Good morning and welcome to Thursday and the last full day of the Obama administration. Lots of news today, so let’s get right to it.
1. Why did many people in the Bemidji area vote for Donald Trump? They wanted a change. What do they expect from the new president? A business owner wants tougher immigration enforcement, lower taxes, less regulation and more affordable health insurance. When Barack Obama took office eight years ago unemployment in Beltrami County was nearing 8 percent. Itasca reached 10 percent. Beltrami County is now under 5 percent unemployment, and state economists say more rural Minnesotans are entering the middle class. But things are not improving fast enough for voters, and the area has lost 30 percent of its manufacturing base in the last decade. (MPR News)
2. As his supporters get ready to watch Trump’s inauguration tomorrow, Minnesotans who opposed his bid for the White House are making their own plans. Some will protest, some will pray, but these critics are slowly coming to terms with a President Trump. Nowhere is the anxiety felt more than in Minnesota’s central cities. Voters in Hennepin and Ramsey counties chose Hillary Clinton over Trump by margins of 35 percentage points or more. (MPR News)
3. Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari wants to make his bank a force in finding potential solutions for racial and economic disparities. That’s territory the U.S. Central Bank has traditionally avoided. But Kashkari on Wednesday announced the creation of a research institute that he says will focus on improving the economic well-being of all Americans. “We aren’t going to find a silver bullet in six months or a year, but we need to ramp up our efforts,” Kashkari said. (Star Tribune)
4. President-elect Trump’s nominee to head the health and human services department faced tough questions Wednesday about the future of health insurance and whether his own financial transactions present a conflict of interest. Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee grilled Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) about his stock trades in health, biomedical and pharmaceutical companies while he was supporting legislation that could benefit them. Among those asking questions was Minnesota DFL Sen. Al Franken who said some of Price’s trades looked like “sweetheart deals.” (Washington Post)
5. Remember Kimba Woods? How about Zoe Baird? They were nominees for attorney general in Bill Clinton’s first term, but both their nominations were derailed because it came out that they didn’t make payroll tax payments for their household help, which came to be known as the “nanny tax.” A similar issue prevented Tom Daschle from being President Obama’s health and human services secretary. Now Donald Trump’s nominee for White House budget director, South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mick Mullvaney, has revealed he did not pay $15,000 in payroll taxes for a domestic worker. Will it derail his confirmation? (New York Times)