Rod Blum comes out against Republican health care plan Updated: So does David Young

A little more than two weeks after House Republicans released their alternative to the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) announced on Twitter that he will not support the American Health Care Act. According to Blum, the bill “doesn’t do enough to lower premiums for hardworking Americans. I’m a ‘no’ on current version – need to drive down actual costs!” Speaking to The Hill the same day, he added, “We need real competition driving prices down. We don’t need the government telling us what should be in an insurance policy. The government has a role to play. We need to help people who need the help.” Blum had previously said directly and through staff that he was studying the bill.

Like all other House Republicans, Blum has voted multiple times for “Obamacare” repeal bills that would have done nothing “to lower premiums for hardworking Americans,” let alone “drive down actual costs.” However, the stakes are higher now that a GOP-controlled Senate and Republican president might enact new health care legislation. I don’t know what kind of plan Blum is envisioning, but there is no magic wand Congress can wave to “help people who need the help” without the government setting minimum standards for health coverage and regulating the market in other ways.

Blum belongs to the House Freedom Caucus. Although that group has not taken an official stand against the AHCA, some of its prominent members are on various “whip counts” of Republicans opposing the bill. Since no Democrats are backing a plan that would leave millions uninsured and drive up costs for millions more, House leaders can’t spare more than 21 GOP members in any floor vote on their health care bill. Some Congress-watchers have already counted more defectors than that.

Representative Steve King (IA-04) was among the first House Republicans to come out against the AHCA. He supports “rip it out by the roots” repeal of “Obamacare” instead. I doubt the amendments unveiled this week to satisfy House conservatives will change his mind. UPDATE: A staffer told the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble on March 22 that King is “undecided–leaning no” on the bill. SECOND UPDATE: White House spokesperson Sean Spicer announced that King will support the bill. Seeking confirmation. A member of the House whip team told Jonathan Martin of the New York Times that King “went from no to yes in the WH [White House] today after assurances about Senate tweaks.” UPDATE: King released a video statement explaining his decision to support the AHCA. He’s still committed to repealing Obamacare. He hopes Republicans will strip “essential health benefits” out of the bill, paving the way for other measures he wants, like health savings accounts and selling insurance across state lines. He said he told President Donald Trump in a White House meeting today that he worked very hard for total repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but that legislation won’t be brought up this year, because leaders don’t think they can get the votes. He said he had a “firm commitment” from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a manger’s amendment to strip out “mandates” and “essential health benefits” from the House bill. King views this bill as the “best chance” for the “closest thing” to total repeal of Obamacare in the current political environment. He later tweeted that he and Trump had negotiated “the best possible improvement on ObamaCare Repeal.”

Representative David Young (IA-03) has repeatedly said he is studying the bill and the Congressional Budget Office analysis of its impact. Young’s staff have told constituents this week that he is still undecided. I consider him likely to vote yes if the bill comes to the floor–which may never happen, if leaders conclude they don’t have the votes. For what it’s worth, The Hill’s whip count put Young in the “leaning/likely no” camp because he said on March 15, “I want to make sure it is something that works in the end for all Americans, and that it would pass if it gets over to the Senate.” Several GOP senators have said the AHCA will not pass the upper chamber. UPDATE: Young announced in a March 22 statement, “While the American Health Care Act, legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, is a very good start, it does not yet get it right and therefore I cannot support it in its’ [sic] present form.” I’ve added his whole press release below.

Neither of Iowa’s U.S. senators have clarified how they would vote on the Republican bill. Senator Chuck Grassley has made conflicting statements, telling House members the bill must be changed so that insurance premiums don’t skyrocket for older people not yet eligible for Medicare. On the other hand, Grassley has said Republicans can’t afford to miss what could be their only opportunity to keep six years of promises. Senator Joni Ernst said at town-hall meetings in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines on March 17 that she is studying the AHCA’s potential impact on Iowans and insurance premiums. I hate to break it to her: no alternative plan will magically make cheap insurance widely available while maintaining guaranteed coverage for people for pre-existing conditions and letting children stay on their parents insurance through age 26.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that the Iowa Hospital Association estimates between 200,000 and 250,000 Iowans would lose their insurance coverage under the Republican plan. More on that story below.

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"Somebody else's babies"

Waterloo teacher John Grieder reflects on the “disgusting and disturbing” phrase now made famous by Representative Steve King. -promoted by desmoinesdem

So as many of you know I teach and I truly, regardless of any grumblings you may hear from me after a long day, love my job. And it’s because I love working with my students. I tremendously enjoy going to work and helping young people better understand our history, their place in the world and how to build a better future. And I fight every day to show my students that they can be whatever they set out to achieve so long as they are willing to work hard, persevere, and learn. I believe in my students, I believe in their futures, and I firmly believe that they can and will make Iowa and the United States a better place.

And my students and their families come from all over the world. I have students whose families have lived in Waterloo for decades and I have students whose families fled chaos and destruction within the last few months. I have students who have plenty and I have students with very little. And I say this not to garner sympathy or to paint a saintly picture of myself. Rather a say it because I want you to understand what a challenge the classroom can be and what hurdles face some of our students. But for all the challenges facing our children I firmly believe that they can be overcome. And I know, in my heart of hearts, that all of my students are capable of truly amazing, awe inspiring things because I see it in my classroom every single day.

So it was with an extremely heavy heart that I watched the events of the last few days unfold. And it all started, as apparently it will these days, with a tweet.

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King opposes House GOP health care plan; Blum and Young non-committal

U.S. Representative Steve King confirmed this morning that he opposes the House Republican health care replacement bill released on Monday. Like several influential conservative groups that condemned the American Health Care Act earlier this week, King believes the legislation does not go far enough. He told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “We campaigned on the full, 100 percent, I say ‘rip it out by the roots’ repeal of Obamacare, and we don’t get that with this bill.”

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Kim Weaver, Dirk Deam considering Congressional bids in IA-04

At least two Democrats are actively exploring a campaign against eight-term Republican Representative Steve King in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

Long-term care ombudsman Kim Weaver, who was King’s challenger in 2016, confirmed her interest in a repeat bid today. Bret Hayworth reported for the Sioux City Journal,

Weaver said Tuesday she is passionate about making sure people in the 4th District have strong rural education and protections that the federal Medicare and Social Security programs won’t be cut.

Weaver also told Hayworth she has name recognition and “a good framework within the district” for a campaign. In recent months, she has depicted her low-budget 2016 campaign as an efficient use of grassroots energy:

While Kim’s bid to take the seat wasn’t successful, she received a higher percentage of the vote in all 39 of her counties than both Hillary Clinton and [U.S. Senate nominee] Patty Judge. Because she was working full time while campaigning, she was unable to raise millions of dollars like other candidates. Despite this, she ran a campaign where her final dollar per vote was only $1.22. This is compared to $14.00 per vote in the 1st District and just under $10.00 per vote in the 3rd District. This shows just how well a true grassroots campaign can work.

Weaver raised only $159,626 during the 2016 election cycle but received roughly the same percentage of the vote as Jim Mowrer did in 2014, when he raised and spent more than $2 million running against King.

Click here for more background on Weaver’s life and career. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter. UPDATE: Added below a statement from Weaver on forming an exploratory committee.

Iowa State University political science Professor Dirk Deam is also exploring a Congressional campaign in IA-04. He recently discussed his plans in a Facebook post and with Iowa State Daily reporter Danielle Gehr. Scroll down for excerpts from those pieces and more background information from Deam’s Facebook page.

Election analysts, including most recently Roll Call, rate IA-04 as a “solid Republican” district. Its 39 counties contain 122,811 active registered Democrats, 194,477 Republicans, and 177,035 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Voters in IA-04 favored Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election by a 60.9 percent to 33.5 percent margin. King received about 61.2 percent of the vote against Weaver.

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David Young's weak excuse for flip-flop on Trump's tax returns

Have you wondered why U.S. Representative David Young (IA-03) voted with fellow Republicans to table indefinitely a resolution “directing the House to ask for 10 years of [President Donald] Trump’s tax returns,” only four days after telling constituents the president should release those returns?

Explaining his vote today, Young demonstrated that he is ill-suited to the task of holding Trump accountable.

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Why my conservative values make me vote for Democrats

A guest commentary by a committed activist who served on the Iowa Democratic Party Platform and Rules Committees and currently serves on a county central committee. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I believe in obeying the Constitution. The 14th Amendment says that debts of the USA shall not be questioned. Steve King–and most Republicans–voted to not raise the debt ceiling which would have put the government in default. That vote led to the downgrading of the government’s credit rating. The 14th amendment also guarantees equal protection under the law. But Republicans don’t think the Constitution applies to same sex couples who wish to marry. George W. Bush violated the constitutional rights of Americans by spying on them without a warrant. Democrats objected; Republicans didn’t. President Barack Obama nominated a replacement for the late Justice Scalia. Republicans senators refuse to do their duty and vote to confirm—or not—that nominee.

I don’t believe judges should legislate from the bench, but I do believe they must strike down laws that violate the Constitution. Republicans applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down the Washington D.C. handgun law, but went nuts when the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the law banning gay marriage. Republicans agreed when activist justices on the U.S. Supreme Court created a new right for corporations to spend unlimited secret money to try to buy our elections with misleading TV ads; Democrats want that decision overturned.

Originalists, who claim that the Constitution must be interpreted as the Founding Fathers meant it, are contradicted by the Founding Fathers themselves.

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