Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The $54 question

Breaking news out of Des Moines is that many Iowa taxpayers will be eligible for an extra $54 tax credit.

This is the result of one of the most short-sighted pieces of legislation passed by the Iowa General Assembly in recent years. Lawmakers created what they called the “Taxpayers Trust Fund,” which we should call the “Giveaway Slush Fund.” It’s a pot of money to dole out to ...taxpayers and boast about at election time. Chances are, the “givers” won’t give you the whole picture.

Their game is an illusion, a political parlor trick: Hold down funding for key priorities, such as K-12 education, or universities, and then when revenues create a surplus, call it an “overpayment” by taxpayers.

Does anyone really believe their spin? The $120 million to be given away represents easily $120 million in services that could have been provided. For K-12 alone, a little over half of it could have been used this year to fully pay the state’s share of allowable growth at the 4 percent level lawmakers authorized. Instead, state funding only supports half of the state share.

By shortchanging school districts with funding for only 2 percent allowable growth this year despite strong revenues, lawmakers compounded a trend of squirreling away big dollars while claiming poverty. This way, they have given themselves $120 million to spend on dessert — the Giveaway Slush Fund — by choosing not to pay the state’s share of the bill for the meat and potatoes: school aid.

One Iowa columnist who has seen through this is The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu, who noted Sunday: “Doling out money piecemeal is a gimmick that may bring smiles to some faces but it can’t take the place of sound and consequential actions.” She’s right.

Is it really worth it to you to receive the $54, instead of putting adequate and appropriate funding back into our education system? Or cleaner water? Or safer streets? Or, well, you get the idea.

Give me a break. On second thought, don’t.

Mike OwenPosted by Mike Owen, Executive Director John Carpenter

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Study Shows Iowa Ranks 46th In Job Growth Under Terry Branstad
2013 ranking announced just days after Branstad admitted the inaccuracy of his job creation claims
Des Moines — Iowa ranks 46th out of 50 states in job growth, according to figures released today by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The figures were released just days after the Branstad admitted their past job creation claims were exaggerated.
“This is the latest example of Governor Branstad’s complete failure to work for middle class Iowa families,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “The Governor admitted to overstating job growth on Friday, and today we find out we’re ranked 46th out of 50 states. To create good jobs the Governor should invest in Iowa’s middle class, instead of funding tax giveaways to foreign corporations.”
The Branstad administration claims job growth of 128,000 since taking office, although those figures have received widespread scrutiny as they do not account for jobs lost. Net job growth has been much slower than the administration has admitted, with just 48,200 net jobs added since January of 2011.
Iowa fell to 46th after being ranked 14th the previous year. Only New Mexico, Kentucky, Alabama, and Alaska fared worse in the Arizona State study.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Harkin-Sanchez Bill: Expanding Social Security By Removing Salary Cap

people die when ss is cutIn answer to the cuts in Social Security payments to the elderly and disabled that were proposed by the Simpson – Bowles Commission (aka the Catfood Commission), Democrats in both the Senate and House have proposed SS be increased. The new money would come from removing the salary cap for SS contributions.
The Washington Post took to their editorial pages to denounce this proposal. Raising the boogey man of taxing the rich. They also noted that while the elderly may have problems, theirs are not as bad as some others. Therefore do not tax the rich.
In one of the best responses I have ever seen to such tripe is located in the response portion for this editorial. Someone identifying themselves as “Dryly 41″ looks at the history of our debt and notes SS has never added one dime to our debt. They also note that the debt since Reagan has almost totally been driven by borrowing to give tax cuts to the wealthy.
Let me add that we need a few more taxes to make sure everyone has food on their table and medical care also.
Here is the response:
Dryly 41
11/18/2013 8:04 AM PST
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Empire attacked U.S. naval and air bases at Pearl Harbor. Thereafter sixteen million young men wore the uniform, and, after 3 years and 8 months secured the unconditional surrender of Italy, Germany, and, Japan, Then, except for 405,399, they came home, went to school of the G.I. Bill or got jobs and entered into delayed marriages. The delayed marriages created the “demographic bubble” known as the Baby Boom generation and the children of WW II vets began to turn 65 in 2011.
In 1946 the Gross Federal Debt amounted to 121.7% of GDP. the Truman administration reduced it to 71.4% of GDP; Eisenhower to 55.2%; Kennedy/Johnson to 38.6%; Nixon/Ford to 35.8%; and, Carter to 32.5%.
Then came Ronald Reagan with massive “supply side” tax cuts primarily for the wealthy and budget deficits in each of eight years increasing the Gross Federal Debt from 32.5% to 53.1% of GDP. Bush I had four more years of budget deficits increasing the debt to 66.1%.
Clinton raised taxes, had 4% unemployment, balanced budgets and reduced the debt to 56.4%.
Bush II instituted two rounds of “supply side” tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, had eight more years of deficits and increased the Gross Federal Debt from 56.4% of GDP to 85.1% with a crippled economy.
In 1983 Reagan signed a regressive FICA payroll increase so as to create a surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund which has a $2.6 trillion dollar reserve as of December 2012.
Social Security did not contribute one thin dime to the massive Federal Debt.
This massive Federal Debt was caused by borrowing all these trillions to fund “supply side” tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens most able to pay taxes.
The massive Federal Debt was not for any great national purpose such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WW I, or, WW II. It was for “supply side” tax cuts for the wealthy.
Start with eliminating “supply side” economics and return to traditional Republican tax and fiscal policy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Washington County Democratic Meeting 

Washington County Democrats met at the library on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 
Vice-Chair Lorraine Williams called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm. With he Pledge of 
Allegiance. Those present were Lorraine Williams, Louise and Harold Frakes, John 
Greener, Richard Gilmore, Steve Maxon and Doris Parks. 

Minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. Richard Gilmore reported that the 
balance in our treasury is $2695.95 which includes $500 in the candidate fund. 
Treaasurer Kay Ciha was not present because of illness. 

Lorraine announced that Democrat Sandra Johnson was elected mayor of Washington 
and that Kathy Salazar (a Democrat) and Jaron Rosein (leaning Democrat) were elected 
to the Washington City Council. There were no reports of other city elections. 

It was noted that John Greener, Richard Gilmore, Lorraine Williams and her husband 
attended the Braily Blues & Bar-B-Q in Des Moines. Discussion of this event also led to 
a short discussion on gun control. 

Under old business, Doris Park and John Greener reported on the meeting about the 
Richland/Kalona Bridge. They said there is a lot of interest and excitement about 
restoring this historic bridge. 

Richard Gilmore handed out his brochures and cowboy cards. He said he is now ready to 
start Fund Raising. 

For new business, details of the Christmas party were decided. It will be Wednesday, 
December 11 at 6:30 pm at Richard Gilmore & Robin Plattenberger’s home. They will 
furnish soup, everyone else should bring dessert, salad, finger food, or something to 
round out the meal. Each of those who regularly attend the County meetings are 
encouraged to invite 5 other Democrats to join us for the Christmas party. 

Harold Frakes gave an update on the upcoming Caucus which will be held January 21 at 
7:00 pm at the library. We have 10 precincts in our county and each precinct needs to 
have a chairperson and a secretary to run their caucus. Harold handed out maps of the 
county that show the various precinct lines. He encouraged everyone to think of people 
to fulfill those obligations. We will need to finalize this during a short meeting at the 
Christmas party. 

Steve Maxon was reminded to make copies of the 2012 Platform for each Precinct. 
Much of the focus of the caucus will be on making the 2014 Platform. 

The meeting adjourned at 8:01 with a reminder that our next meeting is the Christmas 
Party at Gilmore’s at 6:30 pm. 

Respectfully submitted, Louise Frakes, acting secretary 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Democratic Meeting
The Washington County Democrats met on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 in the Washington Public Library.  Chairman Richard Gilmore called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Those present were Richard Gilmore, Robin Plattenberger, Kay & Dave Ciha, Fred & Nan Stark, Jim & Karen Gorham, John Greener, Lorraine Williams, Sandy Johnson, Terry Philips, and Harold & Louise Frakes.

Minutes were approved as sent out.  Treasurer’s report was given. The General Fund has $1966.97 and the Candidate Fund has $500.00.

Under Old Business, the Fund Raiser Dinner was discussed.  We cleared $1342.78 on it.  Several ideas were presented concerning the auction.  1. Split the auction up between the various speakers. 2. Simply have a silent auction. 3.  Combine the silent auction with the live auction.  Everyone thought Gary Murphy was a great auctioneer and made the auction fun, but we were disappointed that so many people left before the auction was over.  General consensus was that the tables, the decorations, the speakers and the meal were all great.  We just need to decide what to do about the auction.  No decision was made.  It was also noted that we need to have access into the building by 9:30 am.

John Greener moved that we give a monetary donation to our 2 guest speakers.  There was some discussion, but the motion died for lack of a second.

Report of the Special Supervisor Election was given.  Republican Richard Young won and will take office immediately. 

John Greener asked if we are going to support the bridge issue.  It was decided that those interested should attend the Supervisor meeting about it.

Under new business, Kay Ciha announced that there would be a meeting at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center Wednesday, October 16 at 7:30 pm about CAFOs.  Anyone interested in restricting the CAFOs was encouraged to attend. Dr. Robin Plattenberger reported that the high use of antibiotics with animals is causing problems in treating humans.

Candidate Development report by Harold:  Richard almost has 2 pieces of literature ready to hand out.  Many other offices will be up for election: County attorney, a Democrat to run against Jared Klein; 2 Supervisor seats (districts 3 & 5).  We need to be working on filling these open seats.

Terry Philips talked about how to win elections.  He recommended contacting Democrats and then following up with an absentee ballot.  Kay recommended using Becky Schmidt’s “Neighbor to Neighbor” program. All agreed that personal contact and getting a commitment of Democrats to vote is critical. We need to reach all Democrats not just those active in the County Party.

Announcements:  Harold reported that Chris Canney’s wife has been diagnosed with cancer.  They are asking for donations of organic vegetables and fruit.

Meeting adjourned at 8:52 pm.
Respectfully submitted, 

Louise Frakes, acting secretary

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans' Day

This story, or a variation of it, could be told a thousand different times I expect. My heritage is poor Irish so as immigrants, we started in the coal mines of Kentucky. From there the Frakes began to move north and west into Iowa. Along the way, my great great grandfather enlisted and fought in the Black Hawk Indian wars. Later, my great grandfather (a Quaker) fought in the Civil War. He was captured and sent to Andersonville prison. My grandfather did not enlist. He chose to uphold the Irish drinking stereotype. My father enlisted in the Iowa State Guard and fought in the Cow War (google it, there really is a cow war). My older brother served in the National Guard for several years, all stateside. He attempted to re-enlist during Desert Storm, but was turned down. I enlisted in the Army and served in Germany during part of the Cold War—though I hasten to point out that I never gave nor received hostile fire. My younger brother enlisted and served in Vietnam until he was killed shortly before the end of his second tour. I discouraged my son from enlisting as I felt the Frakes had done enough. And though he thought seriously about enlisting, he didn’t. After his son enlisted, he tried to enlist as he thought he would then be able to protect his son. He, too, was too old to enlist by then. My first grandson is currently deployed in Afghanistan. He will still have several years left of his current enlistment after he comes home. I have two grandsons and three granddaughters not currently in the military. And, the truth be told, I hope Jake ends our military history. One of my favorite parts of Micah reads, “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” I am ready for all families to have a different history. We need to remember the specialness of this day, but we need to walk a different path going forward. Normally my family celebrates this day with lemon pie for I believe that is the only way to truly honor a vet. But, with Jake in deployment, we are going wait and make the pie when he comes home and is out of harm’s way. In the meantime, thank you for  your service to all vets. I hope you get your lemon pie.

Harold R. Frakes