Last Summer I attended a fundraiser for Iowa Senate incumbent and local firefighter, Jeff Danielson, where he launched his campaign, and as he spoke to the crowd of around 200 supporters he gave a brief history of Iowa congressional activity during his two previous terms. A consistent divide between the left side of the aisle with the right was made very clear regarding various legislative proposals.
One of the most glaring differences is evidenced in a bill to reduce commercial property taxes in Iowa. Democrats proposed a $200,000,000 annual tax break that would see a reduction of 40% for 4 out of 5 Iowa businesses. The bill included provisions to insure its success; small businesses would be helped the most (small business comprises most employment), there would be no tax shift onto residential property taxes, and schools and local government would be protected so as not to burden local budgets.
House Republicans (supported by Governor Branstad) voted against the bill, effectively saying that small businesses should not receive the lion share (note: the bill reduced corporate property tax, as well), and that schools and local government budgets do not warrant protection, and they had no interest in keeping residential property taxes immune from increases.
The Democrats in Des Moines have consistently worked for legislation and budget support for working class Iowans, teachers, and small businesses. They have been committed to a balanced budget and primarily under Democratic leadership (prior to 2010) have created a budget surplus while reducing unemployment and increasing teacher’s salaries.
It has become clear to me what the fundamental difference is between the two sides of the political aisle. On the Republican side is a position that nothing should interfere with corporate growth and that any (literally any) spending or program that is directed away from them is anathema to their platform.
Their platform contends that it is indisputable that corporate growth motivates entrepreneurs and creates jobs, which in turn, increases private sector spending which in turn creates more growth.
Democrats draw from history what actually happens, however, and create policy to compensate or amend inevitable inequities. Corporate growth does not necessarily lead to jobs, and in fact, when not regulated efficiently, can lead to malfeasance and profit funneling which benefits very few.
A civilized society, built on a foundation of human rights and dignity, will offer assistance and not allow people to be dismissed by their misfortune.
Reality also shows us that nearly 3000 children are born into poverty each day in the United States and closing the door on the welfare programs that put food on their table or give them a better opportunity for an education, will not reduce those numbers.
Democrats in Des Moines proposed that $200,000 be taken from our budget surplus and given to the Iowa Food Bank. 28,000 children in Iowa are hungry today, by no fault of their own, and the Food Bank offers help by providing needed food, creating partnerships and through education programs.
Republicans to the man and woman voted it down. They believe that every dime of surplus should be redistributed to reduce corporate taxes, because that is the only thing that can grow business and create jobs….etc…(yawn).
Democrats believe that the prosperity of America should be realized by reducing the inequities that are created by class struggles, unemployment, sickness, or prejudices.
Simple logic tells us that not every American can be wealthy and that for most of us our piece of the prosperity pie is opportunity, justice and fair access to our freedoms and resources.
In the meanwhile, dear Republican friends, what can I tell the hungry children, or their parent who may be disabled, or the retired Iowan who lost her pension, or the construction worker wondering why some of 1.6 billion dollars in surplus isn’t providing more jobs to rebuild Iowa roads, bridges, hospitals and schools? Or to UNI teachers and students who clearly do not receive your grace.
This is why I’m a Democrat. I support business, I support local charities, I pay my taxes, I contribute to corporate success, I support working families, and I also support social programs and compassionate legislation to offer assistance to those who have not been given the same breaks I’ve had.
It’s also, by the way, why I support Jeff Danielson for the Iowa Senate.