Last Friday evening, the newly-minded MNGOP candidate selected to face Amy Klobuchar [chortle] was a guest on Almanac, the weekly news and variety show on public television. He droned on about various subjects: national defense (seems to be for it), the Federal Reserve (hard to say what he thinks), and probably some other things, but frankly, my mind wandered. He led the Almanac crew on a merry chase, or he would have, if they had decided to give pursuit.
Eric Black tuned in, and he was struck by how evasive Bills was, including on a basic question: how do you differ from your tin god, Ron Paul?
Yuh, I think you have to look at, again, you agree on fiscal and monetary policy. But you also have to look at foreign policy and be very thoughtful about it. But then also have to bring your own positions to the table as well. Having a strong national defense is very important to me. But then I think it also is to the congressman. And how do you look at foreign aid? And can we just cap foreign aid at some level like Senator Jim DeMint and Sen. Mike Lee and Senator Rand Paul put out? So it’s how can you work with people, stay at the table and keep discussing things.
Jeebus Christmas, says Eric, can’t you people at Almanac ask a follow up question? Well, I paraphrase.
Eric, the same thing occurred to me, especially when Bills railed on one of his favorite subjects: the over regulation of business. Why, says Bills, my wife and I own a small business that suffers from an oppressive regulatory environment.
At this point, I’m yelling at the television: Cathy, for the love of God, ask him what kind of business it is!
But Cathy Wurzer just smiles blandly at Bills, nods, and moves on. Imagine, kids, what might have happened if a follow up was asked.
CW: What kind of business is it, Kurt?
KB: Me and Cindy run an in-home day care.
CW: But Kurt, aren’t infants dying like flies in in-home day care centers?
KB: Well sure, but that’s hardly a reason to license or regulate them.
Just in case your hyperbole warning system is malfunctioning, that was hyperbole; it was also fictitious. Except the part about the Bills running an in-home day care. Or the part about mortality being up in in-home day care centers.
The regulations on in-home day care centers were relaxed five years ago, and predictably, infant deaths have increased:
Alarmed by a rise in deaths among children in day care, a Faribault lawmaker has proposed that Minnesota hold child-care providers to a tougher standard of safe sleep practices.
Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, filed a bill [in the waning days of the recent legislative session] in the wake of a Star Tribune investigation that highlighted a sharp rise in day-care deaths and violations of safe-sleep guidelines by some child-care providers.
Fritz’s bill would require a doctor to sign off before a caregiver could place an infant to sleep in some position other than on its back, which is the nationally recognized best practice to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Fritz said she was troubled by the rise in the number deaths in licensed child-care facilities in the past five years and the breakdown of safety guidelines in cases identified by the newspaper.
“This is alarming — that many infant deaths,” said Fritz, a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee, a nurse and grandmother to 17.
According to the Strib, the rate of death in in-home day care environments has reached one a month. I’m sure the Bills run a top-notch operation. But somebody isn’t.
And it’s pretty cavalier to charge off day care regulation and licensure as just another case of government interference.
Update: Last session, the co-chair (I don’t think we’ve ever heard of another one) of the Bills senate campaign committee, Keith Downey, offered a bill that would have helped Kurt and Cindy out. Aimed at clearing out all of this unnecessary occupational licensing, it would permit someone who felt oppressed by a licensing requirement to go to court, and it would be up to the licensing agency to justify itself. The bill would also authorize the court to rewrite the licensing rules. And you thought that the Republicans were against judges making the laws!
After a licensing agency came in to a court and put in all of its data about the need for the regulation of a particular occupation or profession (“heart surgery without general anesthesia has proven generally unsatisfactory”), and won, the next set of Kurts, Cindys, and Keiths could start a lawsuit and do the same thing, since they weren’t parties to the first proceeding. You can read a more complete description of the bill here. Thankfully, it didn’t go anywhere.
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