Upside Down week for Iowa Republicans in Congress

In the natural order of things, members of Congress brag about the federal assistance they fought to obtain for their constituents.

The Republicans who represent Iowa in the U.S. House and Senate turned that formula on its head this week. Every one cheered the news that tens of thousands of Iowans will soon lose the federal government support they depend on.

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Unemployment insurance is not the problem

Jeff Clothier reacts to the news that Governor Kim Reynolds is pulling Iowa out of federal pandemic-related unemployment programs, effective June 12. -promoted by Laura Belin

I work as a trainer, primarily for Unemployment Insurance, for Iowa Workforce Development. Between May and September 2020 I received unemployment benefits, having been riffed from my corporate job due to COVID-19.

Some facts are left out of the discussion around ending the $300 federal contribution to weekly benefit checks for Iowa recipients. Governor Reynolds and others insinuate – without much evidence – that these federal supplements to unemployment insurance are a disincentive to people returning to the workforce.

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Cutting unemployment during pandemic is immoral, wrong

Charlie Wishman is president of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. -promoted by Laura Belin

The COVID-19 pandemic has been not only a public health disaster, but also an economic disaster. Many Iowans have experienced filing for unemployment for the first time this past year. As a result, many now realize just how important this lifeline can be for working people and their families. 

You can tell a lot about what kind of legislature we collectively elected by looking at how lawmakers respond to the economic disaster that is COVID-19. Right now, the Republican-controlled Iowa House and Senate are moving a bill forward that would reduce unemployment benefits, inexplicably, during a global pandemic. 

Are we as a state going to continue to allow the rich to stuff their pockets during this pandemic while families suffer? Or worse, will we actively encourage it? Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening now.

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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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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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