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Tea Party movement can't grasp meaning of "socialism"

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 10:40:10 AM CDT

So the North Iowa Tea Party covered up their Mason City billboard that juxtaposed pictures of Adolf Hitler ("National Socialism"), Barack Obama ("Democrat Socialism") and Vladimir Lenin ("Marxist Socialism") over the slogan, "Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive." (Here's a photo.) Activists in statewide tea party circles repudiated the billboard. Ryan Rhodes, chairman of the Iowa Tea Party movement, wants fellow travelers to educate the public about freedom and U.S. history. Rhodes' problem was the Hitler imagery, not the underlying message that we're headed toward socialism.

I know I'm supposed to be outraged that right-wingers would compare Obama to Hitler, but I'm too stunned that anyone paying attention to the news could view Obama as "socialist." I got a window onto the tea party mindset from Bob Johnson, one of the Mason City billboard's creators. For your weekly dose of unintentional comedy, I recommend Jennifer Jacobs' interview with Johnson on the Des Moines Register blog. Among his insights:

"It was absolutely not the aim to just create controversy. Nobody's more surprised about the thing than I am," Johnson said. "This billboard was misunderstood. I'm not going to say it was a mistake." [...]

"We had some hesitations about it," Johnson said, "but for those that understand it, it's just such a powerful billboard, so we said screw it and go ahead with it." [...]

"When we put that Hitler up there, it just totally overwhelmed everything on the billboard," Johnson said. "That's the one thing that just destroyed the whole concept we did not realize the power Hitler still has, the emotion." [...]

"When you want to compare the present administration to Hitler, Hitler took over the banks. Gee, what's this administration doing? Hitler took over the health care. Gee. Hitler took over the transportation and what's this administration doing? If that wasn't a direct comparison to socialism, I don't know what is."

Let's consider the so-called government takeover of health care, a major area of concern for the tea partiers. Under socialized medicine (as exists in real socialist countries), the government employs all the doctors and runs all the clinics and hospitals. Under single-payer health care (as exists in Canada), the government pays for medical care, but most doctors and medical institutions are privately operated.

In contrast, Obama had his top aides cut deals with health industry interests, working closely with the most corporate-friendly Congressional  committee drafting a health reform bill. The key staffer charged with writing that committee's bill, Liz Fowler, came straight from one of the largest health insurance companies. Obama broke many significant campaign promises on health care so as not to tread on corporate interests. As a result, key industries got virtually everything they wanted from the bill that passed. Private health insurance companies are now guaranteed millions of new customers in the coming years, with no new competition from government-run entities. Completing the circle, Fowler is now working for the Obama administration to help implement the health reform law.

Rest assured, no corporate CEO in America is lying awake at night worried about "socialist" health care the way Johnson says he worried people might bomb his house because they didn't like his billboard.

Most of the Obama administration's economic team came straight from the Wall Street culture, and the president hasn't tried to "take over" or even break up major financial institutions.

I have no idea what Johnson is talking about when he suggests the Obama administration has been taking over the transportation sector.

Anyone who has such a skewed view of this corporate-friendly administration could gain perspective from spending a few weeks in a socialist country.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Take a few minutes to fill out your census form

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 07:29:01 AM CDT

April 1 is the U.S. Census Bureau's target date for Americans to fill out and return their census forms. Every 1 percent increase in the census mail-back rate saves the U.S. Census Bureau about $85 million. After April 10, the bureau will start sending out census-takers to households that did not return their forms. President Barack Obama filled out his own family's form and declared today "Census Day":

The First Ladys mother lives with the family in the White House. Since the census asks for a count of everyone currently living in the household - not just immediate family - the President included his mother-in-law on his census form.

In these difficult economic times its common for extended family and friends to live with another family, yet many households mistakenly leave these individuals off their census forms.

Mr. desmoinesdem and I filled out our family's form and mailed it back a couple of weeks ago. There are no "long forms" anymore; everyone gets the short survey with just 10 questions.

As of this morning, the national census participation rate was 52 percent; you can click on this interactive map to find participation rates in your area. Today Iowa ranked fifth among the states with a 60 percent participation rate. South Dakota and Wisconsin tied for first place with a 62 percent participation rate, and North Dakota and Nebraska tied for third with 61 percent. Within Iowa, a few towns had participation rates exceeding 80 percent. About 63 percent of households in my corner of the state, Windsor Heights, have returned their census forms so far.

Although some conservatives hyperventilate about the demographic questions on the census form, recording the race and ethnicity of U.S. residents helps the government "execute and monitor laws and programs that are targeted to specific groups." Like conservative arguments about the legality of health insurance reform, objections to the census questions have no basis in constitutional law:

On numerous occasions, the courts have said the Constitution gives Congress the authority to collect statistics in the census. As early as 1870, the Supreme Court characterized as unquestionable the power of Congress to require both an enumeration and the collection of statistics in the census. The Legal Tender Cases, Tex.1870; 12 Wall., U.S., 457, 536, 20 L.Ed. 287. In 1901, a District Court said the Constitution's census clause (Art. 1, Sec. 2, Clause 3) is not limited to a headcount of the population and "does not prohibit the gathering of other statistics, if 'necessary and proper,' for the intelligent exercise of other powers enumerated in the constitution, and in such case there could be no objection to acquiring this information through the same machinery by which the population is enumerated." United States v. Moriarity, 106 F. 886, 891 (S.D.N.Y.1901).

The census does not violate the Fourth Amendment. Morales v. Daley, 116 F. Supp. 2d 801, 820 (S.D. Tex. 2000). In concluding that there was no basis for holding Census 2000 unconstitutional, the District Court in Morales ruled that the 2000 Census and the 2000 Census questions did not violate the Fourth Amendment or other constitutional provisions as alleged by plaintiffs. (The Morales court said responses to census questions are not a violation of a citizen's right to privacy or speech.) [...]

These decisions are consistent with the Supreme Court's recent description of the census as the "linchpin of the federal statistical system ... collecting data on the characteristics of individuals, households, and housing units throughout the country." Dept. of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316, 341 (1999).

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Steve King has empathy after all (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 06:00:00 AM CST

Representative Steve King doesn't come across as the most compassionate guy in the world, bragging about opposing aid for Hurricane Katrina victims and questioning the need to stop deporting undocumented Haitian immigrants after last month's earthquake.

But if you thought King was incapable of feeling empathy, you're wrong. Over the weekend he spoke to a panel on immigration at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

During his closing remarks, King veered into a complaint about high taxes, and said he could "empathize" with the man who flew a plane into an IRS building last week.

During the question and answer session, the Media Matters staffer asked King to clarify his comment, reminding him of his sworn duty to protect the American people from all sworn enemies, foreign and domestic. In response, said the staffer, King gave a long and convoluted answer about having been personally audited by the IRS, and ended by saying he intended to hold a fundraiser to help people "implode" their local IRS office.

That's right, King feels empathy for a guy who crashed his plane into a federal building, intending to harm the IRS employees inside. In the process, the man killed a loving family man and longtime federal worker who served two terms in Vietnam.

Following King's remarks at the CPAC panel, a man with a video camera gave the congressman a chance to clarify his remarks. King dug deeper. (continues after the jump)

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 584 words in story)

Republican National Committee rejects "purity test"

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 11:15:16 AM CST

The Republican National Committee won't be imposing the "purity test" proposed by committeeman James Bopp of Indiana. During last week's meetings in Honolulu, a group of state GOP chairs unanimously voted against requiring Republican candidates to agree with at least eight out of ten conservative policy stands in order to receive RNC support during the 2010 campaign.

Bopp withdrew his motion from the floor on Friday after a compromise had been reached. RNC members then unanimously passed a non-binding resolution that "only 'urges' party leaders to support nominees who back the party's platform," Politico's Jonathan Martin reported.

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Illinois and Delaware would have failed Bopp's purity test and therefore not qualified for RNC support. The resolution that passed does not penalize candidates who disagree with various "core principles" of the GOP. Still, Bopp tried to spin the compromise as a victory:

"You've got to determine that the candidate supports all the core principles of the Republican Party before you support them," he said, explaining the alternate measure.

But when asked whether it was binding, Bopp was cut off by Oregon GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan, who was standing nearby the impromptu press briefing.

"That resolution passed is not binding; it's a suggestion," said Tiernan.

As Bopp began to again make his case for the compromise, Tiernan again interjected.

"There's nothing mandatory or required in there," the Oregonian noted.

"Can I answer the question, Mr. Chairman?" Bopp shot back.

Continuing, Bopp explained that he thought the RNC's decision to, for the first time, make it party policy to urge candidates to pledge fealty to the GOP platform represented a significant step.

But Tiernan, standing just over Bopp's shoulder, again rebutted his committee colleague.

"I'm not going to take that back and make my candidates sign it, that's ridiculous," Tiernan said, gesturing toward the compromise resolution in a reporter's hand. "We don't have a litmus test and we rejected the litmus test today."

As Bopp continued, Tiernan again spoke up.

"There's nothing binding in there," said the state chairman.

"Can I finish?" a plainly annoyed Bopp asked.

"Read the words," replied Tiernan.

"Shut up," Bopp finally said.

Although the RNC papered over this dispute, clearly tensions remain over whether Republican leaders should insist that candidates be conservatives.

Two of Iowa's RNC members, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman, supported Bopp's purity test. Our state's third representative on the RNC, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn, didn't comment on Bopp's effort when it first emerged or last week, to my knowledge. I assume he agreed with other state party chairs, who according to various reports strongly opposed the idea. If that is inaccurate, I hope someone will correct me.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Catch-up thread on Iowa campaign news

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 07:47:20 AM CST

So many campaign stories the past few days, so little time.

After the jump you'll find lots of links about various campaigns for U.S. Senate, House, governor and state treasurer.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2014 words in story)

The shrinking Republican tent (part 2)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 07:47:10 AM CST

Not long ago I noted that Republicans are not even considering a socially moderate candidate to challenge Dave Loebsack in Iowa's most Democratic-leaning Congressional district.

Now some members of the Republican National Committee have the bright idea of cutting off party support for any candidate, anywhere, who strays too far from conservative dogma.

I knew some conservatives were crazy, but I didn't know they were that crazy.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1504 words in story)

The Rants/Narcisse roadshow: a new headache for Culver

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 25, 2009 at 16:13:47 PM CST

State Representative Chris Rants will "debate" former Des Moines School Board member Jonathan Narcisse on various issues during the first half of December. The Iowa Republican blog has the preliminary schedule for the debates in Bettendorf, Ankeny, Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Waterloo, as well as footage from yesterday's joint press conference by Rants and Narcisse.

Scheduling the "debates" is a clever move by Rants, who is running the best gubernatorial campaign in the GOP field so far. These events will not be good news for Governor Chet Culver.

There's More... :: (11 Comments, 1191 words in story)

Census worker's death ruled a suicide

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 24, 2009 at 20:54:54 PM CST

Police have determined that the Kentucky census worker whose death became a national news story in September took his own life.

According to the Associated Press, a news release from Kentucky State Police says investigators believe [Bill] Sparkman acted alone in setting the scene. They also say he had recently taken out two life insurance policies.

Because of the way Sparkman's body was found, I wrongly assumed he had been murdered. Apologies for jumping the gun on that one.

I stand by my view that conservatives should stop making paranoid allegations about the census and avoid the rhetoric of armed rebellion when talking about political opponents.

Approximately 1 million temporary workers will be hired next year to conduct the census. They will be trained to deal calmly with people who express hatred for the government.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

The shrinking Republican tent (part 1)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 09:00:00 AM CST

Iowa's second Congressional district is the most Democratic-leaning of our five districts. It has a partisan voting index of D+7, which means that in any given year, we would expect this district to vote about 7 point more Democratic than the country as a whole. In 2008, Dave Loebsack won re-election in IA-02 with about 57 percent of the vote against Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who couldn't crack 40 percent.

Today Republican blogger Craig Robinson previews the GOP primary to take on Loebsack. His piece is a good reminder of how small the Republican tent has become in a district once represented by Jim Leach.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 373 words in story)

Lessons to learn from this week's elections

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 21:52:58 PM CST

We all saw the same election results this week, but we didn't all hear the same message from the voters.

After the jump I've posted some different interpretations of Tuesday's events, along with my own short take.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 2928 words in story)

Talk about missing the big picture

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 12:08:24 PM CST

Craig Robinson has a post up at The Iowa Republican on efforts by the Scott County GOP to "turn the tide" for Republicans in eastern Iowa and statewide. The problem:

Just over a decade ago, Republicans held eight of the nine legislative seats in Scott County, today Republicans only control three of those seats. [...] Currently, Republicans control only five senate seats and sixteen house seats east of Polk County. If you want to understand why Republicans have lost their majorities, one need[s] to look at what has happened to the state of the Republican Party in eastern Iowa.

In January of 2000, there were almost 5,000 more registered Republicans in Scott County than there were registered Democrats. Today, Democrats enjoy a registered voter advantage of 8,622 over Republicans. The 13,000 person swing in registered voters explains why Republicans have struggled to win elections in Scott County, the first congressional district, and statewide.

In the late 1990's, Republican statewide candidates could win if they were able to perform reasonably well in Polk County. Many times, western Iowa counties as along with eastern Iowa Republican strongholds like Scott County could offset the margin that Democratic candidates could build in Polk and Johnson counties. Unfortunately, those were the glory days of Republican politics. In recent years, the only area of the state in which Republicans can build significant margins over Democrats is in northwest Iowa.

Here's a name you won't find in Robinson's piece: Jim Leach. In the "glory days," Jim Leach represented Scott County in Congress. But other Republicans attacked Congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks last year because she praised Leach's work (even though she disagreed with his pro-choice position).  Now Christian Fong, the only gubernatorial candidate from eastern Iowa, assures voters that he is a social conservative and ducked a question about whether he'd ever voted for Leach.

In the "glory days," most of the statehouse Republicans representing eastern Iowa were moderates. But in the 2006 Republican primary in Iowa Senate district 41, right-wing interest groups helped David Hartsuch oust pro-choice incumbent Republican Maggie Tinsman. Legislators on both sides of the aisle respected Tinsman, which can't be said of Hartsuch. Getting rid of Tinsman helped social conservatives gain more power in the Iowa GOP, but I doubt it helped the Republican brand in Scott County.

The Republican Party in Iowa and nationally has simply become too conservative to compete in much of eastern Iowa. The same process has turned many longtime Republican districts in Illinois and Wisconsin blue.

Robinson praises Brian Kennedy's organizing and fundraising work as the finance chair of the Scott County GOP. He argues that rising unemployment in eastern Iowa has created an opening for Republicans in 2010. For that reason, Kennedy wants GOP candidates to focus on "job creation and the economy." But clearly, there is no room in the GOP for candidates who don't accept all of the religious right's positions, whether or not they talk about jobs.

Until the Republican Party makes room in the tent for people who admire Jim Leach, they won't regain a dominant position in places like Scott County. A weak economy can help the GOP make up some ground next year, and raising more money can improve their grassroots organizing, but that won't solve their fundamental problem.

Eastern Iowa Bleeding Heartland readers, tell me if I'm right or wrong and why.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Previewing the Vander Plaats case against Branstad

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 14:17:21 PM CDT

Bob Vander Plaats was the clear front-runner in the Republican field of gubernatorial candidates a few months ago. He's been campaigning for the job longer and more actively than anyone else. He had contacts statewide from his 2006 campaign for lieutenant governor, and from Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. He also had several endorsements from state legislators and a big lead in a Republican poll taken in July.

During the past six months, various potential Republican candidates have ruled out a campaign for governor, including Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and State Auditor David Vaudt. Efforts to recruit a business leader (like Mary Andringa) failed too. Some Iowa politicos believe that these people backed off not because they thought Governor Chet Culver was unbeatable, but because they couldn't see a way to defeat Vander Plaats in the Republican primary.

Most people would now agree that Vander Plaats is an underdog. Branstad will have more money, more media coverage and more support from Republican power-brokers. He'll be able to cite last week's Research 2000 poll, showing Branstad narrowly ahead of Culver, but Vander Plaats way behind the incumbent.

Vander Plaats won't give up without a fight, though. He has promised to stay in this race through the June primary, and he has some strong cards to play, as I'll discuss after the jump.  

There's More... :: (11 Comments, 950 words in story)

Conservatives must stop demonizing the census

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 13:47:11 PM CDT

The U.S. Constitution requires that the government conduct a census every ten years. Population counts determine federal funding for various programs, as well as the number of Congressional districts allocated to each state, so the public interest in conducting a thorough census is obvious.

The next census will take place in 2010, but some right-wing loudmouths and Republican politicians have unfortunately demonized the effort as an intrusive government plot. Over at Think Progress, Faiz Shakir recaps some of the paranoid chatter from Representative Michele Bachmann (MN-06) and Glenn Beck of Fox News. Shakir also cites radio host Neal Boortz, who told his listeners, "Most of the rest of the [Census] information is designed to help the government steal from you in order to pass off your property to the moochers. They're looters."

Not long ago I discussed my worries about the rhetoric of armed resistance coming from the political right, and I've been reflecting on this problem since I heard about census-taker Bill Sparkman's murder. Sparkman was found naked and bound with "fed" written on his chest and his census ID taped to his neck. In rural Kentucky,

Sparkman's gruesome death has ignited a debate over whether it was a byproduct of harsh anti-government rhetoric on talk shows, blogs and protests. Residents of impoverished Clay County say most people harbor no resentment for agents of the federal government, and they're baffled by Sparkman's apparent killing.

Sheriff Kevin Johnson, a native, said most residents feel a measure of gratitude to the federal government.

"We've been a poverty-stricken area pretty much all our lives," he said. "The government's taking care of 70 percent of people here, through Social Security, SSI, food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid."

None of those programs could function without the demographic data the Census Bureau provides.

If conservative politicians and opinion leaders keep stoking fears about the government using census data to steal from or perhaps even round up law-abiding citizens, I am concerned that mentally unstable individuals will commit further acts of violence against census-takers next year. Republicans should condemn the hatemongers and make clear that the census is not only permitted, but required under the Constitution.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Oh please

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 11:09:05 AM CDT

Representative Steve "10 Worst" King hasn't lost his touch for grabbing attention with outlandish statements. Speaking to a conservative radio program, King asserted,

If there's a push for a socialist society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together living collectively off one pot of resources earned by everyone, this is one of the goals they have to go to, same sex marriage, because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation, they want access to public funds and resources.

The Hill has more ridiculous assertions from the interview, including King's opinion that "Not only is [same-sex marriage] a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis." Matt Corley at Think Progress posted the full transcript, with an audio clip.

King's logic eludes me. Perhaps someone can explain how individual rights are supposedly undermined when same-sex couples gain legal rights already available to heterosexual couples. Maybe King just wants to show that he really is as wingnutty as any Iowa Republican on the subject of gay marriage.

Having spent a fair amount of time in the former Communist bloc, I can assure King that the socialist world was extremely homophobic. Same-sex relationships had no legal status in any communist country, and homosexuality was a crime for decades in many of them.

Jed Lewison and John Deeth have further comments on King's absurdity. Please add your own thoughts in this thread.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Seeking Republican willing to denounce armed rebellion

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 08:10:41 AM CDT

Now that we're done with the Joe "You Lie" Wilson sideshow, I want to talk about a different kind of Republican disrespect for normal political disagreement.

Having been raised by a Republican of the now-extinct Rockefeller variety, I am often struck by how extreme the GOP has become. Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad were on the far right in the early 1980s, but many Iowa conservatives now consider them "moderate" or even "liberal."

Mainstream extremism in the Republican Party is depressing on many levels. It fosters ignorance, as when Iowa Republicans are led to believe that the judiciary is not supposed to interpret the constitution. It encourages politicians to put their theology ahead of civil laws.

Most troubling is when prominent conservatives use language that condones physical violence or "revolution" to resist Democratic policy proposals. I fear that people will get hurt or killed if some mentally unstable person takes these appeals too literally.

More thoughts on this subject are after the jump.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 1042 words in story)

Why Jews are liberals and Norman Podhoretz asks the wrong question

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 06:00:00 AM CDT

UPDATE: This diary generated a lot of discussion at Daily Kos. Several readers pointed me to Glenn Greenwald's rebuttal of Podhoretz's central claim: Jews should vote Republican because of Israel. Leon Wieseltier's review of Podhoretz's book for The New York Times is also worth reading.

Norman Podhoretz began his political life on the Trotskyite left but swung sharply to the right and edited the conservative magazine Commentary for more than three decades. His latest book is called "Why Are Jews Liberals?", and he published a few thoughts on the subject in the Wall Street Journal this week.

All the other ethno-religious groups that, like the Jews, formed part of the coalition forged by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s have followed the rule that increasing prosperity generally leads to an increasing identification with the Republican Party. But not the Jews. As the late Jewish scholar Milton Himmelfarb said in the 1950s: "Jews earn like Episcopalians"-then the most prosperous minority group in America-"and vote like Puerto Ricans," who were then the poorest.

Jews also remain far more heavily committed to the liberal agenda than any of their old ethno-religious New Deal partners. As the eminent sociologist Nathan Glazer has put it, "whatever the promptings of their economic interests," Jews have consistently supported "increased government spending, expanded benefits to the poor and lower classes, greater regulations on business, and the power of organized labor."

As with these old political and economic questions, so with the newer issues being fought out in the culture wars today. On abortion, gay rights, school prayer, gun control and assisted suicide, the survey data show that Jews are by far the most liberal of any group in America.

After the jump I'll offer my thoughts about why many Jews are liberals and, equally important, why many Jews who are not liberals vote for Democrats anyway. Podhoretz is convinced that more American Jews should identify with political conservatives, but today's Republican Party makes that unlikely.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 687 words in story)

Bob Vander Plaats has real talent

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 20:44:02 PM CDT

Like Spinal Tap's amp that goes up to 11, Bob Vander Plaats can ratchet up the demagoguery that little bit more than the competition. While other conservatives warn against compromising the Republican Party's core principles, Vander Plaats says Republican moderates make voters want to throw up, like Jesus when confronted with "lukewarm" followers.

While other conservatives back a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (which would take years to adopt), Vander Plaats promises to stop gays and lesbians from getting married on his first day as governor of Iowa.

While other conservatives warn against a "government takeover" of health care, Vander Plaats isn't just against a new public health insurance plan, he wants to protect Iowans from the tyranny of federal-run Medicare and Medicaid.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 545 words in story)

Iowa atheists have amazing powers

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 09, 2009 at 12:52:39 PM CDT

to make other people act like idiots.

Consider the fallout from last week's ad campaign by Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 728 words in story)

Iowa Republicans more like "Party of Hoover" than party of future

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 14:57:29 PM CDT

The Republican Party of Iowa is celebrating its "rising stars" tonight at an event featuring Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Judging by what we've heard lately from Iowa GOP leaders, they're gonna party like it's 1929.

Case in point: Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul McKinley. The possible gubernatorial candidate's weekly memos continue to whine about spending and borrowing by Democrats (see also here). Republicans would rather slash government programs and provide "targeted" one-year tax credits.

The lessons of Herbert Hoover's presidency are still lost on these people. I apologize for repeating myself, but excessive government spending cuts can turn an economic recession into a depression. Since state governments cannot run budget deficits, it makes sense for the federal government to help the states "backfill" their budgets. That was the express purpose of the state transfer funds in the stimulus package.

In addition, it is prudent to spend federal funds on projects with long-term benefits. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was in Des Moines on June 23 to highlight the first installment of what will be $41 million in stimulus funds for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in Iowa. Energy efficiency programs in particular will have huge collateral benefits, saving consumers money while helping the environment.

No matter how many times Republicans repeat their misleading talking points about the I-JOBS state bonding initiative Democrats passed this year, it is prudent to borrow money for worthwhile projects when interest rates are low. I don't hear McKinley or other Republican leaders telling businesses not to borrow money to make capital improvements.

Share any thoughts about Republican ideas, rhetoric, or career lobbyist Haley Barbour in this thread.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Republicans still don't get the point of the stimulus

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 12, 2009 at 07:42:57 AM CDT

The Republican Party opposed President Obama's economic stimulus bill earlier this year, instead advocating a federal spending freeze in response to the recession. The misguided Republican proposal would have repeated Herbert Hoover's big mistake, ignoring consensus among economists that deficits help end recessions.

The stimulus bill wasn't perfect, but it contained some valuable provisions, notably aid to state governments, which can't run deficits. While Governor Chet Culver imposed two rounds of cuts to fiscal year 2009 spending, federal stimulus funds helped lessen the severity of those cuts and avoid drastic reductions in the 2010 budget.

That's good, because state budget cuts can further weaken an already weak economy, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained in this review of state fiscal stress across the country:

When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, eliminate or lower payments to businesses and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, and cut benefit payments to individuals. In all of these circumstances, the companies and organizations that would have received government payments have less money to spend on salaries and supplies, and individuals who would have received salaries or benefits have less money for consumption. This directly removes demand from the economy. [...]

Federal assistance can lessen the extent to which states take pro-cyclical actions that can further harm the economy. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act recognizes this fact and includes substantial assistance for states. The amount of funding that will go to states to help them maintain current activities is approximately $135 billion to $140 billion - or about 40 percent of projected state deficits. Most of this money is in the form of increased Medicaid funding and a "Fiscal Stabilization Fund." This funding will reduce the depth of state budget cuts and moderate state tax and fee increases.

Leave it to the Republicans to miss the point of stimulus aid to state governments, as I'll discuss after the jump.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 473 words in story)
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- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Newton Independent (Peter Hussmann)
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Tom Harkin (U.S. Senator)
- Bruce Braley (IA-01)
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
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