A call for responsibility, accountability, and compassion in the new year

Ras Smith represents Iowa House district 62, covering part of Waterloo. -promoted by Laura Belin

Christmas, for me, is a season of spiritual tradition, personal reflection, and service to
community. Because my mom is a pastor, I had the fortune of growing up in a faith-filled church community. Today, my own children are blessed to experience a closeness to this family faith that instills in them the importance of loving and serving our fellow humans. This makes the holiday season even more meaningful.

As I reflect upon the year, I think about the thousands of Iowans who stepped up to help one another during a global pandemic. I think about people pouring into communities to clean up, provide food, build shelter, and give moral support in the wake of the devastating derecho. I think about the sacrifices of so many essential workers across the state. This is the unbreakable spirit of Iowa, and why I love living here.

But as I reflect further, my heart also hurts for families across the state who experienced preventable suffering and loss at the hands of poor leadership.

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Most Iowans in Congress supported latest COVID-19 package

The U.S. House and Senate on December 21 approved a $2.3 trillion package to fund the federal government through September 30, 2021 and provide approximately $900 billion in economic stimulus or relief connected to the coronavirus pandemic.

No one in either chamber had time to read the legislation, which was nearly 5,600 pages long, before voting on it. Statements released by Iowans in Congress, which I’ve enclosed below, highlight many of its key provisions. The unemployment and direct payments to families are clearly insufficient to meet the needs of millions of struggling Americans. Senate Republicans blocked aid to state and local governments, many of which are facing budget shortfalls. President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to push for a much larger economic stimulus package early next year.

The legislation headed to President Donald Trump’s desk includes some long overdue changes, such as new limits on “surprise billing” by health care providers for emergency care and some out-of-network care.

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How prison abolition could save rural America

Casey Erixon: Mounting evidence suggests that prisons add little to local economies and may do more harm than good to the rural communities that host them. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the wake of the Democrats’ mixed success in the 2020 elections, many party elites have taken to blaming progressive activists, and Black Lives Matter organizers in particular, for costing the party votes in key rural areas. Most prominently U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger was characterized as “speaking hard truths” when, on a post-election conference call with House leadership, she claimed that calls by activists to defund the police were used in attack ads against her and other candidates from so-called red districts.

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The case for a simpler, values-driven Democratic Party platform

Jeremy Dumkrieger chairs the Woodbury County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2018, the Woodbury County Democrats approved the platform pasted below. It wasn’t perfect, but it was simple. It was intended to be. In fact, it could be simpler.

We wanted something we could put on a palm card to let folks know what we believe. Far too often we are bogged down by complicated rhetoric that serves only to obscure the direct message intended for everyday Iowans.

Soon the Iowa Democratic Party will host the Platform Committee’s work to finalize our state platform. I suggest they ignore specifics and finally see the bigger picture.

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Joe Biden, Theresa Greenfield best to confront challenges facing Iowa

Mitch Henry: The first step toward getting the state and the nation back on track is electing leaders with the vision and experience to deal with the challenges we face. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa faces many challenges in the months and years ahead.

On the economic front, our unemployment rate is 6 percent, nearly twice what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Iowa Leading Indicators Index, a mix of economic metrics showing where our economy is headed, “strongly suggests” that the state economy will weaken through 2021.

In health care, we are moving in the wrong direction both short-term and long-term. In the short-term, our state has been unable to get a handle on the COVID crisis. Eight months into the pandemic, we continue to set records for hospitalizations and cases. Long-term, we are going to have to help the 24,000 Iowans who have lost insurance since 2016.

Then there is the climate crisis. Whether or not you believe this summer’s derecho was a direct result of climate change, all of us can agree that warming temperatures and more severe weather will have a negative impact on our state.

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We live here, too: Dirt road Democrats in the arena

Former Republican C.J. Petersen on the values and issues that drove him to run for the Iowa Senate and become the new chair of the Carroll County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the fall of 2010, I knocked on the door of a 70-year-old woman in rural Grundy Center, Iowa. I was there on a mission: get Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds elected governor and lieutenant governor of Iowa.

The woman was kind, and we discussed the issues of the day–jobs, health care, and her feeling that our state and nation were on the wrong track. “Trust me,” I told her. “Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds are ready to lead Iowa’s comeback.”

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