Guest op-ed from Mary McAdams, chair of the Ankeny Area Democrats.
As we round the corner against COVID-19, our political leaders should remain focused on the critical issues facing Iowans today: public health, equity, and economic recovery. But instead, Republican lawmakers here in Iowa are wasting precious time pressing forward with legislation like HF 633 and SF 580, which aim to punish technology companies for “censoring” their conservative colleagues.
These two bills deserve no place on the priority list. Never mind the reality that these proposals are entirely unlikely to hold up in court, as Attorney General Tom Miller’s office recently noted. This is an attempt by Republicans at political retribution against the technology sector.
The misguided idea that tech companies harbor anti-conservative bias is nothing new. The rhetoric we’re hearing among Republicans here in Iowa is simply an extension of the Trump-era agenda, and the language mirrors what we’ve seen time and time again from right-wing voices like Bill Barr and Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Needless rhetoric against technology companies is just the latest in a string of conservative-driven agenda items. In states across the country, Republicans are restricting access to reproductive health services and rolling out a suite of tremendously problematic voter suppression proposals, making it even harder for underserved communities to participate in our democratic process. And in Washington, they continue to deny that the January 6 riots were indeed an insurrection, with 12 House members even voting against honoring the Capitol police for protecting Congress.
Such rhetoric is damaging for our region, especially when the technology industry is maintaining significant investments to drive growth in Iowa.
While I’m not a fan of doling out tax breaks for multi-million-dollar companies while largely ignoring the middle class, I’m against punishing companies for stopping false information from spreading that harms our democracy. Our talent pool is leaving the state for better economic opportunity. We need all of the help we can get – not legislation that hurts the incentive to live and grow in Iowa.
As it becomes clearer that the GOP is replacing recovery-centered priorities with posturing on low-priority issues, Democrats need to push back.
Withdrawing tax incentives from technology companies who have “censored” conservative voices is not a credible proposal that deserves the attention of Iowa’s political leadership — it’s retribution.
We cannot allow political posturing at a time when so many Americans are fighting for their lives and searching for jobs. Let’s address the real needs of our communities, not give an ounce of credibility toward distracting conservative vindictiveness.
by Mary McAdams
Iowa Starting Line is an independently owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.