Overall, this was probably the most entertaining political event that I have attended yet this year. Â Hats off to Iowans For Tax Relief (ITR) for putting on a great program!
The afternoon consisted of a speech by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (who is currently considered a likely candidate for President in 2012, but is being shy about the idea), and 8 minute speeches by each of the candidates for Governor (except for the Democrat) intended to be focused on the Iowans for Tax Relief Candidate Questionnaire.Â The actual answers provided by the candidates to the questionnaire will be at ITR’s web site on Monday.Â Dave Stanley, Chairman and Founder of ITR and Ed Failor, Jr, President of ITR, spoke at the beginning of the event (I don’t think the video below includes Dave’s remarks).Â Kathy Obradovich from the Des Moines Register was the MC during the Candidates portion of the program.
Governor Pawlenty gave a solid speech addressing some of the key problems with our government from a tax and spending standpoint, which was very appreciated by the crowd.Â Highlights included:
“Progressives are proposing solutions from Eastern Europe from a century ago.”
“Our leader’s are too small to do anything about our problems.”
“Wall Street gets a bailout, the poor (understandably) get a handout, and those of us in the middle get our wallets out.”
“Our rights are given to us by our creator, not by our congressmen/women.”
“We should have an economic bill of rights which includes: Balanced Budget … Line item veto … Super majority to raise increases or the debt ceiling limit in this country.”
“People spend money differently when at least some of it is their money.”
“For the United States of America to be safe, needs to be strong.”
“If freedom was easy, everybody in the world would be free.Â If prosperity was easy, everybody would be prosperous.Â If security was easy, everybody would be secure.”
After his speech, Pawlenty took questions.Â Â This is a link to the audio for the Q&A. I apologize for the noise at the beginning.Â Mike Glover from Associated Press asks the first couple of questions, followed by Craig Robinson from The Iowa Republican, then myself, and then one or two others.
Candidates for Governor
All of the Republican candidates for Governor gave their typical positions on taxes and spending, and did a great job. Â Since I continue to stay neutral regarding the Primary, I will not address that further.Â But the video above covers it, and each speech being 8 minutes it’s not very long to watch.Â All of the Republican candidates were very positively received.
Also speaking was the Independent Candidate, Jonathan Narcisse.Â I have interviewed Jonathan a couple of times and he has a very dramatic plan for Iowa.Â I’m convinced that Jonathan is more conservative than he realizes, and his determination to reduce the role of government to its bare minimum.Â I have challenged him in the past regarding a few details that seem like yet too much government in controlling even voluntarily financed programs, but he did not really get into that on Saturday.Â Jonathan speaks to even property tax reforms to limit tax assessments to purchase price on property, and dropping the state sales tax to 3% over 4 years.Â He continued with a number of others ideas, all of which culminated in a dream of a highly prosperous Iowa.
We also got to hear from the Libertarian candidate, Eric Cooper.Â He has no illusions about becoming governor, but is focused on raising enough votes to cause people to pay attention to what the party has to say, establishing an effective dialogue.Â His message, and dramatically and humorously presented, was that government should be doing nothing but those tasks that require the force of government.Â Security from external enemies, crime, infrastructure.Â He highlighted the fact that people came to Iowa and America was because we did excessively tax people, and let people do what they wanted as long as it didn’t limit the freedoms of others.Â He used the Iowa state motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain”, as an effective reminder of the importance of importance we have always placed in our freedoms.
Both Jonathan and Eric probably experienced the greatest opportunity for conservative activists to hear their message and discover how well those candidates’ positions align with theirs.Â I was very disappointed with WHO-TV for ignoring the non-Republican candidates, and with KCCI-TV for ignoring the candidates for governor altogether on their broadcasts that evening.
The crowd was a veritable who’s who of Iowa Conservatives, and we were told that there were 558 people, possibly more by the time we got done.Â I was very impressed overall with the event preparation, and the quality of the event.Â Not only was the access to the candidates for Governor valuable, but the well focused oratory from a group of very thoughtful conservative minds was engaging and highly useful for the activists in the room who are not just deciding who to vote for, but how to better articulate their own positions on these issues.Â Katie Koberg, Vice-President of ITR, made a huge effort to communicate effectively both before and during the event, and the whole staff kept everything running smoothly.
One more thing.Â Ed Failor Jr took a swipe at Governor Culver because he did not respond to the invitation.Â It was justified to an extent, although I cannot imagine there being anything that the Governor could say that would be received well or believed by this crowd.Â But I think it shows a real lack of leadership that he is unable to come before a group like this and make his case for the current state of affairs.
I attended the event this evening and while George did not make any comments that sounded like â€œHey, I want to be your next Presidentâ€, this was definitely seemed like a pre-exploratory event. He had some great comments about the current state of affairs, and took questions which I also think he answered well.Â Some in New York (see comments on this post) have speculated about him running for other posts in that state, others have suggested he could be a possible contender for President in 2012. Even if he does not run for anything, he certainly provides a strong sense of some of the things the GOP needs to do to take back the Peopleâ€™s Government.
There were about 90 people at the event tonight, including a number of Republican/Conservative activists that I’ve gotten to know, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Joseph Heuertz (and other leaders) of the Drake College Republicans, John Bloom, Polk County Republican Chair (along with probably a dozen members of the Polk County Republican Central Committee, one of the sponsors of the event), Steve Rathje, David Van Ahn, Kim Schmett, Ed Failor Jr. (Iowans for Tax Relief), Craig Robinson (The Iowa Republican) and probably a dozen other folks I’m either forgetting or should know.
We would have had a larger group, but the Iowa General Assembly was in session this evening (I hope they actually got something done).
The organization that put on the event was America Future Fund.Â They tout themselves as the conservative answer to moveon.org, and they did an excellent job of arranging this event (future lectures in the series are planned for other locations in Iowa… more info here as it becomes available).Â The group is headquartered here in Iowa, and I believe they were active in 18 states during the 2008 election.Â The Communications Director, Tim Albrecht, runs The Bean Walker, an Iowa version of the Drudge Report.Â Iâ€™ve gotten to know him over the past few months, and he seems like a pretty sharp guy.Â I think this group is worth a close look.
I’m definitely looking forward to future lecture events.Â Regardless of where Pataki is headed, this was a good start to getting conservatives motivated and energized for the 2010 elections.
The political fallout continues for Democrats as they try to fend off criticism for Pat Murphy’s behavior Tuesday evening.Â A letter to the editor in this morning’s Des Moines register lays it out pretty succinctly: characterizing the behavior of the public at Tuesday night’s public meeting prior to being expelled as anything more than brief expressions of disapproval or aproval (granting the first speaker deserved to be treated better) is spurious at best.Â And Kiernan’s accusations that the public’s actions were orchestrated by Republican leaders is an outright lie; I was there during the preparatory time and there was nothing more than providing people with shirt and buttons… no direction to behave in any way.
If you watched KCCI news on Tuesday night (or the story on the web site), you briefly would have seen my ugly mug.Â A number of people have mentioned they noticed and were surprised at what happened.Â One friend’s Facebook Wall comment: “Way to stand up to the man!”.
Democrats have backed up the bus and skipped debating HF 807 either today (Thursday) or Friday it seems.Â Kent Sorenson twittered us last night that majority leaders were working on an amendment that would ensure enough votes would be garnered to get the bill passed.Â They are still working with the Governor to ensure they don’t get surprised by him (like they did on the Voter Irrelvancy Act that lost steam last month).
Iowa Independent had an interesting piece on the use of Twitter during the proceedings.Â I was monitoring Kent Sorenson and the Senate Republican Caucus tweets, while I was commenting via Twitter myself.Â I was also exchanging messages via email with one of the House members.Â If you were following my tweets, you’ll know that my cell battery died shortly after the last speaker finished.
So here’s my two cents worth: One might think that Democrats would wise up and give up on this foolish venture and let it lie for now with the economy the way it is.Â Passing this bill, which is just another case of a solution in desperate need of a problem (if you take it at face value), will just make a large portion of the Iowa voters angry… winning for Democrats on this bill may be worse than losing because they will probably lose over this.Â A bold move at this point would be to stand up and say “We’ve heard Iowans and we get it: we will work on other methods to help lower income Iowans.”.Â Democrats won’t get what they want, but then again they are less likely to lose seats in 2010.Â And if they think that getting this in during the 2009 session has a better chance of being forgotten by November 2010 than if they pushed it through in the 2010 session, that’s a gamble for them.Â This is something that they would be better to find smaller increments to achieve over a longer period.
If their only goal was this bill, that might work.Â The bad news is, this bill IS one of those small increments.Â If you think this HF 807 is a big deal, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
Lastly, one of the speakers Tuesday night, Mark Grittmann, got in contact with me and we’ve shared emails and a phone call back and forth over the past couple of days.Â He was kind enough to share the text of his speech at the hearing, which one needs to understand is very much tongue-in-cheek, and conveys eloquently the point I made above:
Good evening and thank you for listening to the people of Iowa.Â Iâ€™m Mark Grittmann.Â Iâ€™m not a lobbyist and Iâ€™m not representing any special interest group.Â Iâ€™m just a hard-working American taxpayer.
Iâ€™ve heard the Elimination of Federal Tax deductibility may cause up to a $600 Million tax increase and Iâ€™m all for it.Â And those of you supporting this, say this would be good for the State of Iowa.Â So if a $600 million tax increase is good for Iowa, then I think you should do more, so wouldnâ€™t a $1.2 Billion tax increase be even better?
Some have foolishly argued against it.Â Can you believe it?
Some say the 20% increase in State spending over the last 2 years should be reversed.
Some say this Bill is revenue neutral.Â But if that is true, and it doesnâ€™t change anything, then why do it?
Some say that Government, like family households, should live within their means and not let spending get out of control.
Some say a tax increase during a Global Financial Crisis and Recession is the worst thing for the economy, and that tax increases would hurt employers, causing a loss of jobs and people would leave Iowa to find work in other States.
Some say the facts about this Bill as to its true impact on taxes isnâ€™t known or has not been fully disclosed, so how can this Bill even be debated yet?Â One news report showed that 40% of the individuals receiving a tax increase make less than $40,000 per year.Â And 69% of the individuals receiving a tax increase make less than $70,000 per year.
Some say that in November 2010, voters will remember the legislators who raised their taxes by 20%.
And thatâ€™s why I think this $600 million tax increase is good for Iowa.Â It will bring new and improved, and more fiscally responsible Legislators to the State of Iowa in November 2010.
Thank you for listening, and good night.
That gives me an idea.Â We should call this “The Legislative Replacement Act of 2009/2010”.
The news links herein are to Des Moines Register and Iowa Independent.
(Updated with message from Ed Failor Jr. below. – Ed.)
We received word from Ed Failor Jr. of Iowans For Tax Relief that Thursdayâ€™s planned debate on House File 807, Repeal of Federal Deductibility, has been canceled. We donâ€™t yet know when it will be scheduled. You may have heard that Iowans For Tax Relief were asking for people to show up at the Capitol on April 2, but due to this late event, that request is canceled.
We were wondering whether the Majority Party was trying to delay things until the media attention died down, or if they were working on some other tactic to sneak the bill through.Â Kent Sorenson, Republican House Member representing House District 74 (Warren County), tells us via twitter tonight that the Democrats are working on an amendment in an attempt to ensure they can get 51 votes.Â This could be interesting.
We still strongly urge you to contact your representatives to express your opinion about the bill. A tax on a tax is not good for Iowa.
To find out who your representatives are and contact them:
The Conservative Reader is committed to ensuring that you know when your rights are in danger.Â This is one of those times.
Update: Message From Ed Failor:
Great news…we have just learned that the Democrat Leadership in the Iowa House has canceled debate tomorrow on the bill to force you to pay a tax on a tax. This means we do not need you to travel to the State Capitol tomorrow. This is a small victory for us, as typically, this action would indicate as of tonight Speaker Murphy does not have the votes to repeal federal deductibility.
We must remain vigilant. We need you to continue contacting your Legislators and Governor Culver to remind them it is not fair to pay a tax on a tax. If federal deductibility is repealed over 490,000 Iowa taxpayers will see a tax increase, not to mention that of those 180,000 people make less than $40,000 per year.
We will continue fighting for you, and we are not taking anything for granted until House File 807, the bill to force you to pay a tax on a tax, is officially dead and we have taken back the People’s House.
Your financial support is more critical than ever so we can continue airing on message of “No Tax on a Tax” on television and radio stations across Iowa. If you are able to support our efforts, please make a secure online donation to Iowans for Tax Relief today by clicking here.
Pat Murphy will probably say he was well within his rights to clear the gallery at tonight’s Public Hearing on House File 807, the bill to repeal the deduction of Federal Income Tax from Iowa Income Tax.
But he was so wrong.
The galleries were filled with people who opposed the bill.Â It is interesting that Democrats could not raise up any more than a handful of speakers to support the bill, none to sit in the gallery who support the bill.Â And those who spoke in favor were the expected litany of social services and union leaders who would either benefit directly from the bill or are beholden to Democrats.Â One speaker in favor, it was observed, sounded distinctly as if he did not even believe what he was saying.
It’s intriguing to see people mischaracterize the events in the House this evening.Â I was there.Â The very first speaker was roundly booed, and I’ll admit that was inappropriate.Â The public was warned.Â After that, no other speaker in favor of the bill received much more than a low murmur of opposition, and that was not worth talking about.
The galleries were full of people who could not contain, however, their enthusiasm and support for the comments of those who actually made sense, spoke for Iowans and opposed the bill.Â What Pat Murphy (who by the way was not visible in the chamber except when he threw the public out) was facing was an uprising of Iowans who have finally had it with the continued outrageous spending and tax increases being sugar coated as a tax reduction.
Ed Failor Jr., President of Iowans For Tax Relief, was one of many who hit the target on this issue: it will tell our graduating college seniors that there is no room for them or their dreams.Â This bill will impact them coming out of school into the work force (those making under $40,000 will be negatively impacted) and will impact their dreams to be successful.Â They will be a target.
Many small business owners got up to speak in opposition to the bill.Â We already know that small businesses, who employ the majority of Iowans, are at significant risk in the current economy.Â And this bill will most dramatically impact their tax burden.Â They will pay more.Â Several speakers had taken the time to ask their tax preparers to calculate the impact of the bill on their taxes.Â One man explained that he would see a 50% increase in his State tax obligation.
Others spoke very eloquently about the absurdity of the bill.Â I think there were perhaps 5 or 6 who spoke in favor, and 40 or so against it.
The straw that broke Murphy’s back was the applause after college student Greg Baker spoke.Â Â Busloads of students from Ames and Iowa City came.Â It was encouraging to so many students there who share our conservative values.Â I just hope they don’t all decide to move out of state after this session is over.
And once the crowd found out they were being ejected, essentially turning the “public” hearing into a private one, that’s when the shouting and anger showed.Â People were escorted out, and still in an orderly fashion, but not without getting a few messages in.Â The one that rings the loudest is:
“This is the people’s house, but not any longer!”
A later speaker, Ted Morgan, said:
“I’ve never been in a house where the tenants evicted the landlords.”
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn put it well:
“Never have I seen such a gross display of arrogance and disdain for Iowa taxpayers.Â The Iowa House is supposed to serve as the people’s house, the house where great ideas are debated and discussed.”
Earlier in the day, Rep. Paul Shomshor, D-Council Bluffs and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was quoted as saying:
“We think eliminating federal deductibility is helpful for families and middle-class taxpayers,” said Rep. Paul Shomshor, D-Council Bluffs and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
I don’t know how an intelligent person can get away with making a statement like that.Â Either arrogant or stupid, either way it seems obvious Iowa has made a huge mistake electing Democrats into office.
Iowans are starting to see the truth; Murphy may have single-handedly lit a fire he won’t be able to contain.