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Term Limits In Iowa: A Policy Proposal

Term Limits In Iowa: A Policy Proposal

Cronstal 1st yearIOne of my favorite self-coined terms is “legi-saurs”.  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 destructive one in politics.  These careers start innocently enough.  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.  But in most cases, over time, they eventually detach from the economy by not working  outside the Capitol, they develop grudges against their colleages, 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.  Our current six Federal representatives have an average of 19 1/2 years in office, with both our Senators having 39 years each.  While on average the Iowa Legislature isn’t as bad, looking through our current Senate reveals several examples of a certain timeless creature…legi-saurs.  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).  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.  Here’s the list:

  • Bob Dvorsky – since 1987
  • Jack Hatch – since 1985 (out of office 93′ to 01′)
  • Mike Gronstal – since 1983
  • Dennis Black – since 1983
  • Wally Horn – since 1973!

I’m not going to go through 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 money etc. and against=”we have term limits…they are called elections”).  I will say however that the best question to ask someone who opposes term limits is, “So you support removing them for Presidency I assume?”–I’ve yet to hear anybody ever answer “yes”.

A Proposal

Below is a proposal released last week and co-written by both a current Republican and a Democrat serving in the U.S. House.  It is meant to be applied at the Federal level, but it would essentially work the same here in Iowa.  It is superbly well thought out, simple in nature, plainly written, makes the case for why term limits are needed, and offers a realistic way to make it happen.

I vote Yes!

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Finally, A Bi-Partisan Solution on Term Limits

Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) written with Congressman Beto O’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 nation’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 country’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 member’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 America’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 – 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 don’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

 

Braley Votes Again For Obamacare—Why This One Was Worse Than The First

Braley Votes Again For Obamacare—Why This One Was Worse Than The First

Bruce B.Yesterday the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted once again to repeal Obamacare in full—a vote that passed 229-115 on party-lines besides two democrats who crossed over.  Not the least bit surprising was that Rep. Bruce Braley once again voted in favor of Obamacare—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 yesterday’s vote a much bigger political gamble.

Consider this, on the day the Senate passed Obamacare through the Reconciliation process—March 25th 2010—the Real Clear Politics approval rating for Congress was a shocking 17.4% approve to 77% disapprove.  As bad as that seems, at that time in 2010 there was still a residue of “change” excitement in the air, the Tea Party was only just forming, Democrats had not yet lost the House, and President Obama could still credibly make the argument (especially to Independents) that he had successful solutions to the nation’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.  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 Braley’s Senate candidacy is that the mood of the public is remarkably similar to the grim view they had the day Obamacare passed.  The following are the RCP polling averages from then and now: Congressional approval on March 25th 2010 was 17.4% approve to 77% disapprove—Congressional approval from 5 days ago on May 9th stood at 16.8% approve to 76% disapprove.  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 9th it was 49.8% oppose to only 39% who support.

2014 Impact

For Braley’s purposes what perhaps will be the biggest difference from then and now is he has left the friendly confines of Iowa’s 1st Congressional district (D+ 27,356) and has entered a statewide contest (D+ 4,952).  On top of this he has just voted in favor of one of the largest and most expensive initiatives in American history—one which only 39% of the public currently support. 

Braley no doubt believes in this legislation to his core and will never vote against it.  Nevertheless it’s a safe bet that as he pushed the “nay” button yesterday he was keenly aware that the circumstances had changed drastically since his first vote on the legislation.  What has transpired since then has not been kind to the bill nor to any purple state legislators voting for it. 

Though President Obama and many Congressional Democrats were not held accountable for their economic and policy failures in 2012, at some point their luck will run out.  If in November 2014 Obamacare still can’t even muster 40% support and implementation keeps getting more and more messy–the Republican who emerges to challenge Braley will need less and less luck.          

Another Potential Scandal Brewing In Iowa’s Education System

Another Potential Scandal Brewing In Iowa’s Education System

Iowa map educationWith a sweeping education reform package currently being worked on by a bi-partisan Conference Committee at the Statehouse, some potentially damaging information about how the state is representing student achievement is coming to light.  Late last week the citizen group Iowalive released a report that would, if true, give all Iowa parents and legislators cause for grave concern.

The crux of the report is Iowalive’s claim that the standards our Department of Education is using to report student proficiency levels is misleading.  This, according to the group, stems from Iowa having adopted a lower standard to measure student learning called the “40th National Percentile Rank”.  This current set of standards was adopted a decade ago by the then Governor Vilsack administration and is different from a more “honest” standard used by other states known as the “65th National Percentile Rank”.  The 40th National Percentile Rank standards that we use now apparently do not actually require a student to be proficient in various skills at their grade level to be deemed as such.  The obvious problem here being that if this is the case, parents are being told their child is succeeding at their grade level when in fact they are not.  If true this is absolutely unacceptable.

Between long declining national education rankings, the misrepresenting of graduation rates at some Des Moines High Schools, and the entire Nancy Sebring debacle–the education system here in Iowa hasn’t exactly built a huge reservoir of trust recently.  Despite this, and despite the fact spending on K-12 has increased $650 million since 2002 (+35.4%), the legislature is potentially poised to yet again increase the dollars flowing into this institution by almost $200 million any day now.  If the claims of Iowalive have any merit it’s long past the time to say enough is enough–the river of funds needs to be damned until the system functions honestly and properly.

 

More To Come

This issue will be looked into further by this website in the coming weeks, including a specific explanation of the two sets of standards.  At first glance the source–Iowalive–appears to be legitimate group with expertise in education and statistics (I was unfamiliar with them prior to late last week).  In the meantime I encourage you to visit their website (link here), and become informed on their general claims.  If everything they say checks out, this level of brazen misrepresentation and deception to Iowa parents will be a massive outrage.  If a teacher tells a parent their child is performing “at a 3rd grade level” in a subject, that better mean exactly that–anything else would be totally unacceptable.

Without a doubt Iowa legislators from both parties and both chambers should demand an explanation from Jason Glass and the Department of Education.  If it turns out they have been “cooking the books” with a deliberately low standard to enhance our schools perceived performance, then the reform bill currently being discussed should be tabled immediately.

Below is an excerpt from the Iowalive report, here is a link to the report complete with tables and source data, and more can be found at their website.  Though the information is not presented in a lively way, these are serious charges that demand being responded to by our elected and unelected government officials.  We as Iowans must have answers on this very, very soon.

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GROSS MISREPRESENTATION OF % OF IOWA STUDENTS, THE  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REPORTED PROFICIENT

Greetings, Governor Terry Branstad and all—

Finally, at 3:34 PM, Friday May 10, (to make it nearly impossible to make the Sunday Papers) the Department of Education provided Percent Proficient data Iowalive requested on Jan.14, 2013.  The data would not have been provided at all except for prodding from State senators and the State Ombudsman—who are gratefully thanked for their help.

As shown in the table below, the Department of Education reported to parents, students, legislators, taxpayers and others that 74.4% of Iowa 4th graders are Reading  Proficiently (Expertly) at the 4th grade level, when in fact the Department of Education just admitted only  40.3% are actually reading at the 4th grade level, when tested.  This equates to an 85% inflation, or misrepresentation, of student achievement—perpetrated by use of the bogus 40th National  Percentile Rank (NPR) Proficiency standard, adopted by the Department of Education, under Governor Vilsack and the ISEA  teacher union.

Similarly, the table shows parents, students, legislators, taxpayers and  others were told 78.2% of Iowa 4th graders are doing Math Proficiently (Expertly) at the 4th grade level, when in fact the Department of Education just admitted only  40.1% are actually doing Math at the 4th grade level, when tested.  This equates to a 95% inflation or misrepresentation of student achievement.

Similar misrepresentations for 8th and 11th grade reading and math are shown in the table.  It must be stated that the Department  of Education made NO corrections for cheating, as if none exists, despite gross cheating already under investigation in Davenport.

The problem is: Iowa’s low 40th NPR ‘proficiency’ standard considers 4th graders scoring at the 3.1 Iowa grade level to be ‘proficient’ or expert 4th grade readers!  Similarly, Iowa’s low standard considers 8th graders scoring at the 6.9 Iowa grade level to be ’proficient’ or expert 8th grade readers, and 11th graders scoring at the 9.2 level to be “proficient” or expert 11 grade readers.  The same applies to Math–and all grades tested.  This is nearly double the number actually Proficient.  And it is going on in grades 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, & 10 as well.

Large Iowa media news editors have failed, and stubbornly refuse, to report these shameful, if not outright fraudulent,  conditions to Iowans.

Governor Branstad, you’re a lawyer—if this misrepresentation isn’t fraudulent, what is??  What are you going to do about it?  This happened on your watch—even though it started under Governor Vilsack!   DE Director, Jason Glass, could have stopped using the bogus 40th NPR Proficiency Standard and replaced it with the honest 65th NPR, but he did not, Governor.  How come?

(Read Report With Tables)

 

South Carolina Republicans Embarrass GOP

South Carolina Republicans Embarrass GOP

sanford 2Last Week Steven Colbert said the results of Tuesday’s special election to fill a South Carolina House seat ‘scared him to his core’—I couldn’t agree more.

Of course he was referring to disgraced Republican Governor Mark Sanford completing his political comeback by beating Colbert’s sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch (54% to 45%) on Tuesday night.  Sanford’s victory came despite him being less than four years removed from weaving a web of lies that included cheating on his wife and leaving the country during his term as governor to be with his mistress.

What were they thinking?

The only justification for voting en mass for such a man was that palmetto Republicans didn’t at all like Ms. Colbert Bush.  I’m not saying I blame them since even though she tried to run as a moderate, she was a terrible candidate and was clearly anything but (think Christie Vilsack).  Having said that there is no way Sanford should have had the support to win this seat, and this result puts a temporary nationwide stain on Republicans.

While voting for someone who has been unfaithful to their spouse is bad enough—Louisiana Senator David Vitter comes to mind—Sanford’s situation was even worse.  Not only did he cheat on and lie to his wife, he abandoned his state entirely by actually leaving the country while on the job.  Either of these should disqualify him from being in Congress, let alone a combination of both of them at once.

Ideally this situation should have been taken care of before the general election in the 16 way Republican primary that Sanford placed first in.  At this time there was no “lesser of two evils” dynamic for Republican voters.  It’s inconceivable that another Republican in the district wasn’t more qualified to forward Republican principles than this guy. Even if Sanford was the only candidate who could win the general election, on principle Republicans in the state should have lost this House seat and been proud of doing so.  The truth is right now this seat isn’t at all crucial, and they very likely would have won it back in two years anyway.  It would have been a far more reasonable alternative to this shameful outcome.

This Trend Much End

How can the Republican Party stand on such high-minded pillars as morality, responsibility, and accountability and elect a guy like Mark Sanford?  No matter how bad the alternative—the answer is we can’t.  Beyond the general stamp of approval this victory represents, sending someone with such a proven and utter lack of self-control to make our most important decisions is insane.

I would like to believe Iowa Republicans wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen if presented with a similar candidate—and I’d be pretty stunned if they did.  The scary thing here is that, especially since Democrats are notoriously unwilling to morally judge their candidates, we now can’t be surprised should we see a John Edwards comeback.  I know right now you’re saying ‘no chance’…but nobody would have predicted this Sanford embarrassment either.

Republicans may have won a U.S. House seat last week but we lost yet another chunk of moral high ground.  Oh what a ridiculously wicked web we weave these days.

An Explanation of the Republican Party’s District Executive Committees

An Explanation of the Republican Party’s District Executive Committees

Chad Brown(The following is a guest piece from Polk County GOP Co-Chair Chad Brown)

The political season in Iowa never ends, and the county leadership of Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District is on the move to organize. The harder we work to organize the counties, both Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District and RPI will grow in strength. Some of my activist friends have wanted an explanation of the District Executive Committees, so I wrote this explanation to detail their role.

District Executive Committees have traditionally been 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 single issue 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. This is why people used to refer to the G.O.P. as The Big Tent.

It’s unfortunate that these long-standing Committees were deactivated and silenced, but the new counties’ executive leadership in the 3rd Congressional District are getting back to basics!  We are here to improve and unify the Republican Party and get more people involved. The executive leadership of the county-level central committees of the Republican Party of Iowa located within the Third Federal Congressional District of the State of Iowa have called for its first official meeting to be held on May 7 to discuss and consider certain specific matters.

This is an exciting time as we begin to restore an important tradition of grass roots to the Republican Party in Iowa.

Chad Brown, Polk County GOP Co-Chair and 3rd Congressional District Executive Committee ————————————————————————————————-

Article VII, paragraph 1 of the RPI Constitution states:

Article VII District Executive Committees

1. The District Executive Committee shall consist of the Chair and Co-Chair of each County in the Congressional District plus one additional representative for every fifty thousand (50,000) population in that County based on the most recent federal census. The additional County representative sh…all be elected by the County Central Committee.

2. The District Committee shall: (1) direct and coordinate Republican activities in the district, including organizational, candidate recruitment, and finance efforts; (2) coordinate the congressional and legislative campaigns in the district for the duly selected Republican nominees; (3) perform all of the duties relating to any election to fill a district vacancy on the Republican State Central Committee; (4) advise the congressional district’s representatives on the Republican State Central Committee; and (5) do all other things which serve to promote the welfare of the Republican Party and the orderly and successful conduct of the election campaign in the congressional district.

 

Matt Whitaker Takes Center Stage… For Now

Matt Whitaker Takes Center Stage… For Now

Matt Whitaker, Former US Attorney, Republican US Senate Candidate,Former US Attorney Matt Whitaker announced today that he intends to be a candidate for the US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and will make the official announcement on June 3.  He made the announcement today on WHO Radio’s Simon Conway show.

Whitaker is currently the managing partner at Whitaker Hagenow Gustoff LLP.  He served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa from 2004 to 2009, and previously worked for two other law firms and SUPERVALU as corporate counsel.  in 1998, Whitaker graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law and also earned his MBA there.

Matt Whitaker is the first Republican to announce an intention to run for the seat currently held by Harkin.  Bruce Braley, a Democratic Congressman, has also indicated he will run for the open Senate seat.  It is expected now that Representative Steve King has declined to run, several other Republican candidates will step forward.

Senator Harkin has been in the US Senate for 28 years, and when he retires will have spent 40 years in Washington DC as a Congressman and Senator.  Republican opponents to Harkin in 5 US Senate elections have averaged a 12.2 point loss, with the closest to winning being Jim Lightfoot in 1996 (5 points) and the farthest being Chris Reed in 2008 (26 points).  Tom Harkin has always come across as likable and reasonable to the public, and has always had a substantial war chest when campaigning.  Running against anyone but Tom Harkin will likely be considered a relief by Republicans in this election.

Braley Sits For Interview — Makes Outlandish Claim

Braley Sits For Interview — Makes Outlandish Claim

Deeth and Braley  2 crop

 

Last week liberal blogger John Deeth scored an interview with Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley as he embarks on a bid for the U.S. Senate.  Though you may not agree with Deeth often on policy (or ever)—he is an excellent writer out of Iowa City and he knows his stuff.

Most of the interview was standard liberal fare (read here), but on the topic of immigration reform Braley made a pair of false claims, the second of which was a real whopper that could haunt him later in this campaign.

Why No Reform?

When asked generally what’s happening with immigration reform and how it will be resolved Braley said this:

“One word has kept us from having meaningful immigration reform, and that word is amnesty. That is always thrown out as an excuse for not moving forward. Where I grew up “amnesty” was where you broke the law and there were no consequences. The reform that I have supported and that many others in both the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats support, is something where there is accountability. If you break the law you are required to pay a fine, accept the consequences, be placed on probation, and if you satisfy the terms of your probation you get an opportunity for a pathway to citizenship.”

 

So according to him the one word preventing legislation from passing is “amnesty”, and moreover Republican confusion on the word’s true definition.  Point of correction here—there are two words that explain why no bill has passed and they are “government incompetence”.  More specifically the public’s utter lack of faith Washington will deliver on border-security promises has been this efforts downfall, not mere Republican opposition on the merits—allow me to prove the point.

• Though 51% of Republicans oppose a “path to citizenship” in theory and without conditions, when asked about eventual citizenship with the conditions of passing a background and paying back taxes (which are in the bill) a whopping 73% of Republicans said they would support this. (NBC/WSJ 4/5-8/2013) (ABC News here)

• (USA Today poll 4/18-21/2013)—“Which problem concerns you the most: the problem of preventing illegal immigration in the future or the problem of how to deal with illegal immigrants already in the U.S.?”  – 55% responded “prevent in future” to 33% “ones already here.”

• (ABC News/Wash.Post poll 3/27-30/2013)—80% support “stricter border control to reduce illegal immigration in the future”, only 17% opposed.  This reflects the findings of several other polls asking the same general question.

• And here is the cementing detail—in most polls a whopping 80% of Americans say they don’t believe the federal government will fully secure the border even if reform is passed that promises it.  Only 27% say our borders are more secure than 5 years ago, and pollster Scott Rasmussen conducted a poll in April in which only 9% said our government would succeed in sealing the border.

The Real Problem with Reform

This proves the hurdle facing pro-immigration reform efforts is a glaring lack of credibility by those offering it—Washington politicians.  This skepticism is both a hopeful sign and completely logical.  It appears Americans are not dense enough to forget the reason we are having this debate now is because true amnesty was delivered in the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill along with promises of border security—and of course since then at least 11 million more individuals have over-stayed visas or snuck into the country.  If Bruce Braley really wants to advocate for this bill he better start selling Americans on the specific security measures it contains, and more importantly, admit the ’86 effort was a failure and explain why this time will be different.

While it is true that a decent segment of Republicans will never support a bill that leads to citizenship (about 20-25% in most polls), the real news is that if the feds delivered a secure border going forward over 70% of Republicans would swallow hard and sign on.  What Republicans are certain on is that they want the border sealed (supporting this 93% in some polls), and they rightfully don’t envision it happening.

It’s good to know that Mr. Braley has great faith in the federal government—and with its stellar track record who wouldn’t right?—but the fact of the matter is he is way out of touch with the vast majority of Americans who have a microscopic level of faith in the federal enterprise.  When you look at the situation it’s hard not to notice the delicious bit of irony that liberal Democrats would be able to accomplish a major political goal of theirs relatively easily—if only the behemoth institution they built and believe in was a capable and trusted one.

He Said What?

Now on to the real stunner offered by Braley in the interview.  Extolling the virtues of passing a bill he said the following:

“So that says to me that reasonable people should be able to get their handle on how we bring people out of the shadows, get them paying taxes at the state and federal level, paying into Medicare and Social Security, to stabilize those programs. To me there’s a lot of huge upside benefits.”

Yes you read that correctly and yes this is fully in context.  We’ve heard some real beauties from Liberal Democrats recently—“we don’t have a spending problem”, unemployment checks “create jobs faster than any other initiative you can name” etc.—and this one ranks right up there.

You see the solvency problems we have with Social Security and Medicare can be addressed by legalizing 11-15 million illegal aliens, the vast majority of which are low-income earners.  I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this.  Let’s start with some statistics on the population we are talking about that even the most partisan wouldn’t dispute, after all illegal immigrants aren’t “doing the jobs Americans won’t” because they pay too well:

• Average median family income for non-citizen in 2010= $36,401 compared to $50,288 for native born Americans (2010 US Census)

• Per person median household income for non-citizen=$12,991 compared to $28,185 for American citizens (though this is a CIS study, an anti-amnesty group, the numbers are similar to less partisan studies)

• 24.8% of Hispanics (citizens and non-citizens) are living at the poverty level (2010 Census via government office of OMH)

• Hispanics in the U.S. are the single biggest group currently without health insurance with 30.7% uninsured (Office of OMH)

Look, there are several legitimate positive arguments for granting citizenship to this group—some cultural and some economic—but implying that 11-15 million low-income workers being legalized will help any entitlement program is absurd.  And to be clear this has nothing to do with ethnicity, it would apply to any group with similar income traits if they hailed from Canada, Australia, or Europe instead of Mexico.

The only conceivable way Braley’s statement could be parsed to have a shred of truth is if he was referring only to the small number of years after legalization was granted and before benefits were claimed.  I know politicians are accustomed to thinking one election cycle at a time, but even still this level of short-sighted deception would be off the charts.  There is no question whatsoever that the net impact of legalizing up to 15 million low-skilled, low-wage earners would be a mid and long-term disaster to the existing entitlement system.  Period.  You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure this out—especially considering that not one of these programs is even currently solvent.

Ironically, after citizenship is granted Social Security and Medicare would lose the only current benefit these two programs are receiving from illegal immigration—the taxes that go to these programs via fraudulent Social Security numbers that go unclaimed by the illegal immigrant and instead get paid out to American citizens.  Democrats are right in making the case this specific reality is unfair to the immigrant, but in a perverse way it does mathematically help the system.

Furthermore, entitlements already pay out more to citizens on average than each citizen pays in.  As it stands now a typical retired couple pays in $122,000 to Medicare and on average can expect $387, 000 in benefits, for Social Security it’s $600,000 in and $579,000 out (Ezra Klein site here).  Obviously these discrepancies would be multiplied for this illegal population for two reasons.  First the median family income for illegals is between $15-20,000 less than the median American citizen family income, and second, obviously, this population would not have been paying in their entire lives yet would receive benefits until their deaths (Politifact deals with a similar scenario here).

Final Word & A Challenge to Democrats

Braley’s claim here is totally ludicrous and false—and if he’s seriously only referring to the period before we pay any benefits out and is ignoring the eventual consequences, it is even more ridiculous and disingenuous.  I challenge any Liberal/Democrat writer or policy wonk in the state of Iowa to explain how amnesty for illegal immigrants would be a “huge upside benefit” that will “stabilize” any one of our entitlement programs, and I will even grant you the waiver that you don’t have to deal with the disaster that will become of Medicaid.  This is an open and standing challenge.  Write it, send it to the contact info on this site, and I will print it in full.

I know Bruce Braley is desperate to sell this immigration reform bill, but claiming this federal bill will “stabilize” other insolvent federal train wrecks from the past was a bridge way too far.  He will have to explain this on the campaign trail, it will come up in debates and TV spots, and it will not help his chances.  It’s a long time till November 2014 and if he continues making undisciplined remarks he can’t back up—and wouldn’t want to try even if he thought he could—then he is more vulnerable than I ever thought.

 

 

The Big Domino Falls: Steve King To Stay In U.S. House

The Big Domino Falls: Steve King To Stay In U.S. House

steve kingFrom this point forward the Republican quest to replace Tom Harkin just got more interesting.  With King removed from the picture the next batch of announcements we get will be declarations and not withdrawals.

I was never one to think Republicans needed King in the race to win the seat, and in fact have been lukewarm on his chances.  I truly believe that a relative newcomer on the scene has a better shot at shoring up the base while still pulling a majority of Independents–which in turn will bring victory.

Prediction wise, don’t be surprised if the list of candidates who decide to run is very, very short.  I would not be shocked if only 2 names of the 6 or so being thrown around run in the end…and I swear don’t rule out Bob Vander Plaats.

 

Below is Steve King’s full statement:

 

Dear Friends,

I want to thank all of my friends, family, advisors and supporters who have put so much time, thought, prayer, and effort into helping me make a decision on whether to run for the United States Senate. I sincerely thank every potential candidate, all of whom graciously gave me room to decide. Probably no one in America, considering such an opportunity, enjoys as clear a path to the nomination. It is an extraordinary opportunity that will not be repeated in millions of lifetimes.

I have said from the beginning this decision requires “the head, the gut, and the heart” to line up together. I have done due diligence and evaluated the race from a statewide, objective perspective. I have talked with hundreds of supporters…and some detractors. I sincerely thank all of you who have helped in so many ways.

My analytical part, the head, tells me the race is winnable and must be won in 2014 or a generational opportunity could be lost. I have said a race for the Senate is “a slight up hill battle”. It is, but it’s “no hill for a climber”.

The question I am answering today is, “What is my duty?” I believe my duty is to utilize the honor of serving Iowans in Congress by maximizing my effectiveness. I owe it to all Iowans and Americans to give you my best effort and best judgment.

We have in front of us in Congress a series of potent issues which will redirect the destiny of our state and nation. Among them are a farm bill, ObamaCare, debt and deficit, immigration, and tax reform. If I step away from these responsibilities while campaigning in an effort to multiply leverage in the Senate, what becomes of our nation in the mean time?

This week, I made a simple device to put toothpaste back in the tube. But a device to put the Leftist genie back in the bottle is not so simple. The best tool we have now is the majority in the U.S. House which functions mostly to keep the Leftist genie in the bottle. I cannot, in good conscience, turn my back on the destiny decisions of Congress today in order to direct all my efforts to a Senate race for next year, while hoping to gain the leverage to put the genie back in the bottle in 2015.

The most timely and conclusive piece of advice I received crystallized my decision. A friend, whose 77th birthday is today, said to me, “I will support you whatever you decide to do. If you decide to run, don’t be a reluctant candidate.” If I said, “Yes” to a Senate race, I would be a reluctant candidate because of the reasons I’ve written above.

Accordingly, I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in 2014. It is my intention to turn my efforts and energy with great vigor to the issues at hand. I anticipate being on the ballot for reelection to the U.S. House, Fourth District of Iowa. It is a challenging and rewarding job that I enjoy. My sincerest thanks to all involved.

Steve Goes to a Career Fair, Asks Obnoxious Questions

Steve Goes to a Career Fair, Asks Obnoxious Questions

job fairsHaving nothing better to do, I decided to spend Monday morning on the DMACC campus for a spring career fair. I wanted to wander around and ask questions to people to try and gauge their perception of the job market, but I had no intention of simply administering a poll. No, I was going to make people defend their statements by asking why they held that belief, like Socrates but without the profoundness.

I asked jobseekers if they were feeling optimistic or pessimistic. I asked recruiters about what kind of people they are looking for, both in terms of skills and personality.

Optimistic, They Think

Personally, I believe that optimism is stupid and should be hated, but I appear to be alone in this sentiment. Not one person admitted feeling pessimistic when asked directly, but when asked why they felt optimistic the responses were not very convincing. Most of them professed to be “upbeat” people, none of them based their professed optimism on confidence in finding employment.

One guy challenged me to explain how a person could get out of bed without being optimistic; I explained that getting out of bed has more to do with an urgent need for urination than a sunny disposition.

With only minimal coaxing I got a number of people to divulge some worries they held about finding work that paid sufficient wages to get on with their lives. This was the sentiment from some cosmetologists and a video store clerk who found my line of questioning strange but entertaining.

One young lady had experience in call center collections. I always wondered what people with lip rings ended up doing for a living, and now I know.

One quite profound comment I received was from a jobseeker who was leaving when I spoke to him. He was feeling pretty good about the day, and explained that it was because he actually got to speak with real-life people about getting a job, which is a novelty in a world where everything is now done online.

What the Recruiters Had to Say

Not just wanting to badger the jobseekers, as lunch approached and the crowd thinned out I began focusing on the recruiters – I was willing to be obnoxious but did not want to be disruptive, so waiting until the recruiters had nothing to do seemed like the polite way to go about things.

I asked the recruiters about what kind of people they are looking for, both in terms of job skills and personality.

In terms of available jobs, IT professionals, nursing at all levels, and financial advisors appear to be in growing demand in Iowa; I would speculate that this is due to the aging population needing health care and financial services in greater numbers.

Sales positions were a bit harder to come by, warehousing and light manufacturing appear to be evening out, and accounting positions are open but require some specific knowledge of one area of accounting, which could make job hunting difficult for some of the accounting professionals.

Type-A personalities

I spoke at some length with a recruiter about what sort of personality her company seeks. Her comments boiled down to “a networking, outgoing, team player with a Type A personality.” It sounded to me that everyone needs to be a sales rep even if they aren’t a sales rep. She agreed with that sentiment.

Sorting personalities is largely bull wash, but there are clear differences between people who prefer boisterous activity to pensive reflection. I vaguely remember going to some sort of leadership conference in college where we were sorted into Blue, Orange, Gold and Green personalities. I don’t remember the test, but I do remember being in the smallest group.

I ran the Introvert-Extrovert angle by some other recruiters. They all agreed with the first recruiter, which I found annoying because I am the more pensive, less diplomatic, scowling type who prefers libraries to call centers – “an atmosphere as restful as an undiscovered tomb,” as Professor Henry Higgins put it.

The National Career Readiness Certificate Strikes Again

Iowa Workforce Development was there to push the NCRC, which I didn’t expect although it didn’t surprise me. The NCRC is being rolled out through the Skilled Iowa Initiative under the supervision of the Lieutenant Governor.

The effort is two-pronged, in that they must convince people to take the test, as well as convince employers to value the results in their hiring efforts – not to mention informing employers that the NCRC is a thing that exists, because most of them still don’t.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the whole thing was absolutely pointless. Maybe all I did was waste time, irritate many, and perhaps amuse a few people who aren’t used to being accosted by a random guy asking inane questions, but I encourage all of you to try it sometime because it is sort of fun.

The people I spoke with seemed intelligent, capable people who were eager to work. The recruiters seemed happy to speak to me as well as to jobseekers. Whether it will translate into actual people obtaining actual jobs, I may never know.

Nobody seemed terribly confident. People professed to be optimistic but didn’t know why, recruiters thought people should be optimistic but couldn’t explain why, and the various workforce organizations thought that they had the answers – new tests, new skills, and new strategies – but couldn’t explain why these medicines would work in the actual economy.

I left more convinced than ever of one thing; the American economy doesn’t work for a large number of people. In such an economy, the only real opportunities are the ones you make yourself. There was a time when most Americans had independent livelihoods, and I think it is time to re-examine self-employment.

Despite what you hear from politicians, the government hates self-sufficient people – they are too difficult to tax. It is much easier to tax a Bud Fox (Wall Street) than a Charles Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie,) which explains so much about our nation if you stop and about it.

We need as many people as possible to be as independent as possible from the mainstream economy; not just independent from government support, but people who don’t need to work for others to earn a living. In such a world, the career fair becomes absurd as a concept, not just made absurd by a little Socratic questioning.

 

Bill Northey Says No To U.S Senate Race

Bill Northey Says No To U.S Senate Race

bill northey 2It appears the allure of having your name on every fuel pump in Iowa has proved to be too much for Bill Northey to give up.

Today Mr. Northey officially removed himself from the potential candidate pool.  Though many speculated, few insiders ever saw him making a run as probable.  I have seen him speak at several political events and he seems like a genuinely nice guy.  Having said that, the perceived strength of his candidacy that many shared was somewhat surprising to me.  Though Bruce Braley is certainly beatable, it is going to take a bold candidate capable of stirring up some real passion to pull it off.  I am not certain this would have been a strength for him, and I could be wrong but I am unconvinced he would have been able to switch a large number of Democrats involved in the Ag business.

The way I look at the map, a successful candidate on the Republican side is going to have to at least compete with Braley in the urban areas.  If not, the margin of victory in the rural counties would have to be massive to overcome it–and likely not possible.  Even though he has opted not to run, Mr. Northey is a class act and will be a valuable commodity on the trail for our eventual nominee.

As of right now the short list of remaining potential candidates is– Steve King, Matt Whitaker, Matt Schultz, Joni Ernst, and Rod Roberts.

Below is the Bill Northey statement released earlier today:

After talking with my family and thoughtful consideration, I have decided that I will not seek the nomination for our open U.S. Senate seat.  I am humbled to have heard so many kind words from Iowans encouraging me to run.  Our state and nation are facing great challenges and we need strong leaders in Washington, but we also need strong leaders here in Iowa.  I feel at this time I can be more effective serving Iowans as Secretary of Agriculture rather than engaging in a Senate campaign.
Congressman Steve King has been a strong conservative leader in Washington and would serve our state well in the Senate.  Should he decide to run, he would have my full support.  If he decides against running, our state is fortunate to have many qualified and exciting candidates and I look forward to working with our party’s nominee to win this important election.
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