Branstad talks big on family incomes but opposes concrete steps to raise them

Since the day he launched his 2010 campaign for governor, Terry Branstad has been promising to raise Iowa family incomes by 25 percent. That aspiration is still highlighted on the front page of the governor’s website.

Family incomes haven’t increased in any significant way, according to a September 2015 report by the Iowa Fiscal Partnership: "Median household income was $53,712 in 2014 — compared with $53,031 the year before. It was also statistically unchanged from 2007 ($53,994 in 2014 dollars) and from 2000 ($52,483 in 2014 dollars)." U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that as of July 2015, the median family income in Iowa was $52,716.

Despite the lack of progress toward one of his central goals, Branstad has opposed various policies that would raise incomes, especially toward the lower end of the scale.

Most recently, he moved last week to block a new U.S. Department of Labor rule, which would make at least 120,000 Iowans eligible to earn overtime pay.

Continue Reading...

A close look at Republican message-testing in key Iowa House races

Republicans are testing potentially damaging messages about Iowa House Democratic candidates, along with statements that might increase support for GOP candidates in battleground legislative districts. After listening to several recordings of these telephone polls and hearing accounts from other respondents, I have three big takeaways:

• Republicans are seeking ways to insulate themselves from voter anger over inadequate education funding and the Branstad administration’s botched Medicaid privatization;
• The time-honored GOP strategy of distorting obscure legislative votes is alive and well;
• The Iowa Democratic Party’s platform plank on legalizing all drugs may be used against candidates across the state.

Read on for much more about these surveys.

Continue Reading...

Title IX and the Rio Olympics

Tom Witosky covered sports, politics and business for many years as an investigative reporter at the Des Moines Register. -promoted by desmoinesdem

-30-

Back when newspaper reporters typed their stories onto paper, the notation -30- at the bottom of the final page indicated the end of a story.

When the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team on Sunday defeated Serbia, 96-66, the 30-point drubbing fittingly symbolized the end of one of the best Olympic efforts ever by U.S. male and female athletes. Medal totals told the story: U.S. teams earned 121 medals (45 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze) outpacing China’s second place finish with 70 medals.

But what’s more interesting is how the dominance of U.S. female athletes, likely the most superior women’s team ever fielded by the United States Olympic Committee, played such a huge role in that success.

In many ways, the U.S. success provides another metaphor for the progress that has been made in this country’s striving for a better union. Like the breaking of the racial barrier in Major League Baseball by Jackie Robinson, and the breaking of the sexual-orientation barrier by a variety of athletes, the success of the U.S. women illustrates vividly that commitment to equality and diversity does pay despite long-term, deep-seated resistance from those who disagree.

Continue Reading...

Bakken pipeline received final federal permit; land use lawsuit pending

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted the Texas-based Dakota Access company a federal permit to build the Bakken pipeline across Iowa.

Although opponents plan various forms of direct action, the best remaining chance for stopping the pipeline is a lawsuit challenging the Iowa Utilities Board’s authority to use eminent domain for a project with no legitimate public purpose.

Continue Reading...

Data Centers Do Not Make Iowa a High Tech State

Dave Swenson

The news out of West Des Moines last week was that Microsoft will add a third data center. At first glance, a data center cluster looks to be popping-up in Iowa. We have the three Microsoft projects in West Des Moines, Facebook’s two complexes on the other side of the metro in Altoona, Google’s two projects in Council Bluffs, and a smattering of smaller centers scattered about the state.

“Microsoft could build these centers anywhere in the world,” said West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer, as quoted in the Des Moines Register, but they’re building them right here in Iowa. A map of data centers across the U.S. tells us, though, that data centers of all sorts and sizes are just about everywhere there are people. In short, Iowa isn’t that special. Don’t tell West Des Moines.


Continue Reading...
View More...