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April 2008

No Change in Gross Domestic Product

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008, according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the fourth quarter, real GDP also increased 0.6 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the first-quarter "advance" estimates are based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3).  The first-quarter "preliminary" estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on May 29, 2008.

The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE) for services, private inventory investment, exports of goods and services, and federal government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment and PCE for durable goods.  Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The increase in real GDP is the same as in the fourth quarter, reflecting an upturn in inventory investment that was offset by an upturn in imports, and downturns in nonresidential structures, in PCE
for durable goods, and in PCE for nondurable goods.

Final sales of computers contributed 0.12 percentage point to the first-quarter growth in real GDP after contributing 0.16 percentage point to the fourth-quarter growth.  Motor vehicle output subtracted 0.30 percentage point from the first-quarter growth in real GDP after subtracting 0.86 percentage point from the fourth-quarter growth.

Editor's note:  Make no mistake, parts of the country are hurting economically, but to claim the country is in a recession is a false claim, as conditions fail to meet the definition of recession.  There's fear mongering, and then there's the reality and truth of the matter.


Downturn in Finance and Insurance Restrains Real GDP Growth in 2007

A downturn in the finance and insurance industry group accounted for nearly half of the slowdown in economic growth in 2007, according to preliminary statistics on industry contributions to real gross domestic product (GDP) growth from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Overall, 13 of 20 private industry groups contributed to the slowdown in real GDP growth.

  • Finance and insurance industries’ value-added—a measure of an industry’s contribution to GDP—fell 0.3 percent in 2007 after rising 9.8 percent in 2006.
  • Construction’s value added declined 12.1 percent in 2007 after falling 6.0 percent in 2006.
  • Real estate and rental and leasing value added growth slowed to 2.1 percent in 2007 from 3.4 percent in 2006.
  • Mining value added grew less than 0.1 percent in 2007 after growing 6.1 percent in 2006.

These four industry groups accounted for about one quarter of GDP in 2007. However, they accounted for nearly 80 percent of the slowdown in economic growth. GDP growth fell to 2.2 percent in 2007 from 2.9 percent in 2006.

Bea_chart Within the private goods-producing sector, growth in the value-added price index for construction slowed sharply, increasing 1.6 percent in 2007 after an increase of 10.3 percent in the previous year. In contrast, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry group turned up, growing 26.9 percent in 2007 after contracting 3.5 percent in 2006.

Bea_chart2_4

Other highlights include the following:

  • The private goods-producing sector declined 1.5 percent in 2007, the first downturn in real value added for this broad sector since 2001. The contraction was primarily due to the steeper decline in construction and the slowdown in mining.
  • The private goods-producing sector’s current-dollar share of the economy fell to 18.9 percent in 2007, its lowest share on record. 
  • Information-communications-technology industries continued their double-digit growth for the fourth consecutive year, increasing 13.2 percent in 2007.  These industries accounted for 3.9 percent of the economy but for 22.3 percent of real economic growth.
  • The utilities industry was the largest contributor to decelerating value-added price growth in the private services-producing sector; prices increased 2.8 percent in 2007 after increasing 12.1 percent in the previous year.


The problem of high gas prices CAN be fixed!

A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country.  Well, there's a very simple answer.

OilNobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low.  The reason for that is purely geographical.

Our OIL is located in:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Coastal Florida
  • Coastal Louisiana
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

Our DIPSTICKS are located in Washington, DC!!!  Any Questions??? .....Didn't think So.

J. Krabbenhoeft - Cedar Rapids


Pelosi leads empty promise Congress

House Republicans are taking on the Democrats with a new web video that highlights Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA.) 2006 promise to lower gas prices if Democrats were given control of Congress. Well, they won.  Pelosi is Speaker of the House and gas prices are higher than ever. So why haven’t they done anything? They have control of both houses of Congress.  No one is stopping them. You can view the ad here.  (The website has many other things in addition to the video – just hit “start” on the video).

Deb Thorton, Iowa City


Sens. Wieck, Zieman, Johnson: Senate Republican “Truth Tour” sheds light on 2008 legislative session

DES MOINES – The legislative session ended this week and Senate Republicans are kicking off their annual “Truth Tour” to discuss the 2008 legislative session and it’s negative overtone.

Wieck“Many of the important decisions made this legislative session were done behind closed doors,” said Senate Minority Leader Ron Wieck (R-Sioux City).  “The Democrat majority had an agenda they pushed this year and we want Iowans to know the truth about that agenda.”

Senate Republicans are giving this legislative session a failing grade, proclaiming the Democrat-controlled Senate worked hard to undo everything positive done in previous sessions.  “We saw too many bad bills passed this year.  Democrats are growing government and taking away Iowan’s rights,” stated Senator Wieck.

Several other pieces of legislation passed in the Senate that will have negative, long-term effects on Iowa.  Among those bills, Iowa’s Chapter 20 Collective Bargaining law was gutted while taxes and fees were increased to the tune of over $500 million.  As many bills were rushed through the Senate chamber, it was clear that decisions were made behind closed doors in a partisan manner.

“The Senate Democrats have conducted a lot of business under the cloak of darkness.  Republicans didn’t receive budget numbers until the very end of session making it awfully difficult to make informed decisions for Iowans,” said Senator Wieck.

Over the past two years the Democratic majority have increased the budget by 13 percent or nearly three quarters of a billion dollars.  This, combined with nearly $700 million in tax increases has created a tax and spend liberal attitude in Des Moines. 

“Too many bad bills passed in the Senate and common sense needs to be restored under the Golden Dome.  We’re doing the “Truth Tour” to get the real story to Iowans,” said Senator Wieck. 


Rep. Rants: End of session remarks

DES MOINES -- House Republican Leader Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) delivered end of session remarks to the Iowa House of Representatives today.  The following are his remarks, as prepared for delivery: 

Rants Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House…I direct my first comments to the pages – who unlike most, understand the direct correlation between Guitar Hero and John Galt.  I hope that this year was a rewarding one.  I’ve got to say that I think this is the best group of pages we’ve ever had.

Before I get along too far I want to say how proud I am of the Republicans in this chamber.  To my assistant leaders, Kraig, Rod, Linda, Doug, & Jeff, thank you, and thank you Representative Raecker.

To my staff, Jeff, Josie, Allison, Lon, Brad, Mary, Ann, Lew, Kelly, Noreen and Jason, thank you for all you do.

And to all the members of our Republican Caucus, thank you.  We stood at the wall ready to fight for what we believed.  That willingness allowed us to save Iowa’s Right to Work Law.  We did what we could to stop the tax increases, we tried to maintain the integrity of our spending limitation law and we worked in a bipartisan way, as long as we were included in the decision making, on health care reform this year.

Thank you.  We fulfilled our responsibilities as representatives of our constituents.

Now, I’d like to take this chance to point out a few of the lessons I’ve learned sitting at this desk.  Some of the lessons I admittedly did not want to learn, some of them may be of interest to no one but me, and some of them are about very serious things.

For example, I’ve learned quorum calls are like watching the Godfather trilogy…every time you think they are about to end, they just keep going.  They never end and when they finally do and I’m not really sure what happened.

I’ve learned that the best way to ensure that your priorities become law is simply to make sure that they are the same priorities of Senator Gronstal.  I joked last year that he’d become Speaker Leader Governor Gronstal.  I don’t think it’s a joke anymore.

I learned that the best way to keep a secret in this building is to simply draft a plan that is a priority of organized labor.  You can be assured that nobody gets to see it, read it or understand it before it hits the floor.

I was taught a lot of lessons over the years by a lot of people.  People like Ron Corbett, Brent Siegrist and Chuck Gipp taught me how to be Majority Leader, and Dick Myers, Dave Schrader and Bob Arnold taught me how to be Minority Leader.  One of those lessons was that regardless of how much you disagree with what the minority leader says in their remarks on the floor, as long as they are not being disrespectful, you always give them latitude.  I can’t tell you how many times I listened to Dave Schrader and Dick Myers excoriate the Republican majority without being cut off or hit with a point of order.  They were extended latitude.  I learned that is not the case anymore.  Democrats will not extend the same courtesy to Republicans that we extended to you.

You know, one of the things that has always frustrated me is the notion that all of us up here are the same.  That Republicans and Democrats aren’t any different from each other.  You hear it all the time from voters frustrated with their government – that it doesn’t matter who they talk to because they results are always the same.

I think the last two sessions have put that misguided notion to permanent rest.  There are significant differences between the two parties.

In the last two years, Democrats in this chamber have raised taxes and increased state spending by nearly ONE BILLION dollars and still had to brake the expenditure limitation law to satisfy their absolutely unquenchable need for more government spending.

Even on the last day – surprise! Another $7 million dollar property tax increase that was never talked about.

All, all, in the face record revenues and with money literally pouring into the state treasury at a record level.

It’s like watching a scary movie where the teenager goes outside to investigate a strange noise. You know he’s going to do it, but when he’s does, you still can’t believe he actually went through with it.  That’s what it was like watching the majority party blow through the expenditure limitation law.

Watching Iowa’s Agenda, I heard one Democrat say the following:

“We in the majority seek the assistance of the minority to help the majority party recognize when maybe there are things we’ve not seen and bring these issues forward, and hopefully we can influence enough people that our funding doesn’t get out of control.”

Well, Republicans have been holding up warning signs for the last two years – and you’ve run through them all.  This time, the bridge really is out – we are facing $500 million in built-in expenditures with no new funding, all in a time of economic uncertainty.

I know how Democrats bristle at the charge of being elitists.  Nobody likes to be put into that club.  I know those of you in the majority party certainly don’t think you belong in that category.

Well, if that is truly the case, then explain the following:

You gave Microsoft a big tax break, but didn’t extend the same to smaller Iowa-based technology companies.

You’ve been openly hostile to Iowa’s homeschoolers, while literally dumping millions of new dollars into public schools.

You thought it was okay to mandate gym class, but it wasn’t okay to mandate the Pledge of Allegiance.

You tried to force Iowans to pay union dues, regardless if they belong to union or not.

You let big casinos drive through a loophole in the smoking ban, but you stuck it to small town restaurants and bars.

You found money for an antique organ, but you couldn’t find the money for the deaf and blind children.

You gave Principal a nice $750,000 gift for the riverwalk here in Des Moines, but you couldn’t find any money to help fix old buildings on main street.

You gave a big pay raise to the governor, but you raised taxes on hundreds of thousands of working class Iowans who just want to be left alone to live their lives and make their own way.

And you know, I think that is the enduring theme of this legislature.  A legislature which has continually told Iowans that we’re going to do this for your own good – whether you like it or not, because government knows best.

Why?  Why?

This legislature has made a deliberate effort to limit liberties in the name of what some of you think is the public good.  Now I’m about to do something that I didn’t think I’d ever do.  I’m going to quote Hillary Clinton.  I apologize to the Obama supporters but I found this quote from Senator Clinton and I think it perfectly describes the attitude of this General Assembly for the last two years.

In 2004 Senator Clinton said, “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

The pages who read Atlas Shrugged know what a looter sounds like when they’ve heard one.  Well, that’s a looter, and this chamber is full of them.

Republicans came in here looking to find bi-partisan consensus on things like education standards for kids, making healthcare more portable, and finding relief for the property tax payer.  We worked with you where you let us.  When we disagreed with you, we did it out in the open.  But when the going got tough, you dropped the bi-partisan compromise in favor of political expedience behind closed doors.

You raised taxes, increased government spending, limited the ability of people to make informed decisions about their own behavior.  All, I assume, in the name of helping those who can’t help themselves.  All in the name of the little guy, of the forgotten man.

Ladies and Gentleman, the forgotten man the last two sessions was the taxpayer. 


UI co-hosting April 29 program for free medical clinic providers

Health care specialists from the University of Iowa are partnering with Cedar Rapids Community Health Free Clinic and the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic to hold a free, half-day continuing education program April 29 for health care professionals who treat patients through the free clinics.

The seminar will be from 12:30 to 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, at the South Slope Community Center, located at 980 N. Front St. in North Liberty. Seminar topics will include Medicaid eligibility and options; common gynecological problems/treatments in a free medical clinic setting; hypertension; and building motivation for healthful behavior change. For more information, contact the Office of Continuing Medical Education in the UI Carver College of Medicine at 319-335-8599.

For many uninsured and underserved individuals and families in Linn and Johnson counties, free clinics are their only access to basic medical care.

Most of the physicians, nurses, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists, social workers and other health professionals who staff the clinics donate their time and expertise. About a third of these volunteers are retired, which makes accessible and affordable continuing education an important consideration, said Joel Gordon, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine and program director.

"Providing continuing education for health care providers allows these professionals to keep up to date so they can provide state-of-the-art health care to the patients they serve," Gordon said. "Faculty and staff at the free medical Clinics asked us to provide updates on various topics. UI faculty from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Public Health are teaming together to provide this information for them."

The April 29 program is the first of several planned over the coming months to provide the latest information to health care providers who serve the free clinics. South Slope Community Center donated the meeting space and Hy-Vee Food Store in Coralville donated refreshments for the program.


The PC snubs the local GOP...... Again

Lucy_2With visions of Charlie Brown and a football toting Lucy we write......

This article isn't being written as a call for fairness, that's just not going to happen.  Life isn't fair and there's no such expectation here.  This article is being written because the Iowa City Press-Citizen needs to be taken to task for pretending to be an objective publication, but they're just not and below is evidence of that.

The Saturday April 26th edition of the PC has an article about the Iowa Democratic Party 2nd District Convention, District Democrats to select delegates.  OK, fine, that's newsworthy, it should be written about, especially with the Democrat nomination still up in the air.  But in the name of objective reporting and covering all angles and story lines, where was the PC article about the Iowa Republican Party 2nd District Convention which was held last week at Iowa City West High?  They unabashedly didn't write one.  For the record, they were formally invited to attend.

Republican faithful from counties all over southeast Iowa took the time for some grassroots politics in the Iowa City West High gym on Saturday, April 19th.  They discussed the upcoming State Convention, elected party representation, went over platform issues, and listened to GOP political candidates to include three quality and productive members of society vying for a U.S. Congressional seat.  So did the liberal 'but won't admit it' PC bother to cover the event?  Not just no, but Hell no!

Did The Cedar Rapids Gazette cover the event?  Yes.  They performed their civic duty and journalistic obligation.  Heck, even liberal blogger John Deeth covered the event.

To be fair, the GOP nomination is all locked up and so the GOP 2nd District Convention story is not as intriguing as the Democrat 2nd District event and the Hillary vs. Obama battle.

But does that mean do not give the GOP event any coverage at all?

Heck no!

Did the PC make note of the fact that some Democrat 2nd District Delegates will go on to the National Convention?  Yes.  If that's newsworthy, then why not also write about the fact that some Republican 2nd District Delegates will go on to the National Convention in a story respective to the GOP event?

Also newsworthy and as previously mentioned, the GOP has three candidates vying to oppose U.S. Congressman and liberal Democrat Dave Loebsack in November.  The GOP primary is right around the corner in June.  Lee Harder, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Peter Teahen are fighting it out to see who will oppose Dave 'PACman' Loebsack.  One could easily argue that the PC deliberately chose not to cover the candidate speeches and GOP Convention reaction because they don't want to give the Republicans or their candidates any coverage because Loebsack is the PC's man.

Liberals who like the PC might argue that to complain about their coverage or lack thereof is just cry-baby whining.  After all, the voter ratio in Iowa City is more than 2 - 1 favoring Democrats and that makes it OK for the PC to do what they do. 

Such supporters of the liberal PC couldn't be more WRONG!

While the party line ratio may be true, it's completely and unequivocally irrelevant.  A truly objective newspaper covers news, period.  It doesn't cherry pick stories and it doesn't ignore valid ones either. 

The PC needs to just come out and admit that they're a liberal paper.  They are not objective and they blatantly and arrogantly don't care to be.  Yet they claim to be.  You cannot declare to be a community paper, if you are going to ignore one-third of the people you supposedly serve.  Never mind that the about 2 - 1 ratio drops off dramatically outside the borders of Iowa City.  The further out you get, the more GOP it gets.  Such folks don't deserve more inclusive, objective news?

Where's the credibility in what the PC chooses to do?   

Folks, it's all about choice, and one of those choices is to more aggressively and openly challenge the PC on their biased reporting.  You can also read the Coralville Courier, which make no bones about it, is a Conservative publication.  The Coralville Courier doesn't operate with a pretense - take it or leave it - no false premise, the Coralville Courier is a Conservative publication and proud of it. 

Write the PC and ask them why they ignored the GOP 2nd District Convention.  Letters to the editor are best.  Send them to opinion@press-citizen.com.  You can also write PC Managing Editor Jim Lewers directly.  In writing your letters, you may also consider thanking the Gazette for their coverage of the GOP 2nd District Convention. 


Family Night at Three Samurai Japanese Restaurant

Excellent food, Teppanyaki cooking and an entertaining chef make for a fun evening!

If you're not familiar with the art of Teppanyaki, its tabletop grilling.  You sit and watch as the chef taps salt/pepper shakers and cooking utensils on the flat top grill, tossing and juggling them in the air as he prepares your food right there in front of you. 

The soups, steak, chicken, veggies and shrimp were all superb.  Not only does the Three Samurai prepare amazing food, but they provide incredible entertainment as well.  Table guests enjoyed flaming onion volcanoes, spatula tossed broccoli aimed into willing patrons mouths, and various other acrobatic acts and jokes from the chef.

Providing excellent food and family fun, the Three Samurai Japanese Restaurant is a must do.  Prices were reasonable, with the 'dinner & show' tab for a family of five coming in at about $100.00.  The only slight downer was a waitress that was not as attentive as she could have been.  It took two requests each time to get something like a water refill, we attributed it to the busy night.

The Three Samurai Japanese Restaurant scores four out of five stars.

4_star

They're located at:  1801 2nd St, #200, Coralville, IA 52241, call 319-337-3340 for reservations


House Republican Leader Urges Veto of Collective Bargaining Bill

DES MOINES -- Shortly after Legislative Democrats indicated that they would be releasing House File 2645 from Sen. Gronstal’s motion to reconsider and sending the bill to the governor, House Republican Leader Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) urged the governor to veto the bill which guts Iowa’s Chapter 20 law.

Rants“Now that the Democrats are releasing the bill, Gov. Culver will have the opportunity to veto this legislation which removes power from locally elected officials and sets us up for a major property tax increase,” said Rants. “The governor has two options, to stand with Iowans and veto or to side with big union bosses and sign the bill, I’m hopeful he will listen to the outcry of Iowans.”

House File 2645, which was passed under the cloak of darkness, adds several mandatory bargaining items including class size, vacation time and early retirement benefits. The bill eliminates provisions that provide a balance between management and labor, tilting the playing field in favor of big labor.

“The governor has said he’s looking for a consensus. The consensus position from elected officials from across the state and the over 5,000 Iowans who have reached out to him is to veto this bill,” said Rants. “We think the governor should come back next year and try to find a bipartisan solution.”

Contact Governor Culver