Iowa governor trying to have it both ways on Affordable Care Act

Governor Kim Reynolds continues to take credit for a major benefit of the Affordable Care Act, even as she calls on Congress to repeal and replace the 2010 health care reform law. During today’s Condition of the State address, the governor boasted that compared to a few years ago, “150,000 more Iowans have mental health coverage today and have access to more local and modern service.”

She didn’t mention that those Iowans gained health insurance only because the Affordable Care Act included funding to expand Medicaid.

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Iowa AG has joined 36 legal actions challenging Trump policies

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller signed on to three dozen multi-state actions challenging Trump administration policies last year, covering a wide range of immigration, environmental, civil rights, consumer protection and labor issues. Miller also joined fellow attorneys general in nine amicus curiae briefs related to state-level or local policies on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, gun control, voting rights, and gerrymandering.

Although federal lawsuits aren’t the main focus of Miller’s work, Iowans can be proud our attorney general repeatedly stood for fundamental rights and core progressive values.

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The 17 Bleeding Heartland posts I worked hardest on in 2017

Since I started writing for this website a decade ago, I’ve never worked harder than I did in 2017. This momentous year in Iowa politics provided an overwhelming amount of source material: new laws affecting hundreds of thousands of people, our first new governor since 2011, and a record number of Democrats seeking federal or statewide offices.

In addition, my focus has shifted toward more topics that require time-consuming research or scrutiny of public records. As I looked over the roughly 420 Bleeding Heartland posts I wrote this year, I realized that dozens of pieces were as labor-intensive as some of those I worked hardest on in 2015 or 2016.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2017 guest authors

Bleeding Heartland published 140 guest posts by 81 authors in 2016, a record since the blog’s creation in 2007.

I’m happy to report that the bar has been raised: 83 authors contributed 164 guest posts to this website during 2017. Their work covered an incredible range of local, statewide, and national topics.

Some contributors drew on their professional expertise and research, writing in a detached and analytical style. Others produced passionate and intensely personal commentaries, sometimes drawing on painful memories or family history.

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Republicans going to conference on tax bill--without Chuck Grassley

Despite being the most senior member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Iowa’s Senator Chuck Grassley is not among the Congressional Republicans who will hash out a final tax bill. The Senate voted on December 6 to go to conference with House members, but Grassley revealed on Twitter this morning that he “was dropped” as a conferee.

Presumably GOP leaders want to distance themselves from Grassley’s recent comment that repealing the estate tax would reward “the people that are investing […] as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” Those remarks have received massive nationwide media coverage, mockery, and condemnation.

Some Republicans had hoped the House would quickly send the Senate’s tax bill to President Donald Trump. However, in their unprecedented haste to rewrite massive legislation after an unfavorable report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, key GOP senators introduced errors in the bill approved over the weekend.

Notably, revised language on the corporate alternative minimum tax would increase taxes on many companies, sending business interests into “revolt.” Lily Batchelder, a law professor and former chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee explained that issue in a series of tweets I’ve posted after the jump, along with a chart highlighting the key differences between the tax bills House and Senate Republicans have already passed. Other sloppily-drafted provisions “could be easily gamed” or “could open broad avenues for tax avoidance,” according to tax experts quoted by Politico’s Brian Faler.

Both bills would provide generous tax breaks to wealthy individuals while raising taxes on tens of millions of lower and middle-income households.

House Republican leaders have signaled they will agree to repeal the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, which was part of the Senate bill. By 2025, that provision would reduce the number of people with health insurance coverage by an estimated 13 million nationwide and by 125,600 in Iowa.

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