- Associated Press - Monday, November 27, 2017

Des Moines Register. November 24, 2017

GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax plan is not a ‘victory’ for Iowans

Under the House plan, the middle 20 percent of Iowa taxpayers would realize a tax cut of $790 next year, but the cut falls to $340 annually a decade from now. Meanwhile the wealthiest Iowans would see their immediate cut of $36,100 grow to $48,520, according to an analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The richest will end up with a break 143 times greater than the middle class.

Young said his vote for this nonsense reflects his “trust in Iowans to spend their money better than the federal government.”

Translation: You can buy half a television with your tax cut while we starve Uncle Sam, jeopardize critical government services and drive up the national debt and deficit.

That’s because tax cuts do not pay for themselves. They do not generate enough economic activity to be self-financing. Cuts do, however, reduce the revenue collected by the government. Yes, that is the same federal government needing more - not less - money to fund everything from health care for seniors to the military to child welfare.

The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts under former President George W. Bush didn’t pay for themselves or unleash some magical economic growth. They put the country further in the hole. Even the most modest analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the 2001 cuts contributed more than a trillion dollars to the national debt in the first 10 years, not including the effect of paying interest on the debt.

Advocating measures to reduce government revenue is akin to advising an Iowan in debt to volunteer for a pay cut at work. It doesn’t make any sense.

But that isn’t stopping Young. And it’s not stopping Sen. Chuck Grassley.

He voted in the Senate Finance Committee to further a slightly different but also dreadful tax bill that would starve government and largely benefit the wealthiest Americans.

“Modernizing the tax code is a once-in-generation opportunity that hasn’t been accomplished since Ronald Reagan was president,” said Grassley.

Ah, Reagan, the fan of “trickle down economics” that did not trickle down.

After yet another week-long break from work in Congress, Grassley and other lawmakers might want to read the Washington Post op-ed recently penned by Bruce Bartlett, Reagan’s economic adviser who helped write the former president’s tax cuts. The headline says it all: “I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong: Tax cuts don’t equal growth.”

And American’s aren’t buying Grassley’s tired rhetoric about the tax plans allowing people to keep “more of their own hard-earned money.” Only 16 percent of voters think the GOP bill would reduce their own taxes, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. And damage to those who need help is inevitable.

“Adding $1.5 trillion in debt at the almost certain cost of food and health assistance for the vulnerable and educational opportunities across the board - really did anyone promote that during the last campaign? Did anyone vote for it?” asked Mike Owen, executive director of the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project.

One has to wonder what Iowans who voted for Young and others were hoping to accomplish. A repeal of Obamacare? Didn’t happen and shouldn’t. Balancing the federal budget? Congressional Republicans are intent on ballooning the debt and deficit.

Iowa has only six individuals representing our state in Congress. Five of them are now Republicans. They will continue issuing press releases attempting to put lipstick on their fiscal fantasy tax pig. Iowans should respond via email, phone calls and letters.


Fort Dodge Messenger. November 25, 2017

CJ Bio America eyes growth locally

Company’s Webster County plant helps region prosper

CJ Bio America is an important part of the economic boom that is transforming Fort Dodge and Webster County. Its already significant positive impact on the local economy may be about to increase. Sought-for government actions to make it attractive for the company to invest $51 million in a facility expansion locally have been obtained.

The company has been awarded approximately $1 million in tax credits from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. This development will make more attractive to corporate leaders a decision to add capabilities to the Fort Dodge facility to manufacture an additional amino acid product.

The IEDA’s action coupled with support recently approved by the Webster County Board of Supervisors means that the proposed expansion has an improved chance of gaining final corporate approval. The board pledged to provide tax rebates for three years on the expansion’s property tax - an incentive estimated at $822,888 total.

“It’s a good step toward completion of the project, to get the final approval of the project,” said CJ Bio America General Affairs Manager Luke Palmer in reaction to the positive governmental decisions. “Based on the incentives available, our headquarters in Seoul has the final say. This allows us to be as competitive as possible.”

CJ Bio America Inc. is a subsidiary of CJ Cheiljedang, a South Korean conglomerate. CJ Bio America falls within its biopharma segment and was founded in the U.S. in 2011 in Fort Dodge as a flagship for the company’s North American bio business. At the local plant, the company currently produces lysine, an essential amino acid, with a primary target of swine and poultry growers.

The Messenger applauds the efforts by private and public sector leaders in our community and state that are helping make Webster County an attractive place to do business. The competition for corporate investments is robust. Our community has a commitment to creating a welcoming business environment for CJ Bio America and other companies. We look forward to CJ Bio America’s long-term presence here and would be delighted to see the proposed plant expansion take place.


Quad City Times. November 21, 2017

On sexual harassment, lawmakers cannot police themselves

Sweeping allegations about cultures of sexual harassment and lewd conduct are roiling statehouses in Des Moines and Springfield. On Tuesday, dozens of women on Capitol Hill in Washington - including lobbyists, congressional staff and lawmakers themselves - told tales of salacious comments and wildly inappropriate behavior among male lawmakers and lobbyists. In all instances, women said reporting the degradation posed a threat to their careers. And so, in too many cases, they remained silent, while establishing a set of unofficial rules to protect themselves:

Avoid lawmakers who sleep in their offices

Avoid late night trips on the elevator

Avoid events where the booze is flowing

They’re fooling themselves if lawmakers think that the very men guilty of the degrading, dehumanizing behavior can somehow lord over the fix.

Hundreds of victims have come forward in recent months. Male lawmakers have exposed themselves to young congressional staffers, one female member of Congress said. Dozens of women reported widespread harassment and lewd behavior throughout Illinois’ Statehouse, many signing a letter that sent shock waves through the Capitol. And, in Iowa, Kirsten Anderson, the state Senate’s former spokeswoman was recently awarded $1.7 million after she claimed in a lawsuit that she was fired by Senate Republican leaders for reporting incessant harassment by a male co-worker.

Anderson’s is a case-study that confirms all the fears of the hundreds of women who said they spent years biting their tongues. In many ways, it remains a man’s world and, in these cases, men have power over careers.

But, finally, the tipping point might have been reached. All the demeaning, punitive behavior, all the wielding of power for sex, the election of a president who, years ago, bragged about assaulting women and getting away with it because he’s “a star”: Women are speaking up. And - out of self interest - men are finally listening.

But the fix is neither clear-cut nor obvious - be it among Democrats in Springfield or Republicans in Des Moines.

Take Tuesday’s fiasco. Iowa Senate Majority Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, finally admitted that Anderson was harassed while working for his caucus. Yet, he still maintains that her firing had nothing to do with her complaints. And he’s yet to offer a legitimate defense of his initial decision to keep the accused harasser on the Senate GOP’s payroll. But Dix also did an about-face on Tuesday, scuttling plans to create a human resources position to grapple with what looks to be culture of sex and pressure.

Minutes later, Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, rebuked Dix by announcing that she created the post in the lower house.

While Dix has obfuscated and dodged his own responsibility throughout Anderson’s case, Tuesday’s events exposed the potential imperfections in any potential fix. Put simply, lawmakers cannot be trusted to police themselves. Any fix must include a wholly independent office capable of investigating complaints without political pressure or tinkering.

Upmeyer’s new HR personnel won’t be free from political pressure. He or she will answer to the House clerk, a political appointee, and, thereby, answer to the majority caucus. In Springfield, Illinois lawmakers appointed an emergency inspector general, who wields substantially greater independence, a move that might improve things in the short-term. But, during this month’s veto session, creating a phone tip line and instituting mandatory sexual harassment training was the best Illinois lawmakers could come up with in the long-term.

Even the U.S. Senate is struggling to root out its culture that treats women like objects for conquering. So far, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s bill, which would create mandatory training programs for staff, has been the best of a weak collection of less-than-inspired solutions. At least Grassley is thinking.

Female empowerment is an economic and moral issue. It speaks to the basic principles of equal protection and the ability of all Americans to wield agency over their lives. It cannot co-exist in a culture where men in power abuse their subordinates and sex is a commodity traded for one’s career.

There’s simply no reason to believe that the very institutions that foster the sexual harassment scourge can fix it. Only a full-time inspector general or ombudsman, appointed to a long tenure by a bipartisan committee, can operate independent from the very politics that created this culture of mental abuse and financial punishment.

That’s if the men in the room actually believe any of their lofty rhetoric.


Sioux City Journal. November 19, 2017

Management change provides tourism opportunity.

One of the questions we posed in an Oct. 1 editorial when the city was studying public-vs.-private future management of the Tyson Events Center was this: What will happen to the tourism arm of the Events Facilities Department under private management?

The answer will be clear soon.

On Oct. 16, the City Council voted for private management of Tyson (and the Orpheum Theatre) by Philadelphia-based Spectra. Contract discussions between the city and Spectra have begun, with an eye toward a Jan. 1 start for the new arrangement.

Those discussions include tourism. At a meeting with members of the Events Facilities Advisory Board on Oct. 27, a Spectra representative said Spectra is willing to assume tourism responsibilities.

We are pleased to hear tourism won’t fall by the wayside in the transition from public to private management. We believe having a blueprint for marketing our community as a destination for visitors is important.

To the extent possible, Sioux City should be a player in Iowa’s annual $8 billion tourism industry.

In our view, these 10 questions should drive city dialogue with Spectra as the two sides work on a strategy for tourism as part of the new Tyson-Orpheum management contract:

- How do we, as a city, define success in tourism? In other words, what do we want to result from tourism promotion?

- What is a realistic goal for visitation?

- How much is our city willing to spend to boost tourism (today, the Events Facilities Department budgets roughly $20,000 per year)?

- What is the view of tourism by stakeholders such as hotel and restaurant owners?

- Is local tourism generated only by specific events, like concerts, or do untapped opportunities exist for attraction of visitors not tied to events?

- Should we market only to Siouxland? To Midwest states? To the nation?

- What opportunities for cross-promotion of tourism (between, for one example, the city and the Loess Hills) exist and should be pursued?

- What role, if any, does improved signage play in strengthening tourism (we question the value of signage, frankly)?

- What do other Midwest cities of our size do to promote tourism?

- Or, is tourism a waste of time and money?

- Or, is tourism a waste of time and money?

In our view, the change to Spectra provides a valuable opportunity for fresh examination of why and how this city promotes tourism. Identifying clear answers to the aforementioned questions will, we believe, establish a strong foundation for these efforts moving forward.


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