My wife and I just got home from a little trip out for an afternoon. As we drive along we note the condition of what we have come to call “Branstad Boulevards.” These are roads that are full of holes and bumps and disappearing edges that were once pretty good roads. Iowa is filled with them. I got off on one last summer that made me wonder if I hadn’t crossed an international border someplace along the way. Nope – we were someplace in central Iowa hoping the road wouldn’t suddenly became a gravel road underneath us.
Since that time we have been calling those car killers “Branstad Boulevards.” Now, I understand that our leader has claimed there is not enough money to fix these roads. Yet, didn’t we have some pretty hefty tax cuts in the past couple of years? Conditions inside cities of all sizes are even worse as tax policy has slowly choked city finances on the horns of higher requirements and lowered potential income. We call those “Branstad Boulevards” also.
Isn’t the job of a leader to see a problem and come up with solutions. Branstad and his Republican colleagues have been avoiding raising road use tax for years. It is time to be open and honest on this issue and many others. Admit the problem and propose solutions. Our predecessors built roads and water lines and sewers and also left established a means to pay for upkeep and repair. Tax cutting mania has raided many of those funds and various agencies are left with sticking chewing gum into holes as solutions.
Roads are hardly the only problem. I was reading the Condition of the State address Branstad gave Tuesday. My first impression is that before we can solve problems, we must be honest about what the problem is. Jobs is the first thing my eyes fell on. Branstad claims his administration has created 168,000 jobs. That is the kind of math that the old Politburo used to use. When one job is created and one removed, that is a net of zero not a plus of one. Yet Branstad has used what we in our house call “Branstad Math” for four years and no one in the media that has access disputes him.
Branstad has similar problems in many other areas, particularly around wages and the plight of the poor and middle class in Iowa. Since he is supposed to be the leader of all of Iowa I would suggest that he AND his staff take a little trip outside their comfort zones. The articles on the Iowa Policy Project its partner Iowa Fiscal Partnership and ProgressIowa are well written, fairly easy to read and best of all, loaded with well researched facts. Facts are something that Branstad and his colleagues are usually short on.
Here is a brief blurb from Progress Iowa’s take on the Condition of the State speech: http://progressiowa.org/sections/progress-report/54b558de75c9a13ce5000018
Branstad Ignores Middle Class in Condition of the State
13 Jan 2015 — 11:27 AM | By Progress Iowa
Branstad refuses to say the words ‘middle class’ during condition of the state address & uses dishonest math on job growth.
Governor Branstad failed to mention Iowa’s middle class during his Condition of the State address today, where he outlined his priorities for the upcoming year and legislative session. The Governor also claimed credit for creating 169,000 jobs, when only 82,500 have been created since the beginning of his term.
Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement In response to the Governor’s remarks, which also failed to mention poverty or minimum wage:
“Governor Branstad failed middle class Iowans today. He refused to even say the words ‘middle class’ while at the same time heaping praise on a number of out of state corporations. The Governor’s priorities are completely out of step with everyday Iowans, who know that the foundation of our economy and our state’s success is a strong and growing middle class.”
“Governor Branstad’s distorted jobs math proves that he has no respect for working Iowans. The Governor inflates the number of jobs created by not counting jobs that have been lost, insulting every Iowan who has lost work during his term in office. An accurate accounting of Iowa’s job growth is less than half as many as the Governor claims.”
“The Governor also refused to bring up a minimum wage increase, or acknowledge the 300,000 workers who would benefit from an increase. Unfortunately, minimum wage workers in Iowa have waited longer than those in any other state for a raise.”
“Governor Branstad’s refusal to mention the middle class, poverty, or minimum wage during his Condition of the State address today was disappointing but not surprising. His failure to prioritize the needs of middle class working families has never been more clear.”