The Washington D.C. based organization tasked with electing Republicans to the United States Senate–the NationalÂ Republican Senatorial Committee–is taking a new and proactive approach in achieving their mission this cycle.Â Part of this strategy has included reaching out early to various political writers and thinkers in Senatorial battleground states–and you guessed it we qualify–to form relationships basedÂ on our shared cause.
Another element of this strategy is being visible early and often with what has become a hallmark of modern political messaging–the web ad.Â Below is an exclusive first look at what I’m being told will be a continuing series of web ads making the case for Republican principles.Â It is very well put together and offers some insight into what kinds of narratives we will see from Republicans not only here in IowaÂ next year–but in all the battleground states in 2014.
The young Republicans you will seeÂ do not appearÂ by chance.Â The Party has an incredible wealth of young talented leaders at the moment and these are the folks who are presently both framing the debate and effectively communicating the Conservative ideology nationwide.Â Â UndoubtedlyÂ this younger generation will exclusively be responsible for the Republican brandÂ over the next 15-20 years–and the RNSC is smart to start highlighting them early.
Perhaps no issue better illustrates the philosophical divide between left-wing Democrats and right-wing Republicans than the Earned Income Tax Credit.Â Here in Iowa a theatrical stunt a few weeks back by ultra-Liberal Iowa City Democrat Senator Joe Bolkcom put the issue front and center.Â In the hopes of pressuring Governor Branstad to support a huge increase in the Iowa Earned Income Tax Credit, Pleasantville resident Julie Heck was brought in to symbolize the need for this action by taking part in a press conference before then testifying in front of the Ways and Means Committee.Â Ms. Heck is a single mother of three who is currently receiving the Iowa Earned Income Tax credit, and on this day set about making the case that while she is glad to have itâ€”it sure would be nice to get more of our money.
While Democrats were no doubt tickled by both the media exposure and the perceived effectiveness of this spectacle, the realities surrounding her specific situation, including her own stunning words, expose the utter disregard that liberal Democrats have for all Iowa taxpayers.
The Press Conference
In the press conference Ms. Heck says that she is a single mother of three who works full time and attends college full time at Simpson.Â She made $33,000 in income last year.Â Beyond not paying a penny in Federal income tax, she instead receivedÂ a $5,279 check from the Federal government which combined $2,279 from the Federal E.I.T.C and another $3,000 from the Federal Child Tax Credit.Â Receiving the Federal E.I.T.CÂ in turn qualified her to receive an additional $160 from the Iowa E.I.T.C.Â Without getting into all the numbers, after using a portion of her Federal refund to pay the $410 she owed to the state of Iowa, she ended up not only with a zero dollar income tax burden, but instead was actually paid $4,869 by the government.
While so much is wrong with this picture, two things are particularly disturbing.Â Firstly, instead of being grateful to live in a system that allows her to receive a net profit of $4,869 from the income tax code, she actually had the audacity to sit in front of a microphone and decry the fact that she had to pay any Iowa income taxes at all.Â And, remarkably unsatisfied with what she has already received, she wants even more moneyâ€”it is just unbelievable.
Perhaps the biggest slap in the face here is what she admits to spending some of this refund money on.Â At the 3 minute mark of the video posted above, she plainly states that she is using her Federal â€œrefundâ€ money to help pay for her college tuition, and then proceeds to say that some of this money also goes to match the funds her children manage to save throughout the year.
As a taxpayer who over the last two years alone has sent tens of thousands of dollars to the Federal government and several thousand more to the state of Iowa, I find these details outrageous.Â Let me be clear, I have no problem paying taxes to help those who are destitute, starving, or un-sheltered.Â However, paying for a mother of three who decides that she now wants to attend college full time is a far different matter.
Once any American citizen makes the decision to bring three human lives into the world it is solely their own responsibility to provide for those children by any means necessary.Â Â In this case it clearly means working a second job to provide for her family instead of spendingÂ our tax dollarsÂ to attend college.Â I ask you this, how many hundreds of thousands of Iowans, especially small business owners, send their money into the government each year and afterwards do not have enough left over to afford schooling, or to match their childrenâ€™s savings?
The Politics and Implications
Finally we have Sen. Bolkcom, the Iowa personification of this entitlement mentality, and the political and financial implications of this situation.Â After Ms. Heckâ€™s statementÂ Sen. Bolkcom threatens (at the 7:20 mark) that until the â€œearnedâ€ income tax credit is brought up from its current 7% to either 13% or 20%, that in his mind all tax relief for Iowans is off the table.Â Realize here what this man is actually saying.Â That before he entertains any legislation to cut the taxes of Iowans who have been throttled by actually paying high taxes for yearsâ€”Ms. Heck must first receive an even larger refund.
This attitude and approach are stunning.Â Putting on display a woman who makes $33,000 a year, who attends college fulltime, and already receives nearly $5,000 in government money through the tax code to justify almost tripling the Iowa E.I.T.C is beyond insulting.Â This clearly shows all taxpayers in IowaÂ what little respect some have for the contributions we are making to government coffers every year.
Republicans agreed multiple times last year to increase the percentage of the Iowa E.I.T.C, largely as part of a legislative give and take they hoped would result in other tax proposals gaining passage, but the governor twice vetoed the section raising the credit.Â In explanation heÂ cited his desire to instead include it in a much larger tax reform bill, though the SenateÂ again last month passed it as a stand alone measure (SF 2161).Â The price tag of raising the credit to 20% would cost Iowa taxpayers $49.9 millionÂ every year after it fully phased-in in 2016.Â This is no doubt a number that seems tiny to Democrats, but is a big deal when you consider that Chief Justice Cady is likely to again be denied an additional $10 million in funding for our judicial system, which has been underfunded for decades.
Once again I stress that the root of my problem here is not so much the issue itself or the price tag of passing the increase.Â Above all else, this specific example exposes how we are losing the spirit of defiant self-sufficiency that we once hadâ€”and how quickly it is getting replaced with an attitude that instead asks â€˜what more can you do for me?â€™Â What is so galling about this is not that the government would offer assistance to people in serious need (they certainly should), but rather how that need is now defined.
While this entire production was likely staged with the sole purpose of raising the guilt level and putting public pressure on Governor Branstad to accept the increase, in reality what it raises is a much larger question:
Has the mentality throughout our state become so collectivist in nature that hard working Iowans are going to be viewed as â€œheartlessâ€ for not wanting to payÂ adults to go to college and be able to match their childrenâ€™s piggy bank contributions?
If the answer is yes than Conservatives and Libertarians have a lot more work to doâ€¦and Iowans will have a lot more taxes to pay in the future.
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
â€”Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The two major forms of Republicanism each have a doctrine that is tied to actual documents. Religious social conservatives have The Bible, while fiscal and Constitutional conservatives have the Constitution. It is safe to say that the vast majority of Republicans have their political tenants supplied by one, if not both, of these documents. This type of textual anchor is a positive philosophically and morally but in a strictly political sense can be a liability. The resulting positives are what tend to be deep, time-tested convictions, stability, certainty and, when used, an effective measuring stick for candidates in primaries. However, in our current event driven and largely politically uninformed society the negative is that this rigidness makes it nearly impossible to adapt positions to individual situations and use current events for maximum political gain.
This is a problem that the modern day liberal Democrat will not have anytime soon. They indeed stand in the starkest of contrast. Having left the Constitution behind decades ago, they move forward with no defined doctrine. No set of black and white documents that create, inform, or guide their ideology (and donâ€™t even try to give me the party platform). This creates a situation in which changing party leadership sets an evolving standard as to what defines a Democrat. This not only allows them to easily tailor their political message to what they perceive to be popular at the moment, but grants them the option of playing the role of â€œlifeguardâ€ and coming to the citizenry’s rescue with politically crafted legislation.
This, in tandem with the current perception that this is indeed the role of government, is extremely effective but thankfully also comes with disadvantages. First, the party can more easily be driven to the fringes as their lack of rigid philosophical boundaries allows a handful in the leadership of a given generation to rather rapidly change their partyâ€™s principles. A quick look at their current leadership and the top three finishers in the last two Presidential primaries reveal not a single, even remotely, moderate candidate and safely proves this point. Second, though both unfortunate and ironic, their biggest roadblock is that given our current level of debt the Government simply can not sustain an ever increasing financial role. As long as our citizens are concerned with the debt, and according to the most recent polling all but 24% are, their â€œlifeguardâ€ advantage will be minimized. Though these points make it likely that due to their intensely progressive ideology they will drive themselves off a cliff, in the short term this chameleon like flexibility to adapt to changing realities is a net advantage and one that must be tactically dealt with. What has been created here is the political equivalent of a moving target and the challenge facing Republicans is developing a sound defensive strategy. Sounds strange to say, but the question is: how does one turn the political disadvantage of having and following defined ideological principles and a narrow view of the Federal governmentâ€™s role into an advantage?
What should be done from a focus standpoint, and what is currently working, is a continued, exhaustive fixation on deficit spending and our National debt. What should be added is further concentration on the ineffectiveness of the Stimulus Package, especially considering the Democrats just quietly tried to procure another $50 billion in borrowed money to funnel to the States. The Recovery Act is not only recent, relatively uncomplicated, and directly tied to the current Liberal leadership, but proves rather blatantly that even with a trillion dollars the Federal Government is not capable, nor was it designed to, â€œfixâ€ these types of problems. Simply put Republicans can not afford such an expensive and unnecessary tragedy to occur without it being politically fatal to the Democrats.
Legislatively two things come to mind. First, the already passed PayGo legislation needs to be hammered on and strictly followed by Republicans no matter the circumstance. In many ways this was a gift given by the Democrats, as it fits the Republican message, while almost certainly being a check written for political reasons to the American people that Liberalism will not allow them to cash. Along with this is what should be a unified, party-wide push for an Enumerated Powers Amendment. In my view this is the Republicans single best chance to not only start reigning Government back in, but also to maintain the energy of the Tea Party movement by proving that motion in their direction is both possible and something besides lip service. While the actual passage of such an amendment is an impossibility given the Republican’s current minority status, and I concede likely a long shot even with complete control of the Legislative branch, forcing the Democrats to vote down or ignore this concept would pay huge dividends now and in the future.
While any marksmen will tell you the only way to hit a moving target is to aim in front, in this case the surest place to aim is behind, and more specifically about 234 years behind. While it is certainly frustrating to watch the opposition bend and mold their positions to gain short term political support, and though it may be true in this day and age that strictly adhering to principles of limited government may at times seem like a burden, we must as Republicans resist the convenience of straying. We must be strengthened by the knowledge that in the long run, being principled and following the Constitutionâ€™s principles is always the correct answer. In those times that the temptation to deviate presents itself we can remember the Italiansâ€™ have an old saying for just such a quandary, â€œA burden that is chosen is not felt.â€