have asserted “Congressman Kline and his leaders in Washington put our students at risk for the sake of political games…” as they allowed the student loan program to revert to the 6.8% rate … only to eventually resolve it —not when Chairman Kline initiated the resolution — but the Senate.
A group of Senators proposed using a the 10-year Treasury note (1.81 percent for the 2013-14 school year), plus 1.8 percent for undergraduates which have raised rates from the previous year … but House Republicans would not accept that “low” rate … forcing a 2.05% adder.
President Obama had a choice — veto or accept Chairman Kline’s proposal leaving students and families to wonder if our government could ever do anything.
President Obama signed the bill saying:
“even though we’ve been able to stabilize the interest rates on student loans, our job is not done, because the cost of college remains extraordinarily high. It’s out of reach for a lot of folks, and for those who do end up attending college, the amount of debt that young people are coming out of school with is a huge burden on them; it’s a burden on their families. It makes it more difficult for them to buy a home. It makes it more difficult for them if they want to start a business. It has a depressive effect on the economy overall. And we’ve got to do something about it.”
Today, the Kline-backed student loan program has been called a “profit-making machine” for the US Treasury and next year rates are forecasted to increase :
Estimated new rate on loans taken out between July 2014 and June 2015
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (for undergraduate students) FROM 3.86% TO 5.09%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans (for graduate/professional students) FROM 5.41% TO 6.64%
Direct PLUS Loans (for parents and graduate/professional students) FROM 6.41% TO 7.64%.
Yes, Chairman Kline can say with a straight face that he prevented student loans from “doubling” but he cannot say that he did not force students (and supportive parents) to pay more … nor can he say that the job is done.
That’s the question the voters will answer in November : Do you trust John Kline to protect your Social Security and Medicare like he protected students ?
As the Pioneer Press reported, Mike Obermueller plans to campaign against Chairman Kline on three main issues.
“I think the big issue between us is the difference in how he treats the middle class,” Obermueller said. “He’s been giving huge tax cuts away to millionaires and pushing that burden back onto seniors and the middle class. I think we ought to grow the middle class because that’s the only way to get our economy up and running again.”
The second issue, he said, is Social Security and Medicare for seniors. “He wants to privatize it. I want to make sure we’re shoring it up,” Obermueller said.
Finally, he criticized Kline for failing to support pay equity for women and allowing women to make their own health decisions. “That’s a big contrast between us.”
Yep, a Big Difference but One Definitive Truth that all can agree on —
“Minnesotans want results instead of petty, partisan attacks”.