These days Sen. Al Franken seems to be all about food. One week he’s hosting a hot-dish cooking contest and the next week he’s doing a photo-op with adorable school kids at lunchtime.
If only the senator could limit his gluttonous activities to food. Unfortunately, he also has an insatiable appetite for inefficient programs and higher taxes that Minnesotans are finding increasingly harder to swallow.
Yes, Franken is right that low-income schoolchildren need to be well-nourished. But rather than simply creating another federal program, he should focus on creating better jobs for their parents — right here in Minnesota.
He provides lip service to supporting northeastern Minnesota’s PolyMet mine effort and its hundreds of family-supporting jobs, but in reality he’s intentionally dragging his feet. While Franken’s support of the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 looks good on paper, the act’s vague wording does not identify whether Minnesota minerals are even included.
He should be doing much more as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to bring this important, safe form of mining to fruition. It has taken longer to get a new mining permit on the Iron Range in the 21st century than it took to get a man to the moon in the 1960s.
Franken also has not supported the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline, estimated to bring 830,000 barrels of Canadian crude per day to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries and create thousands of American jobs. The Senate passed an amendment with bipartisan support, on a 62-37 vote, saying that after five years and four State Department environmental-impact statements, it was time for construction. Yet here again, Franken was not on the side of creating jobs.
Many of the 11,500 Minnesota and Wisconsin jobs supported by cargo moving through the Port of Duluth-Superior are in jeopardy because of a backlog of Great Lakes dredging needed to keep America competitive in global shipping.
It troubles me to see jobs put at risk because $7 billion dedicated to dredging — much of it coming from taxes on imports entering the U.S. — remains tied up due to a cumbersome, federal bureaucratic process. Why isn’t Franken helping clear this logjam?
He did, however, enthusiastically clear the logjam to bring the Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare — to fruition. He cast the 60th and deciding vote in the U.S. Senate that made it law.
Across America, individuals are now losing their jobs or becoming underemployed due to this federal legislation. American working families are also seeing their real incomes shrinking, because in many cases premiums soar. Franken’s actions are a further assault on jobs and the economy here in Minnesota, since Obamacare is partly funded by taxes on Medtronic and other fine medical-device companies in our state. And those tax increases have already cost Minnesotans jobs.
Ignoring job-creating opportunities and imposing ill-advised programs on Americans are how our national debt has skyrocketed to $17 trillion. That’s not the U.S. government’s debt — it’s paid by you and me at a rate of about $54,500 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota. Had I written this a year ago, that figure would have been $51,100 — meaning the already-outrageous national debt increased another $3,400 for you and each member of your family this past year. But that’s what happens when our national debt increases $2.6 billion each day.
Franken certainly didn’t cause all of that massive debt. But he’s done nothing to reduce it. Senator, if you can’t stand the heat, please get out of the kitchen. Minnesotans will be happy to put your hot dish in a to-go bag.
Chris Dahlberg is a St. Louis County commissioner and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.