IA-Gov: Second Branstad-Hatch debate live-blog and discussion thread

Governor Terry Branstad and Democratic State Senator Jack Hatch are holding their second debate tonight in Burlington. The discussion will focus on economic issues. C-SPAN is televising the debate (channel 95 in the Des Moines area). I’ll be live-blogging after the jump. I expect to hear a lot of bogus statistics from Branstad about jobs he allegedly created. Reality: no economist or labor market analyst tracks the fake statistic the Branstad administration made up (“gross over the month job gains”). That’s just a fiction to allow Branstad to claim he’s on track to create 200,000 jobs. Also, median incomes in Iowa have not grown significantly.

Any comments about the debate or the governor’s race in general are welcome in this thread.  

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IA-Gov: "Stache-less" Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon news roundup

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch announced today that Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon will be his running mate. In addition to following the Iowa tradition of female lieutenant governors, Vernon balances the ticket geographically and ideologically. An elected official in Iowa’s second-largest city for seven years, she has been campaigning around northeast Iowa since last summer as a Democratic candidate for Congress. She carried Linn County and finished a strong second to Pat Murphy district-wide on June 3.

Some Democrats are grumbling that Vernon is a longtime Republican who joined our party just five years ago. But frankly, Hatch isn’t running in a Democratic primary. He needs to appeal to a statewide electorate including thousands who have become disaffected from the GOP, just like Vernon did. Anyway, she is arguably more progressive than Governor Chet Culver’s running mate, lifelong Democrat Patty Judge. Despite the complaining, there shouldn’t be any major snags when the Iowa Democratic Party’s statewide convention officially nominates Vernon for lieutenant governor this Saturday.

After the jump I’ve posted background on Vernon and other recent news from the Hatch campaign, including his first television commercial for the general election and highlights from his weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.

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Reaction to Branstad's 2014 Condition of the State address

Immediately following Governor Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State address to Iowa legislators yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told Iowa Public Television that he “didn’t hear anything I disagreed with.” Not every Iowan who closely follows state government shared his reaction. State Senator Jack Hatch, the leading Democratic challenger to Branstad, slammed the governor’s “very shallow agenda” of “low expectations.”

After the jump I’ve posted more detailed comments from Hatch and a few other Iowa Democrats, as well as statements released by several non-profit organizations, which called attention to important problems Branstad ignored or glossed over.  

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Weekend open thread: High-tech, low return edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I’ve been thinking about some high-tech failures. For instance, genetically-modified seeds were supposed to solve farmers’ weed problems. Yet weeds resistant to glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) are “gaining ground” across Iowa. The problem is worse on farms where Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds have been planted the longest.

Rootworms “resistant to one type of genetically engineered corn” are also a growing problem. Genetically-modified seed was supposed to make corn plants poisonous to rootworm, but now farmers are “deploying more chemical pesticides than before.” The outcome was predictable.

On a related note, research shows that nitrogen enrichment through added fertilizers can hurt plant diversity and productivity of grasslands in the long term.

Some Midwestern cities and towns “are absorbing a financial beating after betting big on an innovative coal-fired power plant” during the last decade. “Clean coal” was always a boondoggle.

Speaking of costly investments, the state of Iowa continues to shovel tax credits to Orascom for a fertilizer plant project that would have been built in Iowa anyway. But hey, what’s another $25 million?

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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Weekend open thread: Not learning from experience edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

Governor Terry Branstad didn’t draw the right lessons from Indiana’s experience when he proposed his Healthy Iowa Plan as an alternative to expanding Medicaid. Below I’ve posted excerpts from Laura Hermer’s recent commentary on the Healthy Indiana Plan.

Iowa’s top economic development official, Debi Durham, still can’t answer basic questions about why the state offered more than $100 million in tax incentives to a company that was going to build a fertilizer plant in Iowa anyway. Follow me after the jump for Durham’s non-responsive response on the Orascom deal during this week’s “Iowa Press” program.

Speaking of which, the Branstad administration is stonewalling Iowa Watchdog reporter Sheena Dooley’s efforts to obtain more information about the Orascom deal.

UPDATE: For the hundredth time, family budgets are not comparable to the federal budget. Plus, Michael Tomasky summarizes three basic principles of fiscal policy that should be conventional wisdom already: “Modest deficits are perfectly sustainable. Budget cutting, far from being ‘responsible,’ hurts the economy. And balanced budgets don’t create jobs-it’s the other way around.”

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