That is the message I take away from Grassley’s vote against very weak tea gun control legislation Wednesday. I can almost hear him thinking “Let’s see which side can pony up the big bucks for my vote.”
And now Grassley is all over the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing
“Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley says the attacks raise questions like how to beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.”
Seriously, the suspects were kids when they came to the United States. People’s beliefs change over time and by influence. For instance, today’s Republican party would probably not let Ronald Reagan in the door. After all he did raise taxes and practiced Keynsian economics. Don’t believe me?
Look it up.
This Captures The NRA
Let me pass on a description I saw that truly captures the spirit of the NRA. Unfortunately the link where I saw it is no longer available, but here it is anyway:
The North American Man-Gun Love Association
In case you don’t recognize it this is a word play off of the the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), that most disgusting of organizations. In both cases they are out of the norm and alter perceptions.
Bradstad Doesn’t Understand How To Count Jobs
His administration once again can’t seem to understand the concept of subtracting jobs when they go away. Branstad claims another 1,600 jobs added whereas the true bean counters saw a decrease of 5,500 jobs. Since taking office, Branstad claims a stellar 70,000+ jobs created while the Iowa Workforce Development count a rather dismal 15,500. Maybe the state needs a ‘truth spokesperson.’
A Couple Of Observations On Boston
1) I am so glad there weren’t any self-appointed vigilantes ready to open up with their AR15 or even a shotgun. In a crowd like Boston had, some goofball popping out shots and hitting innocent bystanders would have turned a totally chaotic situation into a bloodbath of monumental proportions. In the real world the guy with the gun seldom stops the evil doer and usually just adds to the confusion and casualties.
2) Who pays the bills for those who do not have health insurance? I have asked around among friends and most seem to believe that if you get hurt and can’t pay, well good luck. So to add to the pain of injury or death, one can probably look forward to bankruptcy and a meager existence.
I know in some cases hospital bills have been forgiven. But I can’t imagine hospitals can do too much of that. They are businesses. Beyond that many victims are often disabled from their experience, so working may be out of the question.
I am less concerned about a Boston style incident, but more wondering about the one person shootings where an individual survives, but has no money to pay the bills and has been disabled for life. I wish someone could tell me that there is some victims fund that helps with this, but I am not holding my breath. And if there is a fund, I would bet it is woefully inadequate.
3) Late addition to say well done to the good citizens of the Boston area and their public servants. When Republicans start crying about how much public servants make and how bad it is that they have unions, remember these folks. Well done.
3rd ‘Storm Of The Century’ In 2 Decades.
“Storms of the century” seem to be coming around quite a bit more often than before. Actually what we had last Wednesday and Thursday was not termed by anyone a storm of the century. But it does seem the big flooding rains come much more frequently than before. It actually seems like some part of the country is under the gun every year. Starting to look like this may be our turn after a couple of very dry years. The weather is a-changin’.
By Donald Kaul
Virtually everything about the economic catastrophe of the 1930s has a precise parallel in today’s major political dilemmas.
The philosopher George Santayana wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Which is what we’re doing.
I thought I’d found an isolated instance of that phenomenon the other day when I ran across quotes on the necessity for balancing the federal budget uttered by right-wing politicians during the Great Depression. They worshipped at the altar of the balanced budget back then — just as they do now — using almost identical language.
Further reading has convinced me that the instance wasn’t isolated. Virtually everything about the economic catastrophe of the 1930s has a precise parallel in today’s major political dilemmas.
Conservative leaders, then as now, were absolutely clueless as to what regular people were going through. There’s a reason they call what we’ve just experienced the “Great Recession” and the 1930s economy the “Great Depression.” The Depression was much more devastating, with 13-15 million people unemployed, leaving as many as 34 million men, women, and children with no income at all.
Their safety net was often a garbage heap in which they foraged for food, or worse, begged for it. Yet President Herbert Hoover actually said: “Nobody is actually starving. The hobos, for example, are better fed than they have ever been.”
And when it was suggested that the Du Pont family’s corporation sponsor a Sunday afternoon program during the Depression, a member of the clan rejected the idea on grounds that “at three o’clock on Sunday afternoons, everybody is playing polo.”
Does that sound like Mitt Romney talking to his country club friends or what?
There’s more of that, much more, in a wonderful book, The Glory and the Dream, written almost 40 years ago by the journalist-historian William Manchester. It’s “a narrative history” of the United States between 1932 and 1972. The section on the Depression is especially riveting in that you repeatedly run across things that could be last week’s news. Consider these examples:
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt was subjected to a conspiracy of vicious lies, rumors, and innuendo. It was said that he had a venereal disease that he’d gotten from his wife, Eleanor. Who’d apparently gotten it from a “Negro.” He was called a Communist and a Jew, descended from “Dutch sheenies.” Welcome birthers.
- Roosevelt was opposed by his own version of Rupert Murdoch, the Fox news emperor: William Randolph Hearst. That media mogul ran a chain of right wing newspapers, a newspaper syndicate, and the leading newsreel company that spewed venomous criticism of FDR. He was joined by Father Coughlin, the fascist Catholic priest whose radio show commanded an audience as large as 45 million. Rush Limbaugh anyone?
- Much like today, the Depression-era right wing viewed Social Security as just another name for socialism. Factory owners put up signs for their workers in favor of Alf Landon, FDR’s Republican opponent in the 1936 presidential election saying: “You’re sentenced to a weekly tax reduction for all your working life. You’ll have to serve the sentence unless you help reverse it November 3.” The GOP national chairman took to the airwaves to announce that every man and woman who worked for wages would be issued a number and required to wear a steel dog tag around his or her neck. Doesn’t that remind you of Paul Ryan’s budget priorities?
Those 1930s right-wingers believed their own propaganda, just as today’s do. On the eve of the 1936 election, The Literary Digest and most conservative commentators predicted an easy victory for Landon. Roosevelt crushed him, winning by 11 million votes.
Similarly, Romney and many conservatives thought he was going to win big in November. He lost by five million votes.
So you see folks, we’ve been in this neighborhood before. The scenery isn’t any better now than it was in the 1930s. As another great philosopher, Yogi Berra, might have said:
“It’s déjà vu all over again.”
You can find Donald Kaul’s columns at Otherwords.org
Editor’s note: Senator Courtney has been out of action with some medical problems. We are quite happy he is back to work.
I talked with university students on April 2 about the importance of affordable, high-quality public universities to Iowa. More than 100 students, alumni and university leaders traveled to Des Moines to discuss higher education issues, especially the tuition freeze proposed by the Board of Regents. I support a freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition for next year.
LOCAL IOWANS MAKE LAND GIFT TO STATE
April 1 was the Fifth Annual “Gift to Iowa’s Future” Day at the State Capitol. This event recognizes, celebrates and honors those public-spirited folks who’ve donated land or a conservation easement to benefit Iowa’s parks, trails, fish and wildlife habitat, natural areas, open spaces and public recreation areas. More than 20 families and organizations were honored this year, including WG Block Co. and the Chris and Mary Rayburn Family of Bettendorf. They donated land in Muscatine County. Bruce and Kathy Mountain of New Virginia donated land in Des Moines County.
EXPANDING MIDDLE CLASS BY HELPING IOWANS FILL SKILLED JOB OPENINGS
Our community colleges give thousands of Iowans the opportunity to improve their skills and build a better life for their families. They’re also helping to solve one of the biggest problems facing Iowa: the skilled worker shortage.
All over Iowa, businesses are struggling to find the skilled workers they need. Yet compared to other states, Iowa does relatively little to help low-skilled workers move up. For example, Iowa is one of only three states that does not invest in adult literacy.
If we don’t solve Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers, local businesses won’t grow and our state will become less attractive to outside investment. That’s why the Iowa Senate gave bipartisan support this week to investing an additional $25 million to expand skills training at every community college.
Our nationally respected community colleges already work closely with local businesses. Those relationships are an asset when it comes to identifying job openings and helping Iowans fill them—jobs as welders, truck drivers, biofuel technicians, nurses and other skilled occupations.
In five years, 62 percent of all Iowa jobs will require education and training beyond high school. Right now, however, one-sixth of Iowa’s working-age adults don’t even have a high school diploma. If we write off all those folks—nearly 300,000 Iowans—we will shut the door on a stronger Iowa economy.
Senate File 429 is a smart move for Iowans and the Iowa economy. Such Iowa business organizations as the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the Master Builders of Iowa and the Iowa Chamber Alliance support this effort. It is now under consideration by the Iowa House.
BUDGETING FOR A STRONGER IOWA ECONOMY
This legislative session is all about expanding the middle class. That means working for policies and budgets that put Iowans back to work, help businesses create jobs and improve Iowa’s economy. The Economic Development budget we’re putting together this year will do just that.
Senate File 430 provides incentives to attract businesses to Iowa and help existing businesses expand.
This effort includes economic development initiatives at our state universities. They work with businesses throughout the state on technology commercialization, marketing, entrepreneurship and technical assistance. New initiatives will help the University of Iowa, Iowa State and UNI work with Iowa companies to promote their goods and services outside of Iowa, support new laboratories for biorenewables and bioscience research, and expand entrepreneurship.
In addition, the Senate voted to reopen some of the workforce offices that were closed last year. These offices help connect unemployed and underemployed Iowans with businesses looking to hire.
Finally, we are also investing in the revitalization of local business districts in rural and urban communities through the Main Street Iowa Program. For almost three decades, “Main Street Iowa” has helped communities revitalize their local economies by capitalizing on what makes them unique, including Burlington.
MAIN STREET PROGRAM PROVIDES GREAT RETURNS TO COMMUNITIES
Iowa’s main streets are the heart of our small towns and urban neighborhoods. This year, we want to increase funding for “Main Street Iowa,” a proven program that turns historic commercial districts into thriving centers of commerce.
A recent study found that Main Street Iowa offers a great return on investment. For every $1 the state puts into the program, there is a local building investment of $71.93. In 2012, the estimated sales tax revenue from new businesses in Main Street communities was about 48 times the budget for the program.
An average of 623 jobs are created per year through building rehabilitation alone. And property taxes from Main Street building renovations provide an additional $10.8 million to local governments every year.
It takes a big commitment for a community to be accepted into the Main Street Iowa Program, but the excellent results are unmistakable. Communities interested in revitalizing their historic main streets are encouraged to apply for the Main Street Program. Learn more here.
MAXIMIZING EXPERIENCE, MINIMIZING RISK FOR YOUNG DRIVERS
When a teen dies in a car accident, the grief is shared by the entire community. Everyone asks, “Could that accident have been avoided?” While no law can prevent all accidents, tougher license requirements for people learning to drive have been shown to help.
On March 27, the Senate decided to make Iowa roads safer with two key changes to our state’s graduated driver licensing program. Under Senate File 115:
1. Drivers under 18 must hold an instruction permit for a full 12 months. That way every teen has a chance for supervised driving practice in Iowa’s four seasons. The most dangerous time for new drivers is in the first six months, but accident rates decrease with each additional month behind the wheel.
2. Drivers under 18 are allowed to have only one unrelated passenger in the vehicle during their first 6 months with an intermediate license. Parents may opt their teen out of this restriction. Accident rates jump dramatically when young drivers have young passengers in the car, according to study by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Forty-five other states with similar laws have benefited from a decrease in the number of fatalities and accidents on their roads. I hope the House will also approve this effort to make Iowa roadways safer and send it to the Governor for his signature.
NEW WAY TO HELP IOWA NONPROFITS
Iowa organizations will have a new way to promote their cause and raise money if Senate File 371 becomes law. The bill will make it easier for nonprofits in Iowa to get their own special license plate.
The Iowa Department of Transportation will create a special plate with a spot for an organization’s decal. The decal will be designed, produced and issued by the organization, and fees charged for the decal will go to the organization.
A qualifying organization must be a nonprofit with at least 200 members that serves the community or contributes to the welfare of others. A group of organizations with a common purpose could also qualify. The plates can even be personalized.
ENCOURAGING IOWANS TO MAKE CHARITABLE FOOD DONATIONS
More than 408,000 Iowans can’t afford the food they need, according to the Iowa Food Bank Association. This includes Iowa seniors on fixed incomes and working families on tight budgets. One in five children in Iowa does not get enough food at home. But more help will soon be available if Iowa joins 37 other states in fighting hunger through a State Emergency Food Program.
SF 367, approved by the Senate Ways & Means Committee, would provide $2 million for food bank organizations to purchase food and promote healthy
eating. In addition, the bill creates a new tax credit for farmers and other growers that donate produce to Iowa food banks or other Iowa emergency feeding organizations. The tax credit is equal to 15 percent of the wholesale value of the food donated, and is limited to no more than $5,000 per taxpayer per year.
I am encouraging members of the Iowa House to support this bill.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
After all Sir Mick studied at the London School of Economics. Had that other gig not worked out as it did, perhaps he would have capped his economics career advising David Cameron. Could have done it with a rock ‘n’ roll beat so maybe Brits wouldn’t notice every thing swirling around the crapper. As Republicans keep saying, their message is good, it is how it is being delivered.
Maybe Republicans could get their go to rocker Ted Nugent to whip a little ditty like “Who You Gonna Call After We’ve Taken It All?” or some other message songs.
Getting Their Hands On Social Security
It just occurred to me that the driving force behind every maneuver the right has made in recent years has been to get their hands on the Social Security trust fund. Every crisis they have created since St.Ronald of Reagan was president ended with a negotiating stance that included some form of privatizing Social Security. The biggest reason is the $2 trillion that is in the Social Security Trust Fund. Oh they desperately, desperately want to get their hands on that so they can slowly drain it to their friends on Wall street in the form of charges and fees etc.
And the other thing is that once they break through the last great social safety net, that pretty much destroys everything the Democratic Party stands for. They don’t need to swallow it all at once whole. What they need is a small break, just an opening. Once the barrier is breached, they can slowly tear at it and tear at it until there is nothing left. All they need right now is for the leaders of the Democratic Party (Obama, Reid, Durban) to agree to cut backs in payments such as the CPI. Once SS is up for negotiations, it is forever open to nicks and cuts that will eventually tear the fabric apart.
One of the tactics that is used is the idea that investing in Wall Street will make everybody rich. If you remember history, you will remember that the ones who get rich in all the gold rushes are the ones selling the shovels and pans, not the gold rushers themselves. Same goes here: those selling the securities get rich while the investors get fleeced.
Scalia: What I Know I learned From My Son
Interesting twist to the strange questions and statements that Justice Antonin Scalia makes during discussions of anything gay: his son is a priest who approaches homosexuality as something that may exist but is a behavior that shouldn’t be practiced.
“Insights into Scalia’s understanding of homosexuality (or lack thereof) can perhaps be found through his son, Rev. Paul Scalia, a Catholic priest in Arlington, Virginia. The younger Scalia has worked with the Church’s Courage ministry, which promotes “chastity” for gay Catholics using principles from ex-gay therapy. He has also spoken openly on the topic, and though he’s proven quite capable of reiterating the Church’s anti-gay teachings, a 2005 article reveals just how distorted the family’s view on homosexuality may be.
Writing about labels, Rev. Scalia compares identifying as gay to other school stereotypes like “preps,” “jocks,” and “geeks,” and argues that it’s unhelpful to young people to encourage them to embrace such labels. Challenging the notion that homosexuality even exists, he tries to distinguish between having “homosexual inclinations” or identifying as “a gay,” suggesting that some kids are “just confused.” Of course, his intention is to reduce homosexuality to “behaviors,” inferring that people with same-sex orientations are simply heterosexuals inclined to a special kind of sin. His true goal with this wordplay is to find a way to justify parents’ rejecting their gay children.”
Note that those on the right seldom use the word “gay” but seem to always use “homosexual” to make sure that the word “sex” is used so we don’t forget that it is “sex” we are discussing.
Reminder: Climate Change Will Make Summer Miserable
Even tough winter was more near what a normal winter used to be, I think we can bank on this coming summer to be hot and most likely dry at the worst possible time. Australia just suffered through their hottest summer ever, including temperatures never before reached. Could we survive 130 degrees? We may need to try to survive 110 soon.
Early Prediction: Scott Walker Will Be Republican Presidential Nominee
I am sticking my neck way out here, but I really believe that Scott Walker will be the next republican presidential nominee. My reasoning goes like this:
First: the money, the really big money, is behind him. He has been a very good puppet for them so far.
Second: He is a governor and has been an executive. In that capacity he had royally screwed the poor and busted unions like no other.
Third: He will be a sitting governor because the election in Wisconsin will be rigged and he will win in 2014.
The biggest reason is that he has been a good puppet and has proven that he will go the extra yard to do what the rich want. Follow the money
Final Thought – Has It Always Been Follow The Money?
One thought about politics that has stayed with me from the Nixon days is “follow the money.” Now it seems that if we put that yardstick up against every Republican move, “follow the money” is almost always the working philosophy behind most policy moves. Was that always true? Was “follow the money” the working philosophy behind slavery? Was “follow the money” the working philosophy behind suppressing the colonies?
I have no answer. This is just a question I keep in the back of my mind to muse on when I have time. So far the answer seems to be YES, but there is lots of history yet to ponder.
Oops – One More
Wish I had some kind of “quote of the week award.” Make no doubt about it, Justice Ginsburg made one of the great statements of all time with her comment on 2 types of marriage in the US ”There are two kinds of marriage: full marriage and the sort of skim-milk marriage.” Really summed it up.
Don’t forget to attend and ask questions at your local legislative forums. If you don’t speak out, who will? Find a list of forums here:
I am listening to an interview on the internet radio (WCPT in Chicago) between Ed Schultz and David Cay Johnston. Johnston makes me mad. He makes me mad because he is the one person who has been chronicling just how our democracy has been so bent in favor of the extremely rich and how much they have profited over the past 33 years since the Reagan Administration.
No, I am not mad at Johnston. What I am mad at is the politicians that have come and gone over the past 33 years and either participated in the destruction of our economic system or who have sat by and watched those others destroy our system. It should be a crime and someone should be paying a price.
But here we sit 5 full years after the great meltdown where those who have had politicians doing their bidding for those 33 years nearly took down the worldwide economy and not a one has been brought to trial, let alone served any punishment. The world economy is still shaky, the wealthy are still buying politicians and nothing has changed. I am mad
And I don’t know what to do. I have signed petitions until the keys on my keyboard are blanked out. I have made calls, knocked doors, written letters, marched proudly for candidates who will buck the current system as have millions of others. And nothing, nothing we do is slowing down the handing over of America’s freedoms and money to the uber wealthy.
And David Cay Johnston is chronicling it all and telling us just how bad the citizens are getting screwed. So it is not like we don’t know. In his last 3 books, Johnston tells us over and over how the law has purposely been bent for the rich by our elected officials. In black and white, on page after page he goes into great detail on how this has happened – how the rich get taxpayers to pay their expenses, how the rich have incomes that have grown thousands of percent while workers incomes have stayed stagnant and so on in what seems to be science fiction tales but aren’t.
David Cay Johnston makes me mad and like many others I want to do something about the conditions he is reporting on. Our democracy is not responding to the majority of the people because of gerrymandering and questionable voting machines. What can we do? Occupy seemed to have some effect, but it seemed that once the rich saw it was working, it was time to send in the police to “maintain order” or surpress the movement if you please.
Let me finish by saying THANK YOU to David Cay Johnston for making me mad. I hope he makes millions mad. And I hope those millions realize we can only change things if we unite.
Note: David Cay Johnston’s last 3 books are:
Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)
Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else
The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use ‘Plain English’ to Rob You Blind.
I have them, but can’t read them they make me so mad
In a report issued Monday on Iowa employment one of the down notes sounded concerned Iowa’s young (25 – 44) workers leaving the state. This is hardly a new phenomenon. Young people have been leaving Iowa for decades. Yet for some reason it feels different this time.
We have some skin in this particular game. Our children are in that age group. When time came for them to seek careers and opportunities, Iowa just didn’t step up to the bar. With the internet opening doors that probably would not have been available years earlier, they were able to evaluate offers in a less emotional way than ealier generations may have been able to.
When offers were made, Iowa offers usually came in lower. Benefits were also more attractive elsewhere. Putting aside their desire to stay near home, they made decisions based on wages offered, plus benefits, plus future possibilities. Sadly, Iowa employers’ offers were not even in the ballpark.
Iowa businesses are going to the legislature looking for property tax relief. The claim is that if their property taxes are relieved, businesses that are here will stay, and other businesses will flock in especially on our borders. My gut tells me that won’t happen. For one thing, Iowa is far from the only state playing the give away to business game in the midwest. But the other thing is that businesses generally pop up where people live, and businesses that are already based in other states are most likely there because of clientele or because of some other advantage the location gives them.
So when Iowa’s young and talented decide to move out of Iowa because the wages and/or benefits do not compete, they become customers in another area and the money that they spend is not spent in Iowa. This then strengthens the customer base in another area.
A couple of things that Iowa definitely has going for it are the education system and the general amenities of a more rural lifestyle. But to keep the young and talented here they must compete in wages and benefits. Cutting taxes for businesses is going to do nothing to increase the customer base in Iowa, especially when many other states are playing that same game.
With the cutbacks in wages and benefits throughout the economy, young people must watch out for themselves. Especially since there has also been a huge cutback in education funding for post-secondary education. Many, many students now come out of college in debt up to their eyeballs, so they must get the highest price they can for their labors. From what we have experienced, Iowa businesses are unwilling to do that.
One thing we hope here at blogforiowa is that occasionally our writings will spur some action. This week I am outright begging everyone to please contact their state representative and senator to request that they support Medicaid Expansion in Iowa. The Iowa Hospital Association has a great entry on all the good joining in on the Expansion would bring to Iowa.
I can’t find any claims for what good Gov. Branstad’s version of Medicaid will bring. We do know it will cost the individual Iowan more and serve fewer and Branstad will tell us it’s one heck of a good deal.
Thank you Sen. Wilhelm
Many of you have probably seen this, but if you haven’t it is worth the 3 minutes or so to hear Sen. Wilhelm’s response to Branstad’s Medicaid proposal.
And A Big Thank You To Scott Prouty
In case you missed one of the big stories of the week, Scott Prouty was revealed as the person who made the surreptitious video of Mitt Romney being the real Mitt Romney last year. This was the famous 47% tape that no doubt had some effect on last years presidential election. I believe Mr. Prouty should be considered for a Profile In Courage award. I am sure now that he has revealed himself, he will be getting the usual proverbial beating by the right wing echo machine – the newspapers, radio and TV that will be using his name to rile up their minions from here on out. You can catch Ed Schultz’s interview with Prouty here:
Please Tip Your Waiter Or Waitress
As awareness is once more raised on low wage workers and just how low minimum wages really are in relation to the cost of living, one group seems to be left out of the conversation again. That is those who serve our food, the wait staff. This group of workers is often paid well below even minimum wage thanks to special treatment for restaurants many decades ago that have been carried over. And if you believe that most wait people make gazillions in tips you definitely out of touch with reality. Read the story of how wait staffs are mistreated here.
It is truly a horror show. From what I understand in Minnesota wait staffs are covered by minimum wage laws and restaurant prices are little different than those in Wisconsin or other border states. Next time you go out for a meal, remember to tip the wait staff, lest they starve.
Sometimes other people seem to put in great words the very thoughts that I have myself been trying to put together into some form of coherency. Over at politicsusa, rmuse makes some good sense of how we got into the debt mess we are are in and who is ultimately paying the penalty. If you have been paying attention at all, you know that the ones who have run the debt up to high heaven (that would be the Republican Party) will not only not be the ones paying the debt, but will block every attempt to make the economy better and will slough the payment off to the poor and middle class.
I harp on this a bit, but we must never let the country forget how we got into such a sorry state; it was a choice by the Republican Party to run the debt up so high. The ones who ran the debt up should in no way have a say in how the debt is resolved. No – we need sober, sane leaders who do not look at governing as a chance to steal the public blind. Some may forget, but at the end of the Clinton administration a commission was actually formed to explore the question of what would happen if the USA were actually out of debt – which would have happened in 2009 at the rate of pay down in 1999.
Here are some excerpts from the article. It is a relatively short article, but really lays out the truth. To read the whole article go here:
“Republicans became debt and deficit sensitive in January 2009 just as President Obama was being inaugurated, and they embroiled the entire country, including Democrats, in their single-minded reduce the deficit mission. However, Republicans exempted those who benefited from the debt of any repayment, and are attempting to rob Americans’ health and retirement accounts, domestic programs, and government services to repay the debt and give more “free stuff” to the debt creators. It is important to note that the people who caused Great Recession were bailed out by taxpayers, and are reaping 93% of the recovery and if Republicans have their way they will give more to those responsible for the Recession.
If Americans understood what Republicans are doing with this debt and deficit hoax, and that they are willing victims of the greatest scam on the people in the nation’s history, they would riot in the streets and dismantle Wall Street brick by brick. First, Republicans gave the defense industry, the wealthy, and pharmaceutical industry borrowed money that racked up the deficit, and demand the people repay the debt with domestic cuts, Medicare, and soon, Social Security. That is bad enough, but those responsible for the Great Recession; banks, financial institutions, and Wall Street are clamoring for more “debt and deficit” reduction paid for by the people after the people bailed them out and while they are reaping profits from the Recession they created.
The 2011 debt ceiling crisis that jeopardized the full faith and credit of the United States perfectly illustrates the outrageous scam Republicans are perpetrating on the American people. To raise the debt limit to pay for Republicans’ two wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, and prescription plan that benefited big pharma, Republicans demanded spending cuts equal to the amount needed to repay their war, tax cut, and pharmaceutical debt all while refusing to raise taxes on the debt creators. For the third straight year, Paul Ryan is proposing a budget that cuts spending on programs for the people, ends Medicare, and takes food from the poor, children, and seniors to pay down the debt Halliburton, the defense industry, and wealthy incurred and profited from.
The greatest outrage should be at the financial sector that crashed the economy, was bailed out by the people, reaped nearly all the recovery, and then calls for raising the Medicare and Social Security retirement age because as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein says, “we just can’t afford it–people will just have to work longer to help pay down the deficit.” First, Social Security has no effect on the debt or deficit, and people being told to pay Wall Streets’ debt gained absolutely nothing after they crashed the economy and killed millions of Americans’ jobs. Blankfein’s company, Goldman Sachs, helped crash the economy, was bailed out with $12.9 billion plus $5.5 billion from AIG, gave executives $11 billion in bonuses, and is reaping huge rewards as the economy recovers; now Blankfein says “we” cannot afford Medicare and Social Security and the people have to pay down the deficit. Through their Republican facilitators, corporations and Wall Street have the temerity to demand the people repay their debt and it begs the question; why are Republicans (and some Democrats) not demanding Wall Street and corporations repay their own debt? Many of the largest corporations and Wall Street firms pay nothing in federal taxes that contributes to the debt, and yet Republicans and Democrats fight to reduce their tax rates even more.”
Once again the policy analysts at the Iowa Policy Project dig way below the surface to give us the facts. As we all know, it is better to go into a discussion armed with facts and not talking points. For the past 12 years the IPP has been arming us with facts and actual repercussions. And once again we thank them greatly for allowing us to use their hard work.
Note: This brief is available on our website at this link: http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/2013docs/130305-minwage.pdf
March 5, 2013
IPP POLICY BRIEF
Minimum Wage: Off the Pace Again
Five Years Past Increase, Buying Power Eats Through Wage Floor
By Heather Gibney
Once upon a time, not so long ago, Iowa was among the leading states with its minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for non-tipped workers. That was then. This is now.
When 10 states raised their minimum wage on January 1, Iowa was not one of them. Iowa’s minimum wage has remained at $7.25 for five years, since the last increase — from $6.20 on January 1, 2008, the second part of a two-step increase approved by Iowa lawmakers in 2007. The federal wage did not catch up until July 2009, when it reached $7.25. Since then, neither the federal nor state minimum wage has changed to help Iowa families working at or near that hourly level. Every year that goes by without increasing the minimum wage affects Iowa families who are trying to keep their heads above water. The cost of living increases nearly every year, so the buying power of every dollar continues to erode.
Today, the federal minimum wage is near its historic low — having lost 22 percent of its buying power from its peak in 1968, as shown in Figure 1. (note: see figures at link). If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be worth $9.25 per hour today.
Recognizing that the federal minimum wage is too low, 19 states and the District of Columbia have a higher minimum wage than the federal, states with the highest being Washington at $9.19 per hour and Oregon at $8.95. Under the federal minimum wage law, a full-time Iowa worker earning a minimum wage makes $290 per week or about $15,000 per year before taxes, credits and cash assistance. There are some exceptions: Tipped employees in Iowa such as waiters or waitresses earn $4.35 an hour, while new employees under 20 years of age can be paid as low as $4.25 per hour for their first 90 days of employment.
In Iowa, nearly three-fourths of Iowa’s working single parents earn less than a family supporting wage. A single parent with two children has basic, no-frills monthly expenses of about $3,545, or $42,540 annually, according to IPP’s most recent Cost of Living in Iowa report.  This means that this family would have to make $48,111 a year before taxes were taken out and credits and cash incentives were included in order to support themselves — a supporting wage of $24.06 an hour.
Using either that measure or the federal poverty level, the minimum wage does not keep a full-time worker out of poverty. The most current official poverty guidelines for a single parent with two children is $18,498 — $3,000 more than for full-time minimum-wage work and much less than a family supporting income. Poverty guidelines are the basis for determining eligibility for public programs designed to support struggling workers. 
The calculations that underlie the federal poverty guidelines assume that food is a larger expense than it is today and it ignores the fact that housing and transportation take up a much larger portion of a family’s budget than they did in the 1960s when the guidelines were developed. In addition, poverty guidelines do not account for taxes, cash assistance, the increasing costs of child care and healthcare, and changes in consumer spending. Even this inadequate poverty level exceeds the minimum wage. Up until about 1980, an adult earning minimum wage with two children could support her family at about the poverty level. But as Figure 2 shows, this is no longer the case. (note: see figure 2 at link to IPP).
What a Higher Minimum Wage Would Mean in Iowa
In 2012, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives — this would have incrementally raised the federal minimum wage to $9.80 per hour by 2014. The rate would then have been indexed to inflation each year thereafter to keep up with the cost of living, a practice that 10 states have already adopted. A 2012 study from the Economic Policy Institute estimated that this bill if enacted would have affected 332,000 Iowans, 81 percent of whom are 20 or older, and 45 percent of whom work full time.
In the recent State of the Union address, President Obama made the case that raising the minimum wage was a necessary step in the effort to grow our economy. He proposed raising the wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour and indexing it yearly to keep up with the cost of living. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has introduced a bill to raise the wage in three increments to $10.10, and index it.  Passage of any of these proposals in the U.S. Congress, however, is in doubt.
Raising the minimum wage would restore much of its historic value and make an enormous difference to millions of families. More than 30 million American workers would get a raise under the bill. More than half of these are women (17 million). The vast majority (88 percent) are adult workers, not teen-agers, and 23 million children (30 percent of all children) have parents who would get a raise. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would give $51.5 billion in raises to millions of workers over the course of three increases, and increase GDP by nearly $33 billion as workers spend their raises in their local businesses and communities. This economic activity would generate an estimated 140,000 new jobs over the course of three increases.
These benefits would come at little risk of the pitfalls forecast by opponents, who can be counted upon in every minimum-wage debate to warn — without evidence — that jobs will be lost. Despite economists’ thorough study of the employment impact of the minimum wage, this ill-advised argument continues to drive opposition rhetoric against minimum-wage improvements. The Center for Economic and Policy Research has examined the most recent empirical research on the minimum wage since the early 2000s to determine the best current estimates of the impact of increases in the minimum wage on the employment prospects of low-wage workers. It found that minimum wage increases are consistently associated with statistically significant and economically meaningful increases in the wages of affected workers. Employers and workers are able to adjust to an increase in the minimum wage through several different channels — explaining why the employment effect is so small.
The American Dream is supposed to be about creating a better life for yourself and your children. If you work hard and play by the rules, achieving your goals should not be out of reach. Unfortunately, millions of hard-working Americans cannot lift themselves out of poverty because they are working at such low-wage jobs. Even if they work all year long, they cannot make ends meet, much less join the middle class. Increasing the minimum wage puts money back into people’s pockets, improves the economy, and helps struggling communities thrive again.
 J.T. Rushing, “States Raising Minimum Wage,” The Gazette, January 1, 2013. http://thegazette.com/2013/01/01/states-raising-minimum-wage/
 Lily French, Peter S Fisher and Noga O’Connor, “The Cost of Living in Iowa,” Iowa Policy Project, May 2012. http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/2012docs/120531-COL.pdf
 Lily French, Peter S Fisher and Noga O’Connor, “The Cost of Living in Iowa,” Iowa Policy Project, May 2012. http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/2012docs/120531-COL.pdf
 However, these guidelines are flawed because they do not take into account regional differences in basic living expenses and were developed using spending patterns from over 45 years ago that are less relevant to today’s household budgets.
 Lily French, Peter S. Fisher and Noga O’Connor, “The Cost of Living in Iowa,” Iowa Policy Project, May 2012. http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/2012docs/120531-COL.pdf
 Doug Hall and David Cooper, “How Raising the federal minimum wage would help working families and give the economy a boost,” Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #341, August 14, 2012. http://www.epi.org/files/2012/ib341-raising-federal-minimum-wage.pdf
 Doug Hall and David Cooper, “Characteristics of workers who would be affected by increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.80 by July 2014,” Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #341, August 14, 2012. http://www.epi.org/files/2012/minimumwagestateimpact.pdf
 Congressman George Miller, “Sen. Harkin and Rep. Miller Statement on President Obama’s Minimum Wage Proposal,” February 13, 2013. http://georgemiller.house.gov/press-release/sen-harkin-and-rep-miller-statement-president-obama%E2%80%99s-minimum-wage-proposal
 Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller, “Raising the Minimum Wage: Please cosponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013,” Congress of the United States, February 25, 2013.
 John Schmitt, “Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?” Center for Economic and Policy Research, February 2013. http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/min-wage-2013-02.pdf
Heather Gibney joined the Iowa Policy Project as a research associate in September 2012. She received her master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Northern Iowa and undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice from the University of Iowa and Mount Mercy University.
The Iowa Policy Project Formed in 2001, the Iowa Policy Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. Reports are available at http://www.IowaPolicyProject.org. The Iowa Policy Project is a 501(c)3 organization. Contributions to support our work may be tax-deductible.
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