Regrets, there have been a few but not too few to mention! BFIA has compiled a list of decisions made over the past year that we predict are going to turn out to be very, very bad indeed.
Happy new year!
1. Failing to elect progressive Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley to take over the seat of revered Senator Tom Harkin. Iowans not only lost a Democratic vote in the House, but we are stuck with a tea party Republican in the Senate for at least six years, in which a lot of damage can and most certainly will be done.
2. Complacent, apathetic or couldn’t-be-bothered Democrats, Greens and no-party voters will regret not showing up at the polls during the 2014 mid-terms for a long time to come. Iowa has gone from having a 50-50 split of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans representing us in Congress to 3 tea party Republicans and the lone, under-appreciated progressive Democrat, Dave Loebsack. Corrupt Republican Governor Terry Branstad was re-elected over an imperfect but decent Democrat, giving Branstad, a founding Member of ALEC, an unprecedented free pass to enact ALEC driven legislation in Iowa.
3. Iowa will regret not making sure we are electing representatives at the state level who will protect our air and water from big polluters like Big Ag. Des Moines in particular is paying big and struggling to get farm pollution out of their drinking water. Iowa Republicans want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency so corporate farms can pollute without anyone looking over their shoulder. Field and Stream even posted an article about Iowa’s water problems.
4. Failing to take advantage of the federal funding available for passenger rail. As recently as December, there were still reports that there may be a spark of hope alive for the possibility, but Branstad and his minions would have to start wanting to govern, meaning the chances are slim to none. When elected officials make decisions that make no sense it is usually either from incompetence or corruption. Sometimes the circumstances are more complicated than we know about, but that is probably not the case in this instance. This was an easy choice and Branstad’s refusal to support it revealed his true corrupt, obstructionistic colors. His refusal to do a virtually free, good thing for Iowans is otherwise inexplicable.
5. Education: The Board of Regents’ new funding formula for Iowa’s three universities does what Republicans do best – creating enemies and competition among those who would otherwise be allies. The regents’ scary plan will particularly hurt the University of Iowa (coincidence? not..). Here is an excerpt from an article where Dean Fethke summarizes how the Regents’ proposed performance-based funding model will affect the State’s Universities and higher education in Iowa.
“It is not ‘Iowa dollars for Iowa kids’ as it first seems. Instead, the proposed funding model incentivizes each Regents’ University to seek out Iowa students at the expense of the other two Universities. It promotes a war for students in which all three Universities, the State and the students all lose. Under the funding plan, Dean Fethke estimates that the University of Iowa would lose $47.8 million annually.
6. Ignoring Branstad scandals – secret settlements, no hire lists, troopergate, pressuring judges, false statistics, closing the juvenile home, and more. They are too numerous to mention, but Iowans have chosen to not see the governor that Branstad has become.
7. CRomnibus and the ACA. Will Iowans again have to fear bankruptcy if they get sick?
“When the U.S. Senate passed the continuing resolution to fund the government (CRomnibus) on Dec. 13, who knew what was in it? …The folks at CoOportunity Health, an Iowa nonprofit insurance cooperative established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), should have. If they didn’t, they would find out three days later when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notified them and the Iowa Insurance Commissioner that it would not provide solvency funding in the amount of $60 million. …In simpler language, Republicans can and will do anything they can to de-fund the ACA.” Read more at pauldeaton.com
8. Downsizing/eviscerating of Iowa newspapers in particular the Des Moines Register. The newspaper that Iowa used to depend on seems to be on the brink of ceasing to exist. Iowans are largely oblivious to the peril to our way of life that is imminent without access to factual information via investigative reporting. See Blog for Iowa’s coverage of a talk by Robert McChesney, co-author Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America, at the University of Iowa last spring where he spoke of the need for public funding for newspapers.
“Today, journalism is a mere shadow of its former self. News coverage has been reduced to reporting only what those in power say. It is considered bias for a reporter to attempt to unpack the spin. Further, it is now considered taboo for reporters to attempt to start a conversation about anything that those in power (politicians, institutional leaders, and corporatists) are not already speaking about.” LINK
9. The proliferation of TIFs. See Nick Johnson’s blog.
10. The regents’ 3 million dollars to a gargantuan corporate consulting firm for an “efficiency” study at the University of Iowa. For some reason the Regents initially paid $2.5 million for a 4-page report that revealed virtually nothing about what they had up their sleeve. Nicholas Johnson, UI Law professor and former FCC Commissioner said this:
“Deloitte’s “efficiency” report to the Regents is pathetic. So this is what $2.5 million looks like?! (Soon to be $3.45 million.) Had a grad student been given, and accepted, this assignment and come back with this flimsy 4 pages it would have been given a D or F. Not only was Deloitte paid $2.5 million for it, but it was rewarded with another million before the report was even seen. Looking for “efficiencies” Regents? Try a mirror.” LINK
After a public outcry, the Regents relented and released a 97-page report. You can read the entire Iowa Board of Regents Efficiency Study here.
Here’s to a better 2015.