State of Iowa Archives: on Government Reform

Joni Ernst: AdWatch: I grew up castrating hogs; I know how to cut pork

TV ad:

Joni (in farm gear on a hog farm): "I'm Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork."

(NARRATOR AND TEXT): "Joni Ernst. Mother. Soldier. Conservative."

Joni: "My parents taught us to live within our means. It's time to force Washington to do the same. To cut wasteful spending; repeal ObamaCare; and balance the budget. I'm Joni Ernst and I approve this message because Washington is full of big spenders; let's make 'em squeal!"

(Fade to black whiles hogs squeal).

Source: OnTheIssues AdWatch of 2014 Iowa Senate race Mar 25, 2014

Terry Branstad: 2010: No fees for government records; 2011: imposed fees

During his 2010 campaign for governor, Branstad promised he wouldn't impose fees for legal reviews of public documents requested under Iowa's open-records law. His legal counsel also questioned the legality of those fees while running for attorney general that year.

But almost immediately after taking office in 2011, Branstad began imposing those same fees. In September, the Register agreed to pay $626 for a legal review of 677 emails involving the Iowa Juvenile Home. The Register paid the fee, but the state, under a policy endorsed by the Iowa attorney general, initially decided to keep 1/3 of the requested emails confidential.

[In 2013], the Register requested detailed information on the number of youths kept in isolation cells at the Iowa Juvenile Home. The Iowa Department of Human Services responded that it would compile the information if the newspaper first paid $31,776. The newspaper rejected the proposal, and the state later provided similar information at no charge.

Source: Des Moines Register on 2014 Iowa gubernatorial race Jan 6, 2014

Joni Ernst: Roll back burdensome regulations

Priority One: Creating Jobs: Joni believes the free market is the greatest job creating machine ever built, but only when the government gets out of the way. She supports rolling back burdensome regulations that are crushing small business owners. Joni supports pro-growth tax and economic policies that will unleash the full potential of America's free market economy and create millions of new jobs.
Source: 2014 Senate campaign website,, "Issues" Sep 9, 2013

Rick Perry: Cut Congress' pay in half & make them part-time

Q: Should the government be getting involved in issues of behavior?

PERRY: I think that it's the states' call, not the federal government. But the real issues that we have in this country are that people are sick of Washington, D.C. They're sick of the money that they're seeing spent, they're sick of the fraud and the corruption that they're seeing. They're sick of seeing their kids' futures mortgaged because we've got a Washington, D.C., that is out of touch with the country. It's the reason, when I talk about my overhauling Washington plan, and I've gotten a pretty good response when I talk about going to a part-time Congress. Cut their pay in half, let 'em spend half the time in Washington, D.C. Send 'em back home to have a regular job like the rest of the people in their districts, and work under the laws that they pass. That, I suggest, along with a balanced budget amendment, will go a long way toward stopping a lot of the nonsense that we're seeing coming out of Washington.

Source: Yahoo's "Your Voice Your Vote" debate in Iowa Dec 10, 2011

Newt Gingrich: Press corps focuses on campaign minutia & not basic ideas

Q: In June, almost your entire national campaign staff resigned. They said that you were undisciplined in campaigning and fundraising, and you're a million dollars in debt. How do you respond to people who say that your campaign has been a mess so far?

Q: I think those are questions that a lot of peopl want to hear answers to, and you're responsible for your record.

I think that there's too much attention paid by the press corps about the campaign minutia and not enough paid by the press corps to the basic ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Terry Branstad: Sunset of rules and regulations every four years

Source: 2011 Iowa Gubernatorial press release Feb 16, 2011

Christopher Reed: Washington is broken & canít be fixed by European socialism

Q: What is your campaign stump message?

A: The stump message is that Washington is broken. It canít be fixed by sending the same man back with his out of control spending, his socialized plans for America. This is the freest, greatest country God has ever put on the face of the Earth and it was made that way by people coming across the ocean from Europe to settle a new country, to be entrepreneurs, to be free. We donít need policies and plans that take us back to European socialism.

Source: Dean Borg, Iowa Public TV. on 2008 Iowa Senate debate Jun 6, 2008

Dennis Kucinich: 14th and 15th Amendment are being shredded

I carry a copy of the constitution with me, which is very relevant to this audience, because in the 14th amendment it talks about the guarantee of due process and equal protection of the law; in the 15th amendment not denying the right to vote based on race & color. But you know what our constitution is being shredded. Weíre losing our country to lies. To war based on lies. And to debt. This is one of the reasons why Iíve introduced articles of impeachment to call this administration accountable.
Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Duncan Hunter: Donít share the role of commander in chief with V.P.

Q: What authority would you delegate to the office of vice president?

A: It depends on the credentials of the president. I served in Vietnam; and my son has now done two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. I can look the American people in the eye and say, ďWeíre all in this together.Ē So I would not share the role of commander in chief with a vice president. If youíve got other folks that have less background in national security, theyíre going to need to have a V.P. that they rely on much more.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

John McCain: Thereís only one president; V.P. sticks to official duties

Q: What authority would you delegate to the office of vice president? And should those authorities be more clearly defined through a constitutional amendment?

A: Having been considered for that post several times, Iíve thought a lot about that. The vice president really only has two duties. One is to cast a tie-breaking vote in the case of a tied vote in the Senate. And the other is to inquire daily as to the health of the president. I really would do what some presidents have done in the past. A vice president brings a certain area of expertise and talent. I would probably assign some of those areas, like telecommunications or some other important issues.

Q: So not as wide-ranging as Vice President Cheney had?

A: Look, I would be very careful that everybody understood that thereís only one president.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Ron Paul: End government secrecy; restore openness of information

Q: What will you restore to the Oval Office?

A: I would restore openness to government. I do not think in this country we should have secrecy of government. The purpose of government is to provide privacy for the people. I would never use executive privilege to deny information to the Congress, with the full realization that you protect security information, but in the very general sense, we should be very, very open. We want a transparent government. Currently I believe we could improve on that.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Ron Paul: With neocon philosophy, Cheney is more powerful than Bush

Q: What authority would you delegate to the office of vice president? And should those authorities be more clearly defined through a constitutional amendment?

A: I certainly wouldnít support an amendment to change the role of the vice president. But thereís no way to know exactly what goes on, but if you take perceptions from Washington, most people there behind the scenes think the vice president is more powerful than the president. Philosophically, I think this is the case. Itís obvious that he represents a neoconservative viewpoint. And my objection is that that has been the rejection of the Republican Party platform and traditional conservatism. And I think this is where we have gone astray. We have drifted from our fundamental premises and the conservative values that this party used to get.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: Qualification for VP is readiness for presidency, in wartime

Q: What authority would you delegate to the office of vice president? And should those authorities be more clearly defined through a constitutional amendment?

A: The vice presidentís office has to be worked out with the president. And the thing thatís clearest about it, now that weíre at war, is that a vice president has to be just as capable, just as ready to take over that office, literally on a momentís notice. And that should be the major qualification. And then it should be in the discretion of the president and the vice president to decide on what kind of responsibilities they should have.

Q: But would you like to have a vice president like Vice Pres. Cheney, with that wide range of responsibility?

A: I thought the division of responsibilities between Pres. Reagan and Vice Pres. Bush was a good one. I thought it was a really comfortable one. And Iím comfortable that you select somebody who can step in on a momentís notice with experience, background, knowing whatís going on.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Tommy Thompson: Cheney is honorable individual; doesnít have too much power

Q: You served in the Cabinet with Vice President Cheney. Do you think that Vice President Cheney has too much power?

A: I believe that Vice President Cheney is criticized for a lot of things that he doesnít do. I believe that Dick Cheney is an honorable individual. And I think President Bush depends a great deal upon him.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

John Kerry: Every vote must be counted

Q: What will you do to assure elections officials that the federal government is committed to making the Help America Vote Act work as Congress intended?

A: we are going to prechallenge some of these automatic machines -- the Diebold machines -- where there have already been problems. And weíre going to prechallenge and have a team across this country who are focused on those particular areas of the country where they are notorious about switching addresses, telling people theyíre not registered

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Dick Gephardt: Fact Check: Would ban lobbyist donations, but took $4.4 M

FACTCHECK on Lobbyists: Gephardt agreed with Edwards to support a ban on political donations from lobbyists, but made no mention of his own heavy reliance on special-interest money.

EDWARDS: So you would agree with my proposal to ban contributions from lobbyists?

GEPHARDT: Yes, Iím with you.

FACTCHECK: But Gephardtís various campaigns have received $8 million from political action committeeís since 1989-amounting to one dollar of every five he has raised. Counting both PAC money and donations from individuals, Gephardt got $4.4 million from lawyers and lobbyists during that period, making that industry his biggest supporter by far. In second place is the beer, wine and liquor industry at $1.3 million. To be sure, it isnít necessarily inconsistent to take lobbyistsí money while advocating a ban. In fact, Edwards himself is heavily funded by fellow trial lawyers even though he turns away money from registered lobbyists. But we thought you would like to know.

Source: FactCheck on 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Bob Graham: $40B aid to states to cover unfunded mandates

Q: Would a new federal revenue-sharing program be appropriate as a means of assisting state and local governments today?

GRAHAM: We have a crisis. Some would say, ďWell, this is not a federal responsibility. This is a result of state mismanagement.Ē It is a federal responsibility. The federal government has passed a series of mandates on the states, everything from special education, to No Child Left Behind, to homeland security, and failed to provide the dollars that it was committed to do to make those programs real.

What I think we ought to do is this year is to put $40 billion into the states to help them immediately deal with their crisis. That would provide $330 million for Iowa, incidentally, and to see that those funds are expedited to the states by doing it through a change in the Medicaid formula with the federal government picking up a larger proportion of the costs. Thatís the best remedy. Thatís the best prescription to the current crisis.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Carol Moseley-Braun: Provide federal funding to states to cover unfunded mandates

Q: How would you address state and local governments getting their budgets back on track?

MOSELEY BRAUN: The first and most important thing is to get the economy going again so that the tax revenues flow into state coffers sufficient to meet their budget obligations. But what weíre watching here is a shift of responsibility from the federal government, making rules and not paying the cost-talking the talk but not being willing to pay for it.

I proposed in the Senate, [relevant to] unfunded mandates, to make certain that the federal government sent the dollars behind their dictates to the states and also to invest in infrastructure in ways that would have the federal government picking up its fair share, [including education and Medicaid]. We have to transform the [federal-state relationship to provide] some fairness between who pays for what and that the national politicians donít keep getting away with saying theyíre cutting taxes and just pushing them down to the lowest possible level.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Dennis Kucinich: End privatization: it sells government to lowest bidder

As president Iíll lead the way to stopping privatization which has been about carving up our government and selling it to the lowest bidder. Weíll put an end to that. As president, Iíll lead the way to protecting Social Security and stop the privatization of Social Security and bring the retirement age back to 65. As president, Iíll stop the privatization of Medicare.
Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

John Edwards: $50B aid to states to avoid municipal layoffs

Q: What is your view on revenue sharing?

EDWARDS: I have a plan about how to get the economy going and to help states and municipalities with this terrible budget crisis. I have introduced legislation that would provide $50 billion to states and municipalities so that they donít have to lay off workers, so they are not laying off fire fighters, so theyíre not cutting education.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Jack Hatch: Spending limits on political campaigns, & state funding

Q: Do you support limiting the following types of contributions to state legislative and gubernatorial candidates: Individual?

A: No.


A: No.

Q: Corporate?

A: Yes.

Q: Political Parties?

A: No.

Q: Do you support requiring full and timely disclosure of campaign finance information??

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support imposing spending limits on state level political campaigns??

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support partial funding from state taxes for state level political campaigns??

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support adopting statewide standards for counting, verifying and ensuring accuracy of votes??

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support prohibiting media exit polling of voters until all polling locations in Iowa are closed??

A: Yes.

Source: 2002 Iowa Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test Nov 1, 2002

Al Gore: Justices should view Constitution as ďliving & breathingĒ

Q: Where do you rank affirmative action when it comes to any one you might have the chance to nominate to sit on the Supreme Court? A: The next president is likely to appoint at least 3 justices of the Supreme Court. And the majority on the court that will determine our policies for the next 30 to 40 years will be appointed by the next president. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will appoint justices to that court who understand and reflect in their decisions the philosophy that our Constitution is a living and breathing document. Affirmative action is one of the tools that we still need to have available to us to remove the barriers of discrimination and open up opportunity for all through economic empowerment, through the best education system in the world, through universal health care, through an end to poverty in this country and through a Supreme Court that will honor our Constitutionís deepest values and the deepest meaning of the American spirit.
Source: Democrat Debate in Des Moines, Iowa Jan 17, 2000

Al Gore: Reinvention cut Defense while investing in social programs

BRADLEY [to Gore]: We have tremendous economic growth driven by technological change and globalization, innovation, entrepreneurship in the private sector. That is producing this tremendous surplus. That means we can do more to try to help community colleges. Iíve proposed a way to do that-$2 billion for community colleges-because thatís where people learn more so that they can earn more for a lifetime. Al wants to spend $127 billion on defense increases and wants to spend less than that for education.

GORE: Iíve presided over the so-called reinventing government program to downsize our federal bureaucracy, including, more than any other, the Pentagon and the Defense Department. But even as weíve kept our military strong, weíve turned the biggest deficits into the biggest surpluses in history. Now we have an opportunity to invest in education & human services. And if you work in the field of human services, you know how important Medicaid is to the people who receive those human services.

Source: Democrat Debate in Johnston Iowa Jan 8, 2000

Al Gore: Public financing of elections and debates lead to trust

Q: What would you do to restore the public trust in government? A: I think that we need campaign finance reform in order to restore a sense of trust and integrity in our government, and thatís why Iíve supported, for 20 years, full public financing of elections. Thatís why I donít accept any PAC contributions. And thatís why I have suggested that we have twice-weekly debates, and instead of depending on these 30-second television ads and 60-second television ads, letís depend on debates like this one.
Source: Democrat Debate in Johnston Iowa Jan 8, 2000

Bill Bradley: Money corrupts democracy

Q: Do you support campaign reform?
A: Money distorts the democratic process in a fundamental way. The rich in this country should be able to buy as many vacations and homes and cars as they want, but they shouldnít be able to buy our democracy. And until we have public financing of elections -- we spend $900 million on democracy abroad, we ought to be able to spend the same amount of money to totally take the special interests out of democracy at home.
Source: Democrat Debate in Johnston Iowa Jan 8, 2000

Steve Forbes: Remove govít from health care, retirement, & education

Iím running for president because I believe itís important for somebody to step forward and deal honestly and openly with the American people. These are the things I will do as president
Source: Television advertisement in NH & Iowa Dec 30, 1999

Elizabeth Dole: Roll back the bureaucracy: defend the 10th Amendment

The Federal Government has become too big, too complex, too bureaucratic. Decisions once made in state legislatures, in city halls and around kitchen tables are now made in Washington... What we need to do, it seems, is to remember the wisdom of our countryís founders, and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution: those powers not specifically delegated to the federal government or prohibited to the states are reserved for the states and for ďwe the peopleĒ -- you and me!
Source: Speech at Iowa State University, 2/15/99 Feb 15, 1999

  • The above quotations are from State of Iowa Politicians: Archives.
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