Sen.Tom Harkin’s swan song

Iowa’s Sen. Tom Harkin gave a farewell address Dec. 12, his last on the Senate Floor where he spent many years working for the betterment of Iowans and for all residents of the United States, after serving as a Congressman for Iowa as well .

C-Span has a link to the video of Harkin’s address.

Here you can read the entire text of his speech.

 

 

Steve King’s political strategy according to the New Republic

A recent article in the New Republic outlines the political strategy of Iowa’s Fourth District Congressman Steve King.

The article states: “Few people in Congress have worked as hard to kill immigration reform as Representative Steve King. In fact, as Talking Point Memo’s Sahil Kapur details in a new, 3,000 word profile of the Republican from Iowa, King’s career began with his support for making English the state’s official language. While in office, King has repeatedly made bigoted comments about undocumented immigrants. But these remarks aren’t gaffes. King’s strategy has a particular purpose—and it has been incredibly successful.

King has learned that the best way to kill popular legislation is to rally the Republican base and scare legislators about a primary challenge. And the best way to rally the base is to play on their fears of immigrants. King has used this strategy repeatedly during his time in the House. Kapur noted three examples in his profile:

1. “Seeking to get back at Durbin, the Iowa Republican gave an interview to the conservative outlet Newsmax in July 2013, declaring, ‘For every [young undocumented immigrant] who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.

King concedes that the one hundred-to-one claim was an “estimate,” but with a mischievous smile, he points out that he succeeded at shifting the immigration debate.”

2. “In March 2006, King claimed the country would be safer without immigrants, arguing that every day, 12 Americans are killed by “murderous illegal aliens” and another 13 by “drunk driving illegals.” Like with the “cantaloupes” claim, the numbers were fudged. King borrowed them from a government study but ignored the distinction between lawful and undocumented immigrants as well as data showing first-generation immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.”

3. “Since King came to Congress, his most over-the-top rhetorical outbursts include comparing immigrants to dogs [and] calling illegal immigration a ‘slow-motion terrorist attack’ on the United States.”

It didn’t matter that these comments—ahem “estimates”—were mostly made up. The right-wing loved it and believed every word. It confirmed their worst fears about undocumented immigrants. To think that King mistakenly revealed his true beliefs in these comments underestimates the Iowa Republican. “I’ll say this about Steve: Most of his controversial comments are the kind that you might say are off the cuff. They’re not. He’s a bright guy,” Brent Siegrest, the former Republican Iowa House Speaker, told Kapur. “He knows what he’s doing when he’s stirring the pot.”

Iowa is lucky to have such a thoughtful advocate for its populace, that keeps aging, getting angrier and at some point whose relevancy may fade away.

One last hurrah for Minnesota’s Congressman Bachmann?

Always up for a photo op trip it seems, Iowa’s District 4 Congressman King took a trip south to the warm climes along with his compatriot Minnesota’s Congressman Bachmann.

But was more interesting and fun were some of the posted comments:

“Steve King, Tea Partier from Iowa district that is one of the top 4 in terms of Ag Subsidies.  ”We want smaller government…but don’t take away my gravy”….Michelle, Mn too cold and snowy for you?

Bachmann is so old news.. Would be nice if she traveled to Tijuana with a bunch of Tea Partiers to be investigative.. really..

@ificantucant  We do not want her here in Arizona keep her in Minnesota hiding behind bushes.

She apparently wanted a last trip to a warmer climate on the taxpayer’s dollar.  So much of our money has been wasted by this woman.

She’s out of office in 6 weeks. Who cares what she has to say?

Maybe this will be the last time she gets to waste our $’s!!!!

@dakkarknet- Please read the article again… “The mexican/American frontier”. I don’t think that is anywhere near Toronto unless you consider a 2000 mile trip “Near”

Only 41 days left until Iowa’s biggest joke on Minnesota is over!!!  Please god send her off to the obscurity of a small farm in “nowhere Iowa”, where her anti-America views can fall on the deaf ears of elderly Iowa farmers.”

Evidently Minnesotans are looking forward to their representative of the right ending her taxpayer endeavor. Northwest Iowans can only hope for the same some day.

 

The party of No is the party of No Plans about immigration

On Bloomberg Politics website Monday Rep. Congressman Tim Huelskamp was given a number of chances to articulate the Republican Party’s approach to dealing with the millions of people here illegally in the United States. He couldn’t articulate a way forward to deal with this problem. Mr. Huelskamp kept coming back to the idea of securing the borders, but could not say how the people here already should be dealt with.

It is an interesting if not illuminating read. As is the video. So what is so difficult with letting people know what should be done. The only thing Republicans seem to be capable of doing is deriding and criticizing the President, but are not able to inform the public of a solution to this problem that like the war on drugs, is not going away but costing billions.

 

Flaunting the law, former Bush appointee pointing fingers

Recently former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took President Obama to task about enforcing the law.

“I start with the Constitution, where Article II, Section 3, requires that the president take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Sunday.

“From my perspective, I don’t think the president has the authority to amend, repeal or suspend the law or fail to refuse a law based solely on policy.” Gonzales, who served in the George W. Bush administration stated.

Just like Pres. Bush had the authority to allow torture of detainees even though the U.S. had signed a treaty banning torture of combatants.

But like any good lawyer, you expect Mr. Gonzales to parse his words to support what he believes.

So what’s new, as Steve King continues his partisan approach

A columnist with the Washington Post recently wrote about the Republican party’s approach to dealing with Pres. Obama’s moving ahead with immigration reform and talking about not working together. Another partisan showdown.

And Iowa’s illustrious partisan Congressman is at the forefront of doing the state’s and nation’s business.

“And so, conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Steve King are actually banding together to try to force GOP leaders to pass a series of short term government funding bills, rather than a long term one, to use those bills as leverage to force Obama to relent and not grant deportation relief to millions.

If that happens, the GOP really will be the party of Ted Cruz and Steve King! And if that happens, in the resulting political battle over the looming threat of a government shutdown, Republicans will work hard to create a narrative in which their own drastic measures were only necessary in response to Obama’s extreme lawlessness.

So let’s recall a bit of context here: Republicans had previously been planning to possibly use government funding fights — which carry with them the implicit threat of a government shutdown — to reverse Obama’salready achieved policy gains. We know this because Mitch McConnell himself usefully confirmed it on the record in August. He said the new GOP Senate majority would attach riders to spending bills, designed to get Obama to agree to roll back his policies on the environment, health care, and elsewhere, or risk a government shutdown. McConnell made the same pledge in a private Koch confab with wealthy donors.”

No surprise. But is this really constructive. GOP members blame the President for inflaming their response, however, as adults know, engaging in civil discussion and sitting down to table can be beneficial. Maybe they should invite the President to Capitol Hill for a chat? But unlikely. Not enough drama for the Fox fans.

And so far the House Republicans have not introduced any legislation to deal with immigration reform, or taken up the bi-partisan bill passed by their colleagues in the Senate.

It’s sad but probably true that the future is only going to get worse before it gets better.

Are Iowa Republicans against fixing the state infrastructure?

A recent article appears in many publications across the state recently. It says that Iowa’s Gov. Branstad is now onboard with supporting some of kind funding to support to the state’s roads and bridges infrastructure.

In the article some Democrats are quoted as somewhat optimistic in seeing a bipartisan approach to getting some kind of funding for replacing aging roads and bridges.

But then some Republicans are quoted that some Republicans are dead set against any kind of taxing to fix the deteriorating roads and bridges.

The article then talks about Republican opposition to any increase revenue raising to funding the repairs to the state’s infrastructure.

Opposition gearing up

Iowa Rep. Josh Byrnes, R-Osage, has been a staunch advocate of raising the fuel tax in some way to raise more revenue for road repairs, sometimes bucking his party.

Byrnes, who is chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he already is experiencing some of the backlash again.

“It’s interesting because some of our ultra-conservative groups are already coming out and saying that they’re going to fight this, and all that. And that’s just a ridiculous thing. It’s doing nothing but hurting the state of Iowa,” Byrnes said. “If there’s going to be some movement against funding our roads and bridges, I don’t understand that.”

It serves as a reminder that raising the gas tax remains unpopular in some circles. An Iowa Poll taken during the 2014 legislative session revealed a majority of Iowans opposed raising the gas tax. And former Republican Party of Iowa leadership also opposed a gas tax increase.”

So do these conservatives believe in Kansas’ Gov. Sam Brownback’s way of doing business? Cutting taxes to the point of affecting the state’s education and other needed basic services?

This piece says: “For all of the bluster by some lawmakers and conservative groups, Kansas does not have a spending problem. Whatever bad habits the state may have had in that regard were cured by the 2008 Great Recession. Nearly every aspect of government was cut back to the essentials.

Other states began restoring essential services when revenues began to rebound in recent years, but Kansas, urged on by Gov. Sam Brownback, opted for deep income tax cuts instead. Partners and owners of thousands of businesses structured as “pass-through” entity stopped paying income taxes altogether.

The result was supposed to have been economic growth, but instead it has been tumbling revenues. They dropped from $6.4 billion for the 2012 budget year, before the tax cuts took effect, to $5.6 billion last year. This year’s revenues are running only slightly ahead of a year ago, and the new estimate forecasts growth of only 0.7 percent growth next year, partly because more tax cuts are scheduled to take effect.

These revenue projections, and the cuts they foreshadow, will change the face of Kansas.

The $287 million required to balance this year’s budget cannot be found through “efficiencies,” as state budget director Shawn Sullivan told reporters today.

The state already is raiding its transportation fund and using gambling revenues to pay teacher pensions. It has shaken out every pocket and used every trick.”

 

 

The elephants have a short memory. Must be their drinking source

So a recent AP article states that Pres. Obama wasn’t alone acting on fixing the immigration problem. Both former Pres. Reagan and Bush 1 also used executive orders to achieve some movement in trying to keep certain illegals from being deported.

And the 4th District’s illustrious Congressman King once again made his voice heard: ”The audacity of this president to think he can completely destroy the rule of law with the stroke of a pen is unfathomable to me,” said GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, an outspoken opponent of relaxing U.S. immigration law. “It is unconstitutional, it is cynical, and it violates the will of the American people.”

The article states: “Nearly three decades ago, there was barely a peep when Reagan and Bush used their authority to extend amnesty to the spouses and minor children of immigrants covered by the 1986 law.

In 1986, Congress and Reagan enacted a sweeping overhaul that gave legal status to up to 3 million immigrants without authorization to be in the country, if they had come to the U.S. before 1982. Spouses and children who could not meet that test did not qualify, which incited protests that the new law was breaking up families.

Early efforts in Congress to amend the law to cover family members failed. In 1987, Reagan’s Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner announced that minor children of parents granted amnesty by the law would get protection from deportation.

Spouses and children of couples in which one parent qualified for amnesty but the other did not remained subject to deportation, leading to efforts to amend the 1986 law.”

But the article also notes that then, Congress actually worked together to try and solve the problem. Except now these non-illustrious persons seem to not have an original idea about how to fix a problem that has persisted for decades. Even when the Republicans were in power and controlled the White House and both house of Congress, they didn’t advance any kind of remedy.

So pot, no matter how much you call the kettle black, you are not any better or self-righteous. Just apparently more clueless.

Gov. Walker not a compassionate conservative

A piece published on Think Progress website certainly shows Wisconsin’s Gov. Walker is not a compassionate conservative.

The article states that Walker criticizes other governors for accepting the Federal Government’s optional Medicaid expansion. “Walker has recently leveled some criticism at other GOP leaders for accepting Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, saying they shouldn’t necessarily trust the government to come through with the federal funds to cover the policy. During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Walker was asked whether his position stemmed from an “ideological criticism,” and if he believes the handful of Republican governors implementing this provision of the health law are not “genuine conservatives.”

The article also offers:

“Beyond that, I just ask the basic question: Why is more people on Medicaid a good thing?” he said. “I’d rather find a way, particularly for able-bodied adults without children, I’d like to find a way to get them into the workforce. I think ideologically, that’s a better approach, not just as a conservative, but as an American. Have more people live the American dream if they’re not dependent on the American government.”

In reality, however, the majority of people who stand to benefit from the Medicaid expansion are already in the workforce. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been closely tracking the policy effect of states’ decisions on this Obamacare provision, most of the people in this coverage gap are part of a demographic group known as the “working poor.” Two thirds of them are part of a family where someone is working, and more than half of them are working themselves — often in sectors like the agricultural and service industries, which have a history of failing to provide insurance benefits to their workers.”

Maybe what Walker is stating is laudable, but the problem with him and other conservatives about getting people into the workforce, they offer no avenue of getting in.  Generally leaving the way in to businesses and whatever trickle theory he and others espouse. Except the theory never seems to work.

Businesses took jobs away, sent them overseas, decimating a middle class that has not recovered and complain people are not buying their goods. No wage increases for the schmucks actually doing the work, but the managers and owners reaping the rewards just for owning the company.

Maybe they got what they wanted, less people working, more profit and more expectations of them having to step up and help those less fortunate. Former Pres. Bush’s oxymoron of a compassionate conservative was maybe wishful thinking on his part. But does follow another American axiom, kick a dog while it’s down.

 

Kansas Republican Party still experimenting

The New York Times ran a story recently again highlighting the trouble with Kansas’ budget problems.

According to the story, : “They need to cut $279 million, $239 million of which is attributable to lower-than-expected personal income tax collections. Those aren’t small numbers in a state budget of approximately $6 billion and where revenues have already declined sharply. Kansas state revenues dropped 11 percent in the fiscal year 2014 (which ended in June) after the tax cuts took effect.

But that may not even be the whole picture. A close look at the state’s new revenue projections makes clear they are highly optimistic, even after this week’s cut in the forecast. Kansas says it expects to collect slightly more personal income tax this year than it did last year, even though, with four months of collections in, they are 11 percent behind last year’s pace.

If the last four months’ performance is similar to the next eight, the state won’t miss its original income tax estimate by $239 million.

It will miss it by $546 million.

And because the state was already scheduled to spend down nearly its entire rainy-day fund balance (which totaled over $700 million in 2013) by the end of this year, it will have to respond to any widening budget gap with some combination of further spending cuts and tax increases.”

Waiting to see how taxing to prosperity works out.

Woodbury County Democrats, promoting democratic ideals and greater participation.