We got yet another look into the workings of the mind of Terry Branstad last week. One day he takes out his line-item veto pen and undoes some work that the legislature battled and battled over before coming to an agreement. These were hard fought compromises in an age where one side generally refuses to compromise.
In one fell swoop Branstad cut the Earned Income Tax Credit for families, cut money from the Iowa Workforce Development offices which will now close in 37 cities. But he did cut the prohibition on his staff getting bonuses.
Funny how Branstad is such a real fighter for fiscal conservation when it comes to the poor and the unemployed, but can be just a radical when it comes to getting some bucks to his friends.
Closing the 37 Workforce Development offices is a real piece of work in logical gymnastics. When people are out of work, they need help in finding new work. While the new world uses electronic medium to do things like applications online, many people who are out of work can’t afford a computer or the monthly ISP costs. Often these people would use the computers and access staff expertise at their local Workforce Development offices. Now they are often too far away to afford to drive to when a person is out of work. Even if there are local libraries, their hours have been drastically cut back in recent years or their computer access is quite limited.
Yet another leap of logic occurred when Branstad cuts a 3% rise in the Earned Income Tax Credit. This would have helped 225,000 working class Iowa households. The money they would have saved would have been pumped back into the economy locally no doubt. That could have created or saved jobs.
But what did make sense to Branstad was to make sure his staff is rewarded. I guess they aren’t the poor or unemployed and therefore deserve rewards more than the aforementioned poor and unemployed. Let someone else take one for the team, right Terry. BTW, still getting that pension?
But by golly he did take a stand for some working people last week. The United States Post Office has been the whipping horse for the Republican Party for as long as I can remember. They have been able to turn it into a quasi-private company. But even that wasn’t enough to quiet their critics. As the Post Office ran up deficits, they made a decision common in the corporate world. They decided to close many of their smaller offices and consolidate many services in larger offices.
Now that got Branstad’s attention. Maybe because he and his wife own some buildings rented by the Post Office and he can see that those may be in the next round of closures. Maybe he is concerned about jobs. I think that it is mostly because when a town loses its post office or school, it loses its identity. There are often bitter feelings about such closings.
My guess is that for Branstad, the Post Office is ‘big gummint’ that he can whip on to show he is on the “people’s” side to divert attention while he cuts aid for the poor and unemployed.
On a similar note, I see that Steve (cut,cut,cut) King and Chuck (cut the budget) Grassley along with Senator Harkin met with Post Master General Donahoe on cutbacks at the Sioux City post office. Some work will be consolidated to Sioux Falls. Steve, Chuck, you wanted them to act like a corporation, remember?
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Dave Bradley is a self-described retired observer of American politics “trying to figure out how we got so screwed up.” An Iowa City native currently living in West Liberty, Dave and his wife Carol have two grown children who “sadly had to leave the state to find decent paying jobs.”