Bill Dix to chair Iowa branch of Simpson-Bowles effort

Republican State Senator Bill Dix will chair the Iowa branch of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles’ new nationwide “Campaign to Fix the Debt.”  

Simpson is a former Republican U.S. Senator from Wyoming. Bowles is a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. The two men co-chaired the unsuccessful National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010. They are formally launching the Campaign to Fix the Debt as a “non-partisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path.”

Although certain features of the Simpson-Bowles plan would be deeply unpopular, most politicians want to be seen as supporting the goal of debt reduction. O.Kay Henderson reported for Radio Iowa today that Dix agreed to chair the new Simpson-Bowles effort in Iowa.

“For a long time I’ve witnessed our representatives in Washington allow debt to just ratchet out of control and hopefully we can convince people that now is the time, even though it’s the 11th hour, we still can fix the problem,” Dix says. “We just need to get everybody at the table, sit down and recognize that it hampers job growth and opportunities and unfairly taxes our future generations.” […]

“What the voters have said is they want Republicans and Democrats alike to recognize the importance of finding a solution and getting it enacted,” Dix says, “sooner rather than later.” […]

“Let’s not lose hope,” Dix says. “We need to be mindful that our elected officials will listen. I believe that can happen and let’s just make sure that everybody takes the opportunity to make their voice heard.”

The Simpson-Bowles proposal included several tax increases affecting both wealthy and middle-income taxpayers. Dix has long been a protege of the Iowans for Tax Relief advocacy group. If he supports tax increases as a significant part of a comprehensive debt reduction package, I’ll know he is serious about the issue–as opposed to just searching for a new way to raise his political profile.

Dix is one of the most ambitious Iowa Senate Republicans, but last year his leadership challenge ended in an embarrassing backtrack and a different new leader of the Senate GOP caucus.

Now that Republicans led by Jerry Behn have failed to win control of the upper chamber, Dix may be well-positioned to make another leadership challenge. He is one of the legislature’s best fundraisers and gave the Iowa GOP $40,000 during 2011 alone, in addition to spreading lots of money to GOP Senate challengers in 2010. (Dix hasn’t had to file campaign disclosure reports since January 2012, because he’s not up for re-election until 2014.)

By comparison, Behn gave far less to the Iowa GOP than Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal gave to the Iowa Democratic Party. Current Senate Minority Whip Brad Zaun did very little fundraising on behalf of others in the caucus this year, even though he was unopposed in the election and represents wealthy areas in Urbandale. You can view Zaun’s financial disclosure reports here, searching for his name.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread.

  • Behn

    I’m not sure why Iowa GOPers keep changing leaders so often or being grumpy in general about their leader.  I know the leadership can play a role in a number of different matters, but I don’t think Behn did a particularly bad job in any of these areas.  People like Bartz were going to lose because of their own missteps, there isn’t much you can do for them.  

    • Behn could have done better

      with recruiting candidates (in some of the districts) and with raising money. There’s no excuse not to have Zaun out there working the big GOP donors, especially after the Ron Paul Revolution drove many of them away from giving to the state party.

    • Au contrarire.

      Bartz lost by only 120 votes and was the recipient of a lot of largesse from somewhere, if my robocall intake was any indication.

  • Fix The Debt=Trojan Horse

    …for massive corporate tax breaks.… Who could ever have anticipated that Ed Rendell would be involved in such a thing?  He has been all over MSNBC shilling for it. He and Judd Gregg are chairmen.

    From the Executive Summary:

    The Fix the Debt campaign has raised $60 million and recruited more than 80 CEOs of America’s most powerful corporations to lobby for a debt deal that would reduce corporate taxes and shift costs onto the poor and elderly.

    This report focuses on the Fix the Debt campaign’s corporate tax agenda and in particular the windfalls the campaign’s member corporations would reap from a territorial tax system. We also analyze the savings the Fix the Debt campaign’s CEOs have derived from the Bush tax cuts and how many of them received more in compensation last year than their corporations paid in federal income taxes.

    Key findings:

       The 63 Fix the Debt companies that are publicly held stand to gain as much as $134 billion in windfalls if Congress approves one of their main proposals – a “territorial tax system.” Under this system, companies would not have to pay U.S. federal income taxes on foreign earnings when they bring the profits back to the United States.

       The CEOs backing Fix the Debt personally received a combined total of $41 million in savings last year thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts. The top CEO beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, Leon Black of Apollo Global Management, saved $9.9 million on the Bush tax cuts. The private equity fund leader reaped $215 million in taxable income last year just from vested stock.

       Of the 63 Fix the Debt CEOs at publicly held firms, 24 received more in compensation last year than their corporations paid in federal corporate income taxes. All but six of these firms reported U.S. profits last year.

    full report (pdf):…


    The group is essentially a single-issue coalition and its leaders include big-name political and business figures from both parties, and former government officials, among them Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank, and Alice Rivlin, former head of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

    Billionaire investment banker Peter Peterson, who has devoted millions of dollars to raising public awareness of the deficit, has been the major underwriter of the coalition.

    Steering committee:













    It would seem like a civic-minded group of 47%ers to me.  If I could just drink enough.

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