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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What should Iowa's recovery look like?

Colin Gordon reviews the governor’s recent “business-friendly” decisions and suggests more productive, equitable ways to rebuild Iowa’s economy. -promoted by Laura Belin

The recently-created Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board is charged with drafting a strategy not just to speed recovery from the COVID-19 recession but, as Governor Kim Reynolds charged the board, “to modernize and really restructure our economy, our education and health care systems, our workforce and our quality of life.”

It’s a lofty goal, but first impressions do not inspire confidence.

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Kimberly Graham: Of the People, for the People, and by the People

Scott Roland is an activist from Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Introduction

Whatever we think that we are doing, it is certainly not working. We are asked to embrace some variation of the status quo that offers us ruinous household debt, political corruption that has become normalized, stagnant growth rates, perilously insecure employment, a natural environment that is on a course to become barely inhabitable, and a health care system that leaves many just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. As a society, we have fallen into a chasm, and have brought our diminished faith in American exceptionalism with us. 

These problems have been exacerbated by a complacent political class, but politicians like Kimberly Graham offer us a credible path forward. Absurdly, some have painted her as an unrealistic radical, but in much of the developed world, she would be a mainstream social democrat. Her desire is not a destructive revolution, but decency: universal publicly financed health care, wages that ensure that households live above the threshold of poverty, elections that can’t be bought by the highest bidder, a system that does not leave students shackled in debt, and a Green New Deal to address the trillions in negative externality costs related to climate change.

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Chet Culver challenges Kim Reynolds' COVID-19 workplace rules

James C. Larew is an attorney in Iowa City who served as general counsel and chief of staff for former Governor Chet Culver. -promoted by Laura Belin

Enclosed below is the full text of a letter former Governor Chet Culver sent Governor Kim Reynolds challenging the newly announced policies restricting workers from seeking unemployment compensation if they decline to return to a job, believing workplace conditions are unsafe.

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Iowans who quit over unsafe conditions may still receive unemployment

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend acknowledged on April 30 that Iowans who refuse to go back to their jobs because of unsafe working conditions will not automatically be excluded from receiving unemployment payments.

However, she warned that “it takes more than a mere assertion by the employee” to qualify for benefits under those circumstances.

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New Iowa unemployment claims set third straight weekly record

The scale of the economic collapse caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is beginning to come into view. The national economy may contract by 40 percent in the second quarter, with unemployment reaching 20 percent. One nationwide survey published this week indicated that 33 percent of voters–including 52 percent of respondents under age 45–have either lost their job, had work hours reduced, or been furloughed.

Iowa’s latest unemployment figures show yet another record number of new claims.

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