Iowa AFL-CIO Endorses Puntenney

We are happy to announce that Keith has been endorsed by the Iowa AFL-CIO.
That endorsement required a 2-hour participation discussion as to current Iowa labor issues, to ‘familiarize’ candidates as to these issues. Candidates then completed a multi-page issue response, as to their positions on possible labor legislation that might come forward in legislative sessions. Both State employee and private entity union issues were discussed.

Iowa is a “Right To Work’ state, which means employers can fire anyone with out cause, and union contract rights are the only protections many Iowa workers enjoy. As a former union member, with National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), I am proud to receive this endorsement. I will work hard to bring both Iowa employers, and their workers together, w/o regard to any formal bargaining process. To build a 21st century workforce, Iowa must train, educate, pay and and provide necessary benefits, and quality of life incentives, to recruit and keep Iowa competitive for businesses to thrive not only in the US, but around the world.

Hence joint venture programs that leverage K-12, 2-year, 4-year, and advances degree education, as well as paid apprenticeships and other on-the-job learning, requires State leadership and funding from government, business, and the public as well. We all benefit economically, and in quality of life experiences, with a world-class work force to meet our daily needs.

Right to Vote/ Right To Life/ Right To Personal Choice

Right to Vote/ Right To Life/ Right To Personal Choice:

Much is made by Republicans as to their Rights. This is a ‘false choice’, guaranteed no where but in the fantasy of their minds. All individual ‘rights’ end at the tip of our nose, and the space between us as we ‘socialize’ is common public ground, owned by no one and shared by everyone as public space.

Vote by mail should be allowed and encouraged, even in caucus or other activities, as no one should lose their vote because of work, illness, or other obligations.

Right to life exists only within yourself and cannot be delegated or dictated to others. Right to personal choice is the alter ego to the right to life.  The right to vote is the community expression for your values, but only so long as the rights of others are protected as well.

With Rights come Responsibilities, and Accountability then follows.

Child Care, Teacher Pay, and Additional Revenues For Clean Water and Air Initiatives

Child Care, Teacher Pay, and Additional Revenues For Clean Water and Air Initiatives:

Current revenue policy by Republicans is just ‘more of the same’; tax cuts, TIF and other tax credits for business, and lowering the marginal tax rate for corporations. None of this works to provide short term money, especially when hundreds of millions of dollars is going into the failed Iowa Medicaid privatization.

In the past 3-years, added Medicaid payments have exceeded an average $100,000,000 per year, with no “promised” budget savings. Cuts to schools and other programs are the result of that failure, as are higher income and other taxes. Iowa should look to ‘user fees’ for parks, recreation and other amenities, but also put a franchise/carbon tax/or climate tax on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) oil flows. South Dakota has an ‘extraction tax’ on oil, hence no income taxation.

Alberta Canada has a ‘carbon tax’ on Canadian Tar Sands oil, hence no income taxation. California has a ‘cap and trade’ tax system with China, due to their extensive ‘clean energy’ footprint. Over 60 countries, and entities in the Middle East and China’, have some form of carbon payment charges as part of their ‘climate mitigation’. 23,000,000 gallons of oil a day pass through Iowa now, free except for the small property tax 17 counties collect on the steel pipeline.

A 5% tax on todays $20/barrel of oil would generate $2,080,000 in revenues for Iowa. If that oil came back into Iowa as gasoline (which it will not as this oil goes to Texas and then overseas), it would add less than $.03 per gallon to our cost ($15/year at 10,000 miles on a car that get 20 mpg). All of us pay user, sales or franchise taxes for gas, for internet, for the 911 system on our phones, for property taxes, etc.

So why should DAPL get a free ride, when any spill will affect our property and surface drawn drinking water? $200 million per year, or more if oil goes above $20/ barrel, buys a lot of change to Iowa’s budget for childcare, health care, teacher pay, first responder training and equipment needs, or clean energy, air and water initiatives.

Norway, Russia, Saudi and other Middle East countries, etc. have ‘Sovereign Wealth’ funds where proceeds from natural resource extractions and sale are aggregated for future National investment in infrastructure and other needs for the benefit of every citizen. These fund national job training, clean energy development, etc. and are independent of political manipulation. US capitalism sells our natural resources to the most politically connected, the billionaire class, and multi-national (often foreign state sponsored) entities, with proceeds spent as part of our general budget obligations.

In America today, there is little that is not ‘for sale’.

Veterans and Senior Housing Issues

Veterans and Senior Housing Issues:

Veterans and seniors are two of the most vulnerable communities. Veterans of all ages deal with PTSD, suicide, and difficult reintegration into community. Often drug use, alcohol, smoking and poor health care decisions are untreated, especially in small communities. Seniors, especially in nursing homes, often do not have family close by as support. Hence both groups require NGO’s with local resources and outreach on daily or frequent basis. State funds for meals on wheels, senior centers who do daily contacts, church, hospital, and veteran groups, etc. to perform these minimal welfare tasks should be available. 

Rural v Urban Jobs and Opportunities

Rural v Urban Jobs and Opportunities:

State revenues and disbursements need to reflect the structural and cost differences of where Iowans live. Equal opportunity is not defined by space, location, or occupation unless the county and regional issues are fairly dealt with, from an ‘opportunity cost’ analysis. This applies to schools, internet, infrastructure, health care, and quality of life issues.

School busing should be a state, not rural county expense, which allows per pupil costs to be fully applied to K-12 students. Mental health opportunities need to be equalized and again supported by State, not county property tax funding, just as the Iowa Courts are state funded.

Job opportunities need to be linked to the AEA’s  and colleges by regions, thus leveraging the State investment of $300 million for ICN cost into both telemedicine and educational opportunities down to the county and city levels. And community libraries should receive increased state support funds as the local social and educational link for all in the community on a year-round basis.

Tax Policy and Economic Justice

Tax Policy and Economic Justice

Current tax policy follows the 1954 IRS Code, which differentiates between ‘passive’ and ‘earned income’. It is further complicated by form of business entity rules, NONE of which make economic sense except to choose winners and losers. This policy is based on arcane tax rules that favor select groups. How we tax should have no bearing on the legal form of any business. What we tax also should have no difference between ‘passive’ and ‘earned income’.

Buying a loaf of bread does not change ‘cost’, based on the kind of income used for payment. Tax fairness is not based on ‘marginal rates’ for the last dollar of income, but should be about the total income, regardless of how earned.

By definition ‘earned income’ pays social security, and other charges, plus income taxes and is disadvantaged from interest, dividends, capital gains, partnership and other entity income deemed ‘passive’ by the tax code. Corporations and other legal entities enjoy ‘deductions’ not allowed to individuals, and independent contractors. Hence, economic justice requires changes not about marginal rates, but allowing everyone the same marginal rates, and deduction benefits, regardless of how the income was earned.

Farming, the Environment and Stewardship

Farming, the Environment and Stewardship:

Disney calls it the ‘Circle of Life’. Sky, seas, and land are all connected; as are the plant and animal life in each. Overuse or destruction of any one part changes the interconnection with each of the others. 1970’s brought fence row to fence row cultivation; mono-cultural crop production; and large-scale crop, livestock, and agribusiness to Iowa. It also has substituted ‘natural’ means to control insects, fungus, pathogens, etc. through crop and livestock rotations for a chemistry-based system which is fossil fuels based.

Climate change and Global pandemics are the direct result of this change. Iowa has lost ½ of its soil due to climate issues, and the demands for large scale Agra-business. Iowa must return to ‘value added’ crop diversity and retool our exports away from a commodity driven business. That brings both additional manufacturing jobs, and opportunities for more of our children to remain a part of the Iowa productive workforce.

This also challenges our educational institutions into Iowa based product development that adds to state revenues. This also allows crop specialization, on a smaller scale, to diversify land use and soil preservation. Iowa State University, and other land grant colleges, now estimate the US could remove 5-10% of uneconomic croplands and put these areas into legumes or set asides at nominal cost. This would not affect our food security or exports and would reduce crop surpluses and raise farm incomes. This would reduce the USDA budget for disaster and revenue loss payments, and also sequester carbon into the soils. This would reduce soil and nutrient losses into waterways,  and provide habitat for wildlife, butterflies, and pollinators all at the same time. Iowa’s nutrient and clean water initiatives should prioritize and implement this research.

Immigration and a Path to Citizenship

 Immigration and Path To Citizenship:

Capitalism needs both an educated and services workforce. These are people, not an ‘input’ as current economic theory would define them. That requires a continuous flow of applicants with skills to meet every job need. Immigration into the US has always been our means to supplement the US job force, bringing necessary skilled resources to jobs that are vacant. Recruiting the best and brightest as permanent contributors into the US workforce adds community resources, especially to rural areas where jobs may be hard to fill. A path to citizenship is a necessary mandate to retain these skills and expand the diversity of ideas that make America a more perfect union for others to emulate.

Jobs and Education

 Jobs And Education Costs:

One cannot be guaranteed  ‘Life, Liberty, or the Pursuit of Happiness’ under our Founder’s documents if education and job training is only an individual’s responsibility. Work is key to our system of Capitalism, and also key to an informed electorate. Government, the private sector, and the public at large need to form a joint venture, so education and job costs don’t fall to individuals, while these benefits accrue to the business sector. Cost sharing, other than property taxes, needs to support lifetime job training, K-12, 2-year colleges, and 4-year education including advanced degrees. Mentorships, apprentices, job shadowing, and other means of recruitment should be compensated to reduce student debt, including forgiveness where appropriate to serve a public purpose.


How To Measure My Campaign, and Good Government Results

We need to ask the simple question: “Am I better off today than the same election I voted in _____ years ago?” If not, it is time for a change in Leadership. Or as my mother used to say:    ‘‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result shows either lack of education or stupidity. Don’t be stupid!”

These may be uncertain times, but leaders rise up to challenges when people are hurting and 

 suffering, no matter what station in life they now occupy. These are some of the issues that currently need a new Iowa solution:

Health Care (Includes mental health, drug dependence, suicide prevention, etc.)

The US spends $3.2-3.4 trillion each year; twice more than any other developed nation. The US has poorer results for maternal and childcare, and diabetes, cancer, heart, smoking and other issues dominate 1/3 of our costs. 20% of suicides are by Veterans and 10+% of female suicides are under 18. 20%+ of US citizens are uninsured or under insured. And losing your job means losing your health care as well. Corporations pay 14-17% of income for employee health costs, and worker take home wages are reduced for this as well. Administration costs for competing private health plans eat 20% of insurance payments. Even in the public sector, there are no real cost containment measures, like reducing drug prices and other similar items. 

Other countries have universal health care, not tied to jobs, and funded by national revenues. South Korea gives everyone a secure (credit card) ID with all needed information on a chip. It is swiped at the beginning of health visits to validate payments. Most developed countries allow some form of additional private insurance and use a single standard form for processing every visit. The US VA system does this as well and is allowed to negotiate for drug pricing for its patients. The VA also has ‘telemedicine’ that allows out of area consultation. $1.4 Trillion of US uncompensated medical costs have been linked to 80 US companies and their air borne particulates from fossil fuels and our unregulated manufacturing sectors. Diabetes, obesity, drug use, and other unhealthy behaviors have been directly linked to poverty. As has the lack of access to healthy foods at reasonable costs (food deserts), etc.

Mental health, eyeglasses, dental care, hearing aids, etc. are part of a health care system  for total health care. And long term, end of life services, should be integrated as well.