This Old House

Paul W. Johnson is a preacher’s kid, former Peace Corps Volunteer, former state legislator, former chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service/Natural Resources Conservation Service, former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and a retired farmer. -promoted by Laura Belin

As my life’s journey winds down, I often wake at night and mull over the wonderful life this world, my country, my state, my community, and my friends and family have given me.  Music has been an important part of my life. 

The gospel songs I learned in church, the country and western and pop music of the 1950s came first. Then came classical music.  Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto in D – tense, boisterous, serene. It could be the theme music of my life. Or the theme music of the 300-year-old white oaks in our woods. Or of the Monarch butterflies that stop by our prairies in fall and feast on the nectar of the late-blooming asters before the north winds send them on a wild ride to their winter hangouts in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico.

Recently Stuart Hamblen’s song of the 1950s, This Old House, has washed over me. It goes, “Ain’t a gonna need this house no longer, Ain’t a gonna need this house no more.” 

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Why this Republican will caucus for Pete Buttigieg

Bill Jackson: “Mayors can’t talk, study and wait. If problems appear, they have to deal with them.” -promoted by Laura Belin

I’m a lifelong Republican who served in the administrations of former Governors Robert Ray and Terry Branstad. I was proud and privileged to do so because of my respect for them, and for my regard of the principles of the party we represented.

The reality is that the Republican Party left me years ago with the election of Donald Trump. He doesn’t believe in the need to balance budgets, to have a foreign policy based on collaboration with world partners, or the importance of treating others whom he dislikes or disagrees with basic decency. These things, and the fact that his words and actions have led to a horribly divided country and to a world with less respect for American leadership, all lead me to look for a different kind of person to lead this nation.

On February 3, I’m switching my party registration to Democrat and caucusing for Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Bleeding Heartland's coverage of U.S. Senate, House races in 2019

After the wipeout of 2016, I questioned whether Iowa’s top races of 2018 and 2020 would be foregone conclusions for the Republican incumbents. But amid unusually high turnout for a midterm election, Democratic challengers flipped two U.S. House seats and fell only a few points short against Governor Kim Reynolds and Representative Steve King.

One of my goals for 2019 was to provide in-depth reporting on Iowa’s federal and state legislative races. Thanks to our nonpartisan redistricting system, none of our four Congressional districts are considered safe for either party in 2020. While U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is still favored to win a second term, she is increasingly seen as a vulnerable GOP incumbent.

Follow me after the jump for a review of Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of the campaigns for U.S. Senate and House, with links to all relevant posts. A separate post will cover the year’s stories about battleground legislative districts.

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Latest reform won't help vast majority of Iowans disenfranchised over felonies

On the same day Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear restored voting rights to some 140,000 constituents who previously committed nonviolent crimes, Governor Kim Reynolds rolled out an incremental step to make it easier for Iowans to regain their voting rights after completing a felony sentence.

It was the fourth time the application process has been simplified in nearly nine years since Governor Terry Branstad restored Iowa’s lifetime ban on voting after a felony conviction.

Although the new policy may marginally increase the number of Iowans who can cast a ballot in 2020, it will leave tens of thousands of Iowans unable to vote for years. It’s not clear the governor’s office will be able to process all of the new applications in time for next year’s general election.

Reynolds could mostly solve this problem in a day. She clings to an unconvincing rationale for not doing so.

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Hundreds of Iowans are alive today thanks to Medicaid expansion

Expanding Medicaid “saved the lives of at least 19,200 adults aged 55 to 64” during the four years after the Affordable Care Act went into effect, including an estimated 272 Iowans, according to a new paper by Matt Broaddus and Aviva Aron-Dine for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Conversely, 15,600 older adults died prematurely because of state decisions not to expand Medicaid. […] The lifesaving impacts of Medicaid expansion are large: an estimated 39 to 64 percent reduction in annual mortality rates for older adults gaining coverage.

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