Iowa Seniors Can Trust Rita Hart

Here’s a note from the Rita Hart campaign after last night’s debate. 

Watch the debate here

FACT CHECK: Iowa Seniors Can’t Trust Mariannette Miller-Meeks

WHEATLAND, IOWA — Mariannette Miller-Meeks is out of touch when it comes to the promises we made our seniors. She blames rising healthcare costs on Medicare and praised a radical Washington plan that would have ended the Medicare guarantee. She also supports raising the retirement age for Iowa seniors and privatizing Social Security. Iowa seniors can’t trust Mariannette Miller-Meeks to protect them in Congress.

Here are the facts about Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ failure to keep her promises to Iowa seniors:

  • Miller-Meeks blamed Iowa seniors and funding shortfalls for Medicare on “overuse, saying those who get care for free are prone to use it unnecessarily like patients with mild sore throats who’d otherwise would gargle with salt water.” [The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa), 9/6/09]

  • In 2008, Mariannette Miller-Meeks supported raising the federal retirement age. She indicated on a 2008 Project Vote Smart questionnaire that she supported raising the retirement age for individual eligibility to receive full Social Security benefits, forcing Iowans to work longer before retirement.

  • The health care plan Miller-Meeks supports would allow insurance companies to charge what AARP calls an “age tax,” on older Americans, forcing them to pay higher premiums.

  • And if raising the retirement age wasn’t enough, in 2012 Miller-Meeks supported a program that would have replaced Medicare insurance coverage by giving Medicare recipients a fixed dollar amount to purchase private insurance. This dangerous plan would leave Iowa seniors without care and unable to afford their healthcare, including prescription drugs.

  • It’s no surprise that given her attacks on Medicare, that in 2008, Mariannette supported privatizing Social Security. She doesn’t believe in honoring the promise that our government made to these seniors when they paid into the system.

With positions like these on the issues and programs that are so critical to the health and well-being of Iowa seniors, it’s clear that Mariannette Miller-Meeks can’t be trusted to put her constituents’ interests over those of the special interests.

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Loebsack Statement on House Passage of Government Funding Bill

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the House voted on the continuing resolution to keep the government funded and running after September 30. Earlier this year, the House passed legislation to fund nearly all of the government, while the Senate has taken no actions of its own. In order to prevent a shutdown, a continuing resolution is needed to keep the government running.

“Let me be clear, we should not be in this position. If the Senate had acted and passed their own appropriations bills, we would not have had to pass this short-term bill to keep the government open. That being said, it would have been irresponsible to shut the government down. The American people expect us to do our most basic job of keeping the government operating. Now, the Senate must immediately take up and pass this bill to ensure Iowans that their government is working for them.”

Included in the Continuing Resolution:

  • Replenished funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which Loebsack, along with the entire Iowa Delegation, called for earlier this week.
  • The bill also includes language prohibiting USDA from using CCC funds meant to go to farmers from reimbursing oil refiners who were denied small refinery waivers.
  • Certainty for state and local governments’ transportation projects through a year-long extension of Federal highway, transit, and road safety programs. The resolution provides $13.6 billion from the general fund into the Highway Trust Fund, equal to the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2020 legislation.
  • Emergency funding for children and families who are in ever greater need of nutrition assistance due to the pandemic.
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We Lost Al In The Senate But We Still Have His Great Podcast

I still can’t get over the loss of Al Franken as a senator.  But he does now have one of the best podcasts.  It’s funny of course and Al has a natural curiosity that means he doesn’t ask the same questions that everyone else does which leads to really interesting shows.

I’m thinking of 2017 when Al famously asked  Jeff Sessions a question that ended up leading to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Were it not for that question there might not have been an investigation.  So there’s that.

Al also has fun, personal anecdotes to share from his senate days. And he doesn’t mind setting the record straight on things you always wondered about that went on during his time there. So Al has a special talent and you kind of feel like a fly on the wall when you are listening to an Al Franken podcast.

On this show guests Andy Slavitt and Laurie Garrett talk about the importance of trust in our government regulatory agencies and institutions – specifically,  the erosion of trust in our public health institutions – The FDA, the CDC, and the Department of Health and Human Services under Donald Trump. And the “tragic consequences now and in the future.”

This observation by Andy Slavitt was in the context of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn  apologizing last month for “overstating” about a COVID-19 treatment. Because of  obfuscation and disinformation from the Trump administration, the public to a large degree has lost understanding of how vaccines work, that the idea is that they work because everyone gets vaccinated.  Vaccines protect the public health because they are universal.  Many people today think it’s just a personal health care decision. But there has also been a loss of trust.   Slavitt explains the problem with this:

“Vaccine effectiveness and vaccine trust are equal. You can have a vaccine that is only 30% effective but if it’s 100% trusted you’ll get immunity on 30% of your population. Likewise if you have a vaccine that is 100% effective but only 30% trusted you get the same outcome. So the FDA’s role is not just to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine; it’s to be highly, highly trusted…  and to set up a process and say this is our standard and then under pressure from the president say well, we’re not going to follow that standard – that does so much damage not just to this vaccine but to all vaccines that we count on in our modern society.”

Listen to the podcast here.

Subscribe to The Al Franken Podcast on: Apple Podcasts: http://bit.ly/TheAlFrankenPodcast-iTunes Spotify: http://bit.ly/TheAlFrankenPodcast-Spo… Google Play: http://bit.ly/TheAlFrankenPodcast-Goo…

Al Franken’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChK2Q2QyQlygpwSp8AE24TQ

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It’s The Masks, Stupid

Prairie Dog

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2020 issue of  The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter. The Prairie Progressive is  funded entirely by reader subscription,  available only in hard copy for $12/yr.  Send check to The Prairie Progressive, Box 1945, Iowa City,  52244.  Archived issues available  @ theprairieprogressive.com

by Dan Gervich

Mitigation is the starting point. The key to making this condition livable is a mask.

Cloth masks with enough layers to reduce transmission between two people wearing them by 95%, but increases the work of breathing and is pretty hot. A paper surgical mask, which sells for a dime on line, accomplishes that 95% reduction of transmission with less than one-fourth of that increase in work of breathing and heat retention of a multi-layered cloth mask. The raw material for these masks and for N95 masks is recycled plastic bag material made into blown polypropylene paper.

A “War Powers Act” would command and reward mask makers in the US who otherwise balk at gearing up. Instead, President Trump is willing to depend on China and Japan. The federal government could send 10 paper surgical masks to every citizen at no charge. The impact on the federal budget would be infinitesimal. If you like a fashionable and washable cloth mask, make one with just two layers and slip the paper mask in between the layers as an insert. Iowa’s Governor Reynolds should at least mandate masks indoors in businesses and facilities, and enforce the mandate while continuing to encourage other public mitigation efforts.

Testing capability needs to be built until well below 5% of tests performed are positive. The current 10% rate of positivity spells uncontrolled spread. Recently approved Covid-19 antigen tests never wrongly identify someone as infected, nor do they identify someone as contagious who is not. Antigen tests may miss a few people who are infected but not highly contagious. They are cheap to produce at around a dollar a test and are fast (a 15-minute turnaround). Like a urine pregnancy test, they can be done on site with little training.

A “War Powers Act” should make these tests available at every essential workplace and at schools for screening two or more times a week. They would absolutely catch those “super spreaders.” Instead, Iowa struggles in competition with other states to obtain testing materials. To add insult to injury, State Epidemiologist and Medical Director Pedati inexplicably decided not to add thousands of these positive Covid -19 antigen tests to Iowa’s reporting, dismissing them as inconclusive. She is well-trained and knows better. Shouldn’t Dr. Pedati resign if she is making this case but Reynolds blocks her?

An army of contact tracers needs to be built to meet the challenge of the numbers of positive tests and to track down the contacts they have exposed for quarantine. Currently that’s 700 or more new cases a day. Mitigation needs to drive that down to a manageable number, as has been successfully done in Canada and elsewhere. Public health workers need to enforce quarantines and support those quarantined with medicine, food, and even a place to stay if needed, as well as monitoring their illness. Currently, public health workers can’t possibly keep up effectively. Don’t tell me that unemployed trainable talent cannot be found.

The way to stop the spread and lift economically and socially onerous aspects of mitigation doesn’t require an understanding of molecular biology or rocket science. Our current leaders are like parents who don’t know the meaning of discipline, giving in to childish right-wing temper tantrums over infringing on their freedom to do harm. Covid-19 transmission at the Sturgis motorcycle rallies is estimated to have generated 266,796 new cases in the US between August 2nd and September 2nd, at an estimated cost of care of $12.2 billion. If the Sturgis riders had been paid $25,000 each to stay home, the US treasury would still be ahead! Conservatives’ economic arguments don’t hold water.

Governor Reynolds shrugged off the 65 Covid-19 deaths of Tyson packing plant workers in June. Then she and Trump forced the survivors back into the packing plants. Who feeds those dead breadwinners’ families or pays for their children’s education? Reynolds and Pedati are posers, clearly content with the deaths of more than 200 Iowans a month from now until who knows when, as is Trump, who dismisses more than 20,000 deaths of Americans a month as too expensive or unworthy of saving. We as citizens and patients must bring an end to this malpractice.

—Dan Gervich is a retired infectious diseases and critical care physician, healthcare epidemiologist, and Chief Infection Control Officer at MercyOne in Des Moines.

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When There Are Nine

“Be someone who holds fast to her convictions and self respect. Be independent. Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just sap energy and waste time.” – RBG

“People ask me sometimes,  ‘when do you think there will be enough women on the court?’  And my answer is, when there are nine.” – RBG

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How About Some Sunday Pictures?

I am getting overwhelmed these days. The pandemic, Trump’s constant lies, Bill Barr, crazies throughout the administration, big time natural disasters including massive fires out west, one hurricane after another, the derecho.

The politicization of the pandemic for gawd’s sake. Policies that make the pandemic spread. A president who is just uninterested in doing his job (maybe that is a good thing with this prez?).

Then of course here in Iowa we have Covid Kim’s daily screw-ups on handling the virus, her forcing of kids into the close quarters of school with very poor planning, her incompetent staff and her seeming indifference to it all.

My brain is about to blitz out. Did I mention Bill Barr who seems to be leading the move to end democracy?

found on democraticunderground.com

tip of the hat to EarlG on democraticunderground.com

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Sunday Funday: Falling Into Autumn Edition

If you are not familiar with Stella, the leaf jumping dog, you are about to be delighted. Here is 3:10 of her greatest jumps that capture the joy many of us feel when autumn comes around:

Autumn: Cool temperatures, crisp skies, beautiful leaves and voting out the worst president ever. 

Thanks to that president there will be fewer football games, but you probably don’t want to go to them anyway. Halloween will be a ghost of itself this year. Let’s hope the pandemic stays out of the school halls this year.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, there is a Trump to prove you wrong.

  1. A woman name Olivia Troye made headlines for endorsing Joe Biden for president. Why was this a big deal?
  1. They called an audible and did a reverse. What conference decided that maybe they will play football this fall after all?
  1. We are almost through the alphabet for names of tropical storms this year. When does the tropical storm season officially end?
  1. The magazine Scientific American broke a 175 year tradition when they endorsed what candidate for president this year?
  1. The Polk County (Iowa) Democratic Party held its annual steak fry last week but what precautions did they take to avoid spreading the coronavirus?
  1. Amy Dorris Thursday became a member of a group of 26 women who have done what?
  1. Dear Leader railed against what history project this week as he proposed forming a “1776 Commission” to “teach children the miracle of American History”?
  1. Speaking of tropical storms, what hurricane hit the southeastern US this week coming ashore near Pensacola, Florida?
  1. Dear Leader had another coronavirus super spreader event in what state as people packed inside an arena, mostly maskless to hear his ramblings?
  1. It is against the law for government employees to do personal work for their leaders. What cabinet official’s wife had employees help her with personal Christmas cards last year?
  1. What chief political rival of Russian president Vladimir Putin has come out of a poison induced coma in Germany?
  1. Dear Leader and his son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly decided not to employ a national strategy on the coronavirus because of what reason?
  1. In a conference call with US Attorneys, AG Bill Barr called for violent demonstrators to be charged with what rarely used law?
  1. What computer apps are scheduled to be blocked today by Dear Leader’s administration if they are not sold to US companies?
  1. On September 20, 1973 the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match took place in Houston, Texas between what participants?
  1. FBI head, Christopher Wray, in testimony before described what as an ideology and not a group?
  1. He’s Back! Or about to be. What Iowa politician will return from his ambassador’s post to save Iowa Republicans this fall?
  1. The City of Louisville, Kentucky will pay how much to the family of Breonna Taylor in settlement for her death at the hands of police?
  1. Saturday Night Live announced what actor will play the role of Joe Biden when the sketch comedy show returns this fall?
  1. What cable TV host called Speaker Pelosi “Crazy Nancy” to the Speaker’s face last week during an interview?

Dwight Eisenhower on the Holocaust “Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses – because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.”

Answers:

  1. She was VP Pence’s top aide on his coronavirus task force 
  1. The Big Ten or should I say the B1G 
  1. Nov. 30
  1. Joe Biden.   
  1. The event was drive in and eat in your car
  1. Accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her
  1. The 1619 Project
  1. Hurricane Sally
  1. Nevada
  1. SoS Mike Pompeo
  1. Alexei Navalny
  1. The virus was only in “blue states” 
  1. Sedition
  1. Tiktok and WeChat
  1. Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King
  1. Antifa
  1. Terry Branstad
  1. $12 million
  1. Jim Carrey
  1. CNBC’s Jim Cramer (he’s still alive?)
Posted in #nevertrump, Covid-19, Humor | 1 Comment

Robert Reich: Racism Is Profitable

The above video is from Robert Reich’s Inequality Media.

This video ties in to a degree with the previous post on how labor has been exploited especially since the mid 1970s.

Lyndon Johnson many years ago made an astute observation that seems to be in use daily by our current administration:   

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

One of the greatest strategies to keep wages low has been to divide and conquer. As railroad magnate and financier Jay Gould stated well over a century ago:

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”

Keep us split, keep us at each others throats, keep us poor. That is the strategy for the Republican Party.

And do not forget – reelect Joni Ernst and Donald Trump and prepare to see Obamacare end, Social Security end, and Medicare and Medicaid end.

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“The $2.5 Trillion Annual Theft”

That is an estimate of how much the annual theft is from America’s workers.

A study came out this week that astounded nearly everyone. While everyone knows that workers have been left behind in the economic race since the early 70s, there had never been a study to put a real number on it. The RAND corporation undertook that challenge. The numbers they came up with caught most everyone by surprise:

Rick Wartzman at fastcompany.com addresses that with his opening paragraphs on the findings:   

“Just how far has the working class been left behind by the winner-take-all economy? A new analysis by the RAND Corporation examines what rising inequality has cost Americans in lost income—and the results are stunning.

A full-time worker whose taxable income is at the median—with half the population making more and half making less—now pulls in about $50,000 a year. Yet had the fruits of the nation’s economic output been shared over the past 45 years as broadly as they were from the end of World War II until the early 1970s, that worker would instead be making $92,000 to $102,000. (The exact figures vary slightly depending on how inflation is calculated.)”

<<snip>>

Tally it all up, according to RAND, and the bottom 90% of American workers would be bringing home an additional $2.5 trillion in total annual income if economic gains were as equitably divided as they’d been in the past—leading Rolf to dub the phenomenon “the $2.5 trillion theft.”

“From the standpoint of people who have worked hard and played by the rules and yet are participating far less in economic growth than Americans did a generation ago,” he says, “whether you call it ‘reverse distribution’ or ‘theft,’ it demands to be called something.”

From a Time magazine article on the same study Nick Hanauer and David Rolf point out:   

“As Price and Edwards explain, from 1947 through 1974, real incomes grew close to the rate of per capita economic growth across all income levels. That means that for three decades, those at the bottom and middle of the distribution saw their incomes grow at about the same rate as those at the top. This was the era in which America built the world’s largest and most prosperous middle class, an era in which inequality between income groups steadily shrank (even as shocking inequalities between the sexes and races largely remained). But around 1975, this extraordinary era of broadly shared prosperity came to an end. Since then, the wealthiest Americans, particularly those in the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent, have managed to capture an ever-larger share of our nation’s economic growth—in fact, almost all of it—their real incomes skyrocketing as the vast majority of Americans saw little if any gains.

What if American prosperity had continued to be broadly shared—how much more would a typical worker be earning today? Once the data are compiled, answering these questions is fairly straightforward. Price and Edwards look at real taxable income from 1975 to 2018. They then compare actual income distributions in 2018 to a counterfactual that assumes incomes had continued to keep pace with growth in per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—a 118% increase over the 1975 income numbers. Whether measuring inflation using the more conservative Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE) or the more commonly cited Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U-RS), the results are striking.”

So where is the money that you and I didn’t get? Somebody got it. Back to the fastcompany.com story Hanauer and Rolf give their assessment:

“They say the blame lies, in large measure, with decades of failed federal policy decisions—allowing the minimum wage to deteriorate, overtime coverage to dwindle, and the effectiveness of labor law to decline, undermining union power. They also cite a shift in corporate culture that has elevated the interests of shareholders over those of workers, an ethos that took root 50 years ago this week with the publication of an essay by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman.

Many of these developments, Rolf points out, have been driven by the belief that an unfettered free market would generate wealth for everyone. Thanks to the RAND study, he says, “we now have the proof that this theory was wrong.”

Unfortunately, with the pandemic, the election and the many in our face attacks on our government by the country’s own leaders, this extremely important study will probably be lost in the myriads of other stories.

I will try to bring this up periodically. It would sure be nice if a few of our Republican office holders would be asked to comment on the incredible inequality in this country.

Inequalities like this cause democracies to end and dictatorships to grow.

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Ginsburg’s Death Makes Greenfield Race Extra Important

Supreme Court, Washington, D.C.

I may well be wrong here, but the death last night of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes control of the US Senate of major importance this election year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has left little doubt that appointing a replacement for Ginsburg will be done while Trump is still president. My guess is that it will be after the election during the lame duck period. That will in their minds defuse an appointment as an election issue. Then immediately after the election that will be priority #1.

If there is any court actions from the 2020 election, the Republican senate will do all they can to make sure that there is a 6-3 Republican majority in the SCOTUS to hear any cases.

I would then expect a whirlwind confirmation process that will have the seat filled before any of the important issues Republicans want to deal with are heard. Specifically, Obamacare would be much more certain to be killed with six right wing justices. That way if Justice Roberts strays again from the right wing orthodoxy, it won’t matter.

So this puts Obamacare squarely in the cross-hairs. Most likely this also puts Roe v. Wade squarely in the cross-hairs also. I would not be surprised to see a 6-3 Republican majority shop quickly for a case to use to end Roe v. Wade.

Who might the nominee be? Well, in my nightmares it would be AG William Barr who would be an almost certain Republican vote in every case. He would also someone whose interpretation of laws and the constitution has been shall we say very creative.

Our condolences to the Ginsburg family and her friends.

So sad to say on this occasion that the timing just couldn’t be worse.

Your vote for Theresa Greenfield has never been more important.

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