Monday, March 23, 2015

Quick Hits: Volume CIX

- Regardless of whom the GOP presidential nominee is in 2016, I will cast my vote for that candidate. As of this moment, my personal front runner is Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (In fact, my friend and radio colleague Mitch Berg and I feel quite strongly about a Walker/Susana Martinez ticket).

I have to say that, for me personally, a certain U.S. Senator from Texas is a ways down the list.

Facing a rapt audience as he launched his long-expected bid for the presidency at Liberty University Monday, U.S. Sen Ted Cruz delivered a rousing 30-minute speech in which he pledged to "reignite the promise of America."

I personally heard Cruz speak in person last August at an Eeeeeeevil Koch Bros. sponsored meeting the annual Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream summit in Dallas. He was charismatic, funny and highly energetic. His campaign kickoff speech Monday appeared to possess those traits as well.

..{F}rom the stage, where Cruz paced the four corners without notes, he could look out on a sea of welcoming faces. He highlighted his story as the son of a Baptist preacher running as a small government social conservative committed to a traditional definition of marriage, school "choice," and opposition to abortion rights.

He talked about the "transformative love of Jesus Christ," and asked students to "imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage."

Sure, all that appeals to me as staunch conservative. But c'mon, let's have a little reality check here. Do we honestly believe this country can be swayed to elect as President a first term U.S. Senator who gives passionate speeches which lack specifics on a substantive agenda and, on top of that, has to endure questions about his U.S. citizenship?

- I'm sensing a high profile game of "chicken" between the Minnesota Vikings and the camp of their star running back Adrian Peterson.

At the NFL owners meeting in Arizona on Monday, Peterson's agent Ben Dogra was basically asked if his client would rejoin the Vikings in 2015.

"I don't think it's in Adrian's best interest to play in Minnesota. Why would it be?"

Why? Well, for starters, Peterson just turned 30, an age where running backs quickly begin to regress. As such, the Vikings are likely the only team in the NFL who will pay him north of $10 million in 2015 (his current contract calls for him to make $12.75 million). The Vikings have already gone on record saying they will not release Peterson, thus he wouldn't be available to any team (via free agency) who would be willing to take a flier on him at a significantly reduced salary (assuming Peterson would even consider taking such a cut). So if Peterson does go elsewhere, he would have to be traded. However, I can't think of any team out there willing to take on that exorbitant contract, never mind the potential public relations headache.

Regardless, all that seems moot if you believe Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf.

"The bottom line is Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings. He's represented us on and off the field. We're getting ready for the 2015 season and we fully expect him to join his teammates and be a part of what we feel is going to be a great season ahead."

So is the next move of Peterson's camp to issue a holdout threat? If so, my spiteful side hopes the Wilfs call them on that bluff and let Peterson sit for another year. Since he has brought all this on himself, it would serve him right.

- When it was announced last month that the state of Minnesota had a $1.9 Billion projected budget surplus, there was much debate over what do with such spoils. Naturally, the DFL wanted to spend it all in addition to (surprise!) raising other taxes. GOP legislators, however, didn't specifically convey what they wanted done, except to say this should remove talk of an increase in the gasoline tax.

With that in mind, it would appear that the Republican Party of Minnesota had gone rogue with it's "Give It Back!" initiative announced a couple of weeks ago. Despite airing a TV commercial featuring Chairman Keith Downey lobbying for the surplus to be returned to Minnesota families, very few GOP legislators expressed support for the campaign.

It was assumed Minnesotans would have a better idea what GOP legislators had in mind for the surplus once their transportation funding bill would be announced by leaders on Monday.

Republican lawmakers on Monday proposed a $7 billion plan that they called an investment in transportation over the next decade.

And how to fund it?

Republicans want to avoid any tax increases. Instead, they would redirect money from several existing taxes to be spent on transportation.

Their plan would also use about $230 million of the surplus for a one-time transportation infusion and would borrow $2.3 billion. About $1 billion of the borrowing would be general obligation bonds, which require a three-fifths majority to pass.

Their plan includes less ongoing spending, banks on more than $1 billion in efficiencies and savings at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and has little money for metro-area transit.

Emphasis was mine.

The aforementioned transportation funding proposal would seem to indicate that "giving it back" is a nonstarter.

Meanwhile, the state party website continues to tout it's "Give It Back!" campaign by asking folks to sign a petition in support for that program. Just below that is a link to the Republican legislators' plan of putting roads and bridges first.....and asking people to sign a petition in agreement. Awkward!


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