Mississippi River Floods -- The Branstad Connection

(State Senator Rob Hogg has been calling for more investment in watershed projects.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

With floodwaters along the Mississippi River in the southern U.S reaching historic levels it’s time for Iowa to take a leadership role in helping prevent future flooding by investing in watershed improvement programs and conservation in Iowa.

Many people might not know what a watershed is. A watershed is basically a basin defined by highpoints and ridges that descend into lower elevations and stream valleys. A watershed carries water from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is channeled into soils, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the sea.

According to the EPA:

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is:

“that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds.

This is the connection between watershed and land management practices in Iowa and recent flooding on the Mississippi River. …more after the jump…

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Pulling the Plug on Medicare

Remember when Republicans were saying that Washington was going to pull the plug on grandma? Little did we know, they were on to something.

The newly released Republican budget does indeed threaten grandma – by dismantling Medicare and ending the guaranteed health care that so many seniors' lives depend on.

If House Republicans and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan get their way, they would privatize Medicare – getting rid of the government guarantee that makes the program accessible for all elderly Americans. Under this “brave” and “courageous” Republican plan, seniors would get a voucher to purchase insurance on the private market. This may sound like a reasonable plan until you consider that privatizing Medicare would cost seniors significantly more, almost doubling their out-of-pocket costs to more than $12,000 a year and leaving many unable to afford health care at all.

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Case Against Republican Deregulation

(And a case for oversight that will lead to wealth and job creation in Iowa. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Iowa Deregulation Hearings:  Cedar Rapids & Burlington
Written full version of my oral testimony in Burlington.
I’m Brad Wilson, a Springville area farmer, and I sell local food.  I’m the representative from Iowa CCI to the board and executive committee of the National Family Farm Coalition.
I’m a big fan of Norman Rockwell’s painting “Freedom of Speech,” and I appreciate the opportunity to testify orally.  
I’m for balanced regulation.  Some regulations create tremendous wealth and jobs.  Some regulations destroy wealth and jobs.  
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Help Save Service In America

In its recent budget for FY 2011, the House of Representatives voted to defund the Corporation for National and Community Service.  This is the organization that administers the popular AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, VISTA, and NCCC programs.  The new Congress is essentially trying to kill service in America

These programs, which are cheap, efficient and tailored to local needs, are designed to address some of our nation's most pressing problems.  Child literacy, elder care, environmental conservation, homelessness, affordable housing, disaster recovery, public health…I could go on and on.  The pay is peanuts and the work is difficult but nevertheless, year after year, Americans enroll to help serve their communities.  

 The new Congress though, in a fit of austerity (that does not include eliminating tax breaks for corporations or raising taxes on the rich) has decided that we simply cannot afford such extravagances. This comes at a time when the recent economic downturn is exacerbating exactly the problems the CNCS is designed to combat.

Further underscoring the perversity of these cuts is the fact that less than two years ago, in an exceedingly rare display of bipartisanship, Congress passed the Serve America Act, which greatly expanded service.  It seemed as if the 15 year-old organization would finally be taken off the chopping block.

But…no

 Bafflingly, this new class of legislators, after having been swept into office on a wave of bitterness and low voter turnout, believe it is their mission to singlehandedly save American civilization.  This sacred crusade seems to include preventing government from helping citizens help themselves.

 But in any case, a final budget has not been negotiated, so the battle is not over.  I urge all of you to call this number:

 1-855-US-SERVE.

This number is provided by the website:http://www.saveservice.org/ .  It will connect you directly to your Senators as well as provide you with talking points, if you feel you need them.

Of course there are other things you could do.  You could write a letter to the editor, attend a town hall meeting or meet with your legislator personally. We need grassroots pressure to make this happen.

There are a lot of members that would like to stand up for service. We just have to make them.  

 

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State of the Union discussion thread

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address tonight. Share any comments about his speech or his presidency in this thread.

I find the prospect of a Democratic president arguing for austerity budgeting deeply depressing. A domestic budget freeze is a bad idea, and an earmark ban is just a waste of time. Earmarks don’t add to the deficit; they just give members of Congress more power to control how certain pots of money are spent.

I cannot believe how much media coverage has been wasted on plans for some Democrats and Republicans to sit together for the State of the Union. Who cares?

The “revisionist history” blaming Rahm Emanuel for Obama’s mistakes during his first two years sounds pathetic, even though I am not at all an admirer of Emanuel.

UPDATE: John Deeth is liveblogging at his place.

SECOND UPDATE: I don’t know why Obama is so intent on repeating the “great mistake” of 1937.

I’ve posted statements released by Iowa’s Congressional delegation after the jump.

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New Culver ad starts conversation about Branstad's values

Governor Chet Culver’s campaign released a second television commercial spotlighting Terry Branstad’s record. Like the Culver tv ad that debuted last week, the new commercial mentions Branstad’s dismal record on fiscal issues. It also mentions eight pay raises that Branstad signed for himself, some of them during very tight budget years:

Transcript:

As Governor, Terry Branstad admitted “his books were never balanced.” According to the State Auditor, Terry “cooked the books.” And when state unemployment hit a record high, Branstad asked for a raise. When Terry cut foster care, Branstad took another raise. When the state couldn’t pay its bills, Branstad raised our taxes and raised his pay once again. Terry Branstad: Cooked books, Raised Taxes, Eight pay raises. A past we can’t repeat.

A Culver campaign press release with supporting facts and citations from news reports is after the jump.

We all know Branstad wasn’t a good manager of state finances, but I like the way this ad touches on his deeply flawed priorities as well. Branstad started seeking a pay raise during his very first year in office, when unemployment peaked at 8.5 percent. A few years later, this guy wasn’t ashamed to take home more money even as he was cutting foster care programs.

I hope future Culver ads will underscore how cutting state assistance to vulnerable Iowans has long been Branstad’s knee-jerk preference, rather than his last resort. The foster care cuts highlighted in Culver’s new commercial occurred in 1987. When Iowa faced a budget crisis in 1992, Branstad brought two money-saving ideas to a meeting with state lawmakers in advance of a special legislative session: first, cut spending on foster care, and second, cut Medicaid programs that helped children buy eyeglasses and keep senior citizens out of nursing homes. During this year’s campaign, when asked an open-ended question about how he would cut state government, Branstad

said he’s still looking for ideas but did mention reforming the state’s mental health system and rolling back Medicaid, which has been expanded to cover more people, including children. He said state employees should pay for their health insurance like private sector employees.

That’s classic Branstad. Gee, I haven’t figured out yet how to make the budget numbers add up, but why not change Medicaid so that fewer people qualify? While we’re at it, let’s stop helping tens of thousands of families send their four-year-olds to preschool.

Branstad’s record of incompetence should be at the center of the gubernatorial campaign, but let’s not forget about his skewed priorities.

UPDATE: Conservative blogger Gary Barrett claims the Culver ad distorts the facts on Branstad’s pay hikes. The Culver campaign released a response to Barrett’s post, which you’ll find after the jump.

The Branstad campaign cited a Des Moines Register report from 1982 on how Branstad didn’t want a pay raise and might veto such a bill. Culver’s campaign leaped on that as evidence Branstad “said one thing and did another on pay raises.”

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