Archive for March 2012
Today’s guest post is by Larry Hodgden of Tipton. Larry is a retired Viet Nam era veteran of the USAF. He and his wife of 40 years, Sharon, have three children and seven grandchildren who keep him very busy. Family, education, church and politics have been a lifelong passion.
By now you may be aware there is a bill(HF2215) in the Iowa legislature called “Stand your ground” which allows anyone to use whatever means they wish to deter someone from entering their “property” and further, holds them harmless from legal action. This same law in Florida passed by their Republican legislature and signed by Jeb Bush has resulted in a vigilante slaying of an innocent 17 year old boy. Current law allows you to defend yourself in your own house but this bill goes further to define property as your car, your yard or anything else you could possibly define as your property. Then it allows you to take any action you wish to defend this arbitrary definition of property with any degree of force you want regardless of the extent of the threat to you or your property. I suggest an amendment to add “shoot first and ask questions later”. to the bill’s name.
How do bills like this show up in state after state controlled by Republican legislatures we might ask. We can thank ALEC(American Legislative Exchange Council) for that and many other bills such as Voter ID and the resulting voter suppression, for anti women legislation such as defunding Planned Parenthood and restricting health care choices. In effect Iowa’s Republican legislators are adopting ideas formulated in other states and by groups financed by wealthy corporations and individuals.
While our legislature and legislators waste their time and ours with bills like this, they still have not completed any of the important legislation to operate our state. Twelve weeks into the session and they are no where near a budget and it looks like they won’t even set an allowable growth for K-12 education as they are required to do by law. The Governor’s Education bill and property tax reform bill are going no where fast. Perhaps the worst is the mess they made with Mental Health funding when they took it away from counties and now don’t have a workable plan to replace it. Talk about “getting the cart ahead of the horse”.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against Governor Branstad’s veto of funding for 36 Iowa Job Service Centers which effectively shut them down. The Governor took the 30 million appropriated for them and spent it elsewhere and now the legislature has to come up with 30 million in new money to keep them open. All this after last years marathon session which lasted until June 30th and cost the state of Iowa millions in additional per diem and expenses. Does anyone really think we are getting our money’s worth?
March 29, 2012
Harkin: It’s Time to Restore the American Dream for Middle Class Families
Introduces Bill to Create Jobs, Invest in America, and Restore Balance to Tax System
WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Rebuild America Act, a far-reaching bill that will create jobs, restore fairness to the tax code, and rebuild America’s middle class through investments in areas like education and workforce training, our nation’s infrastructure, manufacturing jobs, and retirement security. After a year of hearings and events in Washington and Iowa, Harkin, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, developed the bill to combat the middle class squeeze that is holding back our economic recovery, and lay the groundwork for a bright future in the global economy.
“In recent years, many in Washington have been pushing not just misguided budgets, but a dangerously misguided premise – that America is broke, and that we can no longer afford the investments that make possible a strong middle class and a world-class economy. I strongly disagree,” said Harkin. “The Rebuild America Act puts policies in place that will repair the engine that drives our nation’s economic growth: the middle class. It creates the good jobs families need now through robust investments in America and will help grow the middle class in the long term by building economic opportunity for families. Perhaps most importantly, the bill addresses spiraling economic inequality by restoring fairness and balance to our tax code, which also fully pays for the cost of the bill.”
The Rebuild America Act tackles the problem of our shrinking middle class in three ways: by taking immediate steps to create jobs and kick-start the economy, by implementing policies that will help families achieve financial security and expand the middle class, and by paying for these new investments through a balanced tax code that reduces inequality and fosters economic growth. The bill will:
Invest in America to Create Jobs and Future Growth by modernizing our transportation and energy infrastructures, bringing our schools and community colleges into the 21st century, preparing our workers for jobs of the future, and directing the creation of a national manufacturing strategy.
Create Financial Stability and a Better Future for Middle Class Families by increasing access to quality child care, expanding time-and-a-half overtime pay, establishing a fair minimum wage, allowing all Americans to earn paid sick leave, ensuring that Americans have the right to join a union, opening new paths to the middle class for people with disabilities, and strengthening Social Security.
Restore Balance and Fairness to the Tax Code by instituting the “Buffett Rule,” adopting a Wall Street trading and speculators tax, ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and protecting pensions.
Harkin’s legislation enjoys broad support from advocates for middle class Americans.
“Senator Harkin recognizes that a strong and stable middle class is critical to America’s growth now and in the future,” said Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden. “The Rebuild America Act tackles some of the most immediate challenges facing America’s economy today, ranging from the rising costs of colleges to stagnant wages to the shortage of skilled workers in key industries. By leveraging federal investments and encouraging key industry partnerships, this legislation would make great strides in helping to prepare America’s workers for the jobs of tomorrow and improving economic security for working families, while also restoring fairness to the tax code. Senator Harkin has a long history of defending the middle class and I commend him for his continued leadership on these issues.”
“The ‘Rebuild America Act’ is the first piece of proposed legislation in the last decade that comprehensively addresses all of the far-ranging systemic problems confronting the American economy and the nation’s workers,” said Leo Hindery, Chair of the U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation. “By addressing, at once, upgraded infrastructure, better education, fair wages, trade reform, tax reform and the imperative for a much larger, more stable manufacturing sector – each with identified objectives and outcomes – we can finally contemplate a tapestry of initiatives that will truly reinvigorate the middle class, achieve near full real employment, and eliminate our massive trade deficit in manufactured goods.”
“The Rebuild America Act would raise the minimum wage, protect overtime pay and workers’ right to stand together, and fund investments in education, child care and infrastructure,” said Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “It is an ambitious, comprehensive bill that addresses the real issues facing America’s families. It would surely go a long way in moving the country forward.”
A detailed summary of Harkin’s legislation is below:
The Rebuild America Act
Title 1: Invest in America to Create Jobs and Future Growth
As our economy continues to recover from the worst economic period since the Great Depression, we need to invest more wisely in programs that will create jobs and lay the groundwork for future growth. For decades, we have allowed the infrastructure that our nation’s prosperity is built upon to crumble. Our roads and bridges are outdated and unsafe, our education system is falling behind our global competitors, and too many factories are shuttered. To rebuild America’s foundation to create future growth, we must:
* Invest in America’s Roads, Bridges, and Infrastructure: America’s public byways are crumbling as a result of the decade-long failure to invest in our infrastructure. To help overcome this deficit and promote economic growth, the Act provides $300 billion for investments including roads, bridges, and energy efficiency systems.
* Modernize America’s Schools: Too many of our nation’s schools are not equipped to meet the needs of 21st Century students and teachers. The Act provides $20 billion in formula grants for the modernization, renovation, and repair of early learning facilities, K-12 public schools, and community colleges.
* Support Great Teachers: Teacher effectiveness has more impact on student achievement than any other in-school factor. The Act provides grants to States to provide professional development to teachers and other school personnel so that they can best prepare students to meet college and career ready standards.
* Rebuild America’s Manufacturing Power: While many of our competitors are taking aggressive steps to support domestic manufacturing, the U.S. lacks a coherent strategy to support manufacturers. The Act includes steps to strengthen American manufacturing so that we can better compete in the global economy and establishes a national manufacturing strategy.
Prepare Americans for Jobs of the Future:To be competitive in the global economy, Americans must have the skills for 21st Century jobs. The Act offers challenge grants to regional partnerships of businesses, schools, labor, and economic development officials to train workers for well-paying jobs of the future.
* Pursue Fair Trade: The demand created by America’s middle class is the engine of the world’s economy, but we won’t have a robust economy and a thriving middle class if we allow our trading partners to use unfair trade practices that undercut American workers and manufacturers. The Act includes steps to help American workers compete on a level playing field with our trading partners.
Create Middle Class Jobs and Protect Middle Class Communities:While private sector job growth has picked up, since 2008, state and local governments have cut almost 700,000 workers, including over 250,000 teachers. These cuts threaten the safety and impede the progress of America’s middle class communities. To create middle class jobs and protect middle class communities, the Act provides funds for state and local governments to hire teachers, cops, firefighters, and other critical employees.
Title 2: Create Financial Stability and a Better Future for Middle Class Families
Until the 1970s, Americans’ wages rose in tandem with productivity growth. Since then, wages have stagnated even as Americans work longer hours and produce more. To help families stay in the middle class, we must help families’ wages go farther and create more good-paying jobs with benefits that help families care for their children and plan for a secure retirement. To rebuild support structures that allow our families to prosper, we must:
* Alleviate the High Cost of Child Care: One of the largest burdens faced by young families is the rising cost of child care. To help, the Act will update the Child Care and Development Block Grant to offer more subsidies for child care while also increasing the quality of that care so that parents can go to work with the assurance that their children are safe and sound.
Help Americans Enjoy Their Golden Years:Americans deserve to know they can retire with dignity and enjoy their golden years. The Act will improve Social Security benefits and strengthen the private pension system so that more Americans can count on a steady stream of retirement income they will not outlive.
* Protect Overtime Pay for Working Americans: Too many Americans are working longer and harder without anything to show for their efforts in their paycheck. The Act will ensure that Americans who are called on to work long hours receive the fair pay they deserve by updating the threshold used to determine which “white collar” workers automatically qualify for time-and-a-half when they work beyond a normal workweek.
* Prevent Americans from Having to Choose Between Their Health and Their Paycheck: The U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not guarantee paid sick time to workers, forcing many low and middle-income workers to choose between their health, their job, or bringing their sickness to work. The Act will allow Americans to earn up to seven paid sick days per year to use for preventive care, recovery from illness, or to care for sick family members.
* Establish a Fair Minimum Wage:While the minimum wage used to equal about half of average wages, today it is barely a third. A higher minimum wage is the simplest thing we can do to help struggling families become self-sufficient and join the middle class.
* Empower Hardworking Americans: Strong and vibrant unions are essential to creating the good, middle class jobs that can support a family and support a strong economy. By ensuring that all workers have a right to join together and stand up for fair wages and working conditions, and that employers face real penalties for violating that right, the Act will help strengthen the middle class and promote economic growth for our businesses and communities.
* Increase Job Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities: In the last two years, Americans with disabilities have left the labor force at a rate six times higher than that of non-disabled workers. To help improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, the Act expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Americans with disabilities.
Title 3: Restore Fairness to the Tax Code
One of the reasons America’s middle class is struggling is that our tax code has become tilted in favor of very wealthy individuals and large corporations. Falling revenues have increased the deficit and made it impossible to invest in America. The Act will help to restore balance to the tax code that is critical for reducing inequality and fostering sustainable long-term economic growth while ensuring fiscal responsibility. To balance our tax code, we must:
* Institute the “Buffet Rule”: As a result of loopholes and special provisions in the tax code, the highest-earning 400 Americans in 2008 – making an average of $270 million each – paid an average effective federal tax rate of just 18.2%. The Rebuild America Act includes the “Paying A Fair Share Act,” introduced by Senator Whitehouse, which will ensure that the wealthiest Americans pay at least as much as middle class families.
* Adopt a Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax: The Rebuild America Act includes the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act, which would place a small tax of 3 basis points on common financial trades undertaken by banks and financial firms that trade financial securities.
* End Tax Breaks for Companies that Ship Jobs Overseas: To create a tax code that benefits Americans, the Act will close loopholes that incentivize companies to ship jobs overseas.
* Make Wall Street Take Responsibility: The Act includes a proposal from President Obama’s budget that requires the largest financial institutions to payback the assistance they received from the American taxpayers in order to help rebuilding our economy.
* Make Hedge Fund Managers Pay the Same Taxes as the Rest of Us: The Act closes the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers and other investors to manipulate the tax code in order to pay a lower rate on their earnings.
* Raise the Capital Gains Rate: The 233% difference between the 15% tax rates the rich pay on capital gains and the 35% top marginal rate on work for ordinary Americans is indefensible. The Act will increase the capital gains tax rate to help restore balance to the tax code.
* Protect Pensions: To further strengthen the retirement system, the Act will provide basic protections for the 44 million Americans with defined-benefit pension plans.
* Close Loopholes to Prevent Worker Misclassification: The Act will provide a fairer playing field to America’s businesses and workers by helping employers to properly classify their workers.
Isn’t there a law against bribing people with booze to get them to sign a candidate’s ballot petition? Which raises the question of, why did people need to be drunk in order to go along with it? What kind of congressman would a person who runs a campaign like this be?
The Iowa Secretary of State is apparently going to allow unverifiable/fraudulent/paid-for-in-liquor signatures to stand on a nomination petition for federal office. (But this same Republican SOS would support a law requiring an 80-year old Iowan living at the same address for 60 years to show an ID in order to vote).
The panel that decided on Joe Seng’s nomination petition challenging 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack made their decision based on counties that weren’t even being challenged because the SOS office had already thrown them out. Does this remind you of anything? Florida 2000 is what it reminds me of.
Maybe there are no hanging chads, but it just feels all too familiar.
“The complaint, filed by Iowa City attorney Paul McAndrew, revolved around dozens of questionable signatures from three counties within the 2nd Congressional district, which covers southeast Iowa. The panel’s ultimate decision mooted those concerns, however, and focused instead on the form of petitions submitted from two other counties.”
“… the panel did not make their decision based on McAndrew’s allegations in Wayne, Scott and Wapello. Rather, they focused on petitions from two other counties – Davis and Van Buren – that the Secretary of State’s threw out prior to McAndrew’s complaint.
They basically put back the two counties that the SOS office had already thrown out, then said Seng no longer needed the 3 counties being challenged to qualify.
So Seng will be on the ballot in spite of this:
“One affidavit came from an Ottumwa veterinarian who described how he collected signatures for Seng at the Fibbin’ Fisherman Lounge in the town Corydon in Wayne County. In the affidavit, Dr. David North attested that he “collected signatures personally” at the bar on behalf of Seng, and that the effort “cost me many rounds of drinks.”
Seng’s Not Mad
Afterward, Seng said he was “pleased” with the result.
“I’m not mad or anything like that….” Seng said…. “There was no politics or anything on that. ”
Whew. Good to know no politics were involved.
According to the Des Moines Register:
McAndrew’s complaint alleged dozens of errors in Seng’s petitions from Wayne, Scott and Wapello counties. Those errors, he argued, brought Seng’s total signatures below the minimum required in each county and should have disqualified him from inclusion on the ballot.
“Seng has … failed to show sufficient support among the District’s electorate to justify placing his name on the ballot and thus putting the public to the expense of, among other things, administering a very expensive primary election,” McAndrew wrote in the complaint.
John Deeth has this:
Despite strong evidence of invalid signatures, the statutory panel — including, disappointingly, AG Tom Miller — left improbably primary challenger Joe Seng on the ballot yesterday, buying his All Participants Get A Ribbon argument that he should get credit for trying: “It really sounded bad that I have a felon and people from Illinois and stuff like that, but that happens in every one.”
Seriously, it happens in every one? It seems doubtful that it happens to this extent, resulting in this close of a margin, where the candidate wouldn’t have had enough signatures without the bad ones, and the candidate is still given the benefit of the doubt even while they openly brag to the media about how many rounds of drinks it cost them. This is why campaigns routinely try to get many more signatures than the minimum required, so that when the bad ones are rightfully struck, they still have enough. We all remember when Rep. Loebsack fell short in his initial campaign against Leach. There was no benefit of the doubt given and he was forced to be nominated at the convention.
Seng is an anti-choice Democrat who has apparently already received some help from the Koch Brothers.
Guess you have to be a conservative to get “benefits.”
Audio of Review Panel’s proceedings:
I hope you can tune-in and spread the word about tonight’s final Fallon Forum broadcast on 98.3. We’ll take calls on any and all issues, and I hope to announce what happens next. But honestly, it’s still unclear how I continue the radio program. Over the past 2 1/2 years, I’ve seen up close how Corporate America has further consolidated its stranglehold over the public airwaves. This only further motivates me to help reclaim them for reasonable, balanced discourse serving the public good, not private profit. But granted, it is an uphill battle.
Please join me for the 512th and final edition of the Fallon Forum on 98.3 FM from 7:00-8:00 pm. You can hear the show online at www.fallonforum.com.
Join the conversation at (515) 312-0983 or toll free (866) 908-TALK.
Thanks! — Ed
Early, Iowa – Congressman Steve King will hold a series of 23 town hall meetings across Iowa’s new 4th Congressional District next week. King to hear questions, concerns, and provide substantive solutions for Iowa’s new 4th District.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Carroll Town Hall
Carroll Chamber of Commerce
407 W 5th Street
Harlan Town Hall
Therkildsen Activity Center
706 Victoria Street
Sioux City Town Hall
Wilbur Aalfs Library
529 Pierce Street
Sioux City, IA
Le Mars Town Hall
Willow Creek Golf Course
935 Park Lane
Le Mars, IA
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Storm Lake Town Hall
Kings Pointe Resort
1530 East Lakeshore Drive
Storm Lake, IA
Spencer Town Hall
528 Grand Avenue
Emmetsburg Town Hall
Smith Wellness Center
3200 College Drive, Room 817
Algona Town Hall
Algona Public Library
210 N Phillips Street
Ft. Dodge Town Hall
Best Western Starlight Village
1518 3rd Avenue NW
Ft. Dodge, IA
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Ida Grove Town Hall
311 Barnes Street
Ida Grove, IA
Sioux Center Town Hall
251 North Main Avenue
Sioux Center, IA
Sheldon Town Hall
Community Services Center
9th Street and 4th Avenue
Estherville Town Hall
LIbrary Community Room
613 Central Avenue
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Ames Conservative Breakfast
1404 Boston in Ames.
Grundy Center Town Hall
City Hall/Community Center
705 F Avenue
Grundy Center, IA
Charles City Town Hall
Charles City Public Library
106 Milwaukee Mall
Charles City, IA
Hampton Town Hall
5 First Street SW
Friday, April 6, 2012
Rockwell City Town Hall
City Hall/Community Building
424 Main Street
Rockwell City, IA
Jefferson Town Hall
Greene County Community Center
204 West Harrison Street
Boone Town Hall
1703 South Story Street
Webster City Town Hall
Second Street Emporium
615 Second Streett
Webster City, IA
Monday, April 9, 2012
Clear Lake Town Hall
10 N. Lakeview Drive
Clear Lake, IA
Prime and Wine, 3000 4th Street SW
Forest City Town Hall
Titonka Savings Bank
101 Highway 69 N
Forest City, IA
Iowa Falls Town Hall
Barlow Public Library
921 Washington Avenue
Iowa Falls, IA
This town hall tour will emphasize Iowa’s strengths and the need for restoration of America’s bedrock principles. This includes free enterprise and the promise of government designed to encourage the entrepreneur, empower the business owner, and grow jobs in the private sector.
“I invite you to come to one of my town hall meetings to discuss the issues important to you, the 4th District, and our nation. My life’s work is as the founder of a now second generation construction company, a State Senator, and a Congressman,” King remarked. “Having met payroll for 28 years, part of that time while in the legislature and raising a family, gives me a solid foundation to represent Iowans.”
King currently represents Iowa’s 5th Congressional District and serves on the U.S. House Agriculture, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees. He is seeking re-election in Iowa’s new 4th Congressional District of which he is a lifelong resident. “It is the honor of a thousand lifetimes to represent Iowans in Congress. Each day I have the privilege, I am driven by the urgency to put our country back on track and to realize the full potential of American destiny,” King said.
The Center for Media and Democracy’s PRwatch.org:
The links between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and “voter ID” legislation have been well-documented, but newspapers in the states impacted most severely by the voter suppression legislation have been largely silent on this connection. A new analysis by Media Matters finds that “the largest newspapers in the seven states that enacted voter ID laws in 2011 have largely ignored ALEC’s influence.” ALEC is a group that brings together right-wing state legislators and corporations to vote on cookie-cutter “model” bills behind closed doors. The bills largely benefit corporations and Republican political interests.
As CMD has previously reported, ALEC began to focus on voter ID shortly after 2008, when the highest general election turnout in nearly 60 years swept America’s first black president into office with strong support from college students and African-Americans. Soon, “Preventing Election Fraud” was the cover story on the Inside ALEC magazine, and ALEC corporations and politicians approved “model” voter ID legislation in 2009. Around 34 voter ID bills modeled after the ALEC template were introduced in 2011.
The legislation — which requires that voters show a state-issued ID to vote — has been criticized as an effort to disenfranchise students, the elderly and minorities, who are less likely to have the appropriate type of ID. According to a 2011 report by the Brennan Center for Justice, as many as 5 million people do not have the ID required under the new laws and as a result could be disenfranchised in 2012.
Only One State Newspaper Noted Link Between ALEC and Voter ID
Since CMD released a trove of “model” ALEC bills in July 2011, including the template “model” voter ID bill, national (and even international) media outlets have documented the ALEC roots of voter ID. Outlets including Rolling Stone, Democracy Now!, CNN, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, The Associated Press and scores of others have produced pieces documenting the link between ALEC and the nearly-identical voter ID legislation that have sprouted up across the country in the past year.
However, state-based newspapers of the type read by most voters have barely mentioned the link.
After 2 1/2 years on 98.3, March 29th will be my last WOW broadcast. Suffice it to say that the new owner, Cumulus Broadcasting, has other plans for the 7:00-8:00 pm time slot. I’m not sure whether the Fallon Forum will continue on another station, be available only online, or be discontinued altogether. We are literally in transition, and I will have an update for you next Monday. So, as we say in radio, “Stay tuned!”
It just doesn’t seem right that Rush Limbaugh continues to be allowed to broadcast all the garbage he wants while civility gets the corporate ax. We hope to learn soon what’s to become of Ed.
Here’s Ed’s message for this week:
Well, this is the last week of Fallon Forum broadcasts on WOW 98.3 FM. I am still working on exactly how this Phoenix rises from the ashes. I hope to announce that later this week.
Monday and Tuesday, as the U.S. Supreme Court begins to hear challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, I broadcast from Washington DC, interviewing members of Congress and key national health care leaders. I want to thank Dr. David Drake, Des Moines family psychiatrist/relationship consultant in private practice, for sponsoring Monday’s program and Dsr. Bill Barry and Lisa Banitt of Ames for sponsoring Tuesday’s program.
Wednesday, we talk criminal justice, taking a closer look at community-based corrections. I’m still lining up guests, but want to thank Bill and Jean Basinger of Justice Reform Consortium for helping to sponsor the program.
Thursday, being the final broadcast of the Fallon Forum on WOW 98.3, it’s your show, folks. Any and all callers welcome on any and all topics.
So, join the conversation Monday – Thursday from 7:00-8:00 pm at 98.3 FM and online. Call-in at (515) 312-0983 or toll-free at (866) 908-TALK. You can download the Fallon Forum as a podcast, too.
Thanks! — Ed
This was written by Buddy Howard, President of the Lee County Labor Council and BCTGM 48G member from Keokuk. It is in regard to the lockout of American Crystal Sugar Workers.
I recently took a 1700 mile trip to be with my BCTGM brothers and sisters on the picket lines who are locked out by Crystal Sugar.
I was surprised in town to talk to some folks who said they weren’t sure who was to blame, the company or the
Are you kidding me?
This is a company who made record profits.
These are workers who traveled for the company lobbying for the sugar program.
This is a company who is paying (and housing) scabs more money than most of your neighbors were making at the plants.
These are workers who faithfully bargained and turned down a union busting contract but offered to keep working while a fair settlement was reached.
This is a company who brought in professional scabs to your towns and who put fear into businesses and small farmers so they can’t do the right thing and support the workers who are having their lives torn apart by corporate greed.
These are workers who supported your businesses and are your neighbors. And some aren’t even getting
How about giving an hour or two on the picket line. Or a small donation.
Like the old song says, “Which side are you on?”
There should be no doubt.
You either support families who fight with all they’ve got for their jobs and their dignity. Or you support a millionaire who pays scabs to cross a picket line and steal someones elses job.
For those who have supported my brothers and sisters,
Thank you so much.
President Lee County Labor Council
Member BCTGM 48G