MN Hospitality Advocate

Charlie Cook Provides 2010 Election Insights

Posted in Elections, General Advocacy, Uncategorized by hospitalityminnesota on November 20, 2009

I’m at a conference for state restaurant association executives (Council of State Restaurant Association Execuives – CSRA) and we had the privilege of kicking off the event with remarks by well-known political pundit Charlie Cook.

Cook said the 2008 election presented the perfect situation for Democrats. Key in the election, independent voters swung Democratic by an 18 point margin. He likened the environment to that of a well-cared for greenhouse in that election. But in 2010, Cook points out that the greenhouse has blown away and winter is arriving for the Democrats. The question is how powerful will that winter storm be?

Conditions favoring Republican gains in Congress include the following:

  • a terrible economy (most Americans still don’t believe we are out of the recession)
  • high unemployment that is likely to remain so (we’ve lost 50% more jobs in this recession than in a ‘normal’ recession). It will likely remain in double digits through the year and 12 consecutive months of double-digit unemployment is bad for any party.
  • 4.3% of homes are in foreclosure and 8% are delinquent and for 32% of homeowners their loan is upside down (loan is greater than the value of the home).

While Americans aren’t likely to blame President O’Bama solely, each day that goes by he owns more of the problem and people wonder why the President’s policies aren’t working, Cook said.

Those key independent voters who were strongly Democrat are now moving Republican. “They are wondering if this is the cruise they signed up for,” said Cook. They continue to like O’Bama but not Democratic leadership in Congress.

The signs are there for major issues in the coming election for Democrats. “Danger Will Robinson,” said Cook.

Despite reading these tea leaves, Cook said it’s unlikely that Republicans will take the majority in the Senate. In the U.S. House, a 12 to 25 seat flip is possible, but it will be a challenge to swap enough seats for Republicans to take control.

The Republican party still has a high unfavorable rating and brand identity problems. Of course, much can happen in 12 months.

Cook predicts that health care reform will ultimately pass, but that the Democrats have used a great deal of political capital in passing the bill. “I think they read too many of their own clips,” Cook said, and suggested that O’Bama’s decision to pursue health care reform in this economic environment was a major strategic blunder.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations

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Taxes and Fees Anticipated in Coming Session

Posted in General Advocacy, Lodging Issues, Restaurant Issues, State Laws, State Rules by hospitalityminnesota on November 9, 2009

I just finished a meeting with several Minnesota trade association executive directors earlier today. As we went around the table to discuss issues of key significance we anticipate in the coming session, it is clear that taxes are at the forefront.

It could be┬áproperty taxes; expansion of the sales tax; a tax on restaurants and lodging to fund the Vikings Stadium; protection of local option lodging tax or a liquor tax. If not a tax, then an increase in fees is anticipated. It is the┬áconsensus of the trade associations’ chief staff officers that business will face an onslaught of revenue raisers that could amount to job killers.

Equally as sobering, many industries anticipate additional regulatory burdens, at precisely the time when regulatory oversight needs to be reasonable to allow for growth and job creation. “It amazes me how legislators can talk about job growth and its importance one instant and then immediately talk about taxes, fees and regulations that kill jobs,” said one Association executive.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations