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Should We Cancel The Final Governor’s Debate?

Should We Cancel The Final Governor’s Debate?

After sitting through what was probably the most painful debate I’ve ever watched two weeks ago, I think it’s time to demand the Branstad campaign implement the Mercy Rule.  Mostly to show mercy to those of us who feel obligated to watch these debates… and a little mercy for Governor Culver.

It seems unfair to continue to let Governor Culver get up in front of TV cameras and make a fool of himself.  Why put a sitting governor through the embarrassment of having to respond to questions about state government, policy, and the future of Iowa when the only answers he has are scary predictions of what he thinks Terry Branstad will do as governor?  Even when he has what many would say is a great story to tell about early childhood development programs, he flounders and spews out that Branstad will take preschool access away from children.

But overall, Chet does not have much of a story to tell, and he is desperate.  He will continue to criticize his opponent until election day.  It seems to be the only weapon his campaign team has in their arsenal to try to snatch victory from the jaws of utter failure.

I was surprised, however, by Culver’s announcement this week of a middle-class tax cut.  It’s amazing how such a blatantly political attempt to bribe the middle-class in Iowa to vote for Culver, after a contentious two years trying to resolve our budgetary crisis, is treated as a legitimate proposal.  Where will the money to pay for this tax cut come from?  Don’t get me wrong, I support cutting taxes when it makes sense, but we must cut spending first to support it.

I suspect that most Iowans who have been watching the debates are frustrated with the fact that the overall content of the debates has not changed much (and I don’t expect any improvement tomorrow), that the animus has gotten worse on both sides, and that the sitting governor is looking more and more like an angry leader fending off attacks with little more than a pea-shooter.  It’s like being at the gruesome scene of a fatal auto accident… you just want to look away from it all.

I expect tomorrow’s debate to have one area of meaningful (but not necessarily valuable) discussion, and that will be the new tax cut proposal.  Other than that, we will just have more snipes about DeCoster, about IJOBS, about Marriage, about the Budget, about Mismanagement, and all of it will be what we’ve already heard before.

At least it will be the last Gubernatorial Debate of this election.  I don’t know if I could stomach much more.

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Regardless of how I feel about the debate, I will not only be watching it live (starting at NOON), but I will be live-blogging along with several other of the Guest Political Bloggers here at the Des Moines Register’s web site as we have for both of the previous debates.  I think it’s a great chance to hear some of our comments live and to respond yourself during the debate.  I hope you’ll join us!

Jump-Starting Job Creation in Iowa

Jump-Starting Job Creation in Iowa

Paul McKinley is the Iowa Senate Republican Leader

Iowans received more sobering news on the economy late last week. Unemployment ticked up to 6.9 percent with 116,800 Iowans out of work – an increase of 2,600 from the month before.

This news comes as Governor Culver is traveling the state touting his $1.7 billion dollar I-JOBS program that he promised would create 30,000 jobs and spur an economic revitalization of Iowa’s economy. But since unveiling his I-JOBS idea during the Condition of the State address in January 2009, Iowa has actually lost over 30,000 jobs while nearly $1.7 billion has been added to the state’s credit card.

Based on employment numbers from Iowa Workforce Development, the graph below illustrates the month by month unemployment numbers since Governor Culver announced his temporary work program.

Clearly, Culver’s expensive program has failed. Government cannot create jobs – it’s the private sector and small business that is the engine of job growth.

That’s why we need a new direction for Iowa – one that actually puts the focus on private sector job creation and puts Iowans back into good paying jobs in every county and community in this state.

Senate Republicans have a better plan.

Instead of empowering government bureaucrats to pick winners as is the direction taken by Governor Culver and legislative Democrats, Senate Republicans believe we must give entrepreneurs, employers and small business owners the tools they need to not only succeed today – but into the future as well.

Our detailed three point plan involves providing an immediate jolt of adrenaline to Iowa’s economy by offering aggressive tax incentives for hiring more Iowans while also cultivating good ideas and encouraging entrepreneurs to come forward to develop or expand their venture right here in Iowa.

In addition, our plan includes putting together an extensive volunteer commission of business leaders and entrepreneurs from around that state that will be tasked with identifying the onerous barriers and regulations that are holding back growth, development, expansion and job creation in Iowa. The Legislature and governor will need to act on these citizen suggestions.

When Governor Culver took office and legislative Democrats took over both chambers of the Legislature in January of 2007, Iowa’s unemployment was at 3.6 percent. Today it is on the verge of 7 percent.

Last year, Iowa lost 222 factories and two-thirds of Iowa’s counties lost population because of a lack of jobs. Today we remain 49th in the nation in friendliness to job creators according to US News & World Report and 41st according to the very reputable Small Business Survival Index.

We have now seen four years of sky high property taxes, irresponsible spending and generational debt. Year after year, Democrats have discussed and in some instances passed damaging anti-jobs legislation like gutting Iowa’s Right to Work status, decimating our worker’s compensation system, fundamentally altering our collective bargaining methods and implementing a property tax increasing prevailing wage.

We can and must do better. The status quo in Iowa cannot continue.

Senate Republicans know we can experience a 99 county resurgence. Iowa is filled with promise because we have wonderful people in welcoming communities who have a burning passion to build a better Iowa for their families, friends and neighbors.

We must begin to change direction, reignite the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector and welcome the new economy of tomorrow. Let us again put our faith in the people to move Iowa forward instead of allowing government to hold us back.

As always, I welcome hearing from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Paul McKinley
Senate Republican Leader

The Condition Of Iowa: Welcome to Fantasy Island!

The Condition Of Iowa: Welcome to Fantasy Island!

islandToday Iowa’s Governor Culver walked up to the brink of his career, looked down, and jumped.  The lead up to this event were announcements that he would “set the record straight” on the budget, provide “big, bold” ideas for Iowa and a “surprise” for schools.  All of these sound like great sound bites to attract viewers, but Chet needed a compelling message and earnest delivery.  Instead, he brought the same “rah-rah” cheer that has kept Iowa spending itself into oblivion, with a severe lack of enthusiasm in his voice.  And the best word he could use to describe the condition of Iowa: resilient.

Chet’s speech was a big “cheer” for IJOBs, a contentious program at best, and he was heavily defensive of the program bought with our grandchildren’s taxes (if they become gamblers).  Rightly so, the Governor promoted the “successes” of the past year, many of which Iowan’s should be proud, such as the late year AFSCME agreement and progress in rebuilding from weather-related disasters.  But while proclaiming that the new budget will be balanced, he provided scant information on how that would be accomplished aside from a priority to “reorganize government”.

And for the hundreds of Iowans who showed up today on both side of the Definition of Marriage issue, not a peep.

Of course, he also did not speak to Fair Share, Prevailing Wage, or repealing Federal Deductability.  But then, why stir the pot?

It has taken far too long for the Governor to respond to critics regarding his handling of the state’s budget, a problem which started a year ago (or even prior to that, but let’s not digress) when the Governor presented a monstrous budget recommendation which led to the largest spending plan Iowa has ever seen (during a recession no less) and pressed for legislators to borrow $650 Billion (costing Iowans $1.4 Billion).  The problems this has created didn’t just get dropped on Culver’s doorstep last week… it’s been worsening since the 2009 Legislative session concluded.  His effort to “set the record straight” on his management of the budget this past year amounted to little more than the usual creative accounting and deflection.  His answer to critics: “Our budget has been balanced every day”.  Eyes were rolling throughout the chamber during that line.

As far as his “big, bold” ideas are concerned, there’s no doubt it’s big.  The Governor is clearly anxious to continue spending money he doesn’t have, and wants the legislature, among other things, to take money from the Roads Fund to pay for increases to the State Patrol and Department of Public Safety.  This amounts to cost-shifting, and it will quickly catch up with us.  If we can’t operate from the state’s operating revenues, we’ll have more of the same mess that was created last year by using Federal Stimulus money to finance operating expenses.  The problem: when that money is gone we won’t have anywhere else to go.  To fund these great ideas, at the end of the day, we will be raising taxes, whether by repealing Federal Deductability, raising fees, or raising those things actually called “taxes”.

Culver’s number one priority, rightly, is Jobs.  His solution, funding training programs, is wrong.  What’s needed are changes in government policies to help businesses be more productive and consumers to have more resources to stimulate economic growth.  No amount of money poured into training is going to create jobs.

The “surprise” for schools is exactly that… a 2% increase in spending on schools.  This was not just a surprise for the school districts… the collective “gulp” from Democratic lawmakers was palpable.  It will be interesting to see if that’s an increase over the original spending level or the post-10% reduction.  Either way, this increase means even more money will need to be cut elsewhere, and neither the Governor nor the Legislature has shown the gumption to stand up and say what everyone else knows: we have to start completely cutting unnecessary programs.  But as long as the Governor is “proud” of such things as the fact that we will have the best 21st century Veterans Home, we will be fighting a losing battle.

If the Governor is serious about funding quality education in the state, this plan still does not get us there.  Forcing schools to use up their cash reserves doesn’t help either.  Culver and the legislature need to grasp that the state can’t necessarily solve every education problem.  Far better to work toward real consolidation as Iowa’s school district populations fall, and hold school districts accountable for how they spend state money.

Clearly, our Governor is trying very hard to get Iowa back on it’s feet.  But trying hard and succeeding can be two entirely different things.  The Governor, although starting to understand the realities of economics, is still flailing around in hopes of being lucky enough to hit that perfect solution that solves all of our problems at once.

It’s not going to be that easy.

The fact is, we need to cut this budget back to the bones… or perhaps just start over again.  What do we really need the government to do for us?  Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of money being spent on Iowans “wants”.  This should not even be the focus of government, but that’s what it has turned into.

And no one in power in Des Moines has the will to do what’s needed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One other point: the Governor mentioned that he and the Lt. Governor (Patty Judge) will be going on an “Iowa Jobs Tour”.  You’d think he might want to combine this tour with his upcoming campaign… oh, wait…

This Week: Conservative Bloggers Forum And Peter Cownie On TCR Report!

This Week: Conservative Bloggers Forum And Peter Cownie On TCR Report!

This will be a great week on The Conservative Reader Report as we host the Conservative Bloggers Forum from our Internet Radio studio on Des Moines Local Live!  Shane Vander Hart (Caffeinated Thoughts) and Grant Young (Questions Comments and Insults) will join me to talk about the big issues of the day, including the meaning of being Conservative, the war in Afghanistan, and the war on Culver.

In our second hour, Peter Cownie, President of Junior Achievement of Iowa and Representative to the Iowa House from District 60 will be on the show to talk about his passions and the upcoming legislative session only a few weeks away.

All this plus government and political news updates AND the Smart and Dumb politicians of the week on The Conservative Reader Report!

Join us on Tuesday December 8 from 3:00 to 5:00 Central on Des Moines Local Live Internet Radio!

Remember, The Conservative Reader Report is not so much a news organization as it has a perspective!

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