The promise by Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix to “kick in the door of government” should leave no question about the Iowa Senate Republican leadership’s extreme agenda. Senator Dix’s threat certainly sounds like a declaration of war on moderation, cooperation and compromise. Democrats knew losing control of the Senate in the 2016 election would likely result in a flood of radical Republican proposals. However, this sounds more like a slash and burn assault on the very basic foundations of state government.
Senator Dix has proposed across-the-board Iowa income tax cuts as his prime government target. Senator Dix is ignoring the current budget shortfall of $100 million and proposing additional tax cuts that would put the financial health of Iowa at risk. It’s clear he is putting his radical ideology ahead of sound fiscal budgeting. His fanatic focus on tax cuts jeopardizes Iowa education funding priorities, threatens water cleanup efforts and would imperil promises made to cities and counties to assist them in local shortfalls from the last big tax cut.
His intentions should come as no surprise since in 2015 Senator Dix proposed in a presentation to a business alliance that his long term goal was to eliminate both the state income tax and corporate taxes. This should give Democrats an opening to expose the real Republican’s “kick in the door of government” philosophy. That isn’t just kicking in the door, this is burning down state government as we know it.
The public can gage how outrageous Dix’s agenda will be by the reaction from other Republicans to his proposals. You expect Democrats to speak out in opposition, but when other Republicans caution moderation, it’s obvious how outrageous they consider Senator Dix’s agenda.
Governor Branstad, no shrinking violet toward tax cuts, warned that tax-slashing proposals would be unsustainable in this economy. It’s obvious Senator Dix is still living in the past, still stuck on the failed theory of “trickle down” tax cuts stimulating the economy. Even Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, another staunch conservative, offered a moderate alternative of tax simplification as opposed Senator Dix’s tax cutting. When the Republican Governor and the Republican Leader in the House warn Senator Dix that his proposals are fiscally dangerous you realize how extreme an agenda Senate Dix plans to pursue.
Democratic Leader Senator Hogg reminded the incoming Iowa Republican leaders of the Kansas Republican’s reckless gamble with tax cuts in 2012. Republican Governor Brownback and the Republican Legislature cut both Kansas income taxes and some corporate taxes. They promised those tax cuts would create an economic stimulus that would more than pay for the lost revenue and create thousands of new jobs.
The Kansas Republicans’ irresponsible tax cuts resulted in a nightmare for the state budget. The tax cuts created a giant budget shortfall forcing the state to divert $1 billion dollars from road funds, spend nearly all of their $700 million cash reserves and cut millions of dollars from their state universities. Kansas lost a net 700 jobs last year and ranked sixth worst in growth among all states. So much for the failed Kansas Republican theory of “trickle down” economics. This is the same disastrous plan Senator Dix is proposing for Iowa.
Senator Dix’s tax proposals are just a part of the Republicans’ grand assault on Iowa traditions of good government. Their plans include overruling local control by cutting the minimum wage in the four counties that passed increases. They are already attacking public employees by demanding police, firefighters, teachers and other public union employees give up their hard won rights to health insurance as a part of their contracts. Republicans have targeted women’s health care as well by vowing to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and further restrict women’s reproductive rights. They are following the example set by Republicans in other states to restrict voting rights by requiring unnecessary identification requirements. Adequate school funding appears to be on the chopping block once again after several years of miserly appropriations. Cleaning up Iowa’s contaminated and impaired lakes and rivers will probably be placed at the back of the list of priorities with so much under attack.
This Republican agenda is anti-union, anti-woman, anti-education, anti-environment and anti-democratic that will reverse much of the progress Iowan’s have achieved over the last 50 years. Is this the agenda Iowans voted for when they gave the Republicans control?
Democrats must make their voices heard and oppose the Republicans’ extreme agenda. We must hold Republicans accountable and be certain the public fully understands the consequences of Republican effort to kick in the door of government. Democrats must make Republicans pay a political price for their attacks on good government. It will require every Democrat to get involved in order to stop this assault on the values we hold dear. Democrats must raise their voices in support of Senator Hogg and House leader Mark Smith as well as every other Democratic legislator. They will need our support as they fight for us.
by Rick Smith