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How Conservatives Co-Opt the Language of Equity

Green Apple on BooksIn a July 31, 2014, post on the MN2020 site with the same name, Michael Diedrich, Education Fellow, deconstructs how the conservatives running this cycle are using the language of equity on the topic of education.  Here’s the post:

“Here we go again.

Conservatives running for governor in Minnesota have justified their calls for school vouchers and market approaches using the language of equity. Now, the leading conservative candidate for the U.S. Senate has joined the chorus denouncing Minnesota’s educational equity gaps. Calling the test score gaps between black and white students in Minneapolis “immoral,” he went on to argue for defunding district schools and doubling down on the questionable market-based strategy conservatives love.

On the surface, this looks like a simple case of everyone agreeing about a problem but disagreeing about the solution. In fact, matters are more complicated. It’s no coincidence that a conservative’s policy recommendation is to move from a public service to a market. That measure is right up there with cutting taxes as a favorite conservative tool. The problem this candidate sees isn’t actually the test score gap but rather the institution of public schools.

Similarly, progressives who favor adequate and equitable funding for public schools, more full-service community schools, and greater democratic involvement in school improvement aren’t simply reacting to test scores. We’re trying to overcome a history of systematic oppression at many levels of society, prolonged underfunding of schools, and widespread opportunity gaps between the comfortable and those working hard just to get by.

We may have reached a common rhetoric but that shouldn’t be confused with a shared understanding of the real problems. We don’t actually see the same problem, which is why our preferred policies look so different.

The unfortunate reality is that conservatives have co-opted the language of equity to argue for a market-based approach that has a terrible track record for promoting equity. Markets have not produced equity in housing, health, or food; why should we expect them to produce equity in education?

Functioning markets produce efficiency but even a basic introduction to economics should include the disclaimer that they don’t automatically produce equity. What’s more, the conditions required for an equitable education are fundamentally incompatible with a competitive market. Striving to create “better” markets in schools will not produce a fair school system.

Innovation can happen outside the marketplace. Results can happen outside the marketplace. Equity almost always happens outside the marketplace. Those looking to promote equity should be wary of conservatives using the language of civil rights to justify defunding our schools.:

Here’s a link to the post.

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US economy on the rebound

Hundred Dollar BillsDespite Republican rhetoric of doom and gloom, key economic indicators show that that the U.S. economy is on the rebound, putting more Americans back to work:

  • Second quarter GDP numbers show the economy rebounding “heartily” at an annualized rate of 4 percent.
  •  June was the 52nd consecutive month of private sector job growth – the longest stretch on record.
  • The economy has gained at least 200,000 jobs a month for the last 5 months
  • The unemployment rate last month was 6.1%, the lowest since September 2008.
  • The unemployment rate dropped 1.4% over the past year – the best year-over-year decline in nearly three decades.
  • 1.4 million jobs were added in the first half of the year – the most in any first half since 1999.
  • Consumer confidence is at its highest point since 2007.
  • In recent months, we’ve seen the stock market hit record highs, with stock gains up 142% under President Obama (as opposed to an 8.9% drop under President Bush).
  • Millions of Americans now have new or better health care coverage thanks to the ACA.
  • Health care costs are growing at the slowest level on record, helping to add years of solvency to the Medicare program.

While there is no way to argue with a straight face that the U.S. economy is not improving, there’s still work to do to increase economic opportunity for Americans still recovering from the devastating Republican economic policies of the last administration.

Now that we’ve stopped the Republican economic decline, Americans are looking to Washington and asking two questions:

  • How do we expand this recovery?
  • Who’s looking out for them?

The answers coming from the two parties could not be more different.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have responded with an agenda designed to create more jobs and help grow our middle class:

  • Investing in education
  • Alleviating college debt
  • Investing in infrastructure
  • Measures to ensure Equal Pay
  • Common-sense immigration reform
  • Raising the minimum wage
  • Extending unemployment benefits

What are Republicans doing? Opposing commonsense measures to level the playing field, while fighting to keep tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.

This is the Republicans’ record of “accomplishment”:

  • Shut down the government last year, costing our economy $24 billion.
  • Brought us to the brink of defaulting on our bills, resulting in our first ever credit rating downgrade.
  • Voted more than 50 times to repeal or undermine the ACA and give health care control back to the insurance industry.
  • Dishonored the memories of those lost in Benghazi with a partisan witch hunt.
  • Failed on every single measure to do the job the American people elected them to do.

Now their focus is to sue the President of the United States for doing his. Nearly every Republican in the House vote to move forward with a lawsuit against the President of the United States, which marks the first time in history Congress has attempted to sue a sitting President – this is a low point even for this Republican House.

While the Republicans waste time, Democrats will continue to advance the priorities of the American people: jumpstarting the middle class, creating jobs, providing quality affordable healthcare, investing in infrastructure and education, and fixing our broken immigration system.

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Progressive Tax Policies a Failure? Only in RPM Speak

Dollar Sign,jpgWe’re sure you’ll be hearing state Republicans citing a new report from the Minnesota State House of Representatives Research Department as proof that, as former House Tax Committee Chair  is quoted that DFLers “didn’t keep their word and now Minnesotans are going to pay an even steeper price.”

Jeff Van Wychen, Fellow and Director of Tax Policy and Analysis, takes on this position in his July 21, 2014, post.

He points to:

  • The projected 2.8% statewide property tax increase including new construction on previously vacant land, so there’d definitely be an increase in taxes
  • When the above is factored in, statewide property taxes are projected to increase 1.6% in 2015 (less than the 2015 projected rate of inflation)
  • Conservatives are arguing that any property tax increase proves progressive tax reforms were failures — but never applied the same criteria to their own tax policies

Here’s a link to that post.


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Think Erik Paulsen’s A Moderate?

Paulsen-Boehner-LawsuitThink again.

Here’s a photo from Morning Joe July 11, 2014 showing Speaker Boehner talking about the Republican House moving forward with their law suit against President Obama.

Who’s that in the background (at Boehner’s right hand)?  CD3 Representative and SD48 resident Erik Paulsen. So much for being a Ramstad moderate.

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What Did Kirk Stensrud Do in the Legislature?

This year’s election is a rematch between Rep. Yvonne Selcer and Kirk Stensrud, the person she defeated in 2012.

Mr. Stensrud wants to go back to St. Paul. But, what did he do when he was there?

Bill What Stensrud Did

2012 Jobs Now Tax Credit

Hid behind a procedural maneuver rather than vote to close corporate tax loopholes for out-of-state corporations and support the Jobs Now Tax Credit for Minnesota businesses that hire veterans, recent graduates or the unemployed. It would have created over 10,000 new, private-sector jobs.


2012 $500 million bonding bill

As the State was coming out of the worst recession in decades if not ever, he voted against a bill that would have created 14,000 jobs by funding improvements to roads and bridges (remember the one that collapsed?), regional economic development projects and invested in our colleges and universities.

In 2011, he voted to cut 30,000 Minnesota jobs.

•  6,500 jobs (SF1047, HJP 2094)

•  20,968 jobs (SF760, HJP 2128)

•  1,400 jobs (HF1101, HJP 1628)

•  232 jobs (SF859, HJP 1709)

•  754 jobs 9sf887, HJP 2068)

•  1,735 jobs (HF42, HJP 1279)

•  608 jobs (HF1140, HJP 1228)

•  194 jobs (HF1010, HJP 1619)

He did champion a bill that benefitted the window washing industry. What does his business do?  Window washing.

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