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ITR Live: Conservative Iowa Politics

ITR Live: Conservative Iowa Politics

By Iowans for Tax Relief

Iowans for Tax Relief works to get politicians and government out of your pocket and off your back. The ITR Live podcast brings you news, opinion and an occasional laugh as we work to advance this conservative vision for Iowa.
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Election Day 2023 Recap

ITR Live: Conservative Iowa PoliticsNov 08, 2023

Economist Vance Ginn: Unpacking Conservative Budgeting Principles

Economist Vance Ginn: Unpacking Conservative Budgeting Principles

Exploring the Conservative Approach to Budgeting in Iowa

Iowa continues to stand at the crossroads of fiscal conservatism, where balancing the budget isn’t a mere financial exercise but a deep-seated principle that resonates across the state’s governance. As part of this ongoing narrative, the dialogue around conservative budgeting within the state has intensified, particularly in light of similar efforts experienced throughout the country.

An Interview with Economist Vance Ginn

Vance Ginn, with an impressive roster of roles including Chief Economist at the *Pelican Institute for Public Policy* and Senior Fellow at *Americans for Tax Reform*, has emerged as a notable figure in this movement toward fiscal prudence. His deep-rooted experience extends beyond think tanks and into the halls of the White House, where he previously served as the Associate Director for Economic Policy at the *Office of Management and Budget (OMB)* during the Trump administration.

During his tenure at the OMB, Ginn's work added an insightful perspective to the federal budgeting conversation. He played a pivotal role in crafting the President's budget to identify substantial savings, although these measures did not wholly balance the budget. His initiatives aimed to improve budgetary directions and provided him with firsthand insights into the federal budget’s complexities, particularly concerning entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.

Lessons from the Federal Level

Moving from broad strokes painted at the national canvas, Ginn's tenure at the White House offered him unique insights into the inner workings of federal budgeting. He participated in critical discussions during formative times, such as the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. This critical period showcased the government's response to unforeseen economic challenges and the decisions that affect national fiscal health.

Ginn's experience at the federal level highlighted the dichotomy of discretionary versus mandatory spending, with the former being more susceptible to budget cuts than the latter. These learnings underpin Ginn’s expertise in fiscal policy and provide essential framing for understanding how government spending directly correlates to the extent of government's reach.

State-Level Fiscal Responsibility

Ginn is an advocate for the effectiveness of state-level governance, where action is not only more pronounced but also essential for maintaining economic equilibrium. States are often seen as laboratories for democracy, wherein policy experimentation is more feasible, and its results more keenly felt by the constituents.

Ginn underscores the significance of states having balanced budget amendments or similar provisions, which necessitate revenues equaling expenditures. This requirement is lacking at the federal level, where debt has surged, and fiscal responsibility seems markedly more abstract. With states constrained in their fiscal operations and unable to resort to deficit spending as readily as the federal government, there is an inherent drive towards responsible budgeting.

The Conservative Iowa Budget: A Paradigm of Fiscal Conservatism

The conservative Iowa budget represents a paradigm shift towards restrained government expenditure and sustainable fiscal policy. Ginn's advocacy for conservative budgeting – an approach that emphasizes living within our means – has transcended his work in Texas and permeated his influence across multiple states, including Iowa.

This approach to budgeting, which focuses on the growth of government spending not exceeding certain economic benchmarks, aims to safeguard taxpayers from unchecked fiscal expansionism. In Iowa, like in Texas, the goal is to instill a robust spending limit that aligns with taxpayers' ability to pay. The root of conservative budgeting in Iowa is a profound understanding that the burden of government is more accurately reflected in spending rather than in taxation or regulation.

Dec 04, 202337:28
Presidential Endorsements: Unpacking the Impact in Iowa

Presidential Endorsements: Unpacking the Impact in Iowa

The race for the Republican presidential nomination is heating up, with Iowa playing a pivotal role as ever in the road to the White House. Governor Kim Reynolds' recent endorsement of Ron DeSantis marks a significant moment in the primary contest, suggesting potential shifts in voter allegiances. Alongside Governor Reynolds, prominent conservative voice Bob Vander Plaats from The Family Leader has also thrown his support behind Governor DeSantis.

Governor Reynolds is actively campaigning for DeSantis, indicating her commitment to his success goes beyond verbal support. Her involvement in campaign events and appearances in TV advertisements could provide a considerable boost to DeSantis's efforts in Iowa. History has shown that while some endorsements may not sway a large portion of the electorate, the backing by influential state leaders like Governor Reynolds may be an exception, reflective of their broader appeal and political muscle within the state.

Additionally, Bob Vander Plaats's alignment with DeSantis carries weight within conservative circles, potentially impacting grassroots support and fundraising. Voters often look towards leaders whose opinions they trust, and endorsements from individuals with a robust following can shift the political landscape in subtle but meaningful ways.

The seeming support for Donald Trump among Iowans has persisted, with numerous Trump signs still visible across rural landscapes, in stark contrast to the scant presence of signs for other candidates like Nikki Haley. This visual support underscores a broader enthusiasm gap; Trump's base remains fervent while other candidates are still working to ignite similar passion.

The recent national endorsement of Nikki Haley by Americans for Prosperity introduces another dynamic to the race. Their organizational strength and willingness to back endorsements with substantial financial resources could enhance Haley's visibility. While some voters may align with Haley by default, seeking a fresh alternative to Trump, the question remains whether endorsements and financial backing can generate the grassroots enthusiasm seen for Trump.

Despite the infusion of endorsements and campaigning, John maintains that Trump remains not just a candidate but the leader of a movement, which is a factor that continues to resonate with a substantial portion of the Republican electorate. The narrative shaped by media coverage and political analysts suggests an uphill battle for candidates who seek to challenge Trump's dominance in the Republican field.

Ultimately, the true impact of political endorsements on voters remains a topic of ongoing debate. As Iowa approaches its caucuses, with roughly two months remaining, the political landscape is indeed subject to change. While endorsements alone may not have historically tipped scales, when coupled with active campaigning and media strategies, they have the potential to reshape voter perceptions and outcomes.

As candidates and their high-profile supporters make their case to Iowans, it will be the alignment of endorsements with established voter sentiment and the organic enthusiasm of the electorate that will determine their ultimate influence in this pivotal state for the presidential race.

On a more localized level, there is increasing scrutiny on how taxpayer funds are allocated, particularly in matters such as public transportation. The case of Grimes, Iowa, opting out of the Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) due to its exorbitant cost and minimal usage, reflects a broader conversation on government efficiency and proper allocation of tax dollars.

Grimes’s decision to pull out of DART, which seemingly served a minuscule number of residents, raises questions about the evaluation and justification of similar services and programs funded by taxpayers. This incident may well spark further investigations into the value propositions of various taxpayer-funded services throughout Iowa.

Nov 29, 202325:37
A Streetcar Named Boondoggle

A Streetcar Named Boondoggle

Tax policy remains a central focus for many Iowa legislators, and recent discussions among lawmakers continue to push for fiscal conservatism. This shift is visible in the legislative sphere, with a trend towards pro-taxpayer sentiments and policy proposals that aim to rein in local government spending. These changes reflect broader desires among constituents for responsible financial governance and transparency, reinforcing a commitment to reduce the tax burden on Iowans.

The call to restrain local government spending often comes with diverse opinions on how funds should be allocated. For instance, proposals to invest in streetcar networks or manage ski resorts raise questions about the role of municipal authorities in the business and development sectors. In particular, the Waterloo School District has announced a $160 million proposal to reorganize local high schools and construct a consolidated new building near their career academy.

Recent legislation has been crucial in improving voter turnout in Iowan local elections. By mandating direct notification of bond elections, the state has empowered citizens to participate more actively in local governance. This law has led to increased engagement, reflective of successful collaboration between governmental bodies and the electorate. Data from recent school district elections underscore the legislation's positive impact, with voter turnout percentages rising significantly across multiple districts.

Access to electoral information remains paramount to fostering an informed voter base. The challenges in disseminating details regarding bond measures and taxation policies call for more effective communication avenues. Establishing uniformity in how local elections are announced and conducted could alleviate concerns about voter knowledge gaps. Ongoing efforts aim to maintain transparency and enable voters to make decisions rooted in a comprehensive understanding of the issues at stake.

Nov 22, 202324:49
First in the Nation Update

First in the Nation Update

Despite the financial support and continued ad campaigns associated with Senator Tim Scott's campaign, it fell short in resonating with voters. By attempting to appeal to all demographics, the campaign lacked a solid ideological foundation which lead to generic messaging that failed to make a significant impact. Senator Tim Scott was well-liked, with many Iowa indicating they would happily have him represent them. However, his inability to effectively carve out a unique lane as a presidential candidate prevented him from gaining a broad base of support. First in the Nation Update It's apparent that as the field of candidates narrows, their focus and ideologies become more apparent, and endorsements can help highlight these distinctions. Nikki Haley's list of endorsements, largely from more moderate figures, suggest an alignment with the establishmentarian lane. This could work in her favor, given fewer candidates are vying for this space. However, whether it will propel her above third place in Iowa is debatable. While many voters expressed admiration for Scott and considered him as a conservative candidate, his lack of a strong, distinct stand on key issues translated to a scattered distribution of secondary support. The trend suggested a fairly even split of Scott's voters between the other top three contenders - Trump, DeSantis, and Haley. As such, Scott's exit from the race had a relatively negligible impact on the overall poll standings, despite an uptick for DeSantis and Haley. A point of contention arose between the Family Leader and the Republican National Committee (RNC) over the control of debates. The former planned to host a presidential forum that the RNC argued was too akin to a debate setting. The dispute reflects a balance of power issue, and decisions made regarding debate environments and question-askers can incite strong reactions among Republican primary voters who often side with candidates over the RNC in such conflicts. It reiterates the importance of focusing on voter information rather than quibbling over dominion. "Untrue, False and Deceptive"? There is a noteworthy trend of media outlets leaning towards taking the word of those on the left, which was evident during the recent Des Moines mayoral race. Rather than focusing on the fact that candidate Josh Mandelbaum is a registered lobbyist working for the left-leaning Environmental Law and Policy Center, the media instead put the spotlight on the right-leaning individuals or groups attacking him. There appears to be a bias in some media outlets, dismissing those on the right as 'radical', thereby indirectly dismissing a significant portion of the population. More Property Tax Increases? The pressing issue of increasing property taxes or cutting services by Des Moines Area Rapid Transit (DART) is a critical example of public perceptions about services. DART, which has been funded by one-time pandemic relief funds due to run out soon, is now faced with difficult choices. The notion of temporary tax increases often receives public skepticism, as many believe these levies are rarely rolled back.

Nov 14, 202327:54
Election Day 2023 Recap

Election Day 2023 Recap

Among several ballot measures across the country, there was a ballot measure in Colorado that aimed to revise that state's Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) in exchange for property tax relief and increased funding for public education. However, proposition H was defeated in a landslide. John Hendrickson mentioned that 60.2% of the voters opposed the measure while only 39.8% supported it. It seems that the voters saw through the proposition's promise of short-term payoff and recognized the importance of preserving the long-standing taxpayer protection provided by TABOR. The defeat of proposition H in Colorado serves as a lesson to other states, including Iowa, about being cautious of promises for property tax relief combined with increased state spending.

Within Iowa, several local elections were held. Although the podcast hosts didn't elaborate on every individual race, they did highlight the Des Moines mayor's race, which pitted two city council members against each other. The winner, Connie Boesen, emerged victorious in what was a highly contested race. It was noted that both sides of the campaign were financially well-supported and had significant television presence. The hosts also posited that in the Des Moines race, the positioning of the candidates seemed to align with an activist, progressive, and far-left approach versus a different approach, resulting in Boesen's eventual win.

The hosts discussed the bond elections in Iowa, specifically acknowledging the community engagement and turnout seen in relation to these issues. While they didn't delve deeply into the specifics of each bond measure's success or failure, they indicated that roughly half of the bond issues passed across the state. The hosts believed this trend suggested that citizens were actively involved in the decision-making process, incorporating information and opinions from their elected officials. In terms of educating voters and providing information, the hosts shared appreciation for their ITR local initiative, which aims to equip voters with objective information so they can make informed choices about their communities.

Nov 08, 202321:56
Local Election Day

Local Election Day

Des Moines Mayoral Race

One of the most exciting races this time was the Des Moines mayor's race. It seems to boil down to two primary candidates, Josh Mandelbaum and Connie Boesen. Both are Democrats and are currently serving in the Des Moines City Council. It was interesting to see how the candidates utilized a broad range of topics to appeal to Des Moines' demographic.

The two main contenders, Boesen and Mandelbaum, and their campaign ads tried to court the Democratic electorate. However, let's not overlook the percentage of the Des Moines population made up of Republicans. It could potentially be the deciding factor, even though Des Moines is a predominantly Democrat city. The influence of both sides of the political spectrum on the mayoral race is, undoubtedly, an essential factor to consider.

School Board Elections

The school board elections this year in Iowa promise to be especially contentious and engaging. Factions within the parties and several interest groups have mobilized and are participating actively in these local elections. This development leads to increased vigilance and awareness surrounding the school board races, primarily due to recent culture war issues surfacing in these elections.

For instance, the Waukee school district has seen a rise in the number of progressive candidates since the last election. In contrast, other areas, such as Johnston and Ankeny, have seen conservative candidates or pro-parent candidates gaining popularity.

Bond Issue Elections

In addition to city council elections and school board races, there are also several bond issues that citizens need to vote on. With the total proposed new bonding estimated at nearly 1.7 billion dollars, the decisions made now will significantly impact Iowa's economic scenario for years to come.

Historically, many bonds easily passed, particularly those proposed by schools, as people have a strong connection with their local schools. Yet property taxes have become a significant concern for many Iowans, leading to increased scrutiny and debate over bond proposals.

The upcoming polling days will reveal the direction the public opinion sways and whether the bias towards supporting their local schools will overpower the prevailing concern with property taxes.

As far as the local elections go, the increase in voter turnout is an encouraging sign. This poll season promises to bring some interesting races and decisions that hold the potential to reshape the future of Iowa's political and economic landscape. So on Election Day, cast your vote and let your voice be heard.

Nov 07, 202324:38
America's Tax Evolution: A Focus on Iowa

America's Tax Evolution: A Focus on Iowa

ITR Live takes a look at a recent article in The Economist showcasing Iowa's recent success in implementing significant broad-based tax reform. Iowa is witnessing a transformative overhaul that offers an exciting departure from the norm. A wave of tax cuts is sweeping across states with Iowa leading the path as a trailblazer in state-based tax reforms. But what does this signify for the country's economy and how will it shape public policies in the future? It's crucial to delve into the developments and analyze the potential implications to understand taxation in its new avatar.

## Iowa - The Gold Standard of State-Based Tax Reform

As Iowa paves the path toward a pro-growth tax landscape, the focus rests on its ability to strategically implement policies that catalyze economic growth. Seizing the opportunity provided by budget surpluses, the state is enabling reductions in tax burdens that reflect in the form of business-friendly policies and an environment conducive to an influx of businesses and families.

Shadowing these reforms is the looming concern of a day of reckoning when tax cuts reach a critical mass. External observers have drawn parallels with Kansas and sketched out apocalyptic scenarios where the arrival of low taxes leads to a crash, largely in key areas such as education and health care. Yet, the virtue of fiscal responsibility ingrained in Iowa's governance bespeaks a careful balancing act insulated from such drastic consequences.

## A Tale of Two Paths: Iowa and Minnesota

In stark contrast to Iowa's commitment to lower taxes, the narrative of Minnesota's taxation strategy reveals a different strain of thought. Adopting a path of increased government spending, Minnesota cranks up expenditures by a whopping 38%, firmly positioning itself as a state that opts for left-wing policies. This fiscal freedom, however, brings with it the question of sustainability in the face of year-on-year revenue constraints.

At the heart of this discourse lies the individual taxpayer. Citizens increasingly 'vote with their feet,' so to speak, gravitating toward states that meet their expectations of governance. As Iowa navigates this dramatic overhaul, the state's electorate seems to underscore their approval by consistently electing representatives who are proponents of lower taxes.

This story of two neighboring states tells us that there might not be a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to state revenue management. Different populations may find merit in varying styles of governance, and that in itself could lead to distinctions in state policies. Nonetheless, with its widespread tax cuts and commitment to economic growth, Iowa stands as the proverbial beacon, showcasing what can be achieved through effective governance. Whether the nation takes a leaf out of Iowa's tax reform book or charts its own course remains to be seen.

Nov 03, 202329:01
Challenging the Justification of High Property Taxes

Challenging the Justification of High Property Taxes

## Frustrations on Property Tax
A recent Axios Des Moines article contained several quotes from city and county officials complaining about the restriction on property tax increment. We believe these officials are too often prioritizing their government budgets over the budgets of Iowans, who continue to grapple with ongoing inflation. The pressure to maintain and expand city budgets is leading to potentially unnecessary endeavors which only add to the existing financial burdens of property owners.

City budgets have grown far beyond just coping with inflation. In Des Moines, for example, more than $500 million goes into 'normal' city services. The ongoing dilemma is whether the hefty taxes and budgets are going towards filling essential needs such as fixing potholes, or towards wants like developing new buildings downtown.

## Des Moines Register Caucus Poll
Looking beyond property taxes, the episode shifted to the recent Des Moines Register's Caucus Poll, which in its latest edition sees former President Donald Trump significantly leading the pack amongst potential caucus attendees. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley are neck-and-neck as alternatives, with more independents interested in Haley.

The hosts discuss how the large number of 'likely caucus-goers' sampled, tilted the poll in Haley's favor. If only registered Republican caucus-goers were considered, the numbers would likely be more heavily skewed towards Trump and DeSantis. Based on their interactions with Republicans in the state, the hosts observe a considerable level of support and energy for Trump, and they believe this could potentially mobilize a large number of caucus-goers.
Oct 31, 202325:52
MAGA, Border Security, Election 2024 and Public Libraries

MAGA, Border Security, Election 2024 and Public Libraries

Speaker Mike Johnson

In recent days, a political shift has occurred. A new House has been elected following three arduous trials, with Mike Johnson coming to the forefront as a very strong conservative and a favorable choice among many. While Johnson might not be as recognized as Jim Jordan, his staunch conservative credentials are well approved. Interestingly, along with Mike Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise hails from Louisiana, making it an unexpected event to have the speaker and the majority leader from the same state.

Still, the reality remains. The problems present in Washington, D.C. extend much deeper than the leadership of one caucus in one chamber. An overwhelmingly conservative leader doesn't necessarily equate to straightforward solutions, especially considering the liberal Democrats currently controlling the Senate and the White House.

Analyzing the 2024 Election

A common misconception surrounds the future 2024 election: the belief that it will be heavily influenced by the elected speaker of the House. This notion is far from the truth. Candidature and political stances will not be the determinant factor for voters. For instance, voting for Mike Johnson for Speaker won't necessarily sway voters from their preferences as a large scale of what matters lays in personal records and the work done in the district.

Public opinion polls clearly show President Biden and Democrats being held accountable for the inflation problem, which will be the real focus on voters heading into next year's election.

Kim Reynolds and Border Security

In the realm of border security, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has shown a strong commitment to ensuring the safety and sovereignty of our nation. As border security remains a pressing issue for all Americans, Reynolds has actively engaged in efforts to support actions that strengthen border control and curb illegal immigration.

Governor Reynolds recognizes the importance of securing our borders to address the concerns regarding national security, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. Through close collaboration with federal authorities and advocating for stronger border enforcement measures, she aims to protect the well-being of Iowans and all citizens across the United States.

Public Libraries

John Hendrickson is not only one of Iowa's leading conservative voices, he is also a former public library board member and remains a strong advocate for public libraries. He believes that libraries are still highly valued by communities, and although they may need to adapt and change, they should continue to receive funding. There has been concern about potential budget cuts to libraries due to property tax reforms, but these cuts have not yet been implemented. Hendrickson suspects that these claims could be scare tactics used by local governments to discourage future property tax reforms. Overall, he reassures that libraries are essential services that communities are unlikely to stop funding.

Oct 27, 202321:15
Understanding Iowa's Rise in the Tax Rankings

Understanding Iowa's Rise in the Tax Rankings

# Iowa's Progress on the Tax Front

The State of Iowa has shown significant progress in improving tax policies, highlighting the power of conservative governance in recent years and establishing a model for other states to follow. According to the annual state business tax climate rankings from the Tax Foundation, Iowa has stepped out of the top ten worst tax climates and is steadily improving its position.

It's important to note that this success did not happen overnight. Iowa's climb in the rankings is a result of a continuous process of pro-growth tax reforms since 2018, which gradually brought about substantial improvements in different categories of the state's tax climate.

*An In-Depth Look into the Rankings*

The Tax Foundation ranks states based on corporate tax, individual income tax, sales tax, property tax, and unemployment insurance tax. As of the recent rankings, Iowa placed 29th in the nation for corporate taxes, showing considerable improvement. Furthermore, the state ranked 22nd in individual income tax, 15th in sales tax, and 32nd in unemployment insurance tax.

However, the rankings show that Iowa still has a notable challenge - property tax. With the state ranked 41st in the nation in this category, it is evident that the concerns of property taxpayers can't be ignored. Calls for reforms in this area are well justified and must be addressed to maintain overall progress in the state's tax climate.

*The Benefits of Good Tax Reform*

Good tax reform has driven Iowa's advancements in the tax climate rankings and will continue to fuel further improvements. Plans are already underway to introduce a flat 3.9% tax by 2026, which will significantly enhance Iowa's position.

Moreover, the reduction of income tax rates since 2018 has set the state on the path of positive transformation. By focusing on broadening the sales tax base, the state has been able to reduce income tax rates successfully, with impactful results already evident in the tax climate rankings.

Good tax reform does more than just improve rankings - it plays a crucial role in fostering economic growth and attracting investment. As the Tax Foundation succinctly puts it, tax rates matter. In the current highly mobile economy, businesses often prefer investing in states with competitive tax climates. Iowa's progress on this front makes it more attractive for business investment and can stimulate economic development.

*The Road Ahead*

While the state has made laudable progress, the journey to optimal tax reform is far from over. It's a race for tax competitiveness, and other states won't stand still. As other states enact their own tax reforms, Iowa must continue to build on its existing progress and address impending challenges effectively.

Property tax remains a key area that needs urgent attention. For Iowa to get out of the bottom ten in property tax rankings, politicians must listen to their constituents and make essential reforms in this area.

Overall, the task at hand for Iowa's lawmakers is clear: they must sustain the long-term vision of aligning revenue and spending, thereby enabling taxpayers to retain more of their hard-earned money. The work may be complicated, and the process sometimes slow, but the potential benefits are immense.

Iowa's improvement in the Tax Foundation's state business tax climate ranking is indeed a testament to the potential of conservative, pro-growth policies in fostering economic development. As the state forges ahead with further reforms, it is well-positioned to set an enviable standard for tax climate that other states can aspire to. As these internal changes continue to gain national attention, Iowa's standing as a leader in tax reform will continue to rise.

It's an exciting transformation to watch — and be part of — for every Iowan who cares about strengthening the state's economy and their own financial well-being.

Oct 24, 202329:36
ITR Local: Unveiling the Truth Behind Rising Property Taxes

ITR Local: Unveiling the Truth Behind Rising Property Taxes

## Addressing Property Taxes in Iowa

Perhaps the most pertinent issue for many Iowans is property taxes. They are frustratingly high and continue to rise at a pace that's unsustainable compared to the rate of inflation and population growth. There's a clear disconnect between how taxpayers perceive property taxes and how local officials communicate about them. For instance, it's misleading when officials claim that they are spending more while maintaining the same levy rate.

This disconnect often results in a blame game, with every local authority involved pointing fingers at each other. The onus is on the individuals who devise and approve the budgets. They control how much tax money will be collected and how much will be spent.

The silver lining is that all this information is available on the ITR local website. It provides a 360-degree view of your local government finances, helping you understand how your tax money is spent and supporting your active engagement in local decision-making processes.

## Local Bonding Decisions and the Property Tax Burden

Another important topic concerns local governments and their approach to increasing expenditure through debt. The question of whether we need or simply want new facilities – like schools or sports fields – is an important one. It's crucial to consider whether bonding, therefore, is the right approach, or if we should be allocating consistent revenue streams towards these expenses.

A significant part of the issue is the over-reliance on issuing bonds for every expenditure. This approach negates any potential property tax cuts that the taxpayers could have enjoyed if the tax money was used wisely. Thus, millions of dollars in new debt are dumped onto taxpayers, which is a huge concern.

In the end, it’s fundamental to separate the genuine needs of a community from its wants, especially at a time of high inflation. The focus should always be on what an investment is offering to the community, its utility, and how it impacts the family budget. This focus will, in turn, push local governments to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of their constituents.

Oct 20, 202322:52
Special Announcement: ITR Local 2.0

Special Announcement: ITR Local 2.0

Introducing ITR Local: Empowering Iowans to Engage at the Local Level.

ITR Local is a groundbreaking initiative by Iowans for Tax Relief that aims to inform and activate individuals at the local level. At the heart of this initiative is the user-friendly website, which serves as a comprehensive resource for all the data and information discussed in this episode.

The primary objective of ITR Local is to empower Iowans by providing them with crucial information about their city, county, and school district. Users can access property tax, budget, and spending data, which are essential for engaging in meaningful discussions with local elected officials. With ITR Local, individuals have all the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and contribute to the development of their respective communities.

John's Visit with President Trump

During his recent visit to Iowa, our co-host John Hendrickson, was fortunate enough to attend a rally in Clive, at the Horizon Event Center, where Former President Trump gave a thoughtful and informative speech on several policy issues, particularly the trade policy. The rally was impressive, teeming with energy, and had standing room only crowd. The experience for Hendrickson was enjoyable and exciting, meeting the president and a lot of great people.

Active participation in campaigns, regardless of whether your candidate wins or not is always thrilling. Being involved in the election process of the leader of the free world, exchanging thoughts with various people, and understanding the diverse opinions that exist, makes the whole process worth cherishing. We encourage every American, irrespective of their political allegiance, to experience this excitement.

Oct 17, 202324:21
Balance of Power

Balance of Power

Inherent in ITR Live's discussions are the shifting dynamics of the Republican Party. The hosts aren't afraid to question the direction it's heading or the strategies it uses. As the balance of power hangs by a thread, they constantly scrutinize potential nominees' ability to secure the 217 votes required to assume the speaker of the House of Representatives' role.

Names such as Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan have been thrown into the ring, their candidacies dissected along with the implications they could have on the party’s future. Acknowledging voter concerns about property taxes, the hosts commend legislators who have taken steps towards tax reform. They underscore the importance of continued civic engagement to keep elected representatives accountable for realizing much-needed reforms.

**Global Threats and American Reponses**

Recently, the increasing conflict between Israel and Hamas received particular attention. Drawing from a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Walter Russell Mead, they consider whether the West has the resilience and resolve to address this brewing crisis.

Acknowledging the potential for escalation into a region-wide war in the Middle East, the hosts emphasize the importance of measured and strategic responses. This includes perceiving and responding to the growing alliance between China, Iran, and Russia as well as reconsidering America’s military strength.

Oct 13, 202327:46
A Deeper Look into the Israel Crisis: Implications for U.S Foreign Policy

A Deeper Look into the Israel Crisis: Implications for U.S Foreign Policy

# The State of America's Foreign Policy: Reflecting on the Israel Crisis

The world has been helplessly witnessing the horrific brutalities unfolding in the Middle East over the past few weeks. Attacks on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas, has shocked the international community and has also shifted the perspective of foreign policy discourse within America.

## Israel - A Time-Tested Ally

Israel, an enduring ally of America, has been facing concentrated, malicious attacks from Hamas which has stirred unprecedented chaos and loss of innocent lives in the region. The attacks are nothing short of barbaric, characterized by cold-blooded executions of civilians, including women and children. Essentially, it represents indiscriminate hatred towards the Jews and violations of human rights on a grand scale. In the light of such alarming occurrences, it is imperative for America, and indeed the world, to support Israel.

## The Implications of America's Domestic and Foreign Policies

While supporting Israel forms an important aspect of U.S-Israel relations, the way America has facilitated grave situations, directly or indirectly, cannot be overlooked. Weapons and supplies left behind during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan have found their way to Gaza. Besides this, the Biden Administration's recent decision to provide Iran with $6 billion has raised several eyebrows. This funding could potentially be used to further fuel the ongoing conflict.

Moreover, the Biden Administration’s reversal of stringent policies towards oil-producing nations has increased the price of oil globally. Coincidentally, this policy shift has been an economic windfall for Iran, thus indirectly boosting its ability to support Hamas.

Finally, the America's poorly regulated, porous southern border might have unintentionally facilitated the entry of individuals with potential hostile intent into the country.

## The Strains of War

In this difficult period as Israel faces its own version of 9/11, a discourse of war is natural. However, caution must be exercised before entering into another long, draining, and costly conflict. The lesson to learn from the aftermath of 9/11 is to focus on eliminating the immediate threats instead of taking on unnecessary wars.

Furthermore, the Republican Party needs a careful introspection. Some figures within the party seem excessively passionate about getting into a war with Iran. While supporting Israel is a non-negotiable commitment, a new elective war abroad should never be our first choice.

## Future Insights

The upcoming days will influence the public's perception of the potential Presidential candidates and their stance on the Israel-Hamas conflagration. It will give the masses a clearer picture of who they can trust on key foreign policy issues, most importantly preserving peace and security in the Middle East.

Oct 10, 202329:39
Tackling Iowans' Concerns: Economy, Immigration, and Taxes

Tackling Iowans' Concerns: Economy, Immigration, and Taxes

## There is no AAA to call in the Iowa Caucuses

Chris took a trip down memory lane when he shared a story about one particular caucus season which involved Andrew Yang's campaign team, a muddy Iowa road, and a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser. And the sense of camaraderie which resonates with many conservative leaning voters is alive and well in the anecdote. Regardless of political affiliations, be it a staunch Trumper or a Yang Gang supporter, the story showcases the unity and spirit of rural Iowa, where a lending hand is never far away.

Through detailed discussions and analysis, they offer compelling insights into current political happenings. Recent episodes have touched on prevalent issues such as an event involving Vivek Ramaswamy, an upcoming potential presidential candidate. They analyze incidents from a unique perspective, dissecting even the little details. For instance, they appreciated Vivek for his patient and empathetic approach toward addressing the concerns raised by a climate change activist.

Discussions center around presidential approval ratings in Iowa, the statistical data revealing a higher approval rating for Donald Trump compared to Joe Biden.

A hypothetical showdown was contemplated between Trump and Biden, revealing that if an election were conducted today, Trump takes the lead with a favorable nine point difference. Interestingly, discussing an alternative Republican candidate against Biden, the gap broadened to more than 15 points. Their analysis indicates that at this point, another Republican nominee may find stronger support in Iowa

A fascinating element was the introduction of a new hypothetical matchup – Donald Trump versus Democrat Gavin Newsom. Shockingly, Newsom fared even worse than Biden in this scenario. Furthermore, the podcasters highlighted that a shift toward independent voters is observable, who currently lean more towards Trump over Newsom.

From national politics, their attention drifted towards local government matters. A standout point from this conversation was the widespread misconception among Iowans regarding who's responsible for property tax bills. They pointed out how a whopping 25% of Iowans wrongly held the state government responsible. Puzzlingly, this misunderstanding is more prevalent among Democrats.

This has sparked a need for awareness which needs to be carried out, since it's the local government, not the state, that impacts local property taxes. This touches upon another worrying trend: the lack of engagement with local government among Iowans. Considering how little participation there is in city council and county board supervisor meetings, this complacency could be detrimental.

Chris and John emphasized the importance of fostering an authentic dialogue through their podcasts. They urged listeners to dive deep into the questions posed and the responses elicited in their discussions. They're not interested in asking leading questions or influencing listener's responses.

The podcast highlighted that key concerns among Iowans seem to be the economy, immigration, and property taxes. While there is substantial applause for income tax reform, Iowans echo a deep worry about property taxes. This concern appears rooted in local government expenditure, reinforcing the urgency for being aware and engaged.

Oct 06, 202335:40
Iowa Turning to the Left?

Iowa Turning to the Left?

# The NASCAR Cup Race in Iowa and Its Economic Impact

Iowa is set to host its first-ever NASCAR Cup race. This major sporting event, scheduled for 2024, is eliciting mixed feelings from sports enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. However, regardless of individual spectator interests, one thing is certain - the event has the potential to significantly boost the state's economy.

The NASCAR race is expected to draw a large number of fans, not just from around the state, but from around the region and beyond. This influx of visitors can generate a substantial increase in spending on lodging, food and beverages, transportation, and entertainment. It also provides an opportunity for local businesses to tap into new markets and potentially establish long-term customer relationships.

Just as importantly, the event is also set to increase tax revenue for the state. The economic benefits of hosting a major professional sporting event like the NASCAR Cup race extend beyond immediate spending by fans. The broader visibility and reputation enhancement also have long-term implications for future investment and development.

## The Mariah Carey Christmas Tour

While the economic implications of hosting a NASCAR race are clearly positive, another aspect of entertainment is also worthy of attention, the power of music concerts in boosting the local economy. The potential of a city being included in the international tours of global music stars like Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift is often underestimated.

## Ongoing Feud between Matt Gaetz and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Meanwhile, in political news, an ongoing feud between Matt Gaetz and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is creating quite a stir. Gaetz's attempt to oust McCarthy as speaker has garnered mixed reactions, with some viewing it as a move to hold the Republican party accountable for recent decision-making, while others argue that it lacks strategy and does little more than heighten division within the party.

## Not so "Friendly" Property Taxes in Des Moines

In finance, a recent study confirmed that property taxes in Des Moines are indeed high. Per homeowner, the city of Des Moines charges 2% of the value of a property in taxes per year - a figure higher than most. While taxes are essential for providing necessary services like police, fire departments, roads, and parks, homeowners in Des Moines are understandably disgruntled.

Critics argue that while Des Moines has a large number of properties that are not taxed because they house state capitals or other government buildings, the city also benefits from the increased traffic and additional revenue these organizations draw in. While these debates continue, one thing is clear - property taxes in the city are placing a significant burden on homeowners.

## Tax Reforms in Oklahoma

Lastly, we travel to Oklahoma, where a special session is currently underway to discuss income tax reforms and budget transparency. Governor Kim Reynolds aims to put the tax on a path of elimination and increase government spending transparency through these discussions. The path to eliminating income taxes will not be an easy or quick one, however, it is an important first step in launching a much-needed discourse on financial governance.

Oct 03, 202329:15
The Power of Prudent Budgeting: Iowa's Financial Triumph

The Power of Prudent Budgeting: Iowa's Financial Triumph

# Breaking Down Iowa's Fiscal Prosperity: Government Accounting Simplified

The state of Iowa is experiencing an unprecedented fiscal boom, thanks to a dedicated commitment to conservative, prudent budgeting. In spite of its reputation for being a dry topic, government accounting is at the heart of this success, driving Iowa's capacity to implement significant tax reforms and establish a foundation for further economic growth.

## Strong Fiscal Stewardship

The state's financial health is robust, ending the recent fiscal year with a $1.83 billion general fund balance, with an additional $902 million held in reserve funds. This surplus isn't due to spending cuts or program slashes; instead, Iowa's economic strength and commitment to controlled budgeting have facilitated this impressive financial position.

This conservative approach to budgeting has been championed by Governor Kim Reynolds, recognized last year by the Cato Institute as the most fiscally conservative governor in the nation. This accomplishment is no small feat, given the myriad financial challenges and funding demands that governments face.

In Iowa's case, the emphasis has been on allowing the state's businesses and families to grow at a faster pace than government spending, ensuring a balanced approach to fiscal health that benefits all.

## The Robust Economy Underpinning the Surplus

This fiscal prudence and economic vibrancy have cultivated the conditions for ongoing tax reforms. Rather than stockpiling more money in the public coffers or indiscriminately growing government programs, Iowa's leadership is leveraging this prosperity to push for further income tax cuts.

Despite implementing tax reductions, the state is still collecting more in revenue than is necessary, often as a result of the economy outpacing the implementation of tax cuts. As Governor Reynolds has noted, this is not a case of government under-spending, but of over-collection from hardworking Iowans. Moving forward, the focus is on returning this surplus back to its rightful owners – the people of Iowa.

## The Future of Iowa’s Fiscal Landscape

The strong fiscal position of Iowa has paved the way for "bigger and bolder income tax cuts," as expressed by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitmer. Leaders advocating for tax reform have highlighted the potential for further reductions based on the state’s impressive surplus. This steadfast focus on prudent financial management, tax reduction, and economic growth continues to empower the state's strong fiscal outlook.

In stark contrast to the fiscal crises unfolding in high tax-and-spend states such as Illinois, Minnesota, California, and New York, Iowa's approach is demonstrating an effective alternative. The balance between funding government priorities and fostering economic growth is more than possible – it's happening, right now, in the heart of the Midwest.

On the horizon, Iowa’s surplus and sound fiscal management are set to enable deeper discussions surrounding trade policy, tax reduction strategies, and spending controls. With an aligned, fiscally conservative leadership committed to realizing these ambitions, Iowa can anticipate exciting developments on the horizon.

Sep 29, 202321:21
Parades, Politics, Presidents and Policy

Parades, Politics, Presidents and Policy

This episode of ITR Live checks in on another piece of Presidential candidate mail, this time touting Governor Doug Burgum's fiscal record in North Dakota. Burgum is cast as a conservative governor and business leader who has made significant strides in tax cuts, spending reduction, and budget balancing. The episode emphasized the importance of such achievements at the federal level, showcasing Burgum's track record as a leader devoted to fiscal responsibility.

Another topic covered was the controversy surrounding an entry from the Trump campaign during the Johnston homecoming parade. Hagenow expressed some irony and disbelief over the outrage caused by this entry—a single jeep adorned with an American flag and a Trump flag. Despite the seemingly harmless nature of the float, Hagenow described the extent of backlash and coined it as "dastardly." The incident spawned discussions regarding school board elections, with Axios' report questioning the overall morale at Johnson schools due to partisan influences.

Chris and John also discussed the announcement of a lowered corporate income tax in Iowa. As part of the state's 2022 tax reform law, the corporate tax rate reduction aimed to create a more business-friendly environment. Under this modified mechanism, any corporate revenues that exceed 700 million contribute to the buy-down of the rate. Hendrickson highlighted previous years of healthy corporate revenues to support the justification for this tax change. Such steps reflect the state's ongoing commitment to fostering a vibrant and competitive economic landscape that attracts and supports businesses.

Sep 26, 202325:52
America First: Understanding Republican Stances on Immigrations and Trade Policies

America First: Understanding Republican Stances on Immigrations and Trade Policies

# America First: Unpacking Contemporary American Ideals in Republican Discourse

In the United States political arena, nuanced interpretations of pressing national issues abound. Growing issues on immigration and trade policies have emerged as significant frontiers that policymakers must navigate, chiefly due to their extensive implications on domestic security and prosperity.

With its well-rooted origins, the America First policy movement is gaining remarkable momentum within Republican circles. As the label suggests, proponents emphasize a more inward-looking approach, favoring national interests above external affiliations or commitments - a call to revitalize the love of home soil and prioritize American citizens' needs.

**Heavyweight Issues: Immigration and Trade Policies**

Whereas *immigration* proved instrumental in steering previously successful campaigns such as President Trump's 2016 election, its significance has not waned. The persistent border security challenges arouse considerable anxiety, spurred by concerns over national security, cultural preservation, and economic balance. Behind the cries for stricter immigration policies, there is an earnest plea for a stable and secure nation, reflecting a quintessential spirit of love for one's country.

The contentious issue of trade policies, particularly regarding relations with China and their implications for technology and wealth transfer, is equally salient. The monumental volume of wealth transferred through Chinese hacking warrants due attention. This palpable tension underscores America's pursuit for fair and reciprocal trade relations, reaffirming an inward-looking economic orientation.

**Populist or Conservative? Drawing the Battle Lines**

Indeed, the Republican party's ideological landscape is no monolith. Diverse policy perspectives characterize what might be broadly labeled as either populist or conservative. Populism thrives on charismatic leaders who represent the people's interests directly, often promising a radical shake-up of the status quo. In contrast, conservatism tends to preserve established traditions, structures, and values, advocating for a slower, more cautious approach to change.

Nonetheless, these dichotomous terms can become muddled when applied to real-world policies, candidates, and their supporters. Both populism and conservatism overlap in some key areas, hence smart observers should refrain from oversimplifying these relationships using rigid definitions. The "America First" agenda, for instance, can be seen as a blend of both ideological strands, favoring national interests and calling for strong leadership.

In essence, the Republican nominee for president will likely be the candidate who can credibly and forcefully convey strength with authenticity, willing to fight for the country and its people. A candidate who embodies the "America First" mantra — whether through populist charisma or conservative resolve — will resonate with a broad spectrum of Republicans.

In times like these, the *America First* policy movement serves as a potent reminder of the need for solutions grounded in domestic priorities. Amid global complexities, the longing for elements of common sense, for basic American values, and for policies that benefit home ground echo the timeless appeal of the America First ideology, continually shaping contemporary Republican discourse.

Sep 22, 202328:12
Tax Policy: Impacts and Implications - Federal and Local

Tax Policy: Impacts and Implications - Federal and Local

# Understanding the Impacts and Implications of Tax Policy: An In-depth Look

In today's dynamic political landscape, the discourse surrounding tax policy and its impacts plays a pivotal role. This article takes a deep dive into the various facets of the tax policy debate including inheritance tax, tax codes, and the powers of local governments.

## A Glance at Inheritance Tax

*Proposed Inheritance Tax Reforms*: A notion that has gained some interest is the idea of introducing a hefty inheritance tax. The motive behind such a proposal is to level the playing field among citizens and curtail the head start that some individuals receive due to familial wealth. As lofty as this idea seems, its practical implementation could pose dangerous and unforeseen ramifications.

## The Importance of Stepped-up Basis in Tax Codes

Currently, when an asset is inherited in the United States, it is eligible for a stepped-up basis. The stepped-up basis is critical when calculating capital gains tax after the sale of an inherited asset. Primarily, it permits the beneficiary to adjust the initial asset value, used to compute the capital gains tax, to its value at inheritance rather than the original purchase value. This adjustment significantly reduces the taxable value if the asset has appreciated over time.

This tax provision is particularly important to consider in the context of farm families. For families that have held farmland for several decades, selling the inherited land could lead to an enormous tax bill should the notion of stepped-up basis be omitted from the tax code.

Conversely, the elimination of stepped-up basis could lead some families to feel forced into transactions they would have otherwise avoided. Such forced transactions may disrupt agricultural practices and the preservation of family-owned lands.

## The Role of Local Governments

While federal government decisions often gained the limelight, the authority and influence of local governments should not be underestimated. Local governments have the power to approve and enforce fiscal decisions that can profoundly impact their residents, including changes to property taxes and state spending.

Some local government officials argue that any intervention that aims to reduce their allocated funds would inevitably lead to cutbacks on essential services like public safety. Nevertheless, state legislators contend that such arguments usually amount to little more than alarmist rhetoric.

# Tax Policy Transparency

Transparency in tax policy is key for effective governance. Encouragingly, numerous legislators across the country recognize the importance of tax policy transparency in their jurisdictions. For example, the Governor of Oklahoma's proposed budget transparency measures aim to clearly communicate information about state spending to taxpayers.

In conclusion, as consideration of tax policy continues to evolve, understanding these intricacies becomes increasingly significant. Tuning in regularly to the ongoing tax policy discussion allows for informed opinions and educated decisions. Both legislators and citizens alike can then work towards a tax policy that aids in economic growth, reduces inequality, and ensures fiscal responsibility.

Sep 19, 202321:10
It's The Economy, Stupid: Bidenomics and Public Opinion

It's The Economy, Stupid: Bidenomics and Public Opinion

# Delving into American Conservatism: Past, Present, and Future

American conservatism is steeped in rich history, often interwoven with discussions of economic policies, income tax, and the impacts of presidential decisions on the economy. A prime focus of American conservatism today is the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Museum in West Branch, Iowa, a place of much interest to scholars, historians, and political analysts alike. Named after the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, the museum offers a treasure of information and historical archives that shed light on pivotal moments in American conservatism.

## Herbert Hoover: A Torchbearer of Modern American Conservatism

Herbert Hoover is not just an intriguing presidential figure, but many observers of American politics see him as the godfather of modern American conservatism. Hoover's influence spans from his presidential years to his activities during the post-presidency era. Of particular interest is his stance on the New Deal, a series of public works projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. Analyzing Hoover's perspective on these issues can provide valuable insights into a somewhat overlooked chapter of American conservatism.

## Iowa's Tax History: Resonance with Today’s Issues

Particular emphasis is given to the exploration of early 20th century Iowa tax history. Documents from that period reveal that Iowa's primary tax was property tax. Advocacy groups during that time were suggesting other sources of income for tax relief, such as sales and income taxes. The significance of these documents today lies in the current legislative discussions surrounding income tax, especially considering the inception of Iowa's first income tax took place in the early 1930s. Drawing parallels between the past and present can help shape future tax policies.

## Reflecting on American Political Climate

In the present day, income taxes, property taxes, and debates around the Electoral College still echo arguments from past decades, proving policy discussions are often cyclical. Past discourses and decisions help us forecast and shape the future of political and economic policy. The notion of Bidenomics has surfaced, reflecting public sentiment and perception of President Joe Biden's administration. Amid talk of increased expenditure and inflation rates, citizens are growing more concerned about their financial stability.

One crucial aspect to consider is the influence of presidential regimes on known economic indices. Does a political leader guide the economy toward a growth trajectory or does economic growth stumble during their tenure? The answers often vary across different income groups and political beliefs, but the consensus seems to lean toward a direct correlation between the two.

In the wake of these discussions, understanding Herbert Hoover's politics and their significance in modern American conservatism is both relevant and insightful. It not only provides a richer understanding of U.S. politics but also sheds light on how history can inform and influence present and future tax policies and economic strategies.

Sep 15, 202331:58
From Tailgates to Tax Relief

From Tailgates to Tax Relief

The annual Iowa-Iowa State football game has become a magnet for political figures, especially so in the lead-up to the Iowa Caucuses. From mingling in the crowds to conversations under the tents at the tailgates, this event was crawling with Republican presidential candidiates including President Donald Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Governor Doug Bergum. Last Saturday, Iowa was the center of the political universe.

We also take a disconcerting look at near total agreement between ITR Live and the Des Moines Register's editorial board. We both share strong reservations about the use of economic development incentives for the construction of a new minor league soccer stadium in downtown Des Moines.

Sep 12, 202316:23
Trimming the Weeds

Trimming the Weeds

## Toward a More Efficient Government

The recent efforts to streamline Iowa's government drew much attention during the podcast. The Governor's reorganization initiative is part of a broader attempt to refashion government into a lean, efficient machinery. A significant part of this initiative is aimed at reducing the number of boards and commissions. Some of them may seem relatively obscure, from the Capital Planning Commission to the Elevator Safety Board. Nonetheless, their existence indicates the historical growth of the administrative state in Iowa.

However, this move toward efficiency does not imply a disregard for essential functions. Rather, the goal is to avoid duplication and ensure that resources are utilized effectively. It doesn't mean, for instance, that the state doesn't care about elevator safety when it proposes the elimination of the Elevator Safety Board. The responsibilities are likely to be transferred to a more comprehensive body to avoid unnecessary redundancies.

A foundational belief amongst conservatives is the importance of small government. By cutting back on boards and commissions that could arguably be categorized as "weeds," Iowa's government can focus its resources more directly on essential elements of governance and regulation. The "pruning" of government entities, which might have enjoyed unchecked growth over the years, symbolizes a return to the principles of limited government. It seems only fitting, given the longstanding conservative tradition, that efficiency and streamlined bureaucracy become paramount in imagining a modern government.

## The Role of Populism in Today's Conservative Discourse

Another critical topic that the podcast broached was the concept of populism, particularly as it pertains to current conservative discourse. An op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal by former Vice President Mike Pence, warning Republicans against the allure of populism, served as the springboard for the discussion.

Populism, as a political ethos, is centered around catering to the interests and concerns of the common person. While tensions may exist within conservative circles about the role of populism, the bottom line is that people want to feel that their leaders are fighting for them. It's this sense of being on the side of the people that endears political figures like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis to large swaths of the populace.

Inherent in this debate is a critique of elitism and a call for a return to what some might term "old right" conservative principles. Pence's call against populism seems to represent an attempt to steer the Republican party towards a more centrist position, a move that some might argue neglects the beliefs of a significant proportion of Americans. Indeed, many conservatives argue that "populism" or "America first" policies actually align more closely with the principles of the founding fathers than the globalist and interventionist tendencies of neoconservatism.

The conclusions drawn from these complex discussions should inspire ongoing debate within conservative circles. Effective governance and responsible representation remain the bedrock of any successful political movement. The popularity of "America first" ideologies suggests an appetite among Americans for leaders who prioritize their interests and liberties. The conservative movement and, indeed, the Republican party will need to grapple seriously with these sentiments as we move into an increasingly uncertain future.

Sep 08, 202329:54
Iowa is an Example of Federalism at Its Best

Iowa is an Example of Federalism at Its Best

# The Influence and Impact of Federalism

Federalism, since its inception in the United States Constitution, has created a system where states reserve the right to govern specific facets pertinent to their residents. Working akin to a machine with its many components, each state, with its distinct demographics and needs, plays a vital part. Admittedly, the boundaries between the responsibilities of the state and federal government may have blurred over the years. However, the key principle remains - different states may have varying preferences when it comes to policy-making.

## Iowa - A Model State

Take the state of Iowa, for instance. Boundary-pushing *conservative* policies have become the hallmark of this state, effectively proving that such an approach can foster prosperity and growth. The popularity of the state's Governor, Kim Reynolds, stems from her effective leadership, evident in the changes she has introduced.

Some might remain skeptical about *conservative victories*, but when observed in a broader perspective, these policies have brought concrete results. This is evident in Iowa's impressively low unemployment rate and burgeoning economy.

## Federalism - An Avenue for Progress

*Iowa's recent accomplishments* demonstrate the potential benefits of Federalism at their finest. The division of power provided by Federalism allows individual states, like Iowa, to craft targeted policies to govern their unique circumstances. These policies often work directly to improve the lives of the residents. This effect goes beyond just ticking a box in a checklist but resonates with the founding principle of democracy - governance to improve lives.

Chicago’s recent State Policy Network conference was an illustration of Federalism’s advantages. More than 1600 leaders from across various states convened to discuss their policies, experiences, and challenges. Iowa was recognized as a **finalist for the biggest home state win** for its impactful property tax reform package. This recognition illuminates the efficiency of states' direct control over their policies and the snowball effect it can create.

## Competition Among Red States

Federalism is not without its challenges. The polarity of political leanings in different states brings into view the other side of the coin. States like California and New York, traditionally more liberal in their policies, provide a stark contrast to states like Iowa. This contrast provides *an interesting dynamic of interstate competition in policy-making*.

Precisely because of this varied landscape, Federalism works. It becomes the crucible for policy experimentation, with successes shared and replicated across states. For instance, Iowa’s success offers other states a model for efficient governance, encouraging the possibility of an exponential upswing in national governance effectiveness.

## The Future of Federalism

As we observe the experiences of individual states such as Iowa, the importance of Federalism becomes clear. The system allows each state to adapt and evolve according to its residents' preferences, thus forging their unique paths. Therefore, as the nation moves forward, it becomes crucial to preserve this balance of power to allow states to continue delivering according to their constituents' needs.

However, it's essential to recognize that Federalism is not a race to see which state can enact the most reforms but rather a competition of ideas. It's about discovering the most effective ways to improve residents' lives. This balance, thorough assessment, and undertaking of policies will be the key to unlocking Federalism's potential fully.

Sep 05, 202319:46
Presidential Politics, Debates and Modern Challenges

Presidential Politics, Debates and Modern Challenges

# Presidential Politics, Debates and Modern Challenges

A key subject discussed on many platforms is presidential politics. With debates becoming more fiery and the field of potential candidates growing more diverse, navigating these waters can prove tricky. The nature of these debates might seem like returning to the Reagan era for some, but we are actually dealing with new issues that require a different sort of conservatism.

The growing popularity of the America First agenda has been particularly notable. It seems to resonate with grassroots movements and typical blue-collar Trump voters, indicating a change in the political discourse brought on by the modern age.

# Economics, Taxes and Policies in Focus

Switching gears, commentators have noted an increased focus on economic affairs, paving the way to critical discussions on tax reformation. Recently, Senator Dan Dawson of Iowa has made headlines with his tireless pursuit of income tax reform. This includes proposed State constitutional amendments which will not only protect taxpayers but will also lead in the right fiscal direction. Put simply, the goal is to make tax increases harder to pass while focusing on providing income tax relief. Proponents assert that this could eliminate risks of overspending.

In a state like Iowa, these new tax policies and amendments could potentially have a transformative impact on the local economy. Aimed at both reducing tax burdens and safeguarding funding for future needs, policymakers are demonstrating an understanding of their impactful role in shaping the state's fiscal future.
Aug 25, 202324:13
Back to School Special: The Start of the Political Season

Back to School Special: The Start of the Political Season

# The Iowa Poll: A Political Weather Vane

One of the most significant elements of the political landscape in Iowa is the Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll. Viewed as historically reliable and enjoying good independent ratings, it offers insightful glimpses into the likely scenario during caucuses.

*Donald Trump* leads the poll with 42% of likely caucus-goers' votes, followed by *Ron DeSantis*, who commands 19%. It is worth noting that candidate preferences remain fluid; the Iowa caucuses are too far in the future for these early polling numbers to be definitive indicators of the possible outcome. Surprising names are occasionally thrown up by the poll, like Chris Christie, who even though he is staunchly focused on New Hampshire, finds support within Iowa.

# The Perceived Electorate

Political campaigns are not the same as primaries; they're more involved, requiring potential voters to not just vote but participate actively in a party building exercise, often in cold winter evenings. The task of identifying the universe of people who would attend these campaigns falls to the Des Moines Register. However, the likelihood of attendance and the actual turnout can vastly differ. For instance, Chris Christie might show up as securing sizable support in the polls due to name familiarity. Still, actual Christie supporters at the Republican caucus might be few and far between.

# Influencing Political Tides

Irrespective of the poll numbers or caucus votes, political candidates continue to strive for visibility and connect. Many pour millions into strategic advertising in Iowa. Others, like Vivek Ramaswamy, due to constrained resources, may only get to shake hands in small communities. However, his interactions often leave a lasting, favorable impression.

Governor Kim Reynolds holds her own against the candidates, enjoying an 81% approval rating. With a seemingly fixed electorate base consisting of Republican regulars, strategies to draw in newer voters to the caucus often hinge on unconventional candidates with newer ideas. Trump and Ron Paul are excellent examples of mobilizing a hitherto unengaged electorate demographic.

Not all politicians adhere to established rules of campaigning, and the former President Donald Trump is a classic example. A political wildcard, Trump possesses the ability to amplify his presence, be it during a state fair or wielding his strength on a social media platform.

# The Upcoming Debate

An upcoming debate promises a new glimpse into the political landscape in Iowa. Expected to be absent from the event is Donald Trump. Trump's absence might be perceived as a strategic move, allowing himself to remain the focus yet steering clear of any potential political backlash. Whether this shall set a precedent for other presidential hopefuls to avoid debates in the future remains a subject for speculation.

# An Unfolding Landscape

In all, Iowa politics continue to evolve, with new candidates and strategies continually changing the political landscape. As digestible as a political podcast or intriguing as a poll projection, the eventuality can only be speculated upon. Politics in Iowa promise to keep observers on their toes, ensuring that seasons are never dull, whether it's back to school or deep into winter.

Aug 22, 202324:38
Politics, Pork Chops, and Straw Polls

Politics, Pork Chops, and Straw Polls

## *Political Chess Moves: Indictments and Elections*

The world of politics is rife with strategies that often parallel chess moves. One such strategic maneuver is the recent wave of indictments against former President Donald Trump. This move potentially poses multi-faceted implications - from stirring controversy to indirectly impacting rankings on straw polls. The intertwining dynamics of such indictments tend to impact public sentiment and could significantly sway the outcomes of subsequent polls and elections.

## *Taking on the Fair Food Adventure*

While it may seem frivolous, assessing the favorite fair food race can serve as a metaphor for the political race. It brings to light some surprising insights about the preferences of voters. So, whether it’s biting into a pork chop on a stick or taking a stand on political debate, it’s clear just how integral these aspects of American life are in shaping political opinion and expression.

## *Small-Donor Politics: A Two-Sided Coin*

When individuals make modest donations to candidates promoting perspectives aligned with their beliefs, their commitment to democratic participation shines through. Their contributions highlight an essential reality of American politics; every voice matters. Each check written out to a favorite candidate serves as a tangible declaration of support, resonating within the echo chamber of election campaign financing.

Aug 18, 202333:20
Iowa Democrats Can't Even Describe It

Iowa Democrats Can't Even Describe It

Iowa's Political Shift: A Deep Dive into Changing Political Landscapes

The Iowa State Fair sits at the center of the political universe, with Republican Presidential candidates each making their obligatory appearance. The past weekend had Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis both there at the same time.

The New York Times recently published an article drawing attention to the Democrats' predicaments in Iowa. The article, based on interviews with a number of Iowa Democrats, reveals a general sense of disillusionment within the party's ranks. Many interviewed spoke candidly about the challenges they face, from dwindling support to policy misalignment.

Over the years, political landscapes undergo seismic shifts and no place exemplifies these changes better than Iowa. The state, once a stronghold for progressive ideologies, has veered towards the right in recent times. Conservatives have replaced the previous progressive agenda, underscoring a profound shift in Iowa's political balance.

John and Chris also have a few thoughts on cost of our investment in Ukraine with a troubling lack of accountability.

Aug 15, 202325:37
State Fair Kickoff

State Fair Kickoff

In essence, the Iowa State Fair embodies the spirit and vibrancy of the state itself. Being an annual event of such magnitude and diversity, the fair reveals the depth and breadth of everything that Iowa has to offer. It conveys a sense of unity and togetherness, enabling in-state and out-of-state visitors to connect and share experiences.

The Iowa State Fair also doubles as a hub of political activity, in particular the Republican presidential caucus campaign. The event witnesses an influx of political figures, both local and national. These officials usually participate in activities like the Des Moines Register soapbox, engaging in important dialogues and discussions. In addition, the office of the Iowa Secretary of State conducts a straw poll, offering fair voters a chance to voice their opinions on current political matters.

Through its array of wholesome experiences, the Iowa State Fair acts as a cornerstone event, maintaining the balance between Iowa's rich history and its progressive future, and in doing so, continues to establish an enduring legacy.

Aug 11, 202319:46
Politics, Economics, Trade, and...Landscaping

Politics, Economics, Trade, and...Landscaping

The Hendrickson Library development took another step closer to reality - the arrival of boxes filled with an impressive 650 books! These books, forming part of the core collection, will find their home on newly sourced bookshelves. While being a significant fraction of the overall collection, a portion of it remains protected.

The Hendrickson Library will not be just about the study of conservatism; it will effectively study Hendrickson conservatism. This will not only represent the intellectual background for the future generation but also assist people who want to delve into what gave rise to the movement - they can read the original material that triggered it. The idea here is to inspire people to think about these perspectives, agree or disagree, but reflect on them.

The discussion drifted towards various presidential strategies with a foreign affairs twist. The group dissected a recent headline suggesting the United States may be aiding Ukraine because of Hunter Biden and the implications of such a proposition. Questions around legitimacy, correlations, politics-vs-media bias, ties to Biden's corruption, and the extent of intertwined policy were thrown into the mix. This sparked debate on the lack of critical questioning from mainstream media and, consequentially, the evident double standard in addressing controversies.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently released his 'Declaration of Economic Independence.' Lauded as comprehensive and extensive by the group, his plan encompasses a variety of subjects such as regulatory form, tax relief, federal spending cuts, and Federal Reserve policies. At the same time, it raises questions on strategic tax abatements for encouraging more domestic manufacturing.

Aug 08, 202329:08
Hendrickson Spotlight: Trade Policy - Part 2

Hendrickson Spotlight: Trade Policy - Part 2

Part 2 of our special episode on United States trade policy.

Aug 02, 202321:15
Hendrickson Spotlight: Trade Policy - Part 1

Hendrickson Spotlight: Trade Policy - Part 1

Part 1 of our special episode on US trade policy.

Aug 01, 202321:18
The Greatest Income Tax Cuts in U.S. History
Jul 27, 202321:52
The Impact of Bidenomics on Everyday America

The Impact of Bidenomics on Everyday America

In an unsettling revelation from a recent Axios Des Moines report, about two-thirds of Americans aged over 55 are considering delaying their retirement or are unsure when they will be able to retire. Even more concerning, 20% of Americans over this age bracket believe they will never retire. This reflects the growing financial insecurity and economic challenges American citizens face in their golden years.

The report also highlights the retirement income scenario in Iowa and how it differs from the national trend. Starting from January 1, according to the new legislation, income tax on retirement income has been scrapped in Iowa to the delight of many retirees.

Despite the economic uncertainties swirling at the national level, Iowa stands on solid financial ground. Compared to other states following the Bidenomics playbook, Iowa’s budget is robust and the state's financial condition is positive. Several factors, such as revenue optimization, budget surplus forecasts reaching approximately $2 billion, and maximized reserve accounts have shielded Iowa from the financial turbulence seen in other states.

Jul 25, 202322:18
Stadium Incentives Relegate Taxpayers
Jul 18, 202327:44
Trump's Tweets and Governor Reynolds

Trump's Tweets and Governor Reynolds

ITR Live is back with another rapid reaction episode following former President Donald Trump attacking Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on staying neutral in the Iowa caucuses. Is there any point to this outburst from Trump, and what could he hope to gain from directing fire at our state's popular Governor? Will this ultimately blow over like so many times before?

Jul 11, 202321:06
Weekend Conversations: Foreign Investment in Iowa Agriculture

Weekend Conversations: Foreign Investment in Iowa Agriculture

This episode of the ITR Live Podcast is a stirring examination of trending issues with Chris Hagenow and John Hendrickson. Join us as we dive headfirst into John's imminent induction into the densely packed, fast-paced world of Twitter. Driven by his eagle-eyed attention for Tucker Carlson's monologues, and a small twist by Twitter's changed policy, he prepares himself for an exciting journey into this platform.

Then, we pivot attention to the giant leap in applications for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in Iowa. When Governor Reynolds suggested Iowa families wanted ESAs, the swell in applications can only be described as an enthusiastic endorsement of improved education opportunities.

John and Chris go in-depth over a growing concern with foreign ownership of American agricultural land. Specifically, China, through various entities and investors, owns between 200,000 to 300,000 acres of agricultural land. This issue raises questions about national security and the potential for espionage.

Jul 07, 202329:59


Get ready for a whirlwind tour of the Iowa political landscape in this episode of ITR Live. We take you behind the scenes of Studio 130, more than just a broadcasting haven, a hub of intellectually stimulating discourse on contemporary currents. Join Chris Hagenow, John Hendrickson, and Chris Ingstad as they present you with a well-rounded analysis of recent events, cut from hours' worth of diligent process. Open up a world beyond bare facts and sound bites. Having seen her rise from relative obscurity to being front-and-center as the beacon of conservative values, we couldn't resist delving into the story of Governor Kim Reynolds. We explore how she has engaged with critical issues, vouched for school choice policies, and emerged as a national figure. Her exceptional leadership, especially in successfully navigating the COVID-19 crisis, is a journey worth experiencing. Beware, this episode isn’t solely about hard-hitting politics. Join us as John Hendrickson shares his tale of a fishing escapade that lacked fish but overflowed with life lessons. Embrace the unpredictability of nature while being carried aloft in the spirit of familial bonding and holiday cheer. This story underscores the refreshing grace of staying optimistic despite frustrating circumstances.

Jul 06, 202325:46
What is Bidenomics?

What is Bidenomics?

The Biden Administration has chosen to go on offense with a messaging campaign around "Bidenomics," touting the President's record on managing the nation's economy.
What exactly is Bidenomics? Apart from driving our economy into a recession and exploding the nation debt, what will history have to say about the President's economic policies?
In Iowa, the Iowa Business Council released its Q2 Economic Outlook Survey. The leaders of Iowa's largest employers say that despite the national headwinds, they have "strong confidence" in Iowa's economy and they attribute much of that to Iowa's recent tax reforms.
Jun 30, 202331:25
Corporate Tax Credits

Corporate Tax Credits

ITR is the voice of the taxpayer at the Capitol when spending decisions are made with your tax dollars. These spending decisions are not just in appropriations for programs and services, but also in offering generous tax credits and exemptions to specific interests. ITR Live takes a fresh look at some of the lucrative tax credits offered to Iowa businesses. Are these credits really necessary? Do these credits help the average Iowa taxpayer?

ITR Live also revisits the scare tactics used by local governments any time that are faced with the prospect of having to make do with fewer of your property tax dollars than they want to confiscate. Iowa property tax payers have begun to see through the false claims of cuts to police and fire services.

Jun 27, 202322:43
Jun 23, 202323:15
Judicial Supremacy

Judicial Supremacy

John and Chris are safe and sound in ITR Live's Studio 130, thankful that they are not lost at sea trapped in a metal tube 13,000 feet below the ocean surface with only 3 days worth of oxygen. Instead, they take a trip through what happening in the news.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan says he doesn't want to fight on social issues, but instead wants to focus on the federal debt and poverty. What does that really mean?

A huge scandal in Warren County where the Republican Board of Supervisors appointed a Republican as County Auditor, passing over the hand-picked Democrat successor. Hunter Biden gets a sweetheart plea deal, avoiding not only prison time, but also any real scrutiny over his wide-ranging malfeasance. Finally, the Iowa Supreme Court continues it's assault on independence of the Iowa legislature.

Jun 20, 202324:10
Hendrickson Spotlight: Buchanan '96

Hendrickson Spotlight: Buchanan '96

ITR Live has a new regular series: John Hendrickson's spotlight on conservative issues. In this inaugural episode, John showcases new pieces for his political memorabilia collection, including a signed copy of the platform from Pat Buchanan's 1996 Presidential campaign. Several planks made Buchanan unique in that race such as "America First" and "Economic Nationalism." Did those ideas originate with Pat Buchanan, and if not, where did they come from? Is the concept of economic nationalism something that exists outside of the political mainstream, or was it simply brushed aside by the orthodox opinions of the major parties? John has answers to all of that and more.

Jun 16, 202320:11
Cold California
Jun 14, 202328:01
Crossing the Rubicon

Crossing the Rubicon

Former President Donald Trump had been indicted on federal charges surrounding the handing of classified documents. Does this first ever action toward a former President help or hurt Trump, and what does it mean for the future of our politics in this country? The crew has strong feelings about the use of the police power of the state to selectively attack political opponents. However, if the evidence of these crimes truly merits this unprecedented action, then the Department of Justice owes it to the American people to show us why. Either way, this is a moment in our politics from which we cannot simply move on. Times have changed.

Jun 09, 202322:18
Your Task Will Not Be An Easy One...

Your Task Will Not Be An Easy One...

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely ... I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” - General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Forces, June 6th, 1944

This episode of ITR Live not only remembers the greatest amphibious invasion in human history, we also check in on the Presidential race and talk about sports cards. Tim Scott, Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis and Bo Jackson are all part of this fun-filled, action-packed episode.

Jun 06, 202333:42
Representative Bill Gustoff

Representative Bill Gustoff

State Representative Bill Gustoff (R-Polk) is our in-studio guest on this episode of ITR Live. Rep. Gustoff is serving his first term in the Iowa House, representing Altoona, Saylor Township and a small part of Ankeny. Bill is a longtime friend and law partner of our host, ITR President Chris Hagenow, and shares his experiences after his first year at the Capitol and also what he's looking forward to in the future.

Rep. Gustoff and John Hendrickson each attended a Presidential campaign event this week. John shares his experiences at Westside Conservative Club where President Donald Trump spoke, while Bill gives a recount of a rally in Clive with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. While the substance of these speeches in important, we get down to the truly important questions. Specifically, which campaign has the best yard sign stakes?

Jun 02, 202322:28
Debt Ceiling Deal

Debt Ceiling Deal

After a much-too-long holiday weekend hiatus, Chris, John and Chris are back in Studio 130 to talk about the deal on raising the federal debt ceiling. The guys talk about how they might vote as members of Congress, and have some back and forth on whether or not this is a good deal for conservatives or taxpayers in general.

The reality is that the problem is so dire and the fiscal hole is so deep, that this bill probably won't have any meaningful impact on the future of the country. At some point, the bill will come due, and there will be real consequences. What might that mean for Iowa down the road when the federal government starts to back up on their promises?

May 31, 202324:55
New Property Tax Exemptions

New Property Tax Exemptions

One of ITR's Five Principles of Sound Tax Policy states that Iowa’s tax code should be fair and not favor one group of taxpayers at the expense of another. But, this principle does not mean taxpayers should not take advantage of every opportunity to reduce their tax bill.

The property tax reform legislation recently signed by Governor Reynolds will directly cut tax bills for seniors and veterans. Below are details of who qualifies and what they need to do:

ITR Live also comes back to our regular feature "What Did John See on KCCI?" with a special report on a recent town hall meeting with the State Auditor. And topping off this wide-ranging episode is a classic John Hendrickson rebuke of free trade.

May 23, 202324:41
Whatever...Let's Go

Whatever...Let's Go

The "Gold Standard" of Iowa political podcasts is live from Studio 130 for another action-packed fun-filled episode. The big issue we examine today is "What did John see last night on the KCCI news?" Should Iowa students be recognized for their achievement, and do merit-based rewards matter? We also learn that construction of the Des Moines Buccaneers' new home is delayed despite being fueled by tens of millions of dollars in public tax incentives. What cautionary tale should be learned?

Because there is simply too much to cover, we tackle it all in our lightning round segment, including Ron DeSantis vs. Nikki Haley, the IRS investigation over Hunter Biden, Trump promising to release the JFK files, and President Biden finally drawing a larger crowd than Donald Trump.

May 19, 202321:06