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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Representative Kate Knuth's Town Hall Meeting - The Wrapup

When we last left coverage of Representative Kate Knuth's Town Hall meeting Kate had just completed her prepared remarks. In this installment we continue on with a few highlights of some exchanges between Representative Knuth and some of her constituents. In previous Knuth town hall meetings/coffee klatches I had posed questions to Ms. Knuth (and on one occasion had done so aggressively enough to draw the evil eye from Knuth's mother). This time I just sat in the back of the room and enjoyed the show while others handled the questioning.

One constituent that Kate probably wishes had not shown up was a guy I talked to at one of these meetings last year who is a hard core conservative and a big supporter of the Minnesota Tax Cut Coalition. He regularly writes letters to the editor critical of liberal politicians, works to get conservative candidates elected, and is a regular reader of this blog ("Mr. T" you know who you are). Apparently Ms. Knuth also was familiar with him as it was downright comical watching her keep her head locked toward the other side of the room looking for questions while his hand was in the air. After ignoring for as long as possible the clear indication that he wanted to ask a question, Knuth finally (and clearly reluctantly) called on him.

"Mr. T" asked Knuth if any independent economic impact study had been done to address the potential damage her "green initiative" would do to jobs and the economy. She answered with a reasonably smooth canned response that emphasized that some "well respected" group or think tank (I didn't catch the name of the outfit) had concluded that plans like hers were the bee knees when it comes to the new Green Economy.

Unfortunately for Representative Knuth, the questioner was apparently well versed regarding the group she had cited. Oopsie daisy! It turns out that the group was one of the consultants whose advice was largely responsible for the rolling blackouts in California and for advising Enron on how to deal with them! "Mr. T" then cited a study by a group led by economist Arthur Laffer that repudiated schemes like Knuth's proposal. He called Knuth's (as well as the audience's) attention to the fact that Laffer's ideas were largely responsible for the Reagan Administration's undoing of the Jimmy Carter economic disaster. It was almost eerily quiet in the room as he concluded by relating Knuth's green scheme to Reagan's famous quotation on liberal economic policy: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

Knuth was clearly caught off guard by the blunt repudiation of her talking point and babbled for a short time about the need to abate carbon dioxide "pollution". She characterized her legislation as not as big a deal as people were making it out to be, merely just a proposed "framework" for "goals" already passed into law and endorsed by Governor Green. "Mr. T" countered that Knuth's scheme was largely based on "junk science" and would lock Minnesota into a competitive disadvantage with other states who did not go along with such folly. To this Knuth meekly babbled back something about how thankful she was for "the Governor taking the lead on a regional coalition" to prevent such a scenario and clearly looked like she would rather be somewhere else.

Ms. Knuth seemed relieved to see another hand in the air and promptly acknowledged a new questioner. Unfortunately for her said questioner turned out to be Gina Bauman, the conservative New Brighton City Council member and local business owner. Bauman gave a thorough prelude to her question, addressing the audience almost as much as Knuth, reminding the assembled that every dime any level of government spent was obtained from them. She brought up the NWQ as an example of irresponsible spending at the local level and pointed out that when lower levels of government are bailed out through county or state government aid, as is the case with a lot of Knuth's "investments", the money still ultimately comes from the taxpayers.

Bauman then switched her perspective from elected official to business owner and sharply confronted Knuth with the fact that taxation from all levels of government was threatening to destroy her small business and that of many others. She proceeded to thoroughly educate Kate on the variety and magnitude of direct taxes and regulations that drive her costs up and work against her running a successful business while Knuth had to just sit and politely listen.

Bauman concluded her clinic on the evils of tax increases by explaining that many small businesses like hers depended on people having discretionary income to spend and that a significant amount of such income would now go to pay the increased taxes rather than to patronize local merchants. As with the previous questioner, Knuth really didn't have a lot in the way of a credible defense for her tax hiking votes.

Following Bauman, a senior citizen who was clearly well over twice Knuth's age further criticized Knuth's tax and spend policies. Knuth sympathetically nodded her head and tried to look empathetic as the senior politely but firmly chastised Knuth, saying that she was living on a fixed income and was already having a difficult time meeting her everyday living expenses and that increased taxes would further drive up prices on necessities.

Representative Knuth attempted to show that she felt her constituent's pain, but really stepped in it as she stated that the DFL had taken such economic situations into account and had included a $25 credit (yes, you read that right, a twenty-five dollar credit!) to help soften the impact of the increased taxes and spending. The elderly constituent appeared to be far less than impressed.

Knuth then got into a fairly heated discussion with a woman who also did not appear to be a big fan of hers. During the exchange the topic of Knuth's $31,000 salary and generous per diem came up and our youthful representative got downright defensive, almost to the point of surliness, about how hard she works. She related how many hours she works while only taking the per diem five days a week when she is "entitled" to seven. The senior citizen joined in at this point and sarcastically told Knuth that she got by on a quarter of what the hard working public servant made, and that she didn't even get a per diem!

Our poor embattled representative quickly composed herself, stating that time as almost up and she wanted to get a many questions in as possible and not get bogged down arguing with individuals. The question of how wise it was to dump billions into public transit came up, and in the ensuing discussion Knuth revealed that she drove between home and her critical work at Hamline University and the State Capitol because she just did not have the time to spend two hours a day riding public transit. Imagine that! The Queen of Green passing up a chance to save the planet because it isn't convenient. But she knows that it is best for the rest of us to get out of our cars.

As is usual at these events there were a number of the DFL faithful who showed up to thank Kate for allowing us to benefit from her "wisdom" and "worldly knowledge" (yes, there was a geeky liberal type there who said something like that) and someone who expressed his appreciation that Kate knew the difference between "the law" and "justice" when the topic of her vote concerning illegal aliens was briefly brought up right at the end (it was almost enough to make me want to puke into my purse). Even with the liberal cheerleaders in attendance there were also enough critics to keep Kate on her toes make it an interesting and informative morning.

Also present as usual were Kate's mom and dad. However this time they just sat among the audience and kept quiet - a refreshing change from past events of this type. Maybe they finally figured out, with or without Right Hook's ridicule, that they were an embarrassment to their daughter. Or perhaps even Representative Knuth herself asked them to back off to spare herself the embarrassment.

Overall we didn't really learn a whole lot about Representative Knuth's positions that we did not already know, but we did get to see first hand how ill informed and unprepared she is to defend her largely indefensible positions. Hopefully the Grivna campaign was taking notes and will run a strong campaign that will result in the eviction of Kate from our district's House seat and send her back to school where her dingbat ideas can be quarantined from society at large.

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Blogger Force50 said...

Congratulations to those who challenged Knuth. Now she knows that all her constituents are not sheep.

3/21/2008 1:09 PM  

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