My name is Rep. Keith Ellison. I have represented Minnesota's 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, since 2007. I Co-Chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

This week, we introduced the Back to Work Budget, which focuses on job creation as the primary solution to our deficit problems and the immediate crisis in America. We create 7 million jobs in the first year and get unemployment down to 5 percent in the first three years. By doing so, we reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion over 10 years. You can find out more here:

I will be on here at 11:00 EST/10:00 CST answering your questions. Ask me anything!

UPDATE 10:52 ET: Rep. Ellison is on the House Floor voting. We will get started in 15 minutes.

UPDATE: We're rolling. Proof it's me:

UPDATE 12:01: Thanks all for the questions! Hope to do this again soon.

Comments: 362 • Responses: 16  • Date: 

grex194938 karma

Rep. Ellison, I'm a constituent living in Robbinsdale. Why all the focus on debt? Borrowing costs have never been so low, the nation's infrastructure is falling apart, and people are out of work. Common sense dictates that this is a perfect time to borrow a few bucks and put a lot of those folks to work repairing our deteriorating roads and bridges. You're doing a good job; keep it up.

KeithEllison27 karma

you're absolutely right. Debt is a long term problem, but unemployment is a short crisis. We need 11 million more jobs to get back to pre-recession levels, and we have crumbling infrastructure. There's work to do, people to do it, so, you and i agree. thanks for asking.

nashbar27 karma

do you support reform of marijuana laws at the state or national level?

KeithEllison52 karma


Nambrik21 karma

What was with the outburst at Sean Hannity? Were you agitated that day, or do you really not like him?

KeithEllison50 karma

i really don't want to get hung up on this issue, but the doctoring of the President's speech about the effects of sequester (spooky music), and the accusations like "president panic" kind of got my dander up. Look, sequester is serious, and to falsely minimize it is wrong. In Indiana they are rationing Headstart slots because of sequester cuts. Today they are sending out furlough notices at DOD for civilian employees. There's much more. It wasn't a personal thing with Mr. Hannity. it was a issue thing. 'nuf said.

bwest57816 karma

I'm sure you saw David Brooks write that article about your budget. I wanted to know if you had a direct response to that style of criticism. I for one am an underemployed MPA grad, which is a direct result of the shrinking public sector which I feel Brooks is completely ignoring.

KeithEllison15 karma

First thing on Brooks: he said the statue of the horse and man was in front of the department of Labor when in fact it's in front of the FTC. That's just the first problem. For a full run-down on his massive erroneousness see: Main thing: Brooks thinks we don't need to invest in infrastructure or jobs and I do.

potholepreacher15 karma

Favorite Minneapolis park?

KeithEllison34 karma

Love'm all. Seriously. Theodore Wirth is quiet and invites contemplation; Calhoun, especially on a hot day, is raucous and lively. Minneapolis' parks are awesome.

uncleputts13 karma

Real wages have been stagnant since the '70's. How do we get them to rise in a way that companies believe they're doing the right thing?

KeithEllison7 karma

wages will rise with passage of the employee free choice act, immigration reform, public infrastructure investment, better trade policy, and stricter enforcement of labor standards. But wages must rise. the American Dream is a stake.

taleofthetub12 karma

Rep. Ellison - I have heard you speak in the past about our excessive spending on the Department of Defense and your concerns about our focus on military spending. I agree that our defense budget seems clearly out of touch with the world reality...that we spend more on military than like the next 20 countries combined.

That said, the DoD is the single largest employer in the world. And companies that are geared toward supporting our military and defense industries are far reaching.

In light of your other initiatives like the Back to Work Budget, how do we reconcile these issues, when clearly reducing military spending will have an impact on our economy and jobs greater than anything we have experienced before in this country.

KeithEllison41 karma

Pentagon budget has doubled over the last decade. We spend more more than next 13 nations combined. (i have also seen next 19 countries). That said, we need to convert our economy to a peace time economy. Many military jobs have civilian complements. My son is in the Army studying to be a medic (very proud of him), but don't we need emergency medical people? of course we do. Let's retool and retrain for peace time.

hype712 karma

I'd love to hear about your experience fundraising. Having read Larry Lessig's book "Republic, Lost", I've come to view it as a pretty grave threat to democracy in general. Any insight to what this process is like that you can share with us would be great. Thanks!

KeithEllison13 karma

Larry Lessig is an awesome writer and I enjoyed reading his book "Republic, Lost". I introduced a Constitutional Amendment to get money out of politics, and overturn Citizen United. Personally, fund raising has all the appeal of a root canal, and also hurts our democracy. Much rather be talking to folks like you and thinking up good policy for serious problems

shiv4m10 karma

  • How do you plan on creating 7 million jobs? How will you attract these companies into investing in your jurisdiction?

  • What is your take on CISPA and all this internet security non-sense? Why can't Congress just back off with the whole internet security issue as the people have voiced their opinion over?

KeithEllison13 karma

Here's how we create 7 million jobs: rebuilding roads and bridges, rehiring teachers and cops, boosting consumer demand thru a tax credit. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) a think tank of noted economists, helped us to construct our budget, which puts jobs first. for more see

ThomasLloyd219 karma

What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment while in office? And what is one regret you have since you went to Washington?

KeithEllison20 karma

greatest accomplishment? tons of stuff. Passed Protecting Tenants in foreclosure, passed universal default bill as part of the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights. Also, Obamacare and Dodd Frank, especially the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Also happy about my work on interfaith dialogue, building the progressive movement, and civil rights. Whoa! Beating the Voter ID and anti-marriage amendments. Simply awesome. My one regret: there again, I have several. Slow pace of change. Also, didn't get public option yet, or single payer, or the employee free choice act. We'll keep fighting.

selfabortion7 karma

How much or how little difficulty have you had in getting persons outside of the Progressive Caucus to entertain your proposals? What tactics do you use in order to facilitate such cooperation both within the Democratic Party and outside of it?

EDIT - And if you are able to address this as well, is there an easy way we can find out if our particular representative supports it, apart from contacting his or her office directly?

KeithEllison13 karma

I have a bunch of folks I work with inside and out of the Progressive Caucus, including the Republican Caucus. Mick Mulvaney (South Carolina) and I are working together and sensible pentagon cuts. Jim Renacci (Ohio) and I are working on credit scores. Erik Paulsen and I are working on the invasive carp problem. More?

Kida897 karma

What are your thoughts on the rising nonreligious demographic in the United States? How would you appeal to such a demographic?

KeithEllison32 karma

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" 'Nuf said again.

ellamking5 karma

Favorite Minnesota micro beer?

KeithEllison33 karma

I'm a teetotaller. Sorry.

MarkieMarkl5 karma

Helo, Mr. Ellison. I'm a constituent from Minneapolis. I'm currently trying to convince a friend of mine who moved to Iowa a couple years back that it's time for her to move back here. What can I tell her to convince her that this is the perfect time to move back to Minneapolis?

KeithEllison10 karma

Snow in April. What's not to love? OK, seriously, our unemployment rate is below the national average, we got the best parks, most bike paths, AND we got Adrian Peterson. Top that!

demcomm3 karma


KeithEllison10 karma

I wish every member of my party and the whole congress voted yes on the, but we in the CPC know we're playing a long term game, which requires patience. Frustration is a luxury we can't afford. Our vote totals are going up, and public attention for the CPC budget is going up. BTW, a key feature of our budget is infrastructure investment. 72% of Americans agree with that expenditure and a majority of Republicans do also. So, our job is to get Congress to vote with the American people.

has_a_cat2 karma

Mr. Ellison, how do you feel the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle has effected the way most politicians vote and, more specifically, how they campaign? I get the feeling that a lot of political campaigns have begun to (at least in recent years) downplay current issues (troop withdrawal from Iraq and Guantanamo Bay being the most recent example I can think of) in favor of pandering to their base on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. Do you agree with this assessment and if so, what do you feel should be done to try and maintain focus on some of the issues that politicians avoid in these situations?

KeithEllison12 karma

It's actually not rhetoric that has affected the way most politicians vote, but it's the money that attracts the votes, that gets people with certain perspective elected. Not to mention the lobbying, etc. rhetoric is the end result of all that. Of course, toxic rhetoric is what is most visible, but money in politics is the root of the problem.