Thursday, April 26, 2007

48 Hours: “The Heat is ON” for VOICE

Are my eyes deceiving me, or did House Speaker Pat Murphy just stick a banana in the tailpipe of the 'Clean Elections' bill?"

With less than 48 hours left in this year’s Iowa legislative session, there’s no time to look back, especially with regard to the fate of VOICE (Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections). By the way, how come you never hear anyone complaining about lawmakers having summers, falls and half of springs off? But I digress --unless you answered this rhetorical conundrum: “So they can raise barrels of money for the next election.”

Despite the heat from activists or what Yepsen calls “L*beral H*otheads,” the bill (HSB 105) has been sitting on a House Appropriations subcommittee backburner for weeks.

It’s time to turn up the heat and make one final push to keep VOICE from suffering a tragic and untimely "Death by Committee." The Horror! The Horror!

Speaking of which, let’s take time for yet another mini-round of…

“Deconstructing Yepsen: Tales from the Intellectually Lazy”

In Yepsen’s latest diatribe, “Get more from Legislature: Sell ideas to people first,” Yepsen comes down from the burning political bush (stoked with old clippings of his previous columns I’m sure) and attempts to impart some words-of-wisdom to Iowa Lawmakers – before they depart for home.

1. VOICE: Who’s selling what and to whom?

Yepsen: "There are a lot (of*) things this Legislature could have done to make Iowa a better place. They didn't do them. Why? The answer is the people of Iowa weren't sold. The gestation period for good ideas in this state is often several years. Groups that take their case to the people often have more success than those that don't."

*added by Political Fallout editor

Lazy Intellectual Response: The problem with VOICE is that lawmakers, especially leaders on both sides of the aisle, had already been bought, so they weren’t in the market for buying VOICE. Had VOICE been marketed by the Democrat leaders, especially in the House where it’s been shelved indefinitely, this bill would be on Governor Culver’s desk, awaiting his landmark signature. Regarding the gestation period for good ideas, Yepsen’s clearly projecting; your readership is still waiting, David. Any day now…

2. VOICE: A Cautionary Tale

Yepsen: "Lesson: If you can mobilize public opinion for an issue or cause, the hearts and minds of legislators will follow - or you'll be in a better position to get new legislators."

Lazy Intellectual Response: Agree. Although, Yepsen left out "pocketbook" (the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks…). Should VOICE fail to even make it to the floor for a debate and vote, it will come back to haunt some legislators. This is precisely why it hasn’t made it to the floor: Who wants to be on record for having voted against “Clean Elections,” eh?

3. The Peoples’ Purchasing Power?

Yepsen: "The lesson for those trying to get the Legislature to do something is simple: Sell the voters first."

Lazy Intellectual Response: Without VOICE, it’s a Buyer’s Market for legislators, not the other way around. It's time for Iowa Voters to flip the equation.

4. The debate about debates

Yepsen: "Other issues in Iowa lend themselves to a few years of debate. Iowa's income, sales and property tax systems need overhaul. Each year, lawmakers tweak here and there, but comprehensive change seems elusive. The same is true for local control of hog lots, or using public dollars to pay for political campaigns or tax breaks for rainforests."

Lazy Intellectual Response: But how can a debate occur if the issues are held in captivity by Senate and House leaders? Not to mention, Pam Jochum has introduced a public campaign funding bill every year for over 10 years, so when does it merit a debate? Besides, preserving logic and Democracy is not like preserving fine wine, but rather, only serves to erode both of them, eh David?

5. "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow." ~Mark Twain

Yepsen: "While there were many disappointments and shortcomings to this session, there's time over the summer and fall to correct some of them. Democratic lawmakers should use these months between adjournment and the start of next January's session for an aggressive series of interim studies on a host of issues facing Iowa. Do the research. Hear from the experts. Draft well constructed bills."

Lazy Intellectual Responder: That goes double for political pundits writing for major corporate newspaper outlets. The beauty of being a lazy intellectual is not having to do the research, or at least being held accountable by shareholders, or worse, special interests’ contributors. By the way, VOICE is a well constructed bill and has been successful in states with smaller gestation periods (e.g. Maine & Arizona).

Note to House Speaker Pat Murphy: It's not too late to pull the banana out...