MEMO: Congratulations to Koch-crony Joni

To: Interested Parties
From: Brad Woodhouse, President of American Bridge 21st Century
Re: Congratulations to Koch-crony Joni
Date: Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Congratulations to Joni Ernst. Last night she captured the Tea Party Senate nomination in Iowa, and all she had to do was oppose the minimum wage, “philosophically” oppose renewable fuel standards, and flatter the billionaire, out-of-state Koch brothers.

Ernst faced a slew of conservative candidates in the Republican primary, but ultimately, her extreme record prevailed. You can’t question her Tea Party bona fides–in addition to opposing a federal minimum wage altogether, she thinks shifting a greater tax burden onto the middle class is “a great way to go.” She has made the case for privatizing Social Security, supported Paul Ryan’s budget to gut Medicaid and voucherize Medicare, and called for the elimination of Renewable Fuel Standards along with all other taxpayer subsidies. Her position on every one of those issues is in lockstep with the Koch agenda, and she even co-sponsored a personhood amendment, which would make some forms of contraception illegal and take away a woman’s right-to-choose even in the case of rape or incest. What more could a Tea Partier ask for?

Now, general election voters in Iowa can enjoy five months of getting to know Koch-crony Joni and her anti-middle class agenda.

Background

ERNST TIES TO KOCH BROTHERS

Received Koch Donations

Ernst Was The Only Candidate Who Received Donations From The Koch Brothers’ Network. According to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, “While Ernst is the only candidate attracting donors affiliated with the Koch brothers, she is not alone in getting large donations from out-of-state donors.” [Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, 2/23/14]

  • Ernst Received More Than $20,000 From Koch Brothers’ Network Of Donors. According to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, “But within the out-of-state donors, Ernst has attracted attention from some high-profile activists. Following Ernst’s attendance at a seminar put on by Charles and David Koch last year, she has attracted donors affiliated with the Koch brothers’ network of political connections. Ernst received a scant $4,500 — out of $202,744 raised — from donors with affiliations with the right-leaning libertarian Koch brothers during the most recent filing. But she has previously gotten more than $20,000 from influential figures with ties to a meeting put on by the brothers.” [Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, 2/23/14]

Thanked Koch-Backed Americans For Prosperity

Ernst Thanked Americans For Prosperity For Running Anti-Braley Ads. According to a Facebook post by state Sen. Joni Ernst, Ernst said, “Thankful AFP – Iowa is highlighting Bruce #BraleysObamacare with a new television ad! Time for Braley to own up to the broken promises he made to Iowans. #IASEN” [Joni Ernst – Facebook, 1/15/14]

August 2013: Ernst Attended A Koch Seminar. “The 2014 potential of AfP, Freedom Partners and the other groups in the network depends in large part on the reception they get at this weekend’s gathering – the annual winter installment in the Kochs’ long-running series of twice-a-year meetings. […] The last seminar, held in August outside Albuquerque, N.M., drew Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Iowa state legislator Joni Ernst, who is running in a crowded GOP Senate primary.” [Politico, 1/24/14]

SUPPORTED TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICH

Supported FairTax, Which Would Primarily Benefit The Rich

Ernst Said She Was “Very Intrigued” By The Fair Tax. According to the Iowa Republican, a conservative blog, “I found it interesting that Joni Ernst stated she was ‘very intrigued’ by the Fair Tax. All of the candidates favor a simple tax code, but no one candidate in Iowa has really taken up the mantle of the Fair Tax during a campaign since Mike Huckabee in the 2008 Iowa Caucus. Congressman Steve King is a big proponent of the idea, but he has not made it a centerpiece of his most recent campaigns.” [Iowa Republican, 9/6/13]

Ernst Said The Fair Tax Was “A Great Way To Go.” Ernst: “We need reform all the way around. And to do that, you would have to institute a fair tax. So I would say I’m intrigued by the fair tax. I think it’s a great way to go. […] A flat tax is also a great idea and something we need to think about.” [Crawford County GOP Forum, 9/5/13]

  • FairTax Would Be A Single-Rate, Federal Retail Sales Tax Set At 23 Percent. According to FairTax.org, “The FairTax is a single-rate, federal retail sales tax collected only once, at the final point of purchase of new goods and services for personal consumption. Used items are not taxed. Business-to-business purchases for the production of goods and services are not taxed. A rebate makes the effective rate progressive. […] Because the 23-percent FairTax rate of $0.23 on every dollar spent is not imposed on necessities, an individual spending $30,000 pays an effective tax rate of only 15.5 percent, not 23 percent. […] The proper tax rate has been carefully worked out; 23 percent does the job of: (1) raising the same amount of federal funds as are raised by the current system, (2) paying the universal rebate, and (3) paying the collection fees to retailers and state governments.” [FairTax, Accessed 9/13/13]
  • FairTax Would Replace Federal Income Taxes. According to FairTax.org, “The FairTax is replacement, not reform. It replaces federal income taxes including personal, estate, gift, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment, and corporate taxes.” [FairTax, Accessed 9/13/13]
  • Tax Professionals Regarded The Fair Tax As Impractical And Regressive. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The sales tax proposal has been around for years but languished on the fringes of practical politics and policy. Tax professionals generally regard the idea as impractical, regressive and even ‘crackpot,’ as one critic puts it.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/07]
  • The 2005 Presidential Advisory Panel On Federal Tax Reform Rejected The Fair Tax Because It Could Cost $600 Billion A Year. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The 2005 Presidential Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform soundly rejected the idea. […] Critics argue that this aspect of the plan would create an unwieldy new government program akin to welfare. A report by the president’s tax-reform panel said such a program could cost $600 billion a year — ‘which would make it America’s largest entitlement program,’ the report said.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/07]
  • Critics Said Fair Tax Would Primarily Benefit The Rich. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Even with the subsidies to poor families, critics argue, the tax would primarily benefit the rich because they save the largest share of their income.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/07]
  • Independent Analysts Said The Tax Would Have To Be Far Higher Than 23 Percent To Maintain The Government At 2007 Levels. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Independent analyses have concluded that the tax would have to be far higher than 23% to maintain the government at current levels — especially if Congress did not eliminate popular tax breaks, such as the mortgage-interest deduction. William G. Gale, a tax expert at the centrist Brookings Institution think tank, estimates that the levy could run as high as 50% — a tax so steep that it would be an invitation to mass tax evasion. ‘It’s a crackpot plan,’ said Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and former Treasury Department official who is a leading critic of the sales tax. ‘Anyone who supports it should not be taken seriously.’” [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/07]

SUPPORTED ELIMINATING RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD (RFS)

Supported Eliminating RFS As Part Of Effort To End All Energy Subsidies

Ernst Supported Eliminating RFS, As Long As It Was Eliminated Alongside Taxpayer Subsidies For All Sectors At The Same Time. According to an interview of state Sen. Joni Ernst by Iowa Public Radio, “[Q:] The proposed changes to the renewable fuel standard seem to signal that the administration may move away from grain-based alternatives to conventional fuels. What would you do in Washington to work in a bipartisan manner on the energy policy that would benefit Iowans and still have national appeal? [Ernst:] As the only rural candidate in this race, the members of Iowa’s agricultural community are more to me than just parts of our state’s economy. They are my neighbors, friends, and family. This particular issue is of great significance to me personally. I don’t believe that the government should be picking winners and losers. Bottom line, I am philosophically opposed to taxpayer subsidies. If we are going to end them, it must be done across the board, every sector at the same time. Until that day comes, I am going to continue to stand in defense of the renewable standard and related programs. I would work in bipartisan fashion to make sure that we maintain that renewable fuel standard and make sure that subsidies go away.” [Iowa Public Radio, 6/1/14]

December 26, 2013: When Initially Asked About Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), Ernst Said “We Want People To Choose Products That Work For Them And Not Have Them Mandated By The United States Government.” According to an opinion piece by Christopher Rants, published in the Sioux City Journal, “Three days earlier, at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum held in Sioux City,Ernst and Whitaker were asked about the RFS. In this less-partisan crowd, Ernst said, ‘There’s a number of things, a number of industries, out there that we need to look at, but I agree that it does have to be free-market driven. I think that that is very important also, and we will get to that point someday and I’m certain of it. We want people to choose products that work for them and not have them mandated by the United States government, and we are well on our way.’” [Christopher Rants – Sioux City Journal, 12/29/13]

  • December 29, 2013: When Asked For Clarification, Ernst Said She Supported Ending All Energy Subsidies, Including RFS. According to an opinion piece by Christopher Rants, published in the Sioux City Journal, “But the statements aren’t clear. So I contacted the campaigns of Young, Ernst and Whitaker over Christmas and asked a simple question: ‘Does your candidate support or oppose the RFS?’ […] Team Ernst replied: ‘Joni Ernst does not believe the government should pick winners and losers in our economy, and therefore, from a philosophical standpoint, she does not believe in taxpayer subsidies. However, she believes if we were to end these subsidies, it would have to be done across the board, for every sector at the exact same time – meaning until and unless that day comes, Joni will passionately stand in defense of RFS.’ A much better answer than earlier this month, so we’ll hold her to it. I know Gov. Branstad will.” [Christopher Rants – Sioux City Journal, 12/29/13]

December 31, 2013: Ernst Responded To An Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Survey, Saying She Did Not Believe In Taxpayer Subsidies. According to a letter to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) from state Sen. Joni Ernst, obtained via IRFA’s official website, Ernst said, “While I do not believe the government should pick winners and losers in our economy, and from a philosophical standpoint I do not believe in taxpayer subsidies, I do believe that if we were to end these subsidies, it would have to be done across the board, for every sector at the exact same time – meaning until and unless that day comes, I will passionately stand in defense of RFS and other related programs” [Joni Ernst – Letter To Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, 12/31/13]

RFS Is Important To Iowa

Mason City Globe Gazette Editorial: Ethanol Lowered Iowa’s Gas Prices, Supported Iowa’s Farmers And Created Iowan Jobs. According to an editorial published by the Mason City Globe Gazette, “Ask Iowa motorists and farmers, and there’s no going back on ethanol. The 10-percent blend is selling for considerably less than regular unleaded gasoline, and farmers are reaping the harvest of acres planted to corn for the fuel. So we’re OK by that; in fact, we understand and appreciate the economic boost ethanol has given our area by providing good-paying jobs in ethanol plants and their construction.” [Editorial – Mason City Globe Gazette, 11/20/13]

Mason City Globe Gazette Editorial: Ethanol Industry Was Right For Iowa, Was Important For Energy Independence And Iowan Agribusiness. According to an editorial published by the Mason City Globe Gazette, “But the ethanol industry seems right for Iowa. We are a state that understands farming, and understands the importance of protecting our vital soil and water. We are also increasingly playing an important role in alternate energy, with wind towers seemingly growing as quickly as the corn stocks. Ethanol continues to play an important part of that effort at energy independence. It continues to play an important role in Iowa agribusiness.” [Editorial – Mason City Globe Gazette, 11/20/13]

Gov. Terry Branstad Said That Cutting RFS Could Cost Nearly 45,000 Jobs. According to the Des Moines Register, “In November, the EPA said it planned to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel that must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply this year, a recommendation that has angered renewable fuel proponents. Branstad and other leaders say the Renewable Fuel Standard has helped create rural jobs, helped support rural communities and helped boost prices for corn and soybeans. Governors from Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota joined Branstad last month in writing U.S. leaders to reconsider cutting the mandate. ‘Iowans, and Midwesterners, deserve the opportunity to make the case for their futures,’ Branstad said in a news release. ‘We believe it is necessary to host this public hearing for Iowans and other Midwesterners to enable them to more easily provide comments on the EPA’s proposal, which could cost nearly 45,000 jobs, have a negative ripple effect through the U.S. economy and would hinder consumer choice at the pump.’” [Des Moines Register, 1/11/14]

Branstad Said RFS, An Ethanol Mandate, Was “Extremely Important” To Preserve Iowa’s Farm Economy, Protect Jobs And The Environment. According to the Des Moines Register, “Branstad told reporters at his weekly news briefing he strongly opposes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal last week to scale back how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline. The mandate is known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. ‘Let me put it this way, I believe that preserving the RFS is extremely important to preserving this state’s farm economy,’ and important to protecting jobs and the environment, Branstad said. ‘I believe the EPA is making a huge mistake and that needs to be reversed.’” [Des Moines Register, 11/26/13]

Ernst Is Supported By American For Prosperity, A Group That Opposes The Renewable Fuel Standard

Ernst Thanked Americans For Prosperity For Running Anti-Rep. Bruce Braley Ads. According to a Facebook post by state Sen. Joni Ernst, Ernst said, “Thankful AFP – Iowa is highlighting Bruce #BraleysObamacare with a new television ad! Time for Braley to own up to the broken promises he made to Iowans. #IASEN” [Joni Ernst – Facebook, 1/15/14]

Americans For Prosperity Strongly Supported Permanently Eliminating RFS. According to testimony from Christine Harbin Hanson, Federal Affairs Manager for Americans for Prosperity, during a public hearing by the Environmental Protection Agency, “AFP strongly supports efforts to permanently eliminate the RFS.” [Christine Harbin Hanson – Public Hearing Testimony, 12/5/13]

ERNST SUPPORTED PERSONHOOD AMENDMENT

2013: Ernst Co-Sponsored A So-Called Personhood Amendment To Iowa Constitution. In April 2010, Ernst co-sponsored a joint resolution that proposed “an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa relating to the inalienable right to life.” The motion was referred to the Senate Rules & Administration Committee. No further action was taken. [Senate Joint Resolution 10, 4/29/13; Journal of the Senate, 4/29/13]

  • Resolution Would Have Recognized And Protected The Right To Life At “Any Stage Of Development.” According to the text of the resolution, “The inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected.” [Senate Joint Resolution 10, 4/29/13]
  • Resolution Would Have Put A Personhood Amendment Up To A Referendum. According to the text of the resolution, “The foregoing proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa is referred to the general assembly to be chosen at the next general election for members of the general assembly and the secretary of state is directed to cause the proposed amendment to be published for three consecutive months previous to the date of that election as provided by law.” [Senate Joint Resolution 10, 4/29/13]

Potential Effects

New York Times: Personhood Amendments “Would Essentially Deem Abortion And Some Types Of Birth Control Murder.” According to the New York Times, “The Democratic offensive is built around statements by Mr. Romney that some have linked to a proposed constitutional amendment in Mississippi, which among other things would effectively make illegal certain types of birth control. Under the measure, known as a ‘personhood’ amendment, a fertilized human egg would be declared to be a legal person. The amendment, which would essentially deem abortion and some types of birth control murder, represents perhaps the furthest front in the anti-abortion movement.” [New York Times, 11/3/11]

Personhood Amendments Prohibited Some Common Forms Of Birth Control, Including IUD’s And Morning-After Pills. According to the New York Times, “Specifically, personhood amendments bar some forms of birth control that prevent fertilized eggs from being implanted in a uterus, like IUD’s and ‘morning-after pills.’” [New York Times, 11/3/11]

Similar Amendments

Proposal’s Wording Was Identical To North Dakota’s Personhood Amendment. According to the Des Moines Register, “The language in the Senate resolution appears to be identical to the wording of a personhood amendment recently approved by the North Dakota Legislature. The North Dakota proposal will appear on the November 2014 general election ballot, giving that state’s voters the choice of accepting or rejecting it.” [Des Moines Register, 4/26/13]

Personhood Amendments Failed In Mississippi In 2011 And In Colorado In Both 2008 And 2010. According to the Des Moines Register, “Similar amendments failed in Mississippi in 2011 and in Colorado in 2008 and 2010. Opponents of the North Dakota amendment have called it an intrusion on women’s private medical decisions, adding that it could prohibit in vitro fertilization and some methods of contraception.” [Des Moines Register, 4/26/13]

Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment Would Have Banned Virtually All Abortions, Including Those Resulting From Rape Or Incest, As Well As IUDs And Morning-After Pills. According to the New York Times, “The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and ‘morning-after pills,’ which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.” [New York Times, 10/25/11]

AGAINST MINIMUM WAGE

Opposed State Minimum Wage Increase

Ernst Opposed 2014 Iowa Senate Proposal To Raise The Minimum Wage. According to KCCI-8, “Moderator: Mrs. Ernst, minimum wage was a state proposal this year in the past session of the legislature, you opposed it, correct? Ernst: I did oppose it, yes I did. [KCCI-8, 5/29/14]

  • 2014: Bill Would Have Raised Minimum Wage To $10.25 By July 2015. According to Senate File 2039, “This bill increases the state minimum hourly wage to $9.00 as of July 1, 2014, and $10.25 as of July 1, 2015. The bill 21 increases the state minimum hourly wage for employees employed for less than 90 days to $8.10 as of July 1, 2014, and $9.35 as of July 1, 2015.” No substantive action occurred for this bill. [Senate File 2039, 1/27/14]

Opposed Federal Minimum Wage Increase

Ernst Opposed Raising The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10 An Hour. According to Politico, “All of the candidates opposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, on which Democratic candidate Bruce Braley is campaigning.” [Politico, 5/29/14]

Ernst Was Applauded For Refusing To Raise Her Hand In Support Of Raising The Federal Minimum Wage. According to KWQC, “Many people in the audience found reason to cheer for what all the candidates agreed on: ‘Show of hands, who supports raising the federal minimum wage?’ Metivier asked the candidates. No one raised a hand, and the audience erupted into loud applause.” [KWQC, 5/19/14]

Opposed Federal Minimum Wage Altogether

AUDIO: Ernst Said “I Do Not Support A Federal Minimum Wage.” According to an interview of state Sen. Joni Ernst by Iowa Public Radio, “[Q:] A March Iowa poll shows that 65% of those polled [in Iowa] support an increase in the minimum wage. Do you support an increase in the minimum wage? [Ernst:] I do not support a federal minimum wage. I do think every state has a different economy, a different cost of living. I don’t believe that’s the role of the federal government.” [Iowa Public Radio, 6/1/14]

SUPPORTED PRIVATIZING MEDICARE AND RAISING MEDICARE RETIREMENT AGE

Supported FY2012 Ryan Budget

Ernst Said Ryan Was A “Doer, Especially On Budget Issues.” According to the Omaha World-Herald, “Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak said she’s excited by the Ryan pick. ‘I think it’s going to energize a lot of people,’ she said. ‘Ryan is a doer, especially on budget issues.’” [Omaha World-Herald, 8/14/12]

2011: Ernst Voted To Support The Medicare and Medicaid Changes In The Ryan Budget. In June 2011, Ernst voted against a Senate resolution opposing the Medicare and Medicaid proposals in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s FY 2012 budget resolution. According to the text of the resolution, “WHEREAS, the United States House of Representatives has recently adopted House Concurrent Resolution 34 encompassing the budget proposal of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan which would make fundamental changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, profoundly impacting individuals and states in contravention of this original intent. […] BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE, That the Senate respectfully expresses its opposition to the budget proposal encompassed in House Concurrent Resolution 34 and any proposals to change the Medicare or Medicaid programs that are projected to lead to fewer Americans, especially those most vulnerable due to age, disability, or poverty, being able to obtain or retain health care coverage.” The resolution was agreed to in the Senate, by a vote of 26 to 21, and it was adopted later than month. [Senate Resolution 15, 6/27/11; Journal of the Senate, 6/27/11]

Increased Eligibility Age For Medicare

FY 2012 Ryan Budget Raised The Medicare Eligibility Age To 67 By 2033. The FY 2012 Ryan Budget increased Medicare eligibility to 67 by 2034, as part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021. According to CBO, “Starting in 2022, the age of eligibility for Medicare would increase by two months per year until it reached 67 in 2033.” The vote was on a motion to proceed to consider the resolution; the motion failed by a vote of 40 to 57. [Senate Vote 77, 5/25/11; CBO, 4/5/11]

Medicare Privatization

FY 2012 Ryan Budget Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. The FY 2012 Ryan Budget replaced Medicare with a premium support plan, as part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Under the new system, Medicare would pay a portion of the beneficiaries’ premiums, i.e., provide ‘premium support.’ The payments would be adjusted for age, health status, and income and would be paid directly by the government to the insurance plan selected by the Medicare beneficiary. In addition, plans with healthier enrollees, would be required to help subsidize plans with less healthy enrollees.” The vote was on a motion to proceed to consider the resolution; the motion failed by a vote of 40 to 57. [Senate Vote 77, 5/25/11; CRS, 4/13/11]

  • Ryan’s Budget Eliminated Traditional Medicare And Created A Medicare Exchange On Which Seniors Could Purchase Private Plans. According to CRS, “Individuals who become eligible (based either on age or disability) for Medicare in 2022 and later years would not be able to enroll in the current Medicare program. Instead, they would be given the option of enrolling in a private insurance plan through a newly established Medicare exchange.” [CRS, 4/13/11]
  • CBO Estimated That, In 2022, When Voucher Plan Went Into Effect, Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would More Than Double A Typical 65-Year-Old Medicare Beneficiaries’ Out-Of-Pocket Costs, Increasing Them By $6,350 Per Year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s [a typical 65-year-old] annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500. In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.” [CBPP, 4/7/11]

SUPPORTED SOCIAL SECURITY PRIVATIZATION

Ernst Supported “Transitioning” Younger Workers From Social Security To Personal Savings Accounts. According to a debate prompt about Social Security answered by state Sen. Joni Ernst, “I do believe that we have to keep the promises that’ve been made to our seniors and those that are getting close to Medicare, those–Social Security, we’ve made those promises already. However, we do need to look at younger workers as they are working their way towards that Social Security age. Those younger workers that are entering the workforce now–James, this would be you–but, entering the workforce, transitioning them into perhaps a personal savings account. And again, something that cannot be raided by federal bureaucrats. It is their own savings account. Whether it’s tied to the market, whether it is an interest-bearing savings account, those are some things that we need to have discussions on. But absolutely, I agree, we have to change our mandatory spending.” [KWQC, 5/19/14]

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