In the year or so that Kim Reynolds has been in charge of the state government and for the 6+ years that she was Branstad’s top lieutenant one thing seems to stand out as her main focus: widening the inequality gap between the rich and the poor in Iowa.
That is what she has accomplished. From the cutbacks forced by Medicaid privatization to the cutbacks in Iowa schools to the awarding of lucrative incentives to already fabulously wealthy corporations, the Reynolds administration has been there to make it happen.
Union busting? Reynolds and Branstad are on the job. Cut higher local minimum wages? This is a job for Reynolds. Raise tuitions at the regents universities way beyond middle class students ability to pay? You can count on Reynolds!
Republicans at all levels serve the rich only. Iowa is no different. The tax cut that gave the store away to wealthy Iowans while giving poor Iowans a small candy bar is a great example. Who was more than eager to sign the tax cut?
At a time in the US when the inequality between the “haves” and the “have-nots” grows wider and wider, Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Republicans are right there to drive the wedge even deeper. Why shouldn’t they? The poor make few campaign contributions. If we have learned nothing from Republicans it is that they believe in pay to play.
According to Common Dreams last October half of Americans can not keep up with essential expenses such as rent, food, utilities, health insurance and transportation:
“In the past 20 years median household expenses increased by 25 to 30 percent, while wages have stagnated. As a result, 3 out of 5 Americans spend more than they earn, not on frivolous extras, but on essential needs.
Housing, in particular, is crushing Americans. Nearly HALF of renters are cost-burdened, paying 30 or more of their income to their landlords. Renters in the poorest third of American households spend nearly HALF OF THEIR INCOME on housing.
Child care is another essential but overwhelming cost. The median American household in most states would have to spend over 10 percent of its income just to send a 4-year-old to full-time preschool. Children bear the brunt of a breakdown in society. The Center for Children in Poverty confirms that nearly half of our nation’s children live “dangerously” close to the poverty line.
Numerous other expenses are conveniently overlooked by the poverty skeptics: taxes; medical emergencies; car repairs; plumbing problems; appliance breakdowns; phone costs; work expenses, especially for members of the gig economy. As economist Constantin Gurdgiev puts it: “Quite frankly, it is idiotic to assume that gross median income matters to anyone. What matters is after-tax income net of the cost of necessities required to earn that income.”
So what do Republicans do for the common Iowans who are now struggling? Bust unions, cut wages, cut education, give Medicaid dollars to privatized management companies. That is just in Iowa. At a national level Republicans are more than eager to take away poor people’s food, triple their rent and take away access to health care.
When we put state and national Republican policies together we have a literal war on the poor and middle class.
So our Dear Leader loves to hang names on anyone who displeases him at the moment. Let me give it a try. Here is a name that I believe sums up Kim Reynolds time as lieutenant governor and governor: Inequality Kim.
“Inequality Kim” here to cut your education, your health care, your wages. Give her another chance and she will go after your retirement and cut the property tax backfill to Iowa’s cities and towns.
In contrast we have six good Democrats who are standing up to the Republicans and their government for the rich.
Democrats running for governor are to a person opposed to the policies that Republicans have passed over the loud resistance from Iowans. The contrast is stark.
Vast inequality among our citizens is simply bad policy. This is the kind of policy that signifies a third world country.
Give Inequality Kim another chance? I think not!