More background on Failor, Iowans for Tax Relief

As The Iowa Republican reported Monday, Ed Failor, Junior, has resigned his post as president of Iowans for Tax Relief.  Here’s The Des Moines Register story from Jennifer Jacobs; one written by Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter James Q. Lynch includes quotes from a Failor interview.

Failor sent these comments in an email yesterday:

…You may be asking “why?”.

Well, after 16 great years, I resigned as President of ITR on Friday.

ITR has great leadership, staff, and history. They are in very capable hands and will continue to be a powerhouse in Iowa policy and politics.

I am moving on to pursue exciting opportunities. I will let you all know specifically what’s next at an appropriate time.

The Muscatine-based group has been influential in Iowa politics for decades.  It was founded in 1978 by David Stanley of Muscatine, a state representative in the 1960s and ’70s who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate twice.  His grandfather had been a state senator, too. 

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Branstad item vetoes tax proposals

Governor Terry Branstad used his item veto authority today to nix two tax proposals — one aimed at businesses, the other designed to give Iowa’s working poor a tax break.  Read the Radio Iowa story.  Here’s the press release from Branstad’s office.

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today signed Senate File 209, which provides supplemental funding for indigent defense, Department of Human Services, Department of Public Safety and Department of Corrections, Department of Public Health and community colleges.

The governor also used his item veto authority to insist on broad tax relief, vowing to work with both parties in both chambers to build a tax relief package that promotes economic growth in Iowa.

“I am pleased to sign Senate File 209 to provide indigent defense funding, funding for the Department of Public Safety, Department of Human Services and Department of Corrections,” said Branstad. “I commend the House and Senate for making these supplemental appropriations in areas where the cuts would have adversely affected the health and safety of Iowans.”

In a letter to Senate President Jack Kibbie, attached to this email, Branstad stated:

“I am unable to approve the item designated as Division I. […]Any temporary economic stimulus effect of bonus depreciation is primarily accomplished through the federal tax code.  Iowa should instead focus its energies on improving our state’s long term competitive tax position for new job creation.  With our limited budget, that is best accomplished by reducing our commercial property taxes which are second highest in the country and our marginal corporate tax rate which is the highest in the nation.

“I am unable to approve the item designated as Division II.

“As earlier indicated, it is my desire to approach tax policy in a comprehensive and holistic manner.  As such, I urge members of the House and Senate to continue to work with my office on an overall tax reduction package that both fits within our sound budgeting principles while reducing those taxes that are impeding our state’s ability to compete for new business and jobs.”

Branstad also said, “I am pleased we could reach this agreement to fund our shared priorities in public safety, public health and indigent defense. I look forward to continuing our discussions on job creation and tax changes as we move forward toward adjournment.”

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds continue to work with leaders in both the House and the Senate to develop a plan that fits Iowa’s long-term needs, while maximizing effectiveness by creating jobs, growing the state’s economy and putting Iowa on a path to fiscal prosperity.

Gov. Branstad used his item veto authority in accordance with Amendment IV of the Amendments of 1968 to the constitution of the State of Iowa to item veto Divisions I and II of Senate File 209.

Iowans for Tax Relief issued a statement. 

Significant Tax Relief Options Item-Vetoed by Governor Branstad
Weeks of work by the Legislature on Senate File 209 is removed in one day

MUSCATINE, IA—Today Governor Branstad item-vetoed two significant tax relief portions of Senate File 209, the tax and spending compromise bill.
Iowans for Tax Relief President Ed Failor, Jr. issued the following statement:

“It is discouraging to see Governor Branstad’s item- vetoes which remove significant tax relief options in place to help Iowa job creators and Iowa families. A bi-partisan group of Legislators have worked for over six weeks on the compromise bill, and it is built with the best intentions for the taxpayers of Iowa.”

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AUDIO: Christie Vilsack talks about campaign

Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack just called into the Radio Iowa newsroom to ahve a conversation with me about running for congress.  Listen: Christievilsack (mp3 runs about 9 minutes).

Here’s Vilsack’s answer to a question about the voter registration edge in the district (GOP has the edge in the new fourth district): 

“I looked at the numbers and they were pretty much the same as when Tom ran for governor all across Iowa and I think it’s a winnable district. Everybody I’ve talked to and all the people who are working with me think it’s a winnable district and I think it’s the most winnable district for me. I am a small town person and this is a district of small towns flanked by two or three really good-sized Iowa cities and I just think, all things considered, I thought it was the best district and I’m in it to run. I’m in it to win and if I decide to get to get in it, when the time comes after my exploration is done, then I’m going to go for it and I think this is the best place to win.”

I’ll be back with more from the interview, including Vilsack’s response to Governor Branstad’s “fish out of water” assertion and her own husband’s characterization of a Christie Vilsack versus Steve King match-up as a “holy war.”

UPDATEHere’s the Radio Iowa story.  From that story:

On her husband’s “holy war” statement: “Well, I think my husband two days ago wasn’t the spouse of a potential candidate and I don’t think he’s got the spouse thing down quite yet,” she told Radio Iowa. “But today he is and I think he’ll be able to stand next to me and be supportive.”

On Branstad’s “fish out of water” staement: “I could have run in any of Iowa’s districts because I feel like all Iowa is my home,” Vilsack said this morning.  “But, you know, I was in Emmetsburg in the parade at St. Patrick’s Day, right behind (Governor Branstad) and I’ve been in Crawford County — I’ve been traveling all over that district for the last 12 or 14 years and they’re my people and I feel very comfortable with them and I feel like it’s the best district for me as I reviewed it.”

I also asked her why she didn’t run against Congressman Boswell (D-Des Moines) in the new third district or against Congressman Loebsack (D-Mount Vernon, moving to Iowa City)  in the new second: “I really used quite a process and spent a long time trying to decide, really, what’s best for me and my family, what district fits me best and what’s best for my party,” Vilsack said. “…I wanted to run where I had the best chance of winning and I think I have the best chance of winning in the new fourth.”

Andrea Bozek of the National Republican Congressional Committee emailed the following:

After floating her name for practically every political office in Iowa, Democrat Christie Vilsack today announced her plans to move into Iowa’s new 4TH Congressional District to run against Republican Rep. Steve King.

 Please consider the following quote as you follow Vilsack’s announcement.

“Considering Vilsack’s support for the government takeover of healthcare she will fit right in with liberal Nancy Pelosi’s big government and spending agenda. Iowa voters understand that sending Vilsack to Washington will only result in more debt and a vote to try to put Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s Chair. ” – NRCC Spokeswoman Andrea Bozek

 New District Breakdown:

 Steve King has represented nearly half of the new Fourth District since 2002.

 McCain received 50.2% in the new fourth.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad received 59.4% in the new fourth.

Christie Vilsack seems “in” for fourth district showdown

Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack and her husband, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (the current U.S. Agriculture Secretary), are moving to Ames, Iowa, and Vilsack has formed an “exploratory committee” to run for congress, in Iowa’s fourth congressional district.  That means she’d be running to unseat Congressman Sreve King, a Republican from Kiron.  Here is her statement:

Serving Iowa is both a privilege and a responsibility.  The decision to run for Congress deserves serious consideration.  Next month, I will move to Ames and continue to explore the possibility of representing Iowa in the US House of Representatives.  It’s important to listen to Iowa families about the issues they want addressed in Congress.  Hearing directly from citizens about their concerns and ideas is very important to me.  Too often in campaigns, it’s the other way around.  More than anything, this should be a discussion about Iowa values-the value of work, the value of opportunity and the value of community.   Input from fellow Iowans will help me make the best decision and will give our state a campaign focused on collaboration and results, encouraging a new way to do business in Washington.”  

Technically, she has formed an “exploratory committee” for congress, the ramping-up “toe-dipping” phrase with which you’ve become familiar because of all the presidential hopefuls who form exploratory committees enroute to a real, bona fide campaign aparatus. 

Yesterday, Republican Governor Terry Branstad said Christie Vilsack would be a “fish out of water” in the fourth district.  Last summer at the Iowa State Fair, Christie Vilsack talked about running for congress.

…Vilsack announced (in the fall of 2009) she had decided against running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Chuck Grassley. Vilsack said during an interview at the Iowa State Fair that she is considering “other options” like running for congress.

“I just turned 60, so timing is important — political timing as well as personal timing,” she said.  “It’ll be a whole new ballgame after the election and after redistricting, where we see the districts line up.”

The Iowa Legislature will redraw the congressional district lines in Iowa for the 2012 election and it’s likely Iowa will lose one of it’s five congressional seats due to population gains in other states.

“Nobody will actually have a claim on any particular district, I think, because it’ll be a whole new set of voters and a whole new set of constituents,” she said.

Being a first-time grandparent is one factor that’s pulling Vilsack in one direction. But Vilsack said women like her, who are in “the third part of their lives” are being recruited to run for office and she feels the tug toward putting her own name on the ballot after working a lifetime to elect others.

According to Vilsack, she’d enter a race with her “eyes open” to what it takes to run and win. “I know, which maybe makes the decision harder. If you have illusions or thinking that it’s glamorous — it’s not that I’m not optimistic, I just understand. I know how much hard work (is required),” Vilsack said.  “I know what the personal sacrifice is.”

 In December, Tom Vilsack indicated he would not step down as a caibnet secretary if his wife were to seek a seat in congress.  (He cited other examples of spouses who’ve worked in the two branches of the federal government at the same time.)

Branstad on Herman Cain, “The Donald” (AUDIO)

On Friday, Jennifer Jacobs of The Des Moines Register asked Governor Branstad what he thought of Herman Cain.  “He’s made a good impression,” Branstad said, among other things. “…I think he’s serious about this and you never know.”

“Is he more serious than “The Donald”? Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson (that’s me) asked as a follow up.

“Well, we’ll see,” Branstad said, dissolving into laughter along with those around him.  “You got me to break up on that one.  The Donald, as you call him, hasn’t been to Iowa yet, although he did send an aide here. But he’s going to have to come and spend some time…The way the system works, even though you might be a very successful business person and a TV personality, they still want to see you on the ground, in Iowa, meeting with real people and answering tough questions.”

Gov. Brandstad on Hermain Cain 1 min+

Branstad made his comments as he left Iowa Public Television in Johnston, Iowa, where he had taped a weekend appearance on Iowa Press.  Cain is due to speak at a TEA Party/SOAR (Save Our American Republic) rally late this morning in Des Moines.  Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is due to speak about an hour before Cain at the same rally.

Latham’s moving

Governor Branstad announced late this morning during a taping of IPTV’s Iowa Press program that he’ll sign the redistricting plan into law as soon as he gets an official copy of the bill from the legislature.  Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, announced about half an hour before Branstad’s declaration that he, Latham, would be moving into the new third congressional district.  Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, lives in the third, so that sets up a General Election show-down between the two incumbents in 2012.

Read Latham’s statement about moving (he doesn’t mention where, exactly, just that he’ll be moving into the third district):

Dear Friend: 
 
Thank you for your dedication, support and hard work on behalf of the great State of Iowa, the Republican Party and common-sense candidates at every level of government.  It is heartening to see the positive changes that are taking place in Iowa and in Washington, thanks in large part to your efforts in the successful elections of 2010.

Spending binges, massive debt, deficits and failed government stimulus experiments have left our country in a dire situation that continues to require tough choices. Even after only a few short months, it is clear that the status quo of the past few years in Des Moines and Washington is over.

In the Iowa Capitol, the Governor’s office and the United States Congress, the rush down the path of unsustainable spending, stifling economic mandates and overregulation has been reversed, putting us on a path back towards fiscal sanity. I know that Governor Branstad, Republicans in the Iowa Statehouse and Republicans in Congress are as committed as I am to changing the culture of the recent past.  We are committed to addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges by ending the spending binges to give Iowa and American families, farms and businesses the economic certainty they need and deserve to get our economy moving again.

There is no doubt that still too many Iowans wake up each day with their hearts and minds burdened with deep uncertainty as America works to recover from one of the most difficult economic periods in our lifetimes.  We must all be committed to working for and finding real solutions that will help – not hinder – Iowa main streets, farms and families to bring long-term growth to our economy and job market.

I am energized and dedicated to working hard to find common-sense solutions to the many challenges we face in Iowa and America because I know that the next generation of Americans deserves nothing less than a total commitment from us.  Our nation’s future depends on the actions we take today.  Kathy and I have all the hopes and prayers any parent and grandparent has for the safety and success of future generations.  That’s what keeps me motivated to work every single day I am on this earth to preserve, protect and expand the promise of the American Dream for every one of our country’s children and grandchildren.

As you know, Governor Branstad has announced that he will sign the state legislature’s approved redistricting map for the State of Iowa.  This new map significantly alters the Congressional boundaries for the 2012 general election.

I have never let map boundaries block the great honor I have felt in representing the interests of all Iowans in the United States Congress.  And, after thoughtful discussions with my family, friends and supporters over the past two weeks, I am writing to share with you my decision that I will be a candidate for Congress in Iowa’s new Third Congressional District in 2012. (This district includes Adair, Adams, Cass, Dallas, Fremont, Guthrie, Madison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor, Union and Warren Counties.)
 
This election is over a year-and-a-half away and I assure you that the time for campaigns and politics is not now – it is in the distant future.  More important than any campaign or election ahead is the work I and others will be doing in the coming weeks and months to ensure the economic, health and retirement security of all Americans.  Our top priorities must be promoting policies that protect and grow jobs in Iowa, rein in government debt and spending, and protect the promise of the American Dream for current and future generations.

I look forward to talking with you in the near future to discuss this decision and personally ask for your support of this decision.  In the meantime, please be assured that I will continue to do what I have always done during my service to Iowans in Congress – making sure that I actively listen to your voice, your opinions and your ideas.  I have always held the belief that if more of our government’s leaders in Washington, Iowa and at the local level actually listened to and worked with the people they represent, we would accomplish so much more as a whole.

Working together I know that our great state’s and nation’s best days lie ahead.
 
Sincerely,
 
Tom Latham

Branstad to host presidential candidate forum 11.1.11

The National Association of Manufacturers plans to host a candidate forum on 11.1.11 in Pella, Iowa, the home to Vermeer Manufacturing.  Vermeer’s president & CEO  is Mary Andringa.  Andringa is currently the board chair of the National Association of Manufacturers.  (Republicans who eventually convinced Terry Branstad to seek a fifth term as governor in 2010 had tried to get Andringa to run for governor.  She was among the advisors to Branstad’s 2010 campaign.)  Now, the question:  which candidates will agree to participate?

Washington, D.C., 04/13/11 –  The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and its Board Chair Mary Andringa will host a forum for the 2012 Republican presidential candidates in Pella, Iowa, on Nov. 1, 2011. The forum will be moderated by Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad.

Vermeer Corporation’s headquarters will be the site for this important discussion. Vermeer is a family-owned manufacturing company that produces construction, agricultural and environmental equipment. Its products are used on job sites in more than 60 nations around the globe. Vermeer Corporation also operates sales manufacturing facilities in several countries and employs more than 2,400 people worldwide.  Mary Andringa is Vermeer’s president and CEO and also serves as chair of the NAM Board of Directors.

“Manufacturing is vital to the American economy, and we expect issues that affect manufacturers – from tax reform to energy security to job growth – to play a central role in the presidential election,” said Vermeer Corporation President Mary Andringa. “We look forward to welcoming the candidates to Vermeer and learning about their visions for keeping manufacturing in America strong.” 

“I am pleased to have been asked to participate in Vermeer Corporation and the National Association of Manufacturers’ Republican presidential candidate forum,” said Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad. “This is an excellent opportunity for all of the candidates to discuss manufacturing, trade, tax reform and other issues that are critically important to the state of Iowa and the United States’ economic prosperity.”

The forum will provide an opportunity for the candidates to talk with manufacturers about their positions on critical issues. The NAM’s comprehensive “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America” outlines three goals to keep manufacturing in America competitive which include making the United States: the best country in the world to headquarter a company and attract foreign direct investment; the best country in the world to innovate, performing the bulk of a company’s research and development; and a great place to manufacture, both to meet the needs of the American market and serve as an export platform for the world.

“In today’s global economy, manufacturers are facing unprecedented challenges and costs imposed from Washington that hurt their ability to compete,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “We are excited to have the opportunity to discuss our goals for policies on taxes, trade and regulations that will promote sustained economic growth and job creation here in the United States.”

The major Republican candidates running for President in 2012 will be invited to participate in the forum. The NAM will also extend an invitation to President Obama to meet with manufacturers to discuss issues critical to manufacturing competitiveness.

The United States is the world’s largest manufacturing economy, producing 21 percent of global manufactured products. Nearly 12 million Americans are employed directly in manufacturing. Manufacturing in Iowa employs more than 200,000 people and accounts for more than 20 percent of Iowa’s economy.    

Former telecom exec wins senate confirmation vote

Several months ago Governor Brasntad asked retired telecom executive Teresa Wahlert (pronounced WAY-lert) to be director of the Iowa Workforce Development agency.  The Iowa Senate just voted 36-14 to confirm her for the job.   (She needed 34 yes votes/two-thirds of the senate for confirmation, so she had two votes to spare.)

The Senate today rejected the nonmination of Isaiah McGee to head the Iowa Department of Human Rights.  (Read more and listen to the debate here.) The senate also rejected attorney William Gustoff, one of Branstad’s nominees to the Judicial Nominating Commission.  Branstad, as governor, may appoint seven of the 15 members of the state Judicial Nominating Commission.  The Iowa State Bar Association determines the other seven members, so they’re lawyers.  So, Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids & an attorney) said Branstad should appoint “lay people” in the seven slots he has to fill on that panel.  Hogg also said Gustoff had a conflict of interest because Gustoff had agreed to be the Iowa attorney of record in a lawsuit filed by an out-of-state firm — a lawsuit that challenged the work of the Judicial Nominating Commission.  Once Branstad nominated him, Gustoff took himself off that case.

AUDIO: Human Rights chief loses senate confirmation vote

Isaiah McGee, the man Governor Branstad asked to serve as director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights, has failed to win senate confirmation to the job.  McGee needed the support of two-thirds of the senate.  The vote was 30 yes, 20 no.  McGee needs three more “yes” votes in order to win confirmation. (One of his supporters switched to a “no” at the last minute in order to be on the prevailing side and, as such, be able to file a motion to reconsider the vote.  So that means McGee had 31 yes votes today in reality, but not technically.)  (Listen to debate: McGeeVote mp3 runs 20 minutes)

“I personally have spent hours on this nomination,” Senator Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) said, adding McGee refused to repeatedly to back down from a so-called “gag order” he issued for department staff and commissions — until an email sent today said no one would face repercussions for speaking with legislators.  “…I have done a lot of soul-searching on this nomination.”

Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, called McGee one of the “most interesting and great candidates I have seen for this position….He grew up dealing with racism.  He grew up dealing with poverty…and he worked through those and became a great leader in one of our communities…What else do we want from someone on this commission?”

Feenstra expressed support for the “gag order”.

“Have you ever been head of a private busienss?  If you were the leader…I can only hope that you want all communication to go through you because you want to be lock-step with everybody in that organization, you want to say the same thing every time,” Feenstra said.

Feenstra said lack of a cohesive message “corrupts” an organization like the Department of Human Rights. “It will actually make the organization fail.  You have to have one voice and work together for these causes,” Feenstra said.

Feensdtra then hinted bigotry and racism may be behind this decision. “Really, really, do you want to take him down because supposedly he didn’t allow somebody to say something?…Is there more behind this?”  Feenstra said.

Senator Bill Dix defended McGee. “He has, at least in my opinion, been open with the senate,” Dix said. 

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, defended McGee.  “This is about politics rather than the person,” Zaun said.  “…I just hate to see this body take down another good man…He has made mistakes and he has corrected those mistakes.”

Jochum said anyone who cast a no vote “did not do so lightly.”

“Look folks, I am a woman. I am a mother. I have an adult child with disabilities, severe disabilities — 34 going on 2.  I can assure you in my lifetime I have personally witnesses discrimination against those with disabilities.  I have,” Jochum said at the beginning of her closing comments on the nomination.

“…This is not about politics.  This is plain and simply about open and transparent government and a director/nominee who several months ago did put a gag order on,.” she said.

UPDATE:  Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley has filed a “motion to reconsider” on McGee’s nomination.  It’s a parliamentary move, meaning McGee’s vote could be discussed again in the senate if four senators change their minds and vote for him.  The deadline for changing minds is April 15th.

Won’t go there, they say

There will not be a state government shut-down if the top two leaders in the Iowa Legislature have their way, they say.  (But there is the possibility of a shutdown of state operations if Governor Terry Branstad follows through on his threat to veto budget bills the legislature may send him over and over and over until he gets what he wants.)

The legislature’s top two leaders appear together on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.  The two offer their predictions about the prospect the redistricting plan will pass the legislature next week (probably will) and whether Branstad’s proposed double-digit increase in the state tax on casinos will pass (probably won’t).  A wide range of other topics, including a discussion of prospects for property tax relief were discussed.  Watch it tonight at 7:30 on IPTV or watch it online here.