In 1975, Iowaâ€™s elected so-and-soâ€™s felt inclined to establish the Iowa Finance Authority, giving it the mission of assisting the people of Iowa in acquiring affordable housing.Â I guess Iowans tended to live in mud shacks prior to 1975, but no matter, the government is here to help.
Except, it doesnâ€™t help. The Iowa Finance Authorityâ€™s own website (http://www.iowafinanceauthority.gov/) tells the tale, and affordability is not the goal of our state-level state corporatists. According to the talking points, IFA helps low-income Iowans, the disabled, and the otherwise strained in the task of obtaining affordable housing, which is simply not true. Nothing the IFA does is aimed at helping citizens afford anything, all they do is encourage easy credit.
Getting easy credit is not the same as being able to afford something. What IFA is doing is helping people borrow too much money for assets that are priced too highly for them to otherwise afford, thus allowing more people to overspend on housing. With more people able to arrange the credit for higher priced assets, the prices of the assets (in this case, housing) are able to stay higher than they otherwise would. They even provide direct cash subsidies for down payments. Â Imagine the housing market as a giant auction. If the bidders are on a budget, the winning bids will trend downwards. If the bidders are flush with cash and anxious to buy, bids will trend upwards.
Thus, IFA is working to make housing expensive, not affordable. So, pat yourselves on the back, IFA, for making it easier for the disadvantaged to borrow too much to purchase assets that are overpriced; thatâ€˜s compassion in action.
There has also been some mission creep at IFA over the past thirty seven years, with the agency taking on financing of apartment blocks, renovations, and a shadowy, ill-defined activity called â€œeconomic development.â€
Considering that we donâ€™t have one any more, efforts to develop an economy are uniquely popular among voters, and this popularity allows government to push any issue it wishes under the guise of being an economic development initiative. Economic development, then, is anything politicians say it is, period.
Considering the vague nature of economic development programs, the Iowa Finance Authority is surprisingly straightforward with its role in the economic development process. On the IFA website, by clicking a tab marked â€œEconomic Development,â€ we can get the clear picture:
â€œThe Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) issues tax-exempt bonds for a wide range of projects.â€
Well, there you have it. Not content with helping to arrange mortgages for people who canâ€™t afford them, IFA has branched into the tax-exempt bond market. They also arrange revenue bonds for private projects, and although the State of Iowa isnâ€™t legally on the hook if the project fails, any default would affect the credit ratings of future revenue bonds, and it is a virtual certainty that the state would opt to pay in the end.
So, IFA arranges bonds for economic development projects, diverting your taxes and userâ€™s fees towards providing tax-exempt income to rich people in the process.
The Authorityâ€™s defenders will say that it is self-sufficient. Thereâ€™s a reason to keep an odious program. Might I suggest the immediate establishment of the Iowa Cocaine Authority; that will be financially self-sufficient.
IFA isnâ€™t really a line-item on the state budget, but the state is the ultimate guarantor of the debts being incurred by this program, and while perhaps not legally obligated to make good, the state will do so in a pinch, lest the ratings of future bonds be damaged. Thus, there is potential downside risk which the Authorityâ€™s champions in the legislature have not bothered to consider.
The Iowa Finance Authority is a detrimental, utterly unnecessary political boondoggle and economic white elephant. Its rhetoric and its effects do not match up, and its only redeeming feature – financial self-sufficiency – belies potential risks that have not been properly explored. It is an agent of expanding municipal bond debt, and Iowaâ€™s own contribution to the ongoing assault on thrift that is being conducted by governments at all levels.
Therefore, the time has come that we do away with this middle-aged, miniature HUD. Iowa did without it for better than one hundred years, and we can do so again.
After talking to a number of Des Moines based candidates in the last few weeks, we head out to Northeastern Iowa to touch base with the Republican candidate for Iowa House District 64, Jim Givant.
The republican side of the ledger in this district was pretty chaotic leading up to the filing deadline, as incumbent Republican Dan Rasmussen opted not to run at the last minute.Â Oelwein Republican Jim Givant stepped up to the plate andÂ set up a showdown with Democrat Oelwein City Council member Bruce Bearinger.Â After getting a late start, GivantÂ now hasÂ the campaign on schedule and already has sent 4,000 mailers and has signs and banners on the way.Â For further info on his campaign and positionsÂ head to his website at www.givantforiowa.com.
House District 64 is composed of the Southern half of Fayette County and all but the Southeast corner of Buchanan County, with the biggest population centers by far being the cities of Oelwein and Independence.Â Â HD 64 firmly qualifies as a swing district withÂ a Democrat registration advantage of 1,355, and 8,553 Non-PartyÂ registered voters.Â A win by Mr. Givant inÂ November would go a long way in strengthening theÂ Republican majority in the Iowa House.
#1.Â What is the feeling on the ground in your district concerning all the races on your ballot this November (presidential included), and give us a brief summary of how your campaign has been going so far?
It is going to be a tough race. Both Romney and Obama visited Iowa recently, both to large crowds of supporters. The current polls show Obama ahead by 2 percent but Iowa is listed as a tossup state.Â In my county/district local races will also be close.Â Republicans will need to get involved to turn this election around.
My campaign has had a slow start. I will be getting some signs out and building name recognition. I have a new website at www.givantforiowa.com . In the June primary I received 99.2 percent of the Republican vote which is a good sign. In my district there are a greater number of registered DemocratsÂ over Republicans.
#2.Â As you call on voters in your district, what are the two or three state-level issues that are concerning them the most?Â
A)Â Property Taxes – There have been many discussions about raising both business and personal property taxes.Â House speaker Kraig Paulsen stated, that with a 60-40 split in the house, we will need to pick up two seats in the senate to gain a majority to push though the tax reforms that are needed.
B)Â Education – I believe in honoring good teachers, providing them with a competitive salary and the tools they need to teach the students. To serve as an example for the rest. There is also much discussion of leaving the no child left behind mandates and putting more control of Iowa education at state and local levels.
C)Â Gas Taxes â€“ These need to be regulated, when gas prices go up all prices for goods and services go up accordingly. This is one of the major issues that affect our economy.
#3.Â Assuming you win in November and enter the Iowa House, what are the three votes that you most look forward to casting and why?
A) Â DOMA – I believe in the bible that it states that marriage is between a man and a woman.
B)Â Â Â Agriculture issues â€“ Legislation to protect family farmers.
C)Â Education Reform â€“ As stated previously.
Dave Edwards is the Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 16, the vast majority of which covers Des Moines and then swings Southeast to include Pleasant Hill.
While there is no getting around the fact that this is a Democrat stronghold (they haveÂ double the number of registered voters), if any RepublicanÂ can win this district it is most certainly Dave Edwards.Â What makes this race one of the most fascinating in the state this year is that Mr. Edwards is a blue collar, union member who is bringing the fight to Democrats on their turf.Â He is challenging an incumbent who has already been in the Iowa Senate for 18 years (and was in the Iowa House before that), and few would argue that this particular district is better off than it was two decades ago.
Besides knowing these neighborhoodsÂ well, I have seen Mr. Edwards speak on multiple occasions and can tell you first hand that his style and message will resonate.Â He has displayed courage both by stepping up to run, and by being willing to talk about illegal immigration, which is such an obvious problem that most are scared to talk about.Â Republicans who live in or near this district need to return the favor, and can do so by visiting his website (click here), and getting involved to any extent possible.
As you will see below, his answers are extremely thoughtful, spot-on, and the case he is making to traditional Democrats is very convincing.Â The age-old notions of the Republican Party that persist in this part of Des MoinesÂ certainly present a challenge, but there is no reason that a message of less government, fewer taxes, and more liberty can’t take root in districts like SD 16.
Simply put, Dave Edwards is the right candidate at the right time to be this messenger.Â Should he win, the more “buttoned-up” folks at the State House (including Republicans) would be wise to listen to him…but for now lets just hope the voters in his district are truly listening to him.
1) Being a blue collar, union member Republican running in a heavily Democratic district makes you and your race one of the most unique in the state. Briefly tell us how your campaign is going, and if you are finding folks in your district receptive to the different political solutions you are offering? If so, which ones are resonating?
The campaign is going great. I have talked to literally thousands of people over the last year or so. In my job as a union laborer, I drive a truck all around the city during the day. I have the opportunity to interact with Republicans and Democrats alike. I have grown to understand that the issues we face, we face as Iowans, and not as Democrats or Republicans. The economic hardships that are facing the people of this state are affecting us all – not just one party or the other.
I am talking to all the voters in this district when we are door knocking. Naturally, when I knock on a democratâ€™s door, they are reluctant to talk to me when they find out Iâ€™m a republican. But as we talk, they begin to see that my message is not one of partisan politics. My goal is to be the voice of the working people of this state. I want to work to make Iowa a state where business can thrive and where our citizens can earn a living wage. The legislature shouldnâ€™t be burdening the people of this state with more regulations, and definitely shouldnâ€™t be adding any new taxes, when people canâ€™t pay their bills or feed their families. These are messages that are resonating with the residents of my district.
2) As you are out door knocking and talking to voters, what are the top few issues weighing on the minds of the people in your district? And what are they saying they want done about them?
People in my district are definitely concerned about the economy and their job security. They want to be able to go to work every day, and at the end of the week, have something to show for it. My top priority as a senator will be to alleviate the tax burden on the working people and the businesses of this state.
Iowa is one of the 10 lowest-ranked states in Tax Foundationâ€™s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. The ranking is arrived at by looking at all the taxes levied in a state. Iowa is known for high corporate tax rates, high property taxes, high individual income tax rates and high unemployment insurance tax rates – all of which are taken into account in arriving at this poor ranking. That is a very sad state of affairs. The fact that we need to offer tax incentives to get businesses to come to this state speaks volumes about Iowaâ€™s tax climate. Letâ€™s get rid of the incentives and lower Iowaâ€™s total tax burden. If we improve the tax climate in Iowa, we create more jobs and people have more money to spend, thereby improving the quality of life for all Iowans.
Another issue on the minds of the people of my district is illegal immigration. They want the problem dealt with. I believe the existing immigration laws of this state and this nation should be enforced. The illegal workforce here is driving down wages, and placing an extraordinary burden on Iowaâ€™s social safety net . Recently, I have been sharing my belief that the illegal immigrant population in this state is being held in bondage. They are forced to take low-wage jobs with unscrupulous employers who donâ€™t care about the safety of their workers. Because of their low wages, they are forced to live in low-rent housing under sub-standard living conditions and because of their immigration status, they feel they do not have the freedom to report these conditions .This issue is pitting the working class citizens of this state against the immigrant population. But the real problem here is the governmentâ€™s failure to enforce its own laws.
3) Assuming you are victorious in November and get sworn into the Iowa Senate, what are the three votes that you most look forward to casting, and why?
I have vowed to introduce a bill on day one of the session that will outlaw traffic enforcement cameras. We have got to put a stop to government intrusion into areas where it doesnâ€™t belong, starting with traffic cameras. These cameras are an infringement of privacy and violate due-process laws. The citizens of this state have shown overwhelmingly that they are against these cameras. The fact is, they donâ€™t improve safety. They are being used as a revenue source for municipalities.
Another vote I am looking forward to casting is one in favor of across-the-board property tax reform. This will be a good starting point towards making Iowa more attractive for business and giving our economy a much-needed jump-start.
Lastly, when the republicans gain control of the senate this fall, I really look forward to the opportunity to vote for a new senate majority leader to replace Michael Gronstal!
Patti Branco is the Republican candidate for Iowa House District 34,Â whichÂ covers theÂ Southern portion of Des Moines.Â She is running against long entrenched Democratic incumbent Bruce Hunter, in a district that has been traditionally tough for Republicans.
Bruce HunterÂ has “LaborÂ UnionÂ Liberal” written all over him, as not only does he sit as the ranking member of the Labor Committee, his wife happens to be the State Political Director for the AFL-CIO.Â His top three priorities, in his own words, are all union strengthening give aways–leaving absolutely no doubtÂ on how he feels is the best way toÂ grow the economy.
An example of the type of candidate we are talking about hereÂ is as follows, and I am not making this up.Â Among his top priorities for next session are increasing the minimum wage, “investing in infrastructure”, ensuring that teachers are “well rewarded”, and codifying “better protection of workers rights”.Â After doing these things his plan then is to “aggressively market Iowa’s (low) cost of doing business“.Â You can’t make this stuff up, and it’s high time this antiquated nonsense is voted out of office.
Beyond this, he appears out of touch in other areas.Â Apparently his district is the only one in the state that is unconcerned with soaring taxes, and he lists one of his missions as “to work to keep Iowa school’s the best in the nation”.Â It seems he has not studied any education data since the mid-1990’s.
Mrs. Branco is a very strong candidate who brings a long and impressive business background to the table.Â SheÂ has been working hard, remaining highly visible, and doing everything it takes to wage a successful campaign.Â All Republicans, especially those of you in her district, should take the time to check out her website and resume, and get involved to help her effort.
The Conservative Reader: Iowa recently reached out to her for our continuing “3 Questions With” series.Â Below is Mrs. Branco’s take onÂ the HD 34 raceÂ and what sheÂ views as her top priorities should she win.
1)Â You are running in a traditionally tough district for Republicansâ€”how is the campaign going? And are you finding voters receptive to a change in ideology?
I feel good about the campaign.Â I have a strong business background and quite a bit of nonprofit work on boards, but this is my first foray into the political arena.Â I have had excellent mentors from the House and the Party sharing ideas and strategies that work, and I have several able and enthused volunteers.Â We are door knocking daily, attending events and getting signs out in the in the district, making calls and raising money for a final mailing in October.
I am finding that some voters are going to pull the straight ticket, Democrat, but many others seem to be disillusioned and open to my message. At one door I was toldâ€¦â€I am firing every incumbent, so if you are not one, you have my voteâ€. Â Others have indicated that maybe itâ€™s time for change. I guess the final answer to the first question will be given on November 6th!
2)Â What would you characterize as the top two major differences in political philosophy between you and your opponent?Â And how/why would your approach better serve the people of your district?
In a nutshell, I am conservative, and my opponent is liberal. I am for smaller government, lower taxes; I am for Veterans benefits,Â I am pro-life,Â I am for communication with the constituents to learn of their issues, and of the many doors I have knocked I find very little recognition or awareness of who the current 10 year incumbent is.Â Let me say, without making disparaging comments, that I believe he is the opposite on most issues, and his voting record is public information.
The first thing I would do if elected is set up a data base so that I could reach out to my constituents, learn what is important to them and share what is happening in the halls of the Capitol.Â I would be a full time pro business legislator, having no other full time career.Â I am a people person, I love Iowa and I love America.
I have been endorsed by the Iowa Right to life Organization, the Family Leader and The National Federation of Independent Small Business Owners (NFIB).
3)Â Should you prevail and enter the Iowa House next year, what are the two or three votes that you most look forward to casting? And why?
A.Â Taxes! Real estate, property and corporate.Â We have some of the highest taxes in those categories and if we want to continue to attract business to our state we need to reform the tax rates.Â More businesses in Iowa means more jobs, a robust economy, increased net worth for families!Â Lower taxes often means additional discretionary income.
B.Â I think Voter ID is an important issue and the fact that the ACLU and the courts are making it such a big obstacle course makes it even more suspect. Why would any law abiding citizen want to encourage voter fraud or prevent measures to eliminate votes from deceased voters, non-citizen voters or legal voters who manage to vote multiple times posing as others for the same ballot?
C.Â Education reform. Give tax paying parents more options. Give community leaders and local directors more control. If a teacher isnâ€™t producing let parents choose the school they prefer. Demand accountability from teachers and from the educational boards of directors.
(Click for The Conservative Reader:Iowa’s complete overview of the 2012 Legislative Races)
Pat Ward (R) vs. Desmund Adams (D)
Pat Ward is an incumbent SenatorÂ from aÂ different district, while Desmund Adams is an attorney who currently runs a executive search andÂ public relationsÂ firm.
Senate District 22 is comprised ofÂ both Polk and DallasÂ Counties.Â Â The cities that make the district are Clive, Waukee, and the Western part of West Des Moines.Â Â As you could likely guess this is pretty heavy Republican territory, though the actual registration advantage is smaller than one would think.Â Registrations=Â R 15,374 – D 10,564 – Â NP – 12,464 (R + 4,810).
Instead of staying put and running against Matt McCoy after map day, Ward chose to move west and was greeted by a challenge from the right by Waukee pastor Jeff Mullen.Â The primary that unfolded between these two got truly out of hand, with MullenÂ crossing the line multiple times from tough attacks toÂ outrageous defamation.Â This forced Ward to respond heavy with radio advertising and deplete far more funds than I am sure she was hoping to.Â The end result was that Mullen’s conduct backfired andÂ he was defeated by 16 points.
The reasons for this seat landing in the leaner category instead of solid Republican are that (1) Ward just moved into the district, (2) she went through a bruising primary with a popular pastor, (3) at the last filing she had about $7,000 less than Adams, (4) the registration advantage is technically surmountable, and last but not least, (5) Adams is flat out a great candidate.Â If he were running in an even district, I would bet money on Adams being able to win over voters and prevail.
I do think this seat will go Republican in the end.Â The reasoning here is, (1)Â the math and the political leanings of the district , (2) if the Party thinks the seat is endangered they will spend big to keep it, (3) Ward will be able to kill Adams on his support of “stimulus” as a general governing tactic to deal with economic issues, and (4) AdamsÂ support of liberal social policyÂ will hurt him badly in the Western part of the district (Mullen’s home base).
Though he is wisley making the pitch that “moderation needs a voice”,Â Adam’s positions do not seem to suggest that he is a moderate Democrat at all.Â The reason I say “suggest” is that he only lists “beliefs” on his website (which include pro-choice and pro-gay marriage positions), andÂ nothingÂ specific on individual pieces of legislation or votes he would make.
What strikes me most about this race is that Desmund Adams, even in defeat, will be a major player for Democrats going forward–you have not heard the last of him.
Pat Ward – wardforiowa.com
Desmund Adams – desmundadams.com