Boswell earns 100% score on the “Pelosi Index” 1


By Tom Quiner

By and large, Iowans are sensible and frugal.

Yes, Des Moines and Iowa City have their fair share of big-spending liberals. But most Iowans have been blessed with some common sense.

That leads me to Central Iowa’s Congressman, Leonard Boswell.  I think Mr. Boswell is a good guy.  Having said that, I disagree with him on most major political issues.

I spent some time on The National Republican’s Trust website, and they produced an interesting index.  It’s called The Pelosi Index.  Here’s what the site says about it:

THE PELOSI INDEX, analyzes and tracks every member of Congress’ true voting record and details how often these self proclaimed moderates vote to support Pelosi’s radical transformation of America.”  It tracks the votes cast on 12 key Pelosi legislative initiatives.

Get more details here: http://nationalrepublicantrust.com/PelosiIndex/index.php

Congressman Boswell, a Democrat, earned a perfect score of 100 percent.  So did other Iowa Democrats, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsback.

By contrast, Republicans Steve King and Tom Latham earned a zero rating.  I commend them for voting against these bills.  The legislation included in The Pelosi Index tripled the Bush deficits in one year.

America cannot sustain that much spending without creating financial instability and prolonged economic hardship.

This November, we have a golden opportunity to do something about our deficits: elect a Republican Congress.  According to the late, great economist, Milton Friedman, spending declines most when we have a Democrat in the White House and a Republican controlled Congress.

Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich were a dream team in some respects.  Let’s give Congressman Boswell a much deserved retirement.  We need fiscal restraint, and Congressman Boswell has demonstrated he’s not about to provide it.

A Tale of Two Protests Reply


Riots broke out in Greece as their lawmakers approved austerity cuts for their profligate government.

Who are their rioters?  Tens of thousands of civil servants.  They turned violent in the face of cuts that will affect their pocket books.  These government workers live well.  After 35 years of government service, they can retire at 80 percent of their highest salary.  They enjoy Cadillac health plans, vacations, and other perks that their private sector counterparts, who foot the bill, don’t.

Greece was forced to make cuts in order to receive a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.  Greek was on the verge economic collapse as their government debt had climbed to 150 percent of its GDP.

Greek rioters are upset that their gravy train is coming to an end.  Can you blame them?

In the U.S., protests have broken out in the past year or so over profligate government spending.

Who are the protesters?  Regular folks.  Business owners.  Housewives.  Veterans.  They gather peacefully in cities across the country in a movement known as the “Tea Party Protests.”

Unlike the violent protesters in Greece who don’t care about their government’s debt, the Tea Party protesters care very much.  They look at how it has climbed since President Reagan left office.  In 1989, U.S. federal debt was about 52 percent of GDP.  By the end of next year, President Obama’s cumulative budget deficit will rise to an estimated level of 94 percent of GDP and climbing.

The Tea Party movement is worried about how the government spends their money.  When the recession hit, private employers shed jobs to stay afloat while state and local governments hired 110,000 new workers.

Under Obama’s budget, the federal government will increase the size of the federal workforce by 14.5 percent.

More than half of union members in the U.S. are now public employees.  They are well paid.  Federal employees earn about double what their private sector counterparts earn when you factor in salaries and benefits.

This is a serious gap between public and private employees in light of the fact that private employees are footing most of the bills.  We have some great employees working for us at the local, state, and federal levels.  But something’s wrong when private workers are losing jobs and wages and public ones aren’t.

Something’s wrong when federal employees make so much more than the working class families who pay their salaries.

Something’s wrong when public employee unions donate lavishly to one political party, the one that keeps the perks and jobs flowing for these unions, while the rest of America sacrifices and suffers.

If only Greece had their own Tea Party Movement five or ten years ago, who knows, maybe things would have turned out differently for them.

In America, the Tea Party Movement may be the only thing that saves us from a federal debt that hits 150 percent of GDP.

Who can blame the Tea Party movement for their conscientious support of fiscal sanity?  They deserve our support.

Iowa needs tax relief 1


As seen in the Des Moines Register March 21, 2010

I’ve enjoyed a life long love affair with Iowa. I think it’s the best place in America to live.

From the beauty of our land to the down-to-earth  people with good values and common sense, Iowa offers me what I want out of life.

We’re faced with some problems, though.

I’ve had the pleasure of having my oldest son in town on a visit in March. Unfortunately, he decided to leave Iowa upon his graduation from the University of Iowa a few years ago.  Opportunity first led him to Alaska and then to Houston, where he now lives and works.

I hope opportunity leads him back to Iowa some day.  Same goes for my daughter in North Carolina, and my son at Iowa State.

Does Iowa offer opportunity?  Yes it does, but it could offer more.

We need more jobs in Iowa.

Our tax policies may be holding us back according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington D.C. think tank specializing in tax policy.

They produce the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.  The index ranks states on the basis of five facets of their overall tax systems, including corporate and individual  income tax rates, sales tax, unemployment insurance, and property tax rates.

According to the Tax Foundation, Iowa ranks number 46.  Our neighbor, South Dakota, has the most favorable tax climate for business in the country.  Does tax policy affect employment?

Let’s compare.  From 2000 to 2008, the number of full and part time jobs in South Dakota increased by 9.9% according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  In Iowa, these jobs only increased by 5.4 percent.

The rate of growth in business ownership is faster in South Dakota than Iowa this past decade.  So is personal income.

The Tax Foundation offers insights as to why.  Here are key findings from their research:

• Local and state taxes can have an adverse impact on employment.

• Corporate income tax rates have the greatest negative affect on job creation.  (South Dakota has no personal or corporate income tax).

• High property tax rates are a major deterrent to new business start ups, because they are paid regardless of the businesses’ profitability.

The bottom three states on the Tax Foundation’s index in order are New Jersey (#50), New York, and California.  What do they have in common?  They’re bleeding jobs.  Why?  An unfavorable tax environment for business is a major reason.

The next governor of Iowa needs to get it right on this issue.  I was able to reach one gubernatorial candidate prior to deadline. Bob Vander Plaats told me the number one issue he hears on the campaign trail from business owners concerns our high property tax rates.  He would like to see property tax relief to spur economic development throughout the state.  Even more, he’d like to get government out of the business of picking winners and losers by dangling carrots in the form of tax credits and incentives.  He advocates a level playing field with lower personal and corporate income tax rates coupled with property tax relief.  In other words, economic development without gimmicks.

Last year, the U.S. News and World Report rated Iowa the second worst state in the county in which to start a business (West Virginia finished last).  They were critical of our high level of government interference in the guise of very high capital gains taxes, high corporate income taxes, and high unemployment taxes on wages.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We have the best people in American living right here in Iowa.  And yet we’re not realizing our full potential because of unsound economic policy.  Iowa’s policy encourages business decisions on the basis of political forces as much as market forces.

There is more to economic development than tax policy. But in light of our current standing, tax relief is the place to start.

Why the Tea Party Movement exists 3


One simple chart from the Congressional Budget Office explains why a Tea Party Movement exists.

Look at the last bar on the right.  Deficit spending hasn’t inched up, it hasn’t even exploded.  The operative verb is hemorrhaging.  Our budget is hemorrhaging because of spending imposed on America by the Democratic Party.

These are partisan deficits.

Democrats were justly (if insincerely) critical of excessive government spending during the Bush years.  Heck, rank and file Republicans were critical.  Why do you think so many stayed home in 2006 and ceded Congress to the Democrats?

Republicans got what they deserved.

And now America is getting what it deserves turning over the keys to the treasury to a party that believes that the government that governs the best spends the most.  The late, great Thomas Jefferson is surely turning over in his grave.

The depth of the fiscal carnage is so utterly breathtaking, it could easily lead one to despair and cynicism.

Don’t fall for it.  After all, this IS America.  We are the most resourceful country in the history of humanity.  The ballot box gives us power, and don’t think otherwise.

The damage done by our elected officials can be mitigated by a strong response at the ballot box this November.

To be fair to my Democratic friends, Republicans have colluded in the expansion of the Federal Government.  They deserve much blame, but Democrats deserve more in light of the explosion in spending that began when they retook Congress in 2006, and in light of the hemorrhaging since President Obama took over last year.

To put things in perspective, in 1980 the Federal government spent an average of $2498 per citizen.

This year, the estimated numbers are $11,640 per citizen (or $4470 in 1980 inflation-adjusted numbers).

My liberal friends contend that the root cause of the deficits are “Bush’s tax cuts for the rich.”  But that doesn’t square with my analysis of the data.  For the decade of the 80’s, the government collected an average of $22,688 in taxes per citizen.  In the 2000’s, they collected an average of $29,427 per citizen.  (2009 receipts are estimated.  Numbers are inflation-adjusted in 1980 dollars.)

In other words, receipts have skyrocketed.  They are not the root cause of our deficit hemorrhaging.

Spending is the problem.

The Tea Party Movement exists largely because they know we can’t afford the spending imposed on our nation by both parties.  Rank and file Republicans tend to be fiscally frugal.  Elected Republicans aren’t so consistent.

The Tea Party Movement is a mechanism to keep elected Republicans accountable to the taxpayers.

Look at the chart above again.  We’ve got a big spending problem.  Let’s elect the women and men who can fix the problem.

To my Republican friends, if you regain Congress this Fall, don’t blow it.  You’ve got one more shot.  We’re counting on you.

My Tea Party Introduction 2


I attended the Tea Party rally at the State Capital in Des Moines last Friday, my first.  I had three specific things I was looking for:

  1. What is the single biggest issue of concern to this movement?
  2. How many people would show up?
  3. Are the people in this movement normal?

Let me answer these questions in reverse order.  Yes, the people in attendance were normal.  I wanted to see for myself, because Speaker Pelosi and President Obama suggest otherwise.

It is true that they recited the Pledge of Allegiance without flinching.  And they belted out a heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem.  Are those normal occurrences at rallies attended by liberals?  Perhaps.

One fellow had a small American flag protruding from his hat.  The overall sense that I had from the crowd is that they love America.

The Des Moines Register reported that about 1200 people attended the rally.  Sounds good.  It’s hard to estimate large crowds for me.   The group was energized by the speakers, passionate about the message.

So what is the message?  Is there a single theme?  Yes.

The Tea Party Movement is all about independence.

The speakers talked about the size of government, about runaway government spending, about government intrusion into our lives in ways never intended by the Founding Fathers.  To quote Ronald Reagan, they want big government off their backs.

Ultimately, they agree with the first Democratic President, Thomas Jefferson, who said the government that governs least governs best.

Ultimately, they believe a government governs best when it makes people stronger by breeding independence.

Ultimately, they believe that the current direction of the country is exactly wrong, that we are weakening the very fiber of America by breeding government dependence.

I saw several Republican candidates at the rally.  However, Republicans would be sadly mistaken if they think this is a Republican crowd.  The Tea Party exists partly because Republicans didn’t act like Republicans when they controlled the Congress and the White House.

A reminder to Republicans:  President Obama is still more popular than you according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/).

Republicans can pick up a lot of Tea Party votes if they act like Republicans.  If they regain power, will they exhibit the same political resolve that Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi have demonstrated in advancing their big government agenda?