Though the U.S. Senate race in Iowa is only in the pre-natal stage the Des Moines Register hasnâ€™t wasted any time in displaying the partisan favoritism it has become infamous forâ€”an impressive feat given the race is only a few months old and has only a combined three candidates declared.
In the last month they have run two stories solely based on Democratic talking points, a practice they have failed to reciprocate for the other side, and flat-out offered no coverage of a significant Republican event.
The first instance occurred almost a month ago when, days after candidate Matt Whitaker announced on The Simon Conway Show, the Registerâ€™s Jennifer Jacobs published verbatim a full press-release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee attacking Whitaker for comments he made on the program (http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2013/05/08/democrats-criticize-whitaker-for-pledging-to-vote-with-extremist-senators/article).Â In theory this practice is fine by meâ€”provided of course that as a â€œreputableâ€ statewide news organization they follow suit when the releases come from the other side of the aisleâ€¦I havenâ€™t seen this yet.
What makes this so damaging is that there is no shortage of releases from the DSCCâ€™s counterpart in Washingtonâ€”the National Republican Senatorial Committeeâ€”but they seem unable to merit the same ink.Â I routinely get these releases from the NRSC and if they are well sourced and fact based I occasionally run them.Â An example would be the following from yesterday:
June 5, 2013
Lawyer Speak: Braley Misleads Iowa Students…Says Student Loan Rates Must be Kept from Doubling, But Votes Against Legislation to Extend Lower Rates for Iowa Students
Bruce Braley isn’t fooling anyone. The slick former head of the trial lawyers association and liberal loyalist to Nancy Pelosi – in true trial lawyer fashion – is trying to fool Iowa voters yet again, this time about the rising cost of student loans.
Less than two weeks ago, Bruce Braley voted AGAINST a bill on the House floor that would have extended a lower rate for Iowa students’ loans. Bruce Braley might be able to fool a jury, but he can’t fool Iowans.
SHOT: @TeamBraley – Help @BruceBraley’s effort to keep college affordable by adding your name here…. #DontDoubleMyRate #IAProblemSolver
CHASER: Bruce Braley Voted Against A Bill To Extend A Lower Rate For Student Loans. â€œPassage of the bill that would tie student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate. Interest rates on all federal student loans (except Perkins loans) issued on or after July 1, 2013 would be set each year at the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percent. Rates for graduate and parent PLUS loans would be set at the 10-year note plus 4.5 percent. Overall interest rates would be capped at 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.â€ (H.R. 1911, CQ Vote #183: Passed 221-198: R 217-8; D 4-190, 5/23/13, Braley Voted Nay)
If Bruce Braley was actually worried about student loan rates, why did he oppose a bill to prevent the rates from doubling for Iowa students in less than a month?Â Why is he hiding from his vote?
“Preventing student loan rates from crushing Iowa students who are already struggling should be an issue of bipartisan agreement in Washington, but Bruce Braley would rather politicize the issue than actually help the struggling middle class.Â Braley’s misleading trial lawyer speak is just the latest example of his slick attempt to fool the jury – Iowa voters.Â Iowans are too smart for that.”said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen.
The second example of this behaviorâ€”also from the aforementioned Jennifer Jacobsâ€”came just yesterday via a story on a â€œsnarkyâ€ website just launched by the Iowa Democratic Party.Â The website makes a pretty juvenile attempt at poking fun of newly declared Republican candidate David Young.Â You can check it out here if you wish (http://welcometoia.com/), but Iâ€™m not going to give it any more play.Â The point here is the story published by the Register gave this Democratic effort everything it wantedâ€”publicity and exposure.
Whatâ€™s Not News?
A further slap in the face to Republican candidate David Young was the paper not even covering his official campaign announcement last Saturday at a restaurant in Van Meterâ€”this is inconceivable.Â So to recap hereâ€”the Register canâ€™t find the time or personnel to cover the announcement of a serious Republican candidate for the United States Senateâ€¦but they have the time and space to promote a Democrat website created to mock him.Â Itâ€™s just ridiculous.
This is merely a continuation of blatant biasâ€”my all-time favorite was the Republican presidential endorsement debacleÂ from 2008, which if you havenâ€™t seen you need to click the link.Â The Registerâ€™s economic struggles of late have been well documented.Â Though I concede much of this is due to the struggle of integrating a web-based model, itâ€™s hard not to assume a portion of the problem is their distinct and continuing partisan slant.
What kind of business model rejects and insults the sensibilities of what amounts to nearly half of their potential customer base?Â Answer: A struggling one that will continue to be further marginalized unless they change course and offer some balance.
In a wildly under-reported story, last Monday the Des Moines Register uncovered a shocking factâ€”Leonard Boswell is a blue dog Democrat.
To anyone paying attention to politics, and familiar with Mr. Boswellâ€™s votes during his last term, this certainly comes as quite the revelation.Â The front page headline was written by Jennifer Jacobs and titled â€œOpinions vary on effectiveness of Blue Dog democrat Boswellâ€.
I am far less interested in the article itself than I am in the fact-like pronouncement that Leonard Boswell, especially recently, fits in the â€œblue dogâ€ pack.Â Though he is officially a member of a group of U.S House members called the â€œBlue Dog Coalitionâ€, his voting record puts him so clearly opposite of nearly every one of this coalitionâ€™s mission statements that itâ€™s truly laughable.
We will look at the record in a second, but let me first say that this is not the only time the Des Moines Register has been called out hereâ€”and technically it could happen almost daily.Â The reason this headline catches the eye is that with election season underway, characterizations and even subtle hints can go a long way in influence uninformed voters in November.Â Especially if advertising Boswell as someone who has been tight with the purse strings becomes a campaign strategy, which would be smart politics, this is a notion that has to be quickly and forcefully refuted.
The bottom line is that Leonard Boswell can call himself whatever he wants, and the Register can shrug off critical thinking and follow suitâ€” but that doesnâ€™t make it true.Â The fact is that if he is a blue dog, then Steve King is socially moderate and Kim Pearson and Tom Shaw â€œgo along to get alongâ€.Â Letâ€™s dig inâ€¦
For those unaware, a blue dog Democrat is a legislator in the House who is fiscally conservative and philosophically breaks with their party on the level of government spending and taxation that is appropriate, and by their own definition even moral.Â Though they recently are trying to branch out into other issues like energy and economic growth, by and large their purpose is to oppose overspending and battle fellow Democrats when need be.Â This being the case you would expect to see some sort of opposition from â€œblue dogâ€ Leonard Boswell to the direction the Country has swerved in following President Obamaâ€™s election.Â Instead, in the last three and a half years the national debt has increased $5 trillion dollarsâ€”and Mr. Boswell has cast â€œyeaâ€ votes all along the way.Â Here is the record.
The following are key votes the Congressman has taken on major tax and spend issues since 2009.
Voted in favor:
â€¢Â Economic Stimulus Billâ€”over $800 billion added to the national debt, more than a trillion dollars with interest included (passed the House 246-183 on Feb. 13, 2009).
â€¢Â Obamacareâ€”price tag of $900 billion over 10 years at passage, most recent CBO scoring nearly doubled this amount to $1.76 trillion (passed the House 219-212 on March 21, 2010).
â€¢Â Cash For Clunkers â€“cost of nearly $3 billion (passed the House 316-109 on July 31, 2009).
â€¢Â Extending Unemployment Benefitsâ€”April 15, 2010 (passed 289-112), May 28, 2010 (passed 215-204), and July 22, 2010 (passed 272-152).
â€¢Â Raising the debt ceilingâ€”passed the House 218-214 on December 16, 2009.
â€¢Â Cap and Tradeâ€”according to the Obama administration itself, would have cost Americans up to $200 billion a year (passed the House 219-212 on June 26, 2009).
â€¢Â Cut, Cap, and Balanceâ€”passed the House 234-190 on July 19th, 2011
â€¢Â Debt ceiling bill â€“ This is the John Boehner version that would have raised the debt ceiling in exchange for limits on discretionary spending (passed the House 218-210 on July 29, 2011).
â€¢Â Reducing spending to F.Y 2008 levelsâ€”passed the House 256-165 on July 25, 2011.
One can make many claims about Boswellâ€™s last term in Congress, but given this record it is hard to imagine how any fair-minded person could call him fiscally conservative.Â Besides the unbelievable amount of money he voted to add to our national debt, the other thing to note is how close many of these votes were.Â In particular, the Obamacare and Cap and Trade votes authorized borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars per yearâ€”and passed by a combined 14 votes. If there ever was a time a blue dog would stand up for their principles of responsible spending it would have been then.
Why It Matters
To bolster the claim that he is a centrist, the Register story uses a National Journal analysis of his votes in 2011 (right before an election year) which places him more liberal than 61.8% and more conservative than 38.2% of his fellow House members.Â While this point is highly arguable, any description of him as concerned with deficits and high taxes cannot be made with a straight face.Â In our current political climate of outrage over debt, the failure of the Stimulus Bill, and the GSO and Solyndra scandals, any distancing of himself from these issues would be a huge re-election assetâ€”and one he clearly has not earned.
What is really ironic here is the fact that this story follows a weekend in which the Des Moines Register published a piece telling their readers that they would soon be charging for online access to much of their content.Â This transition has many affiliated with the paper very nervous, as there is a high probability of it being a disaster.Â As long as they continue doing things like allowing Democratic politicians to self-identify themselves without publicly asking questions like â€œis Leonard Boswell truly a blue dog?â€â€”not only will their bottom line struggleâ€¦they will struggle to remain in operation.