Branstad joins lawsuit seeking to undo “ObamaCare”

Governor Branstad hired Brenna Findley as his legal counsel.  Findley, as you may recall, was the GOP candidate for attorney general who criticized Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (a Democrat) for failing to join lawsuits seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the national health care reform law.  Today is Branstad’s first full non-holiday day as governor (he was inaugurated on Friday and Monday was the Martin Luther King, Junior Holiday). Findley has completed the legal work for Branstad so the governor has signed onto Florida’s challenge of the health care reform law.  Read Branstad’s announcement, followed by reaction from Miller and others.

Gov. Branstad signs on to health care lawsuit on behalf of Iowans

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today signed on to Florida’s federal health care lawsuit, joining 27 other states in this effort, including Virginia, which filed their own lawsuit.

The lawsuit challenges the individual mandate that would force Iowans to buy the federal government’s mandated health insurance, as well as the Medicaid expansion that is costly to states, with its “one-size-fits-all” Medicaid approach that forces states to cut other critical programs.

“I am signing on to this suit as the governor on behalf of the people of Iowa, because I believe Iowa taxpayers deserve to be heard on this critical matter,” said Branstad. “As we begin constructing our five year budget, there is no doubt that the current federal health care law will shackle Iowa taxpayers for billions in unfunded mandates.”

Attached please find the filed motion and amended complaints which add the following states: Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Maine and Iowa. 

Attorney General’s Statement on Governor’s Health Care Lawsuit Sign-On

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  On November 19, 2010 Attorney General Tom Miller, representing the State of Iowa, joined in an Amici Curiae (friends of the Court) brief supporting the federal government’s argument that the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) is constitutional.  The brief stated that the law will help states fulfill their goals of protecting and promoting the health and welfare of their citizens.

“Congress, under the powers granted to it under the Commerce Clause, has the full authority to enact legislation like the ACA that has an enormous effect on interstate commerce,” Miller said.

Today, as Governor of Iowa, Governor Terry Branstad signed on in support of the State of Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al, lawsuit challenging the ACA.

According to Miller, the control and decision making concerning litigation involving the State of Iowa is within the authority of the Attorney General, not the Governor.  “However, in this unusual set of circumstances, given what is at stake for the public, Governor Branstad should have the ability to express his viewpoint as Governor,” Miller said.

The Governor’s action, subsequent to Attorney General Miller’s brief, puts Iowa in the position of both supporting and opposing the ACA.

[Read more…]

Deja vu all over again?

Governor Branstad made a verbal slip yesterday as he was signing a proclamation for Martin Luther King, Junior Day.  Branstad caught himself just before he declared this as the year 1911.

Today in Webster City, Pat Powers of KQWC reports U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley got a few chuckles from the crowd with this:

“I think that we have a wonderful opportunity right now with the president of China maybe right this minute meeting with President Reagan,” Grassley said, who corrected himself.  “I mean President Obama.” 

Grassley, who is so this century with Twitter, posted this tweet moments ago about his Webster City meeting:

Webster City Kiwanis. 46 peeps. Q&A Immoigration NoKorea church Iinvstigation SosSec FarmBill HealthCare China Energy

Branstad’s 2011 Inaugural for term #5 (AUDIO)

What follows is a live blog of the Inaugural of Governor Terry Branstad, the Republican who won a fifth term in November.  (Read the Radio Iowa story of today’s event and listen to Branstad’s speech here.)

At 9:12 a.m. the parade of dignitaries began.  The crowd stood but did not applaud as each of the four justices on the Iowa Supreme Court were introduced, followed by the members of the Iowa Court of Appeals.  The next people introduced were U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and his wife, Barbara, and the crowd applauded them.  The audience then applauded the rest of the dignitaries who were introduced: Congressman Leonard Boswell, former Governor Robert Ray, former Lieutenant Governors Joy Corning and Sally Pederson.

The parade continues, with the staff of Governor-elect Branstad being introduced. There was a brief pause before the crowd applauded the “State of Iowa Dep;artment heads”  The leaders of Iowa’s two political parties are here — Matt Strawn and Sue Dvorsky.

Legislative leaders are being introduced, to be followed by all the legislators who are here.  Just so you know, the event is already about 15 minutes behind schedule at this point.  Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines is the site for today’s festivities.  A wide red span of carpet covers the aisle through the middle of the sea of chairs.  The processional music for today’s festivities is being provided by the Iowa National Guard band.

Holy cow!  An email just came into my inbox.  Governor Chet Culver has just appointed another district court judge this morning (no, he didn’t appoint a supreme court justice).  So that may be Culver’s last official act.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung by John Cheatem. For the last two stanzas Linda Juckette joined him.  The two then sang God Bless America. Both have sung at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines.

The crowd just applauded as Chief Justice Mark Cady was introduced.  Archbishop Hanus was to deliver the invocation, but can’t be here for health reasons.  Bishop Amos, from Sioux City, gave the opening prayer in his place.

[Read more…]

Grassley defends Palin

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today defended former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin over criticism of a website which put gun sights over the districts of members of congress Palin suggested should be targeted in the 2010 election.

…“The intent of it was just to say, politically, we’re going to go after you,” Grassley says. “In 2004, Democrats had similar things on a map for particular states where they were targeting people.”

Grassley calls the Arizona shootings a “terrible situation” and says political activists need to stop looking for someone other than the shooter to blame.

“The word ‘targeted’ is part of the lexicon of chairmen of campaign committees, that ‘we’re after so-and-so,’ but they mean politically,” Grassley says. “They don’t mean to harm anybody physically.” 

Mayors, governors, senators — oh my!

This is a sort of Friday potpourri post, covering everything from the controversy swirling in Washington to the potential ’12ers who will be in Iowa soon. 

In case you missed it, short-time Governor Chet Culver and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie have issued statements in support of President Obama’s deal with the GOP on taxes.  (Cownie endorsed Obama before the ’08 Caucuses.) The chair of the Iowa Democratic Party took a slightly different slant than her two Democratic counterparts.  And Congressman Bruce Braley is the only one of Iowa’s three Democratic congressmen to issue a written statement on the subject. Braley hints he’s dismayed by the deal, but doesn’t come right out and say it. You can read all of those statements below.

Issued 12.9.10 @ 12:08 p.m.: Braley statement on tax cut negotiations

Washington, DC – Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement on the tax cut negotiations:

“As the tax cut package takes shape, I want to reiterate my support for a tax cut extension for every American family on incomes up to $250,000.  I continue to fight for an extension of unemployment benefits, especially during the holiday season.  I remain extremely concerned that extending Bush’s tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of Americans will explode the deficit.” 

“I continue to fight to cut taxes for Iowa’s families and I am working to ensure our future generations are not saddled with extreme debt.  I look forward to reading the legislative language produced on the bill before making a final decision on these important issues.”

Issued 12.9.10 @ 3:05 p.m.: Mayor T.M Franklin Cownie’s Statement on President Obama’s Tax Cuts for Amerlca’s Middle Class

Des Moines Mayor Cownie issued the following statement in response to President obarna’s economic incentive package for America’s middle class families.

“I want to commend President Obama for his leadership in securing tax cuts for America’s middle class, extending unemployment benefits forthe nation’s jobless, and providing important tax incentives for small businesses to create jobs. Preventing tax rates for the middle class from rising on January 1 and the payroll tax reduction that will take effect next year will put hard earned dollars back into family budgets in Des Moines and all across thecountrv, While we know that the President did not want to extend these benefits to the nation’s wealth lest and therefore worsen the federal deficit, we also know that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. The nation and its middle class working families need relief now. President Obama has demonstrated his leadership by pulling together an economic package that the country desperately needs.”

Issued 12.9.10 @ 3:53 p.m.: Governor Culver: President Obama is Working to Help Middle Class

Governor also calls for package to include extension of ethanol tax credits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Governor Chet Culver today said he supports President Obama’s efforts to extend unemployment insurance, tax cuts for working families and other tax incentives.

Culver, who is in Washington, D.C., as the chair of the National Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, is pushing to get an extension on ethanol tax credits. The Governor said he appreciates President Obama’s work.

“I am proud of the fact that the President is working for Iowa’s working families during these extraordinary times,” he said. “Without the extension, more than 8,000 Iowa families were going to lose their benefits during the holiday season.”

The Governor also is urging Congress to include in the final tax package the ethanol tax credits.

“This is critically important for creating new jobs in Iowa,” Culver said. “The ethanol industry is a growth industry that promises good-paying jobs for Iowans now and into the future.”

[Read more…]

Strawn to seek another round as Iowa GOP chair (AUDIO)

Republican Party of Iowa chairman Matt Strawn announced this morning (here’s a link to the audio that he intends to seek a second, two-year term as chairman.  Strawn has the backing of top Republicans.  Read their statements below:

Branstad releases statement on Chairman Strawn’s decision to seek re-election

(URBANDALE) – Gov.-elect Terry Branstad today issued the following statement in response to Iowa Republican Party Chair Matt Strawn’s decision to seek re-election as chairman:

“Matt Strawn has been an articulate and energetic leader for our party during the 2010 election cycle, and I am extremely pleased he has chosen to seek re-election as Republican Party chairman. There is no better advocate, ally and voice for Iowa Republicans as we prepare for the 2012 caucuses and general election.

“The Republican Party of Iowa has been stronger, more visible and imminently more successful since Matt Strawn became our leader. I am enthused about the opportunity to continue to work with him next cycle as we share the Republican message of more jobs, smaller and more efficient government, and better schools with the people of Iowa.”

[Read more…]

Branstad names a BVP insider as state agency chief

Governor-elect Terry Branstad and his transition team are making announcements this month about who has accepted Branstad’s job offer and agreed to lead key state agencies. A woman who was a key supporter of Branstad’s primary opponent Bob Vander Plaats has been named to a post in the Branstad Administration.  Read the release below:

Branstad names retired Brigadier General Jodi Tymeson as head of Department of Veterans Affairs

(URBANDALE) – Gov.-Elect Terry Branstad today announced that retired Brig. Gen. Jodi Tymeson will serve in the Branstad/Reynolds administration as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tymeson, served in the Iowa Army National Guard from 1974-2007. While there, she graduated from officer candidate school and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1982. She served as platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander and troop command commander – responsible for 3,450 soldiers.

She was selected to attend the Army War College as a national security fellow at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government, graduating in 1999. She is the first female promoted to brigadier general in the Iowa Army National Guard. She retired in 2007 with 33 years of service.

Tymeson’s husband, John, is a retired brigadier general, following his 34 years of military service. He is a Vietnam veteran, and currently serves as chair of the board of directors at the Food Bank of Iowa.

“Our National Guard troops are at their highest deployment since World War II, and Jodi has the knowledge and experience to understand their needs here at home,” said Gov.-elect Terry Branstad. “Jodi is an outstanding leader, and I am pleased she will be serving in this extremely important role within my administration.”

Tymeson also served as a full-time 6th grade teacher at Cedar Heights Elementary in Cedar Falls from 1988-1992, and taught as a substitute teacher from 1993-1998.

From 2001-2010, Tymeson served nearly 30,000 constituents as a state representative for Madison, Warren and Dallas Counties. She served as House Education Committee chair for four years, in addition to a number of other committee assignments.

“I’d like to thank Governor Branstad for this opportunity to serve veterans and their families, and I’d like to thank Patrick Palmersheim for his dedicated service over the years,” said Tymeson. “I look forward to working with the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs, the team at the Department, the county directors, and all the veteran organizations and advocates throughout the state. There is a strong network of people in Iowa working to support veterans and their families, and I look forward to working as part of that team. Iowans appreciate the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families, and we will do our best to serve them.”

Tymeson grew up in Boone County, and currently resides in Winterset with her husband, John.

In other transition news from the Branstad crew,  Branstad is keeping the head of the Iowa National Guard and he’s named one of the unsuccessful candidates on the 2010 statewide ballot to a state job.  No, it’s not Brenna Findley, the GOP candidate for attorney general.  It’s Dave Jamison, the GOP candidate for state treasurer. 

[Read more…]

Grassley, King differ on Pigford

Two Iowa Republicans have vastly different views on the “Pigford” case involving alleged USDA discrimination against black farmers. Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff issued a prepared statement late Tuesday, praising the steps taken, while Congressman Steve King has been howling about it for months.  On Monday King railed against a “very, very urban” senator’s involvement in the issue (former Senator Barack Obama) and “slavery reparations.”   [Read more…]

Turkey Week Tidbits

Thanksgiving 2010 has come and gone.  A quick review of the week’s political highlights:

  • Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made a stop in West Des Moines Saturday, part of a nationwide tour promoting her new book.  Hundreds waited in line, including her first boss.  Palin will be at the Walmart in Spirit Lake, Iowa, on December 2 for another book signing event.
  • Iowa Governor-elect Terry Branstad is neutral, for now, on the 2012 presidential race.  He endorsed Bob Dole in 1996, but was neutral in the ’88 race which was during Branstad’s second term as governor.
  • One political party has chosen its nominee for the special election in state senate district 48 — to replace Kim Reynolds of Osceola.  (Reynolds is the lieutenant governor-elect of Iowa.)  Republican Joni Ernst of Red Oak, the Montgomery County Auditor, was selected at a nominating convention.   Democrats in the district will hold a nominating convention on December 1.   Senate District 48 includes Montgomery, Adams, Union, Clarke, Taylor, Ringgold, and Decatur Counties.
  • Chuck Grassley’s Twitter account is becoming a ticker for UNI scores. 
  • John Bolten’s 2008 visit with Iowa delegates at the Republican National Convention wasn’t a fluke.  The former United Nations ambassador says he’s mulling a bid for the presidency.  Fred Karger, a retired political consultant who is gay, wants to be the first gay presidential candidate.  Karger spent $1000 to run an ad on FOX News Channel on 7 Iowa cable systems this past week.   The 90-second spot probably aired 10 times, total, based on that buy.  (Karger pronounces his name KAR-ger — a hard G sound.)
  • Gentry Collins, a political operative with a lot of Iowa on his resume, wants to become the Republican National Committee’s chairman.
  • Iowa First Lady Mari Culver hints her husband’s job search may be outside of Iowa.
  • Although this was posted on November 18 — before Thanksgiving week) — and it really has nothing to do with politics, you should still read what Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Todd Dorman wrote about the demise of the phone book.  In my childhood home we kept our phone book tucked behind the potted plant on the kitchen counter that was to the left of the refrigerator.  In my current home, the yellow pages are on a shelf in a kitchen cupboard that’s to the left of the refrigerator

Listen to the new House leaders for 2011

House Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen and House Majority Leader-elect Linda Upmeyer held a news conference late this morning at the statehouse.  Listen here.

Cutting the current year’s state budget is priority #1 for House Republicans.  Paulsen says they’ll have to crunch the numbers, but he’s aiming for “hundreds of millions” in cuts.  Democrats appear to be holding a slim 26-23 majority in the Iowa Senate, so it’s unclear whether a “deappropriations” bill would clear both the House and Senate.  Therefore, if Republican Governor-elect Terry Branstad wants to pare the current year’s state budget, he may be forced to issue an executive order making an across-the-board cut.

Upmeyer also talked about being the first woman elected as a floor leader in the Iowa House. 

[Read more…]