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December 13th, 2013

The U.S. House Passes Budget Deal – The Friday Roundup

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a two-year budget deal on Thursday afternoon.  The bill, which was widely criticized by conservatives, passed the chamber by a vote of 332 to 94.  Congressman Steve King was the only member of the Iowa delegation to vote against the measure.  Congressman Tom Latham joined his two Democrat colleagues, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, voting in favor of the budget deal.

Latham was quick in sending out a statement following the vote.

I have always been dedicated to supporting common sense solutions that transcend politics and provide results that end wasteful spending, gets our debt under control and deliver a more efficient, effective and accountable government. To claim that this budget blueprint would achieve all of those goals would be nothing more than empty rhetoric – because it won’t.

What I can honestly say is that this budget blueprint is a step in the right direction.  It begins permanent reforms of mandatory spending and reduces the deficit. Most importantly, this budget blueprint ends Washington’s recent and broken cycle of governing from crisis to crisis that risks America’s future and the trust of Americans in their leaders.

And, rather than repeatedly funding inefficient and wasteful federal programs through continuing resolutions, this blueprint gives us the ability for the first time in four years to make smart and targeted reforms that deliver more accountability to hardworking Americans.

I acknowledge and share the distrust with Washington by the overwhelming majority of Americans – it has unfortunately been well-earned.  However, to move our country forward again, we have to start somewhere, and we have to start in the reality of finding common ground in a divided government.  While not the perfect solution based on my core principles – it is a start and one that I honestly believe Washington is sorely in need of pursuing.

Latham’s vote may anger some conservative Republicans, but it’s becoming clear that there is a more pragmatic approach taking hold in the nation’s capitol following the government shutdown a few months ago.  While Iowa’s congressional delegation was split on the budget deal, Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate were either silent as a church mouse on the topic or opposed to it.

Sam Clovis was the first candidate to weigh in on the budget deal orchestrated by Paul Ryan.

 Caving by allowing the automatic sequester spending cuts to be reduced in this budget deal is sending our country in the wrong direction,” said Sam Clovis. The structure of the deal may avoid a pending government shutdown, but it does nothing to deal with our ever-increasing debt. “This ‘budget compromise’ raises taxes, does not curb spending, nor does it help our overall economy,” stated Clovis. “This is a horrible deal, and as usual, the politicians in Washington do not seem to be connected to the real world.

Matt Whitaker echoed Clovis’ statement:

As Iowa’s next US Senator, I would not vote to support the proposed budget ‘deal’ being considered by the Congress. The proposal only continues to mortgage our children’s futures – it does nothing to rein in out of control spending and increasing debts and deficits; it does nothing to reduce the expansion of a bloated federal government; it does nothing to jump start our economy and put Americans back to work.

This continues to be business as usual for Washington politicians. No one willing to make the tough choices and show true leadership.  As Iowa’s next US Senator, I will fight for true debt reduction and spending cuts. I will stand on core conservative principles to preserve our Constitution and fight to change the political culture in Washington, for all Iowans and their children and families.

Mark Jacobs commented about the budget deal on his campaign Facebook page, but instead of stating his position on the controversial proposal he instead chose to steer the conversation to the main talking point of his campaign – jobs.

Jacobs wrote, “A budget deal may have been reached, but it does not address the real issues: too much debt & not enough jobs. DC lawmakers play politics to divert our attention from the lack of actual solutions.”

David Young and Joni Ernst have not issued any public statements on the budget compromise.

Who’s Team is Ruth Harkin on?

Ruth Harkin, the wife of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, is in her second term on the Board of Regents.  The Board of Regents is responsible for overseeing the activities of the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.  So, it surprised some people when Harkin and her husband were seen sitting in the Drake University section on Saturday night at the Big Four Classic in Des Moines.

The Harkins threw a hissy fit when Iowa State said the Harkin Institute would have to adhere to the same rules and procedures as any other entity within the college.  The Harkins ultimately took their institute and went to Drake instead.  So, I guess it would be fair that the only team Ruth is on is her own.

How ironic is it that Senate Democrats wouldn’t confirm two of Branstad’s appointees to the Board of Regents last spring, but Republicans have confirmed Harkin twice?  I bet some of them wish they could have that vote back now.

Bertrand Calls Out Gronstal for Playing Politics with the Gas Tax.

You know it’s a good press release when you don’t feel like you need to re-write anything.  Good for Bertrand for calling a spade, a spade.

SIOUX CITY – Sioux City State Senator Rick Bertrand blasted Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal Thursday for his recent comments blaming Governor Branstad in holding up gas tax discussions. Senator Gronstal’s criticism of Governor Branstad blocking legislative discussion on the gas tax is completely hypocritical, Bertrand said.

“When I heard Mr. Gronstal’s comments I had to laugh…what a joke,” Bertrand said. “Iowans need to know we, in the Senate, had a gentleman’s agreement going into the 2012 elections not to use the gas tax as a campaign issue. We all understood the importance of this infrastructure issue. We recognize any future discussion of the gas tax has to be a bipartisan, and inserting it into any campaign would be toxic for future discussions.

“However, the reality is when things got tight in multiple Senate races, Gronstal made a choice to specifically use the gas tax to attack Republican candidates who were open and on the record for supporting a possible gas tax increase.”

Bertrand added, “Specifically, when Mike saw his Democrat majority in jeopardy in the waning weeks of the 2012 campaign, he decided to run multiple TV and radio ads against Republican incumbents Senator Merlin Bartz (who eventually lost) and Senator Tim Kapucian as well as newcomer Mark Segebart. These are the facts.”

In closing, Bertrand said, “The people of Iowa need to know the truth. The idea Leader Gronstal vilifies the Governor is not only hypocritical, but downright dishonest.”

Planned Parenthood goes gay.

This is a recent advertisement from a Des Moines Register publication.  It looks like the nation’s main abortion provider is now trying to corner the market on STDs.  I thought the media said that there were no health risks to those who practice a homosexual lifestyle?

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What are the U.S. Senate Candidates up to?

It’s been a relatively quiet month for the U.S. Senate candidates.  December is always a tricky month as most people are focused on the holidays and not campaigns.  Candidates are also busy trying to raise money before the end of the year.  Below is a list of some recent campaign activity for each candidate.

Sam Clovis is on the ballot. 

The Clovis campaign announced that it has amassed enough signatures to place his name on the primary ballot in June.  Clovis is the first candidate to qualify for the primary ballot.  While some may say, “big deal,” the Clovis campaign continues to show that it is busy building a grassroots organization, which is a lot more than can be said about some of the other campaigns.

Joni Ernst raises big money in Des Moines.

It’s been a quiet month for Joni Ernst, but it appears that her campaign focused on fundraising.  On Tuesday night, the campaign held a fundraising event at Catchfire Media in downtown Des Moines.  The special guest at the event was Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and the fundraiser was chaired by a who’s who of Republican donors, Gary Kirke, Bruce Rastetter, Michael Richards, and Cam Sutton.  Hosts for the event either raised or gave $5,200.  The co-host level was $2,600, sponsors $1,000, and it cost $250 to attend.

The founder of Catchfire Media is Jon Troen, who is a partner in a new venture called Redwave Digital with long-time Republican operative David Kochel.  Redwave Digital is a data and digital marketing firm.  Last week, Tim Albrecht, Governor Branstad’s Communications Director, left the office to be the new firm’s director.

Mark Jacobs by mail, radio, and land.

Jacobs hasn’t let up after formally entering the U.S. Senate race a couple of weeks ago.  Earlier this week, the Des Moines Register reported that Jacobs was releasing a 60 second radio ad to help introduce himself to Iowans.  Later in the week, I received a fundraising letter in my mailbox that did the same thing.

Jacobs held a campaign breakfast in Iowa City on Wednesday morning, I thought about going, but the idea of getting up at 5:30 in the morning to drive an hour and a half to Coralville in below zero degree weather just didn’t entice me.  Jacobs held a Christmas Party at his new campaign headquarters in West Des Moines on Thursday night.

Whitaker reaches out to Cyclone fans for votes.

Last week, Whitaker hit the road visiting a number of small businesses.  Over the weekend he took in some hoops at the Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena.  State Senator Jack Whitver posted a picture of Whitaker holding a cardboard Cy head over his face.  Whitver wrote on his Facebook page, “At Big 4 classic and I got my friend Matt Whitaker to root for the Cyclones!”  Doubt that’s going to happen tonight with Iowa and Iowa State face off in the biggest basketball game we have seen in this state in years.

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David Young keeps piling up the miles.

It’s been a rather quiet month for David Young, but he continues to be a road warrior.  Young was at the Scott County Republican Women’s luncheon this week in Davenport.  This candidate doesn’t make a lot of noise, but he’s really good at showing up at all the right places.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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