After several weeks of hinting he may join the U.S. Senate primary race, later today Sioux City based professor and radio host Sam Clovis will hold a press conference.
Though he was coy regarding the specifics, and refused to say it is even in regards to the Senate race, he told the Sioux City Journal, “I’ll be making an announcement that affects my future, and certainly my future on the radio, and it is a commitment for something down the road.â€Â Saying the announcement will affect his radio talk show job certainly suggests he is runningâ€”as once he has legally filed the FCC political broadcasting rules come into play and the station would be forced to give equal air-time to his opponents should they request it.Â As a reaction to this most stations require a radio personality-turned-candidate to temporarily step down.
He also went on to tell the Sioux City Journal, â€œI’ve been a natural leader my whole life and I think those are, again, skills that are very lacking in Washington. Because we don’t have people who are willing to stand up and tell people the truth and then stick to their principles to make sure that happens. Everything seems to be about self-interest, nothing seems to be about the people of the country…I’ve been an executive; I’ve been in business, non-profit, for-profit, education, military service second to none, a very distinguished career there. So I have all of the credentials that one would need to be a person that one would look to lead and do the things that are necessary to lead this country, particularly if one pursued public office in the United States Senate.â€
What This Means
While itâ€™s standard to not give away the headline and tell the media what the press conference is specifically for, the language â€œa commitment for something down the roadâ€ strikes me as a little strange if this were going to be a straight announcement.Â It would be unorthodox, but perhaps it will be a commitment to run if he sees the other candidates as not succeeding or not being sufficiently Conservative for him.Â If he is not running Iâ€™m guessing he will at a minimum be seeking an audience with the currently declared candidates to talk issues.
Should he be announcing a decision to run in a few hours, we will have more information on his background (which is pretty extensive) and analysis on how the race would be impacted in the coming days.
Since he has already said publicly that he would be a â€œred-meat Conservativeâ€â€”itâ€™s pretty obvious where heâ€™d want to move the discourse.
The Following is a guest post written by Polk County GOP Co-Chair Chad Brown
County leadership is on the move all across the state of Iowa this year. The 2nd District Executive Committee became the third Iowa Congressional District to re-activate.
This meeting convened in Washington, Iowa, on the morning of June 8. Judy Davidson, Scott County Chair, was elected 2nd District Executive Committee Chairwoman with 18 votes, beating parliamentarian Don Racheter, who received 9 votes. The meeting lasted 1 hour 35 minutes and included the election of officers, approval of the proposed rules, discussion on the 2014 Caucuses, District Convention and State Convention, as well as discussing consistent statewide District rules and lastly organizational announcements.
â€œI thought we had great attendance,â€ said Davidson. â€œWe had 28 out of 51 current executive committee members attend our meeting on one of the first nice Saturdays this summer. I think it was a good event.â€
Personally, the re-activation of these D.E.C.â€™s is very near and dear to my heart. As Co-Chair of the most populated county in the state of Iowa, I understand the challenges that go along with my specific county organization. Also, as an active officer of the recently re-activated 3rd District Executive Committee, I have learned much about the challenges faced by those in my neighboring counties. This is due, in part, to meeting and speaking with leaders of other counties more often and getting to know them more closely than I had in the past. This is why District Executive Committees have traditionally provided a vital ingredient to the success of the Republican Party in Iowa. Their important role is detailed in the RPI Constitution.
Traditionally, the Republican Party is built as a grass roots Party that was always strong because it had a firm foundation and was built from the ground up. Unfortunately, the District Executive Committees were deactivated within recent years, and that vacuum was filled by powerful groups that dominated the leadership selection process by preventing Republican County leaders from talking to each other and promoting leadership from the grass roots. We want to restore the grass roots to the Republican Party and include more people.
Itâ€™s unfortunate that these long-standing Committees were deactivated and silenced, but the countiesâ€™ executive leadership in the districts are getting back to basics! â€œI think this morningâ€™s meeting went really well,â€ spoke Trudy Caviness of Wapello County. â€œOur goal was to organize 2nd District, and we accomplished our goal. Plus, I really liked how everyone was allowed to make announcements. I thought the additions to the rules were good. That shows people looked at the rules and read them.â€
Our District Executive Committees are here to improve and unify the Republican Party and get more people involved. This is an exciting time as we begin to restore an important tradition of grass roots to the Republican Party of Iowa. â€œI think itâ€™s so important to give information to the candidates and campaigns,â€ said Karen Fesler of Johnson County. â€œCandidates can now make one call and can get information on the county organizations and when and whereÂ the county central committee meetings are held.Â Itâ€™s a benefit to all of us to meet and work together. Anytime you can create another source for candidates, the media, committees, to get information about Republicans, itâ€™s another way to reach out to people and help our Party. This is a good thing.â€
â€œI see these D.E.C.â€™s as another resource in helping elect Republicans on the district-wide as well as statewide level,â€ added Caviness. Trudy Caviness was elected 2nd D.E.C. Co-Chair, and Karen Fesler was elected 2nd D.E.C. Secretary. Additionally, the body elected two at-large members for the Executive Committee.Â Matt Green was elected over Don Racheter for the first position. Don Racheter then ran and won against Wesley Westmorland on the second ballot to fill the second position. â€œI think it will be a good resource for any district-wide and statewide candidate,â€ continued Caviness. â€œI think that by working together, the county leadership will be a part of a group and be working for the same goal. In recent years there havenâ€™t been many opportunities for new Chairs and Co-Chairs to get together. This will give them the resource of giving new Chairs/Co-Chairs the shared knowledge from people who have been in their shoes. This will be a good support group for the counties.â€
Chad Brown, Polk County GOP Co-Chair and 3rd Congressional District Executive Committee Secretary
Though the U.S. Senate race in Iowa is only in the pre-natal stage the Des Moines Register hasnâ€™t wasted any time in displaying the partisan favoritism it has become infamous forâ€”an impressive feat given the race is only a few months old and has only a combined three candidates declared.
In the last month they have run two stories solely based on Democratic talking points, a practice they have failed to reciprocate for the other side, and flat-out offered no coverage of a significant Republican event.
What makes this so damaging is that there is no shortage of releases from the DSCCâ€™s counterpart in Washingtonâ€”the National Republican Senatorial Committeeâ€”but they seem unable to merit the same ink.Â I routinely get these releases from the NRSC and if they are well sourced and fact based I occasionally run them.Â An example would be the following from yesterday:
June 5, 2013
Lawyer Speak: Braley Misleads Iowa Students…Says Student Loan Rates Must be Kept from Doubling, But Votes Against Legislation to Extend Lower Rates for Iowa Students
Bruce Braley isn’t fooling anyone. The slick former head of the trial lawyers association and liberal loyalist to Nancy Pelosi – in true trial lawyer fashion – is trying to fool Iowa voters yet again, this time about the rising cost of student loans.
Less than two weeks ago, Bruce Braley voted AGAINST a bill on the House floor that would have extended a lower rate for Iowa students’ loans. Bruce Braley might be able to fool a jury, but he can’t fool Iowans.
SHOT: @TeamBraley – Help @BruceBraley’s effort to keep college affordable by adding your name here…. #DontDoubleMyRate #IAProblemSolver
CHASER: Bruce Braley Voted Against A Bill To Extend A Lower Rate For Student Loans. â€œPassage of the bill that would tie student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate. Interest rates on all federal student loans (except Perkins loans) issued on or after July 1, 2013 would be set each year at the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percent. Rates for graduate and parent PLUS loans would be set at the 10-year note plus 4.5 percent. Overall interest rates would be capped at 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.â€ (H.R. 1911, CQ Vote #183: Passed 221-198: R 217-8; D 4-190, 5/23/13, Braley Voted Nay)
If Bruce Braley was actually worried about student loan rates, why did he oppose a bill to prevent the rates from doubling for Iowa students in less than a month?Â Why is he hiding from his vote?
“Preventing student loan rates from crushing Iowa students who are already struggling should be an issue of bipartisan agreement in Washington, but Bruce Braley would rather politicize the issue than actually help the struggling middle class.Â Braley’s misleading trial lawyer speak is just the latest example of his slick attempt to fool the jury – Iowa voters.Â Iowans are too smart for that.”said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen.
The second example of this behaviorâ€”also from the aforementioned Jennifer Jacobsâ€”came just yesterday via a story on a â€œsnarkyâ€ website just launched by the Iowa Democratic Party.Â The website makes a pretty juvenile attempt at poking fun of newly declared Republican candidate David Young.Â You can check it out here if you wish (http://welcometoia.com/), but Iâ€™m not going to give it any more play.Â The point here is the story published by the Register gave this Democratic effort everything it wantedâ€”publicity and exposure.
Whatâ€™s Not News?
A further slap in the face to Republican candidate David Young was the paper not even covering his official campaign announcement last Saturday at a restaurant in Van Meterâ€”this is inconceivable.Â So to recap hereâ€”the Register canâ€™t find the time or personnel to cover the announcement of a serious Republican candidate for the United States Senateâ€¦but they have the time and space to promote a Democrat website created to mock him.Â Itâ€™s just ridiculous.
This is merely a continuation of blatant biasâ€”my all-time favorite was the Republican presidential endorsement debacleÂ from 2008, which if you havenâ€™t seen you need to click the link.Â The Registerâ€™s economic struggles of late have been well documented.Â Though I concede much of this is due to the struggle of integrating a web-based model, itâ€™s hard not to assume a portion of the problem is their distinct and continuing partisan slant.
What kind of business model rejects and insults the sensibilities of what amounts to nearly half of their potential customer base?Â Answer: A struggling one that will continue to be further marginalized unless they change course and offer some balance.
Two days after Chuck Grassleyâ€™s chief-of-staff David Young filed his paperwork, Ankeny native Matt Whitaker has officially joined the Republican U.S. Senate primary.
With around 50 supporters and media members in attendance at Accumoldâ€”an Ankeny plastics manufacturerâ€”Whitaker took to the podium to spell out why he is campaigning to replace Democrat Tom Harkin as one of Iowaâ€™s two voices in the Senate.
After introducing his wife Marci, he spoke of his days growing up in Ankeny and playing football at The University of Iowaâ€”then he turned to the concerning direction he views our country heading in.Â When looking at the current happenings in Washington D.C. he sees a â€œgovernment that is stealing from our futureâ€.Â He then made the point personal by adding, â€œIâ€™m not sure I can look my kids in the eye and honestly say there will be better days.Â We have promised our children that they will have the American Dream, but the only thing we seem to be handing them now is $50,000 in debt for every man, woman, and child.â€
Whitaker described his vision of the American spirit as, â€œhaving the conviction to take advantage of the opportunities this great country offers and to pass it on to the next generationâ€.Â He wasted no time in linking the man who would be his opponent should he win the primaryâ€”Rep. Bruce Braleyâ€”to President Obama, â€œThere is no doubt in my mind that Bruce Braley and Barack Obama will not make America strongâ€.Â He went on to say his candidacy will be an effort to counter-act this reality and ended by stating, â€œIâ€™m going to take a stand to take our country backâ€”and that stand starts today.â€
The highlight of the speech was the following excerpt:
â€œBruce Braley and Barack Obama are making our country weak and they are taking away our futureâ€”not on my watch.Â They want a Senate that thinks entitlements are better than liberty, they think subsidies are better than opportunity, they think itâ€™s OK for the government to require you to buy a product from a private business, and even worse they donâ€™t even read the bills they pass.Â Washington needs every person that goes there to have the stomach to face the problems, the brains to understand them, and the heart to rally Iowans to solve these significant problems.â€
Following the speech Whitaker took questions from a gaggle of reporters.Â For some reason many of the questions were trivial and odd in nature, however, there were two significant exchanges and they went as follows:
Question:Â Where would you want to cut Federal spending?
Answer:Â â€œI think you need to look at the whole Federal budget.Â I think right now the first place Iâ€™d look would be foreign aidâ€”I think we are sending too much money to people who donâ€™t like us.Â I think we also need to look at our support of the U.N. and how much weâ€™re giving when they keep passing resolutions not friendly to the United Statesâ€.
Question:Â Whatâ€™s your take on the immigration reform law going through Congress right now?
Answer:Â â€œI donâ€™t support amnesty.Â As a former prosecutor I enforced immigration laws and I understand theyâ€™re broken.Â Iâ€™ve been to the borders in Canada and Mexico and I see the significant challenges we face.Â With the current bill, again, I donâ€™t support amnesty or a path to citizenship, but I do think we need to fix the problem and secure the borderâ€
The next phase in the primary process for all Iowa Republicans to watch is who else will join the fieldâ€”as there is very little chance that this will be a two-way contest between David Young and Matt Whitaker.Â In the next few weeks the slate of candidates will become much clearer.Â The following four Republicans are mulling it over and all have publicly expressed interest in the primary:Â State Senator Joni Ernst (who has said she will make her decision known soon), former gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts, businessman Mark Jacobs, and former state central committee member Drew Ivers.
Well, another class of high school graduates are killing time until they begin their college experience. In four, five, or six years, many of them will graduate from college, and move to Dallas County so they can work as temps at Wells Fargo.
Meanwhile, town squares across Iowa are emptying out. Iâ€™ve spent some time exploring small towns in rural Iowa, and there are common threads that threaten to further damage the prospects of the young, and may even threaten the existence of many towns across the state.
And so it goes; young people leave to try and buy jobs that donâ€™t matter (and often donâ€™t exist in large numbers), buildings stand unused, and eventually the towns just collapse into stagnant malaise.
What Muscatine Has To Say
Muscatine is a unique town; the downtown fell into disuse as businesses moved to the ring road, but Muscatine kept some relatively large manufacturing and agribusiness installations, as well as banking and insurance industries. This meant that there was cheap, unused store space downtown, and a population with enough disposable income to support a restaurant culture which is unique in my experience.
Italian, Mexican, and Korean (called the Yakky Shack, it was a personal favorite of mine) can be on the menu for any given meal. Avenue Subs, just around the block from my former law office, is truly unique. Their sandwiches cost more than the chain sandwich restaurants, but the place was always busy at lunch time.
If you can re-create their menu reasonably well, you could open up in any mid-sized Iowa town and Iâ€™d bet you would do very well – if you can keep start-up costs down.
What Can Communities Do?
I am often accused of â€œhaving no answers,â€ and â€œbeing negative and critical,â€ and â€œbeing mean.â€ Well, I am an intensely unpleasant person in many ways, pessimism is the lubricant of victory, and I donâ€™t believe in the governmentâ€™s ability to solve social or economic problems – which translates into â€œhaving no answersâ€ when you live in a society enamored by Statism.
In towns and counties across the state there are established businesses, and many of them have working relationships with chambers of commerce or local economic development corporations.
Some of these business interests and organizations have either direct control of vacant retail space or contacts with property owners with retail, warehouse or light-industrial space to offer but with no available takers.
So, how about a community-level angel investor network? Why donâ€™t we put young entrepreneurs together with established business owners or property owners to help them raise start-up capital – cash, space, or equipment – for their own small businesses.
What businesses? Thatâ€™s the beauty of it – I donâ€™t know. I think the sandwich shop idea would work well in any town of about 5,000 + people, especially if you can get space within walking distance of the largest employer in town, the school, or the college.
Maybe internet commerce, custom clothing, fresh foods, computer game design, who knows.
But, College is Important for Jobs Skillsâ€¦..
No, it is not. The idea that your young go-getter will be more entrepreneurial after spending half a decade with tenured academics is laughable. If you need to learn accounting, take accounting at community college part-time for a fraction of the cost.
Why canâ€™t Iowa become the youth start-up capital of the country? Why must we continue to shuffle the young and the (presumably) ambitious into expensive colleges only to graduate with the pressure of debt and depleted financial resources pushing them towards the work-a-day life that could disappear in the next round of layoffs?
Iâ€™m Just a Lawyer, butâ€¦
Now, I am perfectly willing to admit that I am not the exemplar of my own advice – think of me as the desert hermit the protagonist seeks out for guidance. That is probably why I was attracted to the law, and most ofÂ my legal career has involved debtor-creditor law, so I know how debt can screw up a life or a business venture.
This is how the Chamber of Commerce can help. They can assemble angel investors with cash, equipment, or space available. They can arrange discounts for accounting and legal services for things like taxation and payroll. They can send experienced businesspeople into the schools to speak on business creation, promote self-employment, and whatever else they can think of to encourage young Iowans to consider independent livelihoods without the need for debt financing.
If you fail, then start over with a different idea. If you succeed, then you owe me lunch.
The Washington D.C. based organization tasked with electing Republicans to the United States Senate–the NationalÂ Republican Senatorial Committee–is taking a new and proactive approach in achieving their mission this cycle.Â Part of this strategy has included reaching out early to various political writers and thinkers in Senatorial battleground states–and you guessed it we qualify–to form relationships basedÂ on our shared cause.
Another element of this strategy is being visible early and often with what has become a hallmark of modern political messaging–the web ad.Â Below is an exclusive first look at what I’m being told will be a continuing series of web ads making the case for Republican principles.Â It is very well put together and offers some insight into what kinds of narratives we will see from Republicans not only here in IowaÂ next year–but in all the battleground states in 2014.
The young Republicans you will seeÂ do not appearÂ by chance.Â The Party has an incredible wealth of young talented leaders at the moment and these are the folks who are presently both framing the debate and effectively communicating the Conservative ideology nationwide.Â Â UndoubtedlyÂ this younger generation will exclusively be responsible for the Republican brandÂ over the next 15-20 years–and the RNSC is smart to start highlighting them early.
The potential field of candidates for Iowa’s open U.S Senate seat has further narrowed as current Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has bowed out.
Tuesday he took to twitter to make the announcement and also sent an exclusive statement to The Iowa Republican.com–who have made a habit lately of further diminishing the Des Moines Register by breaking stories.Â The statement reads as follows:
Over the past few weeks I have been truly humbled by the encouragement I have received from Iowans to run for the U.S. Senate.
After many conversations with my family and friends about the U.S. Senate race, I keep coming back to the fact that I love serving Iowans as their Secretary of State.
In my first two years as Secretary of State we have worked to increase voter participation with our â€œHonor a Veteranâ€ program and our partnership with Rock the Vote to encourage young people to vote through Rock Iowa. We have made it easier to start a business in Iowa by streamlining the filing process, and we used technology to make voting easier by creating apps that allow voters to find their polling place and track their absentee ballots right from their cell phones. We have also created an electronic poll book, â€œExpress Voterâ€, to make voting easier on Election Day.
While I am proud of our achievements, there is more to accomplish. I will continue working to improve the business climate in Iowa and fighting for integrity in our elections. This is why I am going to run for re-election as Iowaâ€™s Secretary of State.
Schultz would certainly have been a serious candidate and his decision to sit this out surprised many.Â Â He flewÂ out to Washington D.C a few weeks ago for meetings, and I highly doubt they told him anything overly negative.Â The notion that Bruce Braley is an overwhelming favorite in the general is flat-out an illusion–he can be beat and I’m confident Schultz heard this in D.C.
As his statement suggests, a major factor was you get the sense he truly does–for now–Â love being Secretary of State.Â Having said that, I can’t help but think if the calendar had been kinder and he wouldn’t of had to give up his current job to put his name on a ballot–he would have done so.
Republicans will see Schultz plenty in the future, and the last hidden factor to consider is this–we have another Senate seat in the state;Â right now it’sÂ held by someone as old as the Republic, and that election falls in a S.O.S off-year.Â Additionally the next few years can be served raising his profile when he wants to, speaking at Republican events,Â and building a wide donor base.Â I bet all this added up to “Schultz for Senate 2016” having a better sounding ring to it.
Soon after the final votes of the Iowa legislative session were taken late last week, many legislators from both Parties took to multiple media platforms trumpeting the â€œhistoricâ€ and â€œsweepingâ€ positive reforms they had just passed.Â I would love to fully concurâ€”and if I happened to be a Democrat I certainly wouldâ€”but as a Conservative Republican I am less than impressed with some of these â€œachievementsâ€.
Of the three major compromises reached I believe, at the most, Conservatives should be â€œsomewhat satisfiedâ€ by the understandable terms reached on tax reform and health insurance coverage.Â However, I am deeply disappointed by what has passed as â€œreformâ€ in Iowaâ€™s K-12 education system.Â The following will focus on education reform and later in the week we will deal with the tax and health insurance issues.
Making Appropriate Distinctions
In general I believe House and Senate Republicans grossly misread and under-valued the strength of their handâ€”particularly in dealing with education reform.Â In all fairness, the tax reform and health insurance issues had different dynamics surrounding them and this criticism applies less in these areas.
The reason for the differing standard in my mind on the tax and health insurance issues was that in these two areas inaction would have resulted in direct negative consequences for Iowansâ€”higher taxes and un-insured citizens.Â However, when it came specifically to public education reform the status-quo would not have concretely damaged anyoneâ€”a point made more painful by the likelihood the reforms that were passed will have no positive impact.
Just to be clear, I am making a key distinction between the public education reforms and the home schooling reforms contained in the bill.Â I strongly support any action that makes it easier for homeschoolers to operate and expandâ€”and I do not necessarily begrudge them for supporting this reform as a means to achieve it.Â The real tragedy here is the sad construct in which this group has to â€œbuyâ€ these reforms by supporting increased money for an ever-expanding and shamefully ineffective education leviathan.Â The truth is the vast majority of home schooling families pay taxes to support a system which they often-wisely opt out ofâ€”and then ironically proceed to outperform while simultaneously funding.
Public Education Reform
The best way to go about exposing this bill as the completely ineffective piece of legislation I believe it to be is by asking 6 simple questions.Â Since we as taxpayers will be spending an additional $160 million dollars a year, answering these questions shouldnâ€™t be too much to askâ€”unfortunately I have a strong suspicion that even those who voted for it canâ€™t provide many answers.
1.Â How and when will we know this reform has worked?
By this I mean what specific metric or metrics can be looked at to prove this reform has or hasnâ€™t worked?Â Additionally what date on the calendar will we be able to make this assessment?Â At a minimum Republicans should of asked these questions and demandedÂ the answers be written into the bill.Â Surely this isnâ€™t too much to ask for.
2. Why didnâ€™t the 35.4% increase in K-12 education spending (an additional $650 million) that we have had since 2002 produce any positive results?
A seemingly common-sense question to ask I would say.Â It would be one thing if this reform came on the heels of us having starved the system of money for decadesâ€”but this simply isnâ€™t the case.Â What specifically did this massive increase (including 4% allowable growth every year under Gov. Culver) in spending since 2002 go to?Â Was it supposed to raise test scores?â€”I hope not because if so it clearly didnâ€™t.
3. Are we to honestly believe that every member of the Iowa House (91-0) and 80% of the Iowa Senate (40-10) looked at this legislation and all independently concluded it would deliver fantastic results?Â And further that these results would justify spending an additional $160 million a year?
I fully understand the concept of compromising, and that doing so will deliver a more bi-partisan roll callâ€”but letâ€™s be serious here.Â Anytime Ako Abdul-Samad and Tom Shaw are voting together on a major reform that spends hundreds of millions of dollars and affects every child in Iowa we have to be skeptical.Â Unless Iâ€™m missing something I see only two possible reasons for thisâ€”and neither are good.Â One is that many out of town members just wanted to go home (which I doubt), and two is that so many random offerings were made by both sides it was just palpable enough for each caucus to vote for (which I believe).Â If so, this approach will never result in a meaningful, affordable, and wise solution.
4. Why does it continue to be acceptable not to evaluate teachers, at least in part, by the actual results they achieve in a classroom over the course of a school year?Â And what kind of people refuse to stop the practice of passing 3rd graders on to the next grade when they canâ€™t even read?Â And whose interest are they honestly serving in doing so?
The answers in order are: the teachers union, disgraceful ones, and their own.Â This is where true education reform lies and the fact Republicans can only get a â€œstudy councilâ€ on teacher evaluation is absurdâ€”too mad to expound on any further.
5. How were teachers able to have such high-performance in the late 1980â€™s and mid-90â€™s and not in the 2000â€™s and beyond?
In the early 90â€™s Iowa led the nation in reading and math scoresâ€”but those days are long gone.Â Today we face disturbing realities like this oneâ€”only 3 other states in the nation (2 of which are in the Deep South) have less 8th graders enrolled in some form of advanced math by grade 8.Â Furthermore, the performance of minority students in math at this level is alarmingly low and trials other students by up to 30%.
During this debate we have heard a lot about starting teacher pay in Iowa.Â While this is an important number, lost in shuffle is the fact that the average teacher salary in Iowa has increased from $36,480 in 2001 to $49,622 in 2010.Â The teachers union will say this steep increase was due to the fact Iowa teachers were among the lowest paid in the late 90â€™s-early 2000â€™s and this in part is true.Â But then I ask: if they were among the lowest paid and salary equates to performanceâ€”how could they possibly have had Iowa kids achieving at such a high level?Â Also, the fact remains they saw a large increase in pay and responded with flat-lining and worsening performance.Â By the way, if the teacher’s union is ready to start blaming the kids or their parents for worsening test scores Iâ€™m ready to listen.
6. Why does â€œreformâ€ always mean spending more money?Â Why canâ€™t it ever be spending the same amount of money but in a smarter wayâ€”or even (gasp) spending less?
Maybe someday we will try it…I bet it would be just as effective if not more so.
Though controlling only the Senate and not having the House or the Governorâ€™s officeâ€”Democrats got well over half of what they were after with this bill and have to be privately ecstatic.Â They managed to get additional money both for 1st year and veteran teachers, 4% allowable growth this year and next, and have again avoided being evaluated on their actual results.Â Republicans should and couldÂ have done much betterâ€”and if they couldnâ€™t they should have done nothing.
And the final insultâ€”I canâ€™t be the only one who sees the irony that we apparently have to create â€œcareer pathwaysâ€ with increased pay for our not-so-good teachers to be taught by other teachers how to teach betterâ€¦and this is after the not-so-good teacher already graduated from a college that apparently did a not-so-good job teaching them how to teach in the first place.Â A sign of the times I guess…
One of my favorite self-coined terms is “legi-saurs”.Â As you may guess it refers to politicians at all levels of government who get elected–and then never go away.
Like many on the right I am convinced this semi-permanent presence in the halls of power is a destructiveÂ one in politics.Â These careers start innocently enough.Â The member actually has a job in the private sector, lives as a normal citizen, and regardless of ideology brings fresh ideas and solutions to the table.Â Â But in most cases, over time, theyÂ eventually detach from the economyÂ by not working Â outside the Capitol, they develop grudgesÂ against their colleages,Â their ideas and thinking become stale, and they learn to play the legislative process like a game.
Here in Iowa
This happens at all levels in both Parties and unsurprisingly Iowa is not immune.Â Our current six Federal representatives have an average of 19 1/2 years in office, with both our Senators having 39 years each.Â While on average the Iowa Legislature isn’t as bad, looking through our current Senate reveals several examples ofÂ a certain timeless creature…legi-saurs.Â For whatever reason this phenomenon in Iowa is more popular among Democrats, with the longest serving Republicans being elected in 1993 (Hubert Houser and Sandy Greiner).Â This doesn’t hold a candle to the imperial reign of the 5 longest serving Iowa Democrats–one of which who has been serving for 40 years.Â Here’s theÂ list:
Bob Dvorsky – since 1987
Jack Hatch – since 1985 (out of officeÂ 93′ to 01′)
Mike Gronstal – since 1983
Dennis Black – since 1983
Wally Horn – since 1973!
I’m notÂ going to go throughÂ all the arguments and counter-arguments for term limits here– I think we all know them (for=incumbency offers name ID, party infrastructure, media coverage, a donor base, special interest moneyÂ etc. and against=”we have term limits…they areÂ called elections”).Â I will say however that the best question to ask someone who opposes term limits is, “SoÂ you support removingÂ them for Presidency I assume?”–I’ve yet to hear anybody ever answer “yes”.
Below is a proposal released last week and co-written by both a current Republican and a Democrat serving in the U.S. House.Â It is meant to be applied at the Federal level, but it would essentially work the same here in Iowa.Â It is superbly well thought out, simple in nature,Â plainly written, makes the case for why term limits are needed, and offers aÂ realistic way to make it happen.
I vote Yes!
Finally, A Bi-Partisan Solution on Term Limits
Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) written with Congressman Beto Oâ€™Roarke (D-TX)
Many in our country and in the districts we represent feel that Congress is out of touch and that members are more focused on re-election than on providing real solutions to our nationâ€™s biggest challenges. We hear from constituents all the time that there is a lack of urgency and focus when it comes to solving our countryâ€™s toughest issues like tackling the deficit and putting policies in place that will lead to economic growth.
The two of us, freshman members from different parties with divergent views on many issues, have come together because we believe a healthy debate is warranted on how we best serve the American people and whether, in a time of enormous powers of incumbency and multi-million dollar campaigns for Congress, we can be better public servants and curb the corrupting influence of money and power by limiting a memberâ€™s term in office.
Public opinion in favor of term limits for members of Congress is unquestionable. A Gallup poll released this past January reflects the same trend seen year after year from countless reputable research firms. Overall, 75 percent of American adults responding to the survey were in favor of implementing term limits and the support is unanimous across party lines.
That support stands in stark contrast to the overall approval rating of Congress, which hovers somewhere around 15 percent. Despite the unpopularity of Congress as a whole, sitting members still win re-election about 90 percent of the time due to the overwhelming benefits of incumbency. A system that rewards poor performance with job security is clearly in need of a shake-up. Congressional term limits could be the change needed to steer the institution back in the right direction.
Our proposal is a simple constitutional amendment. It does not prescribe the number of terms a member can serve; rather, it gives Congress the constitutional authority to pass and implement term limits. The reason for this structure is that by taking away the details from the amendment process, the likelihood of passage increases. We believe that even members who are philosophically opposed to term limits would support a constitutional amendment providing the legislative branch with the ability to debate and vote on the issue.
Despite widespread popularity, congressional term limits are incredibly difficult to implement because doing so requires a constitutional amendment with two-thirds of both chambers as well as ratification by three-fourths of Americaâ€™s state legislatures. Having super majorities agree on the details of term limits, including the exact number of terms, is nearly impossible. Since 1995, there have been several attempts to move specific term limits amendments, but all have ended right where they began by being voted down in the House.
Previous term limit efforts have also failed because the only people who can begin the process to impose term limits are those who will be most affected â€“ incumbent members of Congress. By voting in favor of, or even publicly supporting a term limits amendment, a member of Congress can be exposed to charges of hypocrisy or disingenuousness if they donâ€™t also voluntarily limit their term of service. This has a chilling effect on those who would otherwise support term limit efforts.
Congress owes the American people action on term limits, including a new approach that actually stands a chance of becoming law. Our approach provides the flexibility needed to enact term limit laws by a simple majority and to allow future generations to decide the term limit law that works best for them through the regular legislative process.
For far too long, Congress has failed to give the people what they clearly want. We should pass this amendment and finally put that power in their hands.
Jim Bridenstine represents the First District of Oklahoma
Yesterday the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted once again to repeal Obamacare in fullâ€”a vote that passed 229-115 on party-lines besides two democrats who crossed over.Â Not the least bit surprising was that Rep. Bruce Braley once again voted in favor of Obamacareâ€”but my how much different this must have felt than his first vote for it three years ago.
A Different Landscape
Besides the obvious fact that Braley is now a U.S. Senate candidate, a variety of things made yesterdayâ€™s vote a much bigger political gamble.
Consider this, on the day the Senate passed Obamacare through the Reconciliation processâ€”March 25th 2010â€”the Real Clear Politics approval rating for Congress was a shocking 17.4% approve to 77% disapprove.Â As bad as that seems, at that time in 2010 there was still a residue of â€œchangeâ€ excitement in the air, theÂ Tea Party wasÂ only just forming, Democrats had not yet lost theÂ House,Â and President Obama could still credibly make the argument (especially to Independents) that he had successful solutions to the nationâ€™s problem.
Since that day however the absolute failure of the trillion-dollar Stimulus Bill has been fully revealed, the implementation of Obamacare has been continually problematic, the economy has not recovered, and the national debt has further ballooned.Â And this is not even to mention the numerous scandals and mini-scandals that have surrounded the administration for the past week and a half.
Perhaps even more troubling for Braleyâ€™s Senate candidacy is that the mood of the public is remarkably similar to the grim view they had the day Obamacare passed.Â The following are the RCP polling averages from then and now: Congressional approval on March 25th 2010 wasÂ 17.4% approve to 77% disapproveâ€”Congressional approval from 5 days ago on May 9thÂ stood atÂ 16.8% approve to 76% disapprove.Â Public approval of the Obamacare legislation one day after it passed on March 26th 2010 was 50.7% oppose to 39.4% support–and 8 days ago on May 9thÂ it was 49.8% oppose to only 39% who support.
For Braleyâ€™s purposes what perhaps will be the biggest difference from then and now is he has left the friendly confines of Iowaâ€™s 1st Congressional district (D+ 27,356) and has entered a statewide contest (D+ 4,952).Â On top of this he has just voted in favor of one of the largest and most expensive initiatives in American historyâ€”oneÂ which onlyÂ 39% of the public currently support.Â
Braley no doubt believes in this legislation to his core and will neverÂ vote against it.Â Nevertheless itâ€™s a safe bet that as he pushed the â€œnayâ€ button yesterdayÂ he was keenly aware that the circumstances had changed drastically since his first vote on the legislation.Â What has transpired since then has not been kind to the bill nor to any purple stateÂ legislators voting for it.Â
Though President Obama and many Congressional Democrats were not heldÂ accountable forÂ their economic and policy failures in 2012, at some point their luck will run out.Â IfÂ in November 2014 Obamacare still can’t even muster 40% support and implementation keeps getting more and more messy–the RepublicanÂ who emerges to challenge Braley will need less and less luck.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â