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Bruce Braley

Medicare Still Working

save medicare
I am here to report that Medicare is still in full fettle. This month I joined up. What a feeling. I feel like I have just moved into a grand home with few worries. No more wondering if the landlord will toss us out on our ear because he can. In more practical terms it means I can go to see a medical person without the fear that we may lose our home and everything we worked for. For a cost way less than half of what some really bad “insurance” used to cost me, I can now get real medical care. Plus the system itself is doing well.

Even though the ACA was supposed to address problems with the health care system (or more accurately the health insurance system), insurance companies have done all and everything they can to subvert its mission. The policy I had for the past eight months was sold to me with one set of providers, but that was switched when I went to use it. Thus I was little better off than before. With Medicare that is not a worry.

Prior to the ACA, it was pretty much a given that if you were over 50 pretty much everything you would see a medical person for was a “pre-existing condition” and thus not covered by the insurance company. So for years I paid out big bucks for horrible coverage, just like most of the country. This is what led to health care being one of the central issues of 2008. Most people wanted and still want I believe a form of Medicare for everyone. What we got is protection for the health insurance industry with a few trinkets for the consumer.

Thus we are still the only major economy without universal health care and we still pay nearly twice what any other country pays per person while getting about half the results. Taking a chunk out for that middle man that adds nothing to the actual care of a patient really affects the system. Too bad a person has to wait to 65 to finally have access to decent health care in this country. Medicare is a great template for what this country should be aiming for.

No doubt Medicare is a popular program. So popular that Republican candidates for national and statewide offices have had to couch their once outspoken opposition to Medicare in phraseology that attempts to hide their real intent. Joni Ernst has a commercial that claims she favors Medicare when in reality she will be one pushing hard to voucherize Medicare. Her loyalty is not to get good medical access for Iowans young and old, but to deliver on what the Koch Brothers tell her to do. Lying about her position is not a problem when it may accomplish her goals.

We know how Steve King feels about medical care – it is just not for the poor and middle class. David Young is using the old and long debunked lie that Obama stole $700 billion from Medicare. Anyone who tells you that is an idiot, pure and simple. In the second district we see Mariannette Miller-Meeks lining up with libertarian tea bagger Rand Paul. Her policies have shifted way to the right of the years. Her views on Medicare have moved also. I really find it hard to believe that a doctor would work to restrict access to health care, but there she is to prove me wrong.

I must say I do not know where Rod Blum stands, but I could guess and I am sure I would be close. Most of the Republican candidates say they do not want to take Medicare away from those who have it. That is simple logic. That would be political suicide. But taking it away from a generation that Reaganomics has oppressed to the point where they have seen the middle class slowly disappear is fair game to them.

Just another in their war on the middle class. Now, I believe and I think most Iowans believe that Medicare and its companion programs Social Security, Medicaid and the current ACA, are social contracts between the government and the citizens. Remember we are the government and we do direct what our representatives do.

In case you have forgotten, Terry Branstad would have been ecstatic to dump the Medicaid portion of the ACA like all his Republican buddies. But he was forced to compromise and put in at least a form of the new Medicaid due to a gutsy stand by his now opponent Jack Hatch. Branstad would love to have a chance to roll back that decision. Electing Jack Hatch would give Iowa a chance to join those at the top tier of health care. We really owe it to ourselves to send Branstad packing and to put a man with vision for the common Iowan in the governor’s mansion.

If health care is still a concern of yours and your family, and it should be if you are human, there is little question that you should vote for Democrats this fall.

McConnell: We’ll Shut Down Government

mcconnell terrorist
Mitch has an itch. His itch is to be leader of the senate once again so he can force President Obama into a bad choice for America of signing bills that would disrupt policy or if not, shut down the government. Remember all that stuff you learned in grade school about Congress compromising and working for the best for its citizens? Throw it out the window, it is about to become the stuff of legend.

With his partner, Smokin’ John Boehner, the alcoholic Speaker of the House, McConnell plans on attaching amendments changing policy to spending bills. This will then force the President to sign bills that will change policies (I doubt for the better) or stop the government as the money will not have been appropriated to run the government.

Then McConnell and Boehner will claim that it is the President who has chosen to shut down the government by refusing to give in to Republican blackmail.

You may recognize this as a variation on the debt ceiling blackmail shutdown led by that great American, Ted Cruz (do I need to say sarcasm?) last fall. The Republicans promised not to hold the debt ceiling hostage for a while and they aren’t. They are holding Americans, both citizens and businesses, hostage this time. It will be Obama’s fault if he chooses not to pay the ransom.

And the bet that the Republicans are making is that Americans are too stupid to figure out what they are doing. No doubt, they plan on a captive and compliant press to sell this as Obama’s fault. They did so in their last phony crisis.

What role do Iowans play in this game? Well, we have one of those senate races that McConnell and his cohorts are counting on to put Republicans in charge of the senate. Remember, even if McConnell loses his senate seat, the next Republican leader will do exactly the same.

Iowa’s senate race is of course Bruce Braley vs. Joni Ernst. Anyone who has been paying attention so far can easily see a very distinct difference between Braley and Ernst.

– Braley has a proven track record of working for Iowans. In a short career, Braley is one of the most respected member of the House.

– Ernst has lined up with the most extreme elements of the right wing in the country. She cares little about Iowa or Iowans. Her focus is to undo all social policy from FDR forward. She has come out against Social Security and Medicare. She has come out in favor of impeaching President Obama for no specific reason. Make no doubt that McConnell’s scheme fits right in with Ernst’s plan. In short she will be little more than a an automatic vote for McConnell.

So if you want the government to stop, if you want confrontation that will probably once more kill the economy, if you are part of the 1% you have reason to vote for Ernst. If you want to end Medicare, Social Security (and Medicaid although that hasn’t been expressed) vote for Ernst.

But if you believe that government can be a force for good and you want a person to represent the state and not a ideological fringe, vote for Braley. The choice is pretty stark.

Oh and by the way, Boehner wouldn’t be speaker if he didn’t have a majority. We could really dent that majority by sending Loebsack, Murphy, Appel and Mowrer to the House.

Iowa Senate Race Roundup #IASEN

Rep. Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley

The national, corporate news media has been writing a lot about the Iowa U.S. Senate race to replace Tom Harkin. Here are some links to stories so readers can follow along:

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post wrote about Joni Ernst’s criticism of President Obama in the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Saying something would likely have been impossible, or at least not doable at the time, Ernst said, “what I would have supported is leaving additional troops in Iraq longer,”  or a Status of Forces Agreement.

It looks like the Iraq war is moving up in importance in the Iowa U.S. Senate race.

“At any rate, this puts a GOP candidate in a top-tier Senate race squarely in the anti-withdrawal camp,” wrote Sargent. “Dem Rep. Bruce Braley’s aides have already telegraphed that they will characterize Ernst’s position as akin to that of Dick Cheney. They are also highlighting Ernst’s recent suggestion that “I do have reason to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” to build the case.”

Read Sargent’s entire article on the race by clicking here.

Here is a short linkfest of articles in the corporate media about the U.S. Senate race.

Washington Post, Aug. 10. “Republican takeover of Senate appears more and more assured.”

New York Times, Aug. 9. “Uniting to Take Congress, GOP Tries to Become the Party of ‘Yes.’

Washington Post, Aug. 9. “Unlike previous midterm election years, no dominent theme has emerged for 2014.”

While you are at it, listen to Bruce Braley’s soap box speech last week at the Iowa State Fair. Link courtesy of Radio Iowa is here.

One more: the BFIA post on Nate Silver’s recent evaluation of the U.S. Senate race, which is here

Donate to the Braley campaign by clicking here.


Odds Favor Bruce Braley for #IASEN

Nate Silver - Photo Credit

Nate Silver – Photo Credit

Whatever one thinks of Nate Silver, his 55-45 odds of Bruce Braley winning in November are interesting and hopeful. It’s not the typical results of a single poll dividing the number of respondents. It’s Silver’s form of statistical probability, and his theme has been repeated ad nauseum by the Iowa political establishment and national pundits- the race is close.

On Monday he released his latest take on the 2014 U.S. Senate election. His analysis favors Republicans to take over the upper chamber. “The problem for Democrats,” wrote Silver, “is that this year’s Senate races aren’t being fought in neutral territory. Instead, the Class II senators on the ballot this year come from states that gave Obama an average of just 46 percent of the vote in 2012.”

It will be hard to win a senate race. So, what’s new about that?

Take Silver’s analysis with a grain of salt wrote the ex-professional poker player, “I also want to advance a cautionary note. It’s still early, and we should not rule out the possibility that one party could win most or all of the competitive races.”

It is early, and in Iowa the dominant theme is whether the Democrats will get complacent in repeating the tactics of the 2010 and 2012 campaigns without adapting to the times, or if the Republicans under Jeff Kaufmann can actually mount a statewide grassroots campaign that is competitive. Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register (i.e. not their GOP cheerleader who shall go nameless) wrote this truth that Kaufmann recognizes:

Obrad 2014-08-05

That said, a campaign is as much about the candidate as the campaign tactics. Violating my own rule, I looked at social media for the hash tag #IASEN. Conservative readers, feel free to follow the link and spend the rest of your day pondering the twitter.

Republicans are expected to circle around their candidate on Nov. 4, in some cases holding their nose to a Joni Ernst vote. Democrats made it clear by leaving Braley unchallenged in the primary, that if they turn out, they’ll mostly vote for Braley. The better question is who will attract the largest voter registration contingent, so called no-preference registrants, which for the most part is expected to vote away from extremes of either party. That is where the implication for the GOP of the junior senator from Kentucky is spot on.

Here is a quote from Silver’s article about the Iowa U.S. Senate race:

Iowa is another tricky case. There, we have Republican Joni Ernst with a 45 percent chance (up from 40 percent in June) of defeating Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. The polling in Iowa has been more consistent than in Arkansas and has the race virtually tied.

Our model will view the fundamentals of the race as slightly favoring Braley. The candidate-quality measures it evaluates all come out in his favor: He rates as being slightly closer to the center of the electorate than Ernst, he’s been elected to a higher office, and he’s raised considerably more money. Iowa is normally as purple as purple states get— the sort of state where candidate quality can make a difference.

But Braley lost ground in the polls after referring to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” And President Obama’s approval ratings have been conspicuously low in Iowa. It’s hard to say why— we haven’t observed a similar pattern in demographically similar states like Minnesota and Wisconsin— and it may be a statistical fluke.

There are some very tricky races this year and perhaps we’ll see more disagreement between forecasts than we did in 2010 or 2012, depending on what factors they emphasize.

The best advice for readers is to keep calm and work to elect Bruce Braley to the U.S. Senate to represent Iowa values. Donate to the campaign by clicking here.

Is Ernst The New Palin?

What Republicans will do if in power

What Republicans will do if in power

It is beginning to look like Joni Ernst just wants to be another Sara Palin. In case you forget who Palin is, she is the huge mistake John McCain nearly foisted on the US. Mostly known for being a real buffoon on the campaign trail, Palin is mostly forgotten now except when she says something so outrageous she can’t be ignored.

From Palin we have such golden moments as “mama grizzly”, “lipstick on a pig” and of course who could forget “I read them all” in response to a Katy Couric question on what newspaper she reads. She is constantly calling for the impeachment of President Obama, because, well he must have done something.

In only a few months on the old campaign trail Joni Ernst left her mark big time with her pig castration video. Beyond that some of her campaign ads have a “do you really want to go there?” feel. In one she shows her opponent Bruce Braley saying that Senator Chuck Grassley is a farmer. This may come as a surprise to Joni, but Grassley IS a farmer. Or at least claims he is. In reality Grassley is all politician. But I digress. Saying that calling a man who claims he is a farmer, a farmer is an insult how? Braley did not use “farmer” in a disparaging way, but Ernst surely does. And she is a farmer.

In another ad, she claims Braley missed several committee meetings. This from an elected state senator who could barely find her way to Des Moines last session. Only a small portion of her absences were due to Guard duty; most were due to campaigning. By the way has she ever seen a US House committee meeting? Committees with 50 members may be lucky to have 10 in attendance. If you can’t make it to Des Moines for you state senate job, could we expect any different from her if she is elected to the US senate? Even Republicans have their doubts.

Over the past year, Ernst has called for the impeachment of President Obama. This is now a sentiment that is sending shivers through the spines of Republicans. Ernst has also called for states to nullify federal laws. Maybe she missed it, but that was a settled issue back shortly after the Civil War.

Then last week when she was criticized for going to a fundraiser given by major oil interests said she “didn’t see a problem.” Well, at least we know who she will be working for. I think most Iowans can see a problem.

Just to add to the fun, playing the role of Todd Palin is Ernst’s husband Gail. In June Gail became a news item when his facebook posts concerning quite sexist remarks he made about Hillary Clinton. But other facebook entries make it plain he is on the very extreme right of this country. Makes you wonder if a husband ever influences his wife’s opinions doesn’t it?

Iowa is more than embarrassed enough by the likes of Steve King. Bruce Braley has proven over and over again his concern is about the country as a whole and Iowa in particular. He is beholden to no special interests. Braley’s views are those that most Iowans share.

Clearly his opponent hangs out in the very far right wing of a right wing party. Neither Iowa nor the country needs any more of those who wish to choke government from the inside. Much like Palin, Ernst has already proven we would be much better with her on the outside.

#IASEN Roundup: Ernst at Exxon Mobil Funder

Rep. Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley

As this posts, Joni Ernst is scheduled to be at the McDermott Building in Washington, D.C. for a fundraiser with the Exxon Mobil Political Action Committee and the American Petroleum Institute.

Yesterday, Bruce Braley issued the following statement:

RELEASE: Ernst Cozies Up to Big Oil Backers, Who Are Working to Undermine RFS & 75,000 Iowa Jobs

While Bruce Braley and a bipartisan coalition of Iowa officials are fighting to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the nearly 75,000 Iowa jobs it helps support, State Sen. Joni Ernst, who has repeatedly said she is “philosophically opposed” to the RFS, is headed to D.C. for a fundraiser tomorrow with big oil special interests who are working to gut the RFS and harm Iowa’s economy:

WHO-TV: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst said Monday she didn’t see a problem in going to a campaign fundraiser sponsored by groups that don’t want to see preference given to renewable fuels, which are prevalent in ethanol-rich Iowa’s rural communities.Ernst is scheduled to attend the Wednesday fundraiser in Washington, D.C, that is sponsored by the political action committees for the American Petroleum Institute and Exxon Mobil.

Ernst, who has already been the beneficiary of nearly $3 million in outside spending and a maximum campaign contribution from the oil billionaire Koch brothers, will continue to see her anti-Iowa positions rewarded at tomorrow’s event that is hosted by Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and other special interests who want to see the RFS weakened and Iowa’s economy harmed. Exxon Mobil, which has worked against the bipartisan RFS, received an “F” from the Renewable Fuels Association, while the director of the API recently said of his organization’s efforts to gut the RFS: “If it can’t be changed this year, we’ll move into next year.”

Today, Braley for Iowa held a conference call with former Lt. Gov and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge and Bruce Rohwer, a farmer from O’Brien County, criticizing Ernst for putting the special interests above Iowa.

“With the future of Iowa’s energy economy and nearly 75,000 Iowa jobs tied to renewable energy, Joni Ernst has clearly chosen to stand with big oil instead of with Iowa,” said Rohwer. “While Bruce Braley is working across the party divide and doing everything he can to protect Iowa’s renewable energy industry, Ernst’s philosophical opposition to the RFS is being rewarded this week in Washington by the very same groups—like Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute—who are actively working to destroy the Renewable Fuel Standard and threaten thousands of Iowa jobs. If the Koch brothers and other anti-Iowa big oil companies are trusting Joni Ernst with their money, it’s clear she cannot be trusted to protect the RFS and Iowa jobs.”

Last November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft rule that weakens the RFS and gives an unfair advantage to big oil, while harming Iowa’s farmers and energy producers. While big oil has been forcefully lobbying to weaken the RFS, Braley has been a bipartisan champion for Iowa’s interests. Beyond taking his case directly to the President, Vice President and EPA Administrator, Braley has helped organize Iowans of all political affiliations to demonstrate the importance of the RFS to the nation’s economy and energy future.

Late last year, he was the only member of the Iowa U.S. House delegation to join Governor Terry Branstad at an EPA hearing where they spoke to the positive impact the RFS has on Iowa. In November 2013, Braley teamed up with Republican Rep. Steve King to host an event with Iowa State’s Bioeconomy Institute to explain to Congressional staff the importance of keeping the RFS at its current levels. At Braley’s request, Iowa consistently has had representation at Congressional hearings examining the future of the RFS. And early this year, he helped deliver 100,000 signatures to the EPA to keep the RFS “strong.”

In stark contrast, Joni Ernst has repeatedly voiced her “philosophical” opposition to the RFS and supported ending all energy subsidies.

Donate to the Bruce Braley campaign by clicking here.

Braley-Ernst In The Heat Of Summer

Political Pizza Server at RAGBRAI

Political Pizza Server at RAGBRAI

At BFIA we keep calm and help progressive Democrats win elections.

Sweet corn is in, first tomatoes are being harvested, and RAGBRAI just finished. We are in the summer doldrums of this midterm election campaign, where the real action is going with statewide canvasses by the Democratic coordinated campaign. Republicans are still playing catch up.

Despite tremendous corporate and social media clamor, there doesn’t appear to be much going in the Bruce Braley-Joni Ernst race to replace U.S. Senator Tom Harkin when he retires at the end of this term. Campaign and political operatives might argue otherwise, but that’s what they do.

Speaking of Harkin, he is doing what he normally does, and made a surprise appearance on Saturday at a Kevin Kinney fund raiser in Senate District 39. At the county fair last Thursday, I was asking Kinney where was Harkin? Question answered. There are some things that are consistent about Iowa politics, and we will miss Tom Harkin when he retires.

Ben Jacobs at The Daily Beast, but he wrote an interesting article titled, “The Bruce Braley-Joni Ernst Race Is Iowa’s Ugliest Senate Campaign Ever.” Read it here if you have the stomach for it.

Maggie Haberman at Politico wrote one titled, “Struggling Bruce Braley Shakes Up Campaign.” She wrote, “Iowa Democratic Senate hopeful Bruce Braley has shaken up his campaign, parting ways with admaker Larry Grisolano and pollster Diane Feldman after Republican Joni Ernst emerged from the primary with more momentum than anticipated.”

This race has always been neck and neck from the grassroots view, and Haberman’s copy’s ideological bent has been typical of corporate media. Of course the Republicans assert Ernst has already won the race. Poppycock, and they know it.

Whether it’s poll-tested or not, it makes a weary day to constantly hear about how much money the Koch Brothers are pouring into the election, so a reprieve from that, though unlikely, would be welcome with the Braley staff changes.

If you haven’t, read the BFIA piece about the Braley-Ernst race here.

The real work of the campaign won’t make the corporate or social media, in fact, little will be heard about it unless one is on the list of Democratic volunteers. Grassroots organizing has been the Democratic advantage, and while RPI chair Jeff Kaufmann believes he can catch up, it remains to be seen. They have been playing catch up since the 2006 midterms.

Summer is a time for county fairs, time at a beach, and harvesting the garden. A lot is going on in the Democratic campaign that you’ll never hear about on social media. It is important to remember that, and get involved with the campaign as summer turns to fall and school begins in three or four weeks.

If you can, donate to Bruce Braley’s campaign here.

“We Are Willing To Fight For It!”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Senator Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation last Saturday:

If Reublicans take control of the senate, our country will once more be stopped from moving forward. Worse yet we will most likely go through two years of money wasting impeachment hearings or nearly as bad, committees clogged with nothing but investigations on Obama (and Hillary Clinton by proxy).

Elizabeth Warren lays out in a short space most of what the Democratic Party stands for:
– Addressing the Climate Crisis
– Equality
– regulation of Wall Street
– Good, affordable Education through post secondary.
– decent paying jobs and equality of pay
– Science
– net neutrality
– Social Security and Medicare.
– Women

Give a few hours and a few dollars to help Bruce Braley. Iowa simply can’t afford to send another far right wing Republican to Washington. Also, do not forget Dave Loebsack, Staci Appel, Jim Mowrer (to beat the crazy King) and Pat Murphy. Iowa desperately need to fully retire our part-time, double-dipping, scandal ridden governor and put a man with vision, Jack Hatch, in his place.

A few dollars, a few hours and we can do it!


Iowa’s Summer Campaign Has Begun

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

A small group of local, long-time political activists met last week with one of the 80 or so paid organizers for the Coordinated Campaign of the Iowa Democratic Party. Electing Bruce Braley as Iowa’s next U.S. Senator was at the top of our to-do list.

We don’t see each other often, but share the experience of working on election campaigns over many cycles. We know what it would mean if power in the U.S. Senate switched from Democratic to Republican leadership. If it’s up to us, that won’t happen, and each person at the meeting was willing to invest resources of time, money and thoughtful participation toward electing Braley to the U.S. Senate.

What does that mean in 2014?

It means participating in canvasses organized by paid staff, attending candidate and party-sponsored events when our schedule permits, and writing checks to campaigns when we have resources. That’s only part of the picture. Increasingly, it’s a small part.

More than anything, modern political campaigns require each of us be engaged in a community, without regard for political affiliation, and do things that make sense to advance our views. In rural communities especially, the human landscape of society doesn’t change enough from one election cycle to the next to pretend neighbors and friends don’t remember what was said in a letter to the editor, or at an event the last cycle. This persistence of memory can be a blessing and a curse in political campaigns.

Campaigns send a lot of requests for political donations, almost none of which get acted upon. The rationale is a variation on a theme that the numbers justify them. That is, if a request is sent to 10,000 people, there will be a financial return. This cycle, I am hearing more about Charles and David Koch, The Heritage Foundation and political action committees than ever. Campaigns keep sending the messages reinforcing a negativity that is hard to ignore.

At the grassroots, people understand the difference between a political action committee and a candidate, and at the end of the day, when there is an extra $25 in the checking account, a donation will go to a candidate, not a third party. Plenty of folks feel that way.

The summer’s string of parades, picnics, car races, music concerts, annual gatherings and county fairs is only just beginning, and political candidates are attending. We don’t put a lot of stock in what a particular candidate may say at an event, but there is an unspoken expectation they will show up in person from time to time, and that through these and other presences in person and in media, we will get to know them.

The weather has been exceptionally good for outdoors gatherings, and 2014 will be a summer to remember if for no other reason than that. Politics affects our lives, but we go on living.

Summer is the time to get involved with a political campaign, so start by checking out the Iowa Democratic Party. In case you missed it, Bruce Braley could use your help as well.

Day Of Action!

Here is a great way to celebrate the birth of the country. This weekend is a DAY OF ACTION all weekend. For Democrats to win elections this fall we must get the vote out. It is time to start working to get things moving. From an IDP email:

I have to tell you — my team and I are really fired up. We’ve got dozens of organizers all across the state gearing up for their first big weekend of action, and I’d love for you to be a part of it.

From Cedar Rapids to Sioux City, our grassroots team and volunteers like yourself will come together to make phone calls and knock doors for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket.

Please click here to find an event near you.

As the Iowa Democratic Party Field Director, I spend most of my day crunching numbers and looking at our data. Every time we have a new volunteer sign up for an event, there’s a big smile on my face.

These events are fun, but going door to door and talking to friends and neighbors is our best bet for victory this November.

Iowans talking to Iowans about the issues that matter and what’s at stake in this election – what could be better?

Whether you’re a veteran volunteer or interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, I hope you will join us.