John Kline Gavel Review ~ Four Years of Wait Til Next Year

The ECM newspapers have endorsed Mike Obermueller to represent Minnesota‘s Second District next term … and stated their reasons.
Other newspapers may soon be doing the same … let’s hope they consider what was expected once John Kline was empowered as Chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee versus the ideas of Mike Obermueller.

For example, the Pioneer Press wrote in December, 2010 about the Republican takeover of the House and assessed John Kline “We think he’s ready for the job.”

“The focus of Congress, and the new Republican majority, is going to be on the economy and jobs, creating conditions for the private sector to create jobs,” Kline told us.
His committee deals with educational policy and budgets from kindergarten through higher education, including the No Child Left Behind law, child nutrition and programs concerning child abuse and adoption. On the labor side, the committee has jurisdiction over labor-management law, occupational safety (including mine safety), pension and health-care benefit policies and workers compensation.
The Republican takeover — which means Republican majorities and chairs in all committees — means the House will “put to bed” the labor-backed proposal to make union organizing easier via a card checkoff recruitment system, Kline said. It means the committee will look hard at regulations and rule-making and wasteful programs, he said.
The Republican house will attempt to repeal the federal health-reform law, Kline said. Assuming Obama (and the Senate) do not go along with that plan, Kline said his committee would join in attempts to point out and eliminate specific problems, such as burdensome reporting requirements for businesses.
He said the state and local school officials believe the No Child Left Behind law, a Bush Administration initiative that focused greater attention on standards and testing, needs revision. He said the law requires students to be at grade level in reading and math in 2014, and he has been told, “If you don’t do something to change it, every school in America’s going to be failing.”
Kline said he will also challenge the Obama Adminstration’s proposed restrictions on for-profit colleges. The U.S. Department of Education, concerned about abuses in recruiting practices and the high percentage of loan defaulters among students at for-profit colleges, is proposing rules to address these concerns. Kline said he believes for-profit colleges have “proven to be very nimble” in meeting needs for retraining in the workplace, and fears the federal crackdown will “hurt access for many students.”

OK, there is a lot there … but first, let’s acknowledge that John Kline was true to his word … the Republican House did attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act … over 50 times.

John Kline also did “challenge” the restrictions on for-profit colleges … and if they have “proven to be very nimble”, it was in avoiding the Department of Justice, the Pentagon and numerous State Attorney Generals investigations and lawsuits.
Surely, the Editorial Boards have seen the reports, which seem to come out everyday about this industry, such as Friday’s report :

The Department of Defense has placed Globe University and its ­sister, the Minnesota School of Business, on probation, meaning the schools can no longer accept some federal military educational benefits.

Yes, some have “proven to be very nimble” … like Corinthian Colleges and fellow for-profit education company Anthem Education which have closed doors while “nimbly” seeking bankruptcy protection … but not before sending campaign contributions to Chairman Kline.

Yes, the Editorial Boards can consider Chairman Kline’s stance on school nutrition (which he wants to alter appropriations rather than enacting changes in the law) and the under-funding of special needs programs, but the “big issue” is No Child Left Behind. The Pioneer Press gave us hope that this certainly would be one issue that could be reformed. But, Chairman Kline appeared on MPR on September 30, 2011 and waffled that it would not be done that year … instead he said it could be done by 2014. Well, it is 2014 and thus far, it is not done. The Kline reform bill, H.R. 5 : The Student Success Act, was approved by the Republican controlled-House by a vote of 221-207 as 12 Republicans rejected Chairman Kline … in fact, the US Chamber of Commerce issued a statement that the bill should be rejected. For all the television commercials proclaiming John Kline bipartisan have to be weighed against the “poison pill” bills that the Senate wisely ignores.

On the subject of child abuse, John Kline does promote the fact that legislation has been enacted regarding sex-trafficking (which no one opposed) …. But he has refused to hold hearings or allow votes on H.R. 5005 : Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act of 2014, H.R.1893 : Keeping All Students Safe Act, H.R.5269 : HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act, or H.R.561 : Protecting Victims on Campus Act of 2013 … John Kline believes that those are State’s Rights issue not something that Congress needs to be involved in … even though Republicans support these legislative ideas.

On the labor side, John Kline has ignored mine safety as well as other worker safety concerns … becoming known as Minnesota’s “Coal Man”. On the wage issue, he has failed to hold any hearings on H.R.1010 : Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 and has ignored a Discharge Petition campaign to require a vote on H.R.377 : Paycheck Fairness Act but Chairman Kline did lead a partisan battle to approve H.R. 1406, the so-called “Working Families Flexibility Act” which even some Republicans expressed dismay while the Star-Tribune featured Mike Obermueller’s OpEd which should be more accurately called the ‘Work More, Less Pay Act.’ Yes, Chairman Kline is anti-worker … even though he has stated publicly that the multiemployer pension system is a “ticking time bomb that will inflict a lot of pain”, there has been no votes on legislation to address this problem. But he did hold a hearing after college football players voted whether to unionize in order to address safety concerns. Yep, Chairman Kline deemed it necessary to hold a hearing on football players forming a union, but no hearings on campus rape.

Four years is a long time … and the accomplishments are difficult to find … of course, Chairman Kline will tell you that was able to enact legislation to reform the Workforce Improvement program … that is true … but what Chairman Kline doesn’t mention is that the Kline-backed bill was another “poison pill” approved by the House with more Republican defectors (14) than Democrat supporters (2) but once the Senate “reformed” the bill approving it by a vote of 95-3, the Senate bill was quickly approved by the House.

Chairman Kline is “term-limited” by House Republican rules but he plans to ask for waiver for another term as committee Chairman … voters need to ask, should John Kline get another two years to obstruct, or is it time to listen to the ECM’s endorsement, and give someone else a chance.
America does not need to reward someone for shutting down the government with another term.

Tags: , , , ,