# Infrastructure



Unrig our economy, Representative Hinson

Matt Sinovic of Progress Iowa and Sue Dinsdale of the Iowa Citizen Action Network co-authored this commentary.

When the middle class does well, we all do well. When hard-working people can earn more money, everyone benefits.

But for years the wealthy and corporations have been getting richer while working people get the short end of the stick. American families are struggling under the weight of rising costs and middle class wages that just aren’t keeping pace. 

This hasn’t happened by accident. Corporations and the extremely wealthy have rigged the economy in their favor. With their allies in Congress, like U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson, they’ve written a tax code that leaves massive corporations paying less than the average, hard-working American. 

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Hinson touts "game-changing" projects after opposing infrastructure bill

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson tried to pull a fast one on Iowans this week.

After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved funding for two lock and dam projects along the Mississippi River, Hinson took credit for the spending. “We secured $829 million in federal funding to upgrade locks & dams along the Upper Mississippi River,” she tweeted on January 19, describing the projects as “game-changing for Iowa’s agriculture industry & our Mississippi River communities!”

The trouble is, Hinson voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that provided this “game-changing” funding.

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Rural Iowa and an approach to political dialogue

Charles Bruner: Democrats need to recognize rural Iowans’ frustration with the political system and start finding common ground.

Broadly generalizing, rural Iowans are good folk. They work hard and play by the rules, care about their neighbors, and seek to leave a future where their children can succeed and prosper. If an African American family moves in next door, they welcome them with fresh-based bread or cookies. They regard a child with Down syndrome reaching the age of majority as a part of the community and look out to see that youth is supported by and included in community life. They are entrepreneurs and tinker to be good stewards in preserving the land and community, in the context of a corporate agricultural economy.

Those qualities may not distinguish them greatly from city folk, but rural Iowans frequently have much more sense of and hands-on involvement in community life.

They also are older, whiter, and less likely to have college degrees than their urban counterparts. In 2008 and 2012, nearly half of Iowans outside large metro areas voted for Barack Obama for president. But a third of those who had voted for Obama switched away from the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. Donald Trump received about two-thirds of the rural Iowa vote in 2020.

Democrats have been wringing their hands over this shift – and the change in the county coffee shop conversations that must have occurred in small-town and rural Iowa.

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Once again, Democrats are in denial

Ira Lacher: Why is it so difficult for Democrats to do what Republicans are great at—seize an issue and run with it in a straight line to pay dirt?

On November 2, Democrats took a shellacking, losing the governorship of Virginia and nearly New Jersey, along with many local elections, once again illustrating they can’t convince enough Americans they share their values. Three days later, proving Napoleon’s adage “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap,” some doubled down.

Despite the Democratic-controlled U.S. House finally passing President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill that promises to repair dangerously broken bridges and highways, hasten to bring broadband internet to hundreds of rural counties, and enable scores of other improvements throughout much of America, six Democrats believed it still wasn’t progressive enough, and voted against it.

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What the bipartisan infrastructure bill will spend in Iowa

The state of Iowa will receive approximately $5 billion from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill headed to President Joe Biden’s desk, according to calculations published by U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03). Axne, the lone Democrat in Iowa’s Congressional delegation, was among the 215 Democrats and thirteen Republicans who approved the bill late in the evening on November 5. (Procedural matters earlier in the day led to the two longest votes in U.S. House history.)

Iowa’s three Republicans in the chamber—Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04)—opposed the infrastructure legislation.

When the Senate approved the same bill in August, Iowa’s Republicans landed on opposite sides, with Senator Chuck Grassley supporting the infrastructure package and Senator Joni Ernst voting against it.

HOW FUNDS WILL BE SPENT IN IOWA

The bill involves about $550 billion in spending not previously approved by Congress. Axne’s news release estimated Iowa’s share of several large pieces. Our state stands to receive:

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