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April 2009

Obama's Chrysler bailout fails, company to enter bankruptcy anyway

By Mike Thayer

This is a see I told you so moment folks!

Months ago when these bogus bailouts were being proposed, I wrote about how the country already has a tool in place that deals with failing companies - bankruptcy court.  I listed a number of companies that have gone through bankruptcy - Toys-R-Us is one example - and became stronger companies as a result of using that tool. 

Chrysler should have been allowed to file for bankruptcy months ago, but Obama wouldn't have it.

Like Bush before him and feeding the American public lines like, Chrysler is too big to be allowed to fail, Obama made a call to pump BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars into the company.  Obama even appointed a "Car Czar" to monitor things.  That appointment was done to appease you on all the money you coughed up I suppose.  But despite all of Obama's rhetoric, his magic dust plan, and LOTS of your money - the company still failed.  Chrysler has gone into bankuptcy, as they should have been allowed to do months ago.  Obama's "rescue Chrysler" plan was a complete waste of time, effort, and taxpayer money.   

What's frustrating is that at last night's nationally televised press conference, Obama tried to play it like he knows what he's doing.  He doesn't, it's clear he doesn't, but he tried to b.s. his way through last night's press conference anyway.  Obama didn't man up and acknowledge he screwed up with his bailout plan - the King chose to spin the situation instead.  He played the Chrysler situation as if bankruptcy is only just now a wise course of action.  What a load of bull!  His stance is a complete 180 degree turn from what he was saying ealier this year and nobody called him on it. 

What happened to the "Chrysler is too big to be allowed to fail" lines of crap from earlier this year Mr. President?   What makes bankruptcy so "wise" now when it wasn't a wise move according to you just a couple months ago?   

During the press conference King Obama said, "For too long, Chrysler moved too slowly to adapt to the future, designing and building cars that were less popular, less reliable and less fuel efficient than foreign competitors."

So what really changed in just a couple months?  Why wouldn't Obama's "For too long...." statement been just as appropriate two months ago?

Your tax dollars at waste.  Not only were you forced to pump your hard-earned money into propping up a failing company, you'll now be giving them $8 BILLION in the bankruptcy proceedings on top of it all.  Good money after bad.


Ax The Tax Educating Public In Final Days Of Campaign

IOWA CITY, IA. -- Members of Ax The Tax are gearing up for the final days of campaigning heading into the May 5 vote on the proposed local option sales tax, a.k.a. the Mother Nature Tax.
 
Armed with a fresh order of yard signs, new radio ads, and doing a lot of door-to-door knocking, the group is aggressively educating the public on the other side of the coin regarding the tax hike, so voters can truly be informed on election day.
 
The Ax The Tax campaign is a broad-based grass-roots effort to vote down the proposed tax hike, conveying an educational message of Regressive Taxation, Accountability, and Common Sense.
 
Some voters aren't aware of how regressive a sales tax is.  Meaning people of lower or fixed incomes are affected more as it assumes a greater percentage of their income.  Asking this group of folks to pay for infrastructure projects is an unfair burden to them.
 
In terms of government accountability, according to Tina Potthoff of the Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO), a conservative estimate of $155 million has already been given to Johnson County for flood related projects as of March 2009.  Ax The Tax is waiting for actual numbers from Doug Elliot of East Central Iowa Council of Governments, but unfortunately for voters doesn't expect to receive those answers from government before May 5. 
 
Voters also need to know that of the 11 city jurisdictions and the unincorporated areas of the county, only three have 2008 flood related projects on their ballot.  Flood project specifics however, are not mentioned.
 
As Ax The Tax moves forward with educating the voters of Johnson County about this unnecessary tax, voters are encouraged to visit www.axthetax.net for additional information. 


A railroad can be a good thing

A railroad can be a good thing.  Yet, there are problems with railroads.  The railroad behavior of the Iowa City Press-Citizen is problematic.  On Tuesday the “Ax the Tax” leadership met with the editorial board of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. They were attentive to the concerns and questions we raised about the May 5 Sales Tax vote and plans for that potential money.  Though non-committal as to their position, several times they nodded their heads as if to say, “Yes, that’s true,” or “Good point.”  They were honest about meeting with supporters of the tax increase also.
 
In contrast, I was informed by the Editorial page manager of the Iowa City Press-Citizen that, no, they were not inviting us for an editorial board meeting to discuss the sales tax.  In fact, they had already met with the “Yes for all” group and were going to endorse the sales tax increase the next day, Wednesday.  When asked why the “Ax the Tax” group had not been invited, the response was less than enlightening, just “we didn’t.”

The newspaper industry is in turmoil; people dropping subscriptions and cutting advertising.  One of my neighbors is currently on a second one-week, unpaid furlough from the Press-Citizen.  That doesn’t remove their responsibility to do their job, to ask the “5 W’s and an H - Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?”  As a graduate of the Indiana University School of Journalism that phrase was drilled into my head, along with the idea that a journalist’s responsibility to the community was to ask the tough questions, be the bulldog, and get the facts.  We were taught to ask tough questions of government officials and never take their statements at face value.  We were to be the voice of the underdog, the poor, and the masses.  We represented the citizens.  We were not the lapdogs of the elite and privileged.  Unfortunately, the Press-Citizen management seems to have forgotten this role of the Fourth Estate. 

It’s disappointing following the public demonstration of concerns about government management, as shown by the 400 people who turned up of their own initiative at the April 15 TEA, ”Taxed Enough Already,” Party.  Those people were families, workers, teachers, retirees, elderly, and small business people who took time from their busy day to express their concern about government taxes and spending.  Those people deserve respect and for their concerns to be heard.  Those are the people the “Ax the Tax” group represents, not the political and business elite.  Yet we were not listened to by the Press-Citizen.

A Sales Tax is regressive.  Period.  It is always regressive and always negatively impacts the poorest among us the most.  National data shows that a worker making $15,000 will typically pay sales taxes on $6,800 of spending.  Every penny increase will cost that worker $68.00.  At 7 percent it will cost them almost $500 per year.  The Sales Tax just went up “only one penny” two years ago with the SILO vote.  The two combined total a 40 percent increase.  That is significant.  That will impact the poor, the students, and the retired. 

What is most troubling about the support for this tax by the political and business elite in Johnson County is that philosophically they should be opposed to a sales tax.  President Obama was elected specifically on the idea that the poor, middle-class, elderly, students, and retirees carry too much of the tax burden in this country, that this burden should be shifted to the wealthy.  Based on the November election returns the community supports this idea.  Instead they are publically and enthusiastically supporting the sales tax increase, instead of a property tax or user fees.  This moves the tax burden from large property owners and businesses directly to the poor and elderly.  They are encouraging a class warfare mentality, saying that 20 percent of the money will come from out-of-towners and students.  The idea espoused is that we should take their money; they can afford it, and keep our own.  Yet the Press-Citizen didn’t think the “Ax the Tax” group was worth hearing.

At the same time, local elected officials – the people who will be responsible for managing and spending these millions of dollars - have demonstrated serious management and accountability problems.  For example, voting for an $80,000 piece of artwork instead of funding a needed and promised fire station.  Firing the City Manager for some unknown reason.  Incurring $80,000 in penalty payments.   Not securing a FY 2010 earmark for the Coralville work from Congressman Dave Loebsack.  Wanting another $10 million for the Iowa River Landing, which was supposedly designed not to flood?  Allowing businesses and homeowners to build in the flood plain even after 1993.    But no interview by the Press-Citizen with the private citizens asking the hard questions and digging for the factual data.

The 2008 flood damage was significant.  People and businesses suffered financial losses.  However, this money will not buy homes or put cash in pockets.  In Iowa City and Coralville it will be used on “flood mitigation” projects, which have been hastily proposed and developed.   There may be other options, better and cheaper options.  But they are not being considered.  In rural Johnson County and the other cities, the money will not be used for “flood mitigation,” but general infrastructure.  These projects may be needed.  However, they should – especially during the worst recession since the Great Depression – if necessary - be funded from current taxes, not new taxes.  The “we want our share” mentality has led leaders of these communities to say, “The mall brings in lots of money, if we vote yes, we’ll get more.”  They are not about to let a good crisis go to waste.  Yet, the Press-Citizen wasn’t interest in hearing from “Ax the Tax.”

The “Ax the Tax” group is loosely organized and poorly funded; we are not the political and business elite of Johnson County.  We are taking the time from our own busy schedules to ask questions, to be involved.  We have shown up at forums, spoken on panels, and gone to TV interviews.  We have gotten yard signs out and made phone calls.  We have probably not done all we could, or followed up as well as we should have – but we are volunteers, we have jobs and families.  We still deserve to be heard.  You, the readers, of the Press-Citizen and the voters of Johnson County, deserve to be heard.  You don’t deserve to be railroaded.  Ax the Tax - Vote “NO” May 5.

Deb Thornton, Chair - Ax The Tax


Reasons to vote for the Mother Nature tax

Voters in Johnson County go to the polls on May 5 to vote on a 1 percent local-option sales tax.  The proposed tax, a.k.a., the Mother Nature Tax, is intended to generate *revenue* (money taken from your wallets and purses) so cities impacted by the 2008 flood can address flood recovery/mitigation concerns.  The state legislature made the proposal possible. 

So let's take a look at the projects being proposed by area cities.....

Iowa City:  They want to raise Dubuque Street, reconstruct and elevate the Park Road Bridge, and relocate the North Wastewater Treatment Plant out of the flood plain.  

The necessity of the North Wastewater Treatment Plant move is a valid need, but the other two projects are arguable at best.  The kicker is, these projects aren't listed on the ballot.  The wording on the Iowa City ballot is eyebrow raising vague. Why?  Was that done intentionally?  The revenue purpose the city lists reads: “100 percent for remediation, repair and protection of flood-affected public infrastructure and local matching funds for dollars received from any federal or state programs to assist with flood remediation, repair, and protection of flood-affected public infrastructure.”

What does that mean?  The city can change its mind on how it uses your money.  Without a specific project mention, the powers that be in Iowa City left themselves a lot of wiggle room.  If they don't want to put the money into Dubuque Street as *promised* during the campaign, they aren't legally bound to do so.  And never mind that these projects will not be effective in preventing the Iowa River from overrunning its banks and flooding the city. 

Do you have enough information to vote yes?

Did you know Johnson County is already receiving money for infrastructure needs from state and federal sources?  A conservative estimate from the Rebuild Iowa Office puts the amount at $155 million and rising.  How is that taxpayer money being spent?  The public has a right to know before we vote for another tax.  Did you know Dave Loebsack has submitted addtional funding requests for federal money to pay for Iowa City's projects, specifically outlining the Dubuque Street, Park Road Bridge, and the North Wastewater Treatment Plant?

Do you have enough information to vote yes?

Coralville:  The city wants to spend your money on berms, floodwalls and pump stations.  They have a nice little flood mitigation project handout identifying eight prioritized projects.

But like Iowa City's ballot, the wording on the Coralville ballot is also disturbingly vague.  The revenue purpose the city lists reads nearly the same as Iowa City's.  No specific project is identified.  So again, what does that mean?  The city can change its mind on how it uses your money.  Without a specific project mention, the powers that be in Coralville left themselves a lot of wiggle room.  This is the type of government manuevering that people are tired of.  Tea Party anyone?

Can we trust Coralville government officials to do the right thing with our money?  The city spent millions of taxpayer dollars uprooting homes and businesses in what is now called the Iowa River Landing area.  Despite objections, they spent millions more developing the city owned/taxpayer funded Marriott Hotel & Convention Center on the banks of the Iowa River - a known flood plain.   Now in hindsight, the city is asking taxpayers to cough up an additional $10 Million to "protect" that so-called "investment."  Plans to continue developing and attract new businesses to the Iowa River Landing area are still in motion.

How much tax money will continuing to develop in a known flood plain cost us in the future?  How smart is that?   How arrogant (stubborn?) is that of city officials?  

Did you know that Coralville officials do not know what impact their projects will have on downstream locations like Iowa City?    When asked at the recent Coralville tax forum what the upstream/downstream effects might be after the flood mitigation projects were in place, the entire panel to include representatives from Iowa City and North Liberty responded with, “That’s under evaluation.”

They don't know?

When asked if we'll get those answers before May 5, the response was, "No."

Do you have enough information to vote yes?

North Liberty:  The city wants to spend your money on a wish list focusing on multi-phased improvements for Highway 965.  Plans include intersection improvements, additional traffic signals, sustainable bio-swales, landscaping and other aesthetic enhancements.

Unlike Iowa City and Coralville, North Liberty specifically mentions their project on their ballot.  Kudos to North Liberty for doing so.  Voters would be able to hold elected officials accountable for how flood money is being spent.

But wait a minute......Flood money, Mother Nature Tax...... North Liberty wasn't adversely impacted by the flood of 2008 and do not have a single flood related project to address.  Therefore, if you abide by the spirit and intent of the Mother Nature tax given a special OK to do by the state - North Libery does not need flood money.

Do you have enough information to vote yes?


Kelly Hayworth wants your money

Kelly hayworth When speaking about the proposed local option sales tax for flood recovery, a.k.a., a Mother Nature tax, Coralville City Administrator said, "Nobody wants to raise taxes during these times," he said.  "On the other hand, nobody had a lot of choice of when the flood came either."

Editor's Note:  Kelly is right in that nobody had a lot of choice of when the flood came.  But does that mean taxpayers are now supposed to pay for an arrogant attempt by man to prevent Mother Nature from doing her thing?  Who told the city council it was a smart idea to go ahead and put the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in a known flood plain?

 


More robbery in Iowa City

IOWA CITY, IA. -- On April 24, 2009 at 7:49pm a robbery was reported to the Iowa City Police Department. The adult female victim told police she had been walking in the 3100 block of E Washington St. on April 22, 2009 around 9:00pm when she was approached by four juvenile males. The subjects demanded money. When the victim advised she had none, they took her wristwatch. One of the subjects then hit her in the face, knocking her to the ground. While she was on the ground the subjects all kicked her. The subjects then fled the area on foot. The victim received minor injuries. The victim did not immediately report the robbery out of fear. The subjects were described as black males, all around 5'5" with medium builds, wearing jeans and tennis shoes. Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of up to $1000 for information leading to the arrest of this suspect. Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact CrimeStoppers at 358-TIPS (8477). All calls are held in strict confidence and anonymity is guaranteed. Individuals providing information do not have to reveal their identity to collect a reward.


More Iowa City crime: Three Iowa City Residents Charged With Rioting

On April 24, 2009 at 6:49pm Iowa City Police responded to the 2100 block of Davis St. for a report of a large fight, possibly involving a firearm. Upon arrival officers observed a group of 30-40 people in the middle of the street. Upon seeing officers the group dispersed. Witnesses pointed out the subjects who initiated the altercation. When officers attempted to make contact with the subjects they fled on foot. After a brief foot chase Iowa City Police, with the assistance of the Iowa Department of Corrections High Risk Unit, apprehended the subjects. After an extensive search, police did not locate a weapon. Derrick Vincent Lewis, age 21, Courtney Jabray Lewis, age 20, and Christopher McClinton, age 18, were charged with Rioting and Interference with Official Acts. Rioting is an aggravated misdemeanor. Interference with Official Acts is a simple misdemeanor. A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


Climate or Potholes?

Posted By Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent

In North Carolina legislators and environmental regulators have redirected gas tax revenues from road maintenance and repair to politically-motivated efforts such as propping up The Climate Registry and Attorney General Roy Cooper’s case against the Tennessee Valley Authority. The John Locke Foundation’s Roy Cordato puts it all together [1] from stories published in Carolina Journal, JLF’s newspaper:


Major problem in Washington D.C.

My Fellow Citizens,

Rathje Nearly a generation ago I believed that the electorate would be the jury that decided the length of time that any one elected representative would be allowed to remain in office. Yet, that was long ago and my attitude has since changed. Sam Adams, one of our founding fathers said that public officials should NOT be chosen if they are lacking in experience, training, proven virtue and demonstrated wisdom. He said that the responsibility of the electorate is to chose those whose “fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken.” The founders realized human nature for what it was/is and that is a mixture of good and evil. They understood that if the people are to govern themselves and have the best government possible, then the political process should be one that allows the most experienced and the most virtuous to rise to the top and be elected to public office.

Given the fact that the electorate of today is largely uneducated in politics, issues and candidates, I find that TERM LIMITS is the only remedy. Given the economic turmoil and the obvious move toward socialism, WE THE PEOPLE, must take these matters to heart and make sweeping changes toward protecting our Constitution and our American way of life.

I propose therefore that Term Limits be imposed on the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate as follows; Those elected to the United States House of Representatives shall serve no longer then 12 years (six terms) and those elected to The United States Senate shall serve no longer then 12 years (two terms). I believe that this change would be embraced by the founders’ thus breathing new oxygen into the life blood of our Republic.

The framers of our Constitution never intended for the government to take over the financial system of this country. Nor did they intend for the President of the United States to become the Chairman of the Board of an automobile manufacturer. They warned against a welfare state of “utopian schemes and of leveling or re-distributing wealth.” They warned against implementing a Monarchy (socialistic monarchy), such as that which the Obama Administration/Democrats are attempting today. Thomas Jefferson said, “These men have no right to office. If a monarchist be in office, anywhere, and it be known to the President, the oath he has taken to support the Constitution imperiously requires the instantaneous dismission of such officer; and I hold the President criminal if he permitted such to remain. To appoint a monarchist to conduct the affairs of the Republic is like appointing an atheist to the priesthood.”

Thomas Jefferson also wrote regarding the economy…“we shall consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay for ourselves; and consequently within what may be deemed the period of a generation, or the life expectancy of the majority.”

So given the aforementioned, I don’t think it comes as a surprise that we have a major problem in Washington D.C. Our elected Representatives are passing legislation without reading and understanding its consequences, appointing cabinet members who have engaged in illegal or highly questionable behavior and have therefore left the wants and needs of the American people far behind.
Our borders have been left unprotected, illegal aliens seem to have more rights than our taxpaying citizens, and hardworking men and women are more frustrated than ever before.

As I said term limits like that of the President is the only remedy. The framers did not design our Republic to be a permanent "docking station" for "career politicians". Experience has proven to us time and time again that power tends to corrupt even those with the best of intentions.

Join me today, and let’s TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!

Steve Rathje
www.steverathje.com


$649,993 to Hancock County Memorial Hospital and the University of Iowa

WASHINGTON, D.C., -- Senator Chuck Grassley today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded two grants totaling $649,993 to the Hancock County Memorial Hospital and the University of Iowa. 

- The Hancock County Memorial Hospital in Britt will receive $149,993 to help fund a project titled, “Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program.” 

- The University of Iowa will receive $500,000 to help purchase a replacement laser scanning confocal microscope.

Editor's Note:  Why do we continue sending $1 to Washington, only to get pennies back on that dollar?  Does that make any sense to you?  Why do we need Washington to do this?  Keep the money in the cities and states where it belongs to begin with.