Republican Trifecta doesn’t work for ordinary Iowans


by Ralph Scharnau

Iowa Republicans controlling the legislative and executive branches of state government impacted the state in several ways. They have used their dominance to create policies, programs and tax regimes that favor the wealthy and big business.

This amounts to a classic example of supporting the haves rather than the have-nots. Over the past five years, Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers have erected roadblocks to improving conditions for large numbers of Iowans.

Governor Reynolds and Republican lawmakers specifically enacted anti-union legislation. They ended state collection of union dues for public sector employees. They also limited bargaining to only base salaries and not many other terms and conditions of employment.

When it comes to gun control, Reynolds champions Iowa’s gun laws. After a fatal March 7 shooting outside East High School in Des Moines, some Democratic lawmakers, pastors and gun safety advocates have called for tougher gun laws in Iowa. Reynolds responded by blaming the education system for failing students. And she sees no need to strengthen Iowa’s gun laws, which she already finds unnecessarily burdensome. The state has actually enacted laws lowering the age of handgun use to 14 and removing the permits required for the purchase of firearms.

On March 1, Reynolds signed a sweeping tax cut into law. This lowers the state income tax rate until all Iowans pay a flat rate of 3.9% beginning in 2026. Under the new law, millionaires would have to receive an estimated $67,000 in tax relief, but those earning the median income will receive about $600 in reductions, according to Department of Revenue Analysis. The measure also eliminates the state’s progressive income tax system where wealthier people pay higher rates than lower-income Iowans.

Reynolds actually signed three major tax cuts during his time as governor. Tax cuts primarily benefit a wealthy elite and big business. In short, people with high incomes pay much less while those with modest or low incomes pay proportionally more.

All of this is happening against a backdrop of rising inflation. The hardest hit are wage earners and those living on a fixed income.

Controlled by Republicans, the state leaves workers and retirees to fend for themselves mostly, offering them few means to cope with their hardship. Despite persistent objections from Democrats, the state has therefore failed to put in place support measures, monetary and programmatic, designed to help large numbers of Iowans.

On March 3, Reynolds signed a law banning transgender girls and women from playing women’s sports, making Iowa the 11th state in the nation to impose some form of restriction on transgender female athletes. The legislation has drawn a firestorm of criticism from transgender Iowans, LGBTQ advocacy groups, businesses and Democrats who say it discriminates against transgender girls and violates civil rights laws. Legal experts expect the law to end up in court.

The law requires that school-sponsored sporting events be designated as men’s, women’s, or mixed sports. Athletes competing in women’s sports must have a female gender on their birth certificate. There is no similar prohibition for men’s sports.

The above represents a sampling of the ways the dominant political party in the state conducts its version of state affairs. The cited evidence indicates the inclination of state Republicans to favor certain beliefs or opinions.

Depending on how state voters react in the upcoming gubernatorial and midterm elections, there could be a political realignment. This would alter the trajectory of state leadership, policies and programs.

Ralph Scharnau
March 30, 2022

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