DFL fundraiser: Assistant Minnesota House Majority Leader tells Democrats to say no to bailout
BEMIDJI - Assistant Minnesota House Majority Leader Frank Moe wants Democrats to write to Congress, telling members "to have some guts -- just say no" to a $700 billion bailout in the current credit crisis.
Moe, DFL-Bemidji, in one of his last party appearances before he steps down in January, used Monday night's Beltrami County DFL fundraiser to urge Democrats to write federal legislators to oppose the bailout which has the blessing of congressional leaders and the Bush administration.
Saying the bailout goes further than the Patriot Act, which he said "was the scariest thing I've seen," Moe proffered that the bailout amounts to borrowing "$700 billion from your kids to give a huge handout to multinational finance companies on Wall Street."
The Republican administration is building a "sense of fear" that if Democrats don't support the bailout, "they're somehow anti-economy."
More than 100 Democrats enjoyed a pulled beef sandwich and Democrat cake at the Bemidji Eagles Club while listening to speeches from Moe, state Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, and John Persell of Bemidji, the House 4A candidate Democrats hope will succeed Moe.
No shows were House Ways and Means Chairman Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, who was said to be beet-truck driving in North Dakota, and former House Majority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-Minneapolis, now founder and chairman of the progressive think tank Minnesota 2020, whose plane was grounded Monday due to inclement weather.
"These people on Wall Street have essentially built a financial house of cards," Moe said of the credit crisis that brought down Lehman Bros. and had the government pay $85 billion to take over American Insurance Group. "Of course, the thing is going to fall down. It fell down just like the savings and loan crisis."
Bailing them out will be no different than bailing out savings and loans 20 years ago at great cost to the taxpayers, Moe said.
"People who are investing in risky bonds backed by smoke and mirrors, how are they going to learn not to do that?" he asked. "It's bothersome to me that we're willing to believe in a free market economy ... but is it that these multinational corporations that invest billions of dollars in lobbyists in Congress are able to make horrible decisions like they have in the last few years, are able to get a $700 billion bailout -- not from you, but from your kids."
Borrowing that much will leave a $23,000 debt for each American, which will move forward at $46,000 to an elder's child, he said. "It's a loan on a junk bond."
Moe said he intends to write to Minnesota's members of Congress to urge them to vote against the bailout, a vote expected yet this week. "We need to speak out to our congressmen, our senators, our presidential candidates and say have some guts, just say no."
Moe also thanked Beltrami County DFLers for their support in two previous elections. "My personal, heartfelt thanks from me. ... I just want to thank all of you personally for all the work that you've done for the DFL and for me."
Sailer, who is seeking a third term and faces former Rep. Doug Lindgren, R-Bagley, said if re-elected she wants to focus on energy and technology. She was ahead of the curve, and now chairs or has important posts in House committees dealing with energy.
Improving energy and technology policies "will keep us ahead of the curve," she said. "For economy, we've got to get more jobs. There is great technology that is available for us. But a lot of it isn't here."
Bemidji is well-served with broadband Internet, Sailer said, but outside Bemidji is a different story. "For those of you who don't (have broadband access), life is little different for you."
Sailer told of a woman whose employer in Bemidji said she could work from home two or three days a week, and save on transportation costs.
"Excellent -- good for the environment, good for her pocketbook, good for everything," Sailer said. "But one little problem -- she has dial-up (Internet access) so she can't use the files."
The state of Minnesota needs to do what it can to change that, she said, "so that we can have more jobs all over in our rural area and use that technology that we have in place or should have in place and move that along to benefit people in rural areas."
Persell, making his third stab as House 4A candidate, this time with the full faith of the Democrat nomination, was introduced by Moe as he carried his youngest granddaughter, 9-month-old Delayna Jean.
"I just wanted to bring up my youngest granddaughter, dear to my heart," Persell said. "This is what's driving me, this is what it's all about. We talk about our education system and where we're headed as Minnesotans.
"We need to do the very best we can, and I intend to do that, for education, for health care, the economy, every other issue that I can bring myself to be a part of," he said.
Persell, an environmental policy analyst for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, faces Republican John Carlson and Independence Party candidate Sheratin Blake, both of Bemidji, in the open House 4A race.
"I'm going to represent you and, and I have to know what you're thinking, what you believe in," Persell told the gathering. "I think I know a lot, but I want to hear from you."
Persell said campaigning has gone well and he remains optimistic about a Nov. 4 win.
"It's just been enjoyable out there, knocking on doors," he said. "I'm learning a lot and I'm getting a good reception. Every once in a while, I run into somebody that's got a foul attitude, but usually they have a 'R' behind their name.
"That's the way that goes," he added. "They don't have a clear vision, I don't think, for Minnesota or the country, as far as that goes. We're going to lay out that vision, though, we Democrats."
Democrats taking over the Minnesota House in 2004 was a first step, Persell said. His hopes are that the 2008 election will give the DFL a veto-proof margin, "so we can make Gov. Pawlenty's veto immaterial."
Saying he will represent "the working people of Minnesota," Persell added that "the issues will drive us."
Persell's campaign will get a major boost on Oct. 3 with a fundraiser at the Bemidji American Legion featuring former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner and state Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia.
Dayton, Gaertner and Rukavina are all potential 2010 gubernatorial candidates.