Add to favourites
News Local and Global in your language
19th of November 2018


Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers

Des Moines Register. October 10, 2018

GOP-backed unregulated health plans could drive up premiums for other Iowans

Iowans have now received what the Republican-controlled state Legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered: the option to buy unregulated health plans that can deny coverage, suddenly cancel plans, not pay medical bills and face no repercussions.

The Iowa Farm Bureau last week unveiled details about its new health plans, which are supposed to offer an alternative to policies that must comply with requirements in the Affordable Care Act. These “health benefit plans” are not health insurance, not subject to basic coverage requirements and not regulated by any state or federal entity.

If you think that doesn’t sound like a big deal, just wait until you need health care.

Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, was among the state lawmakers who supported a bill last spring clearing the way for the free-for-all plans. “We have tried this before,” he said at the time, referring to the individual health plans available for Iowans to purchase before the ACA. “This was how our system worked.”

Ah yes, the good old days before Obamacare. Let’s reflect on how the health insurance system worked before the reform law.

People without coverage through a job or government program like Medicare tried to buy insurance on their own. Those with pre-existing health problems found insurers would not sell them a policy. Or the premiums were sky-high and not affordable. Or insurers offered plans specifically tailored to exclude benefits.

For example, someone with diabetes may have been able to buy a plan, but that plan didn’t cover insulin, test strips or any care related to the disease. Someone who had knee problems years earlier might be offered a policy excluding any care for knees.

Millions of Americans paid a fortune for coverage, bought inadequate policies or were uninsured. When people got sick and their coverage was canceled, there was no recourse. This mess, which Chelgren and other Republicans apparently long to revive, was the driving force behind congressional passage of Obamacare.

That law protects Americans. It requires insurers to cover the health care people actually need, like prescription drugs and emergency room visits. It created state-based marketplaces where private insurers offer comprehensive plans and are required to cover all applicants, regardless of health. Federal subsidies frequently help fund premiums, and customers are pooled together to spread risk and cost.

Iowa lawmakers and Reynolds proactively undermined this entire concept.

They paved the way for Farm Bureau to cherry-pick and insure healthier, less expensive Iowans. This could leave the insurers participating in the exchange with more expensive patients, which could drive up the cost of premiums for everyone else.

Iowans considering a Farm Bureau health plan should think twice. First, check whether you qualify for Obamacare subsidies to help you buy insurance. Federal subsidies will not help pay for the Farm Bureau plan. If you encounter any problem - from your coverage being abruptly dropped to your medical bills not being paid - no outside entity will be there to help. You will truly be on your own.

And the importance of Obamacare’s regulations and patient protections will be painfully apparent.


Fort Dodge Messenger. October 11, 2018.

Don’t fail to make your voice heard

Election Day in the Hawkeye State is Nov. 6. To make voting as convenient as possible, many states allow registered voters to cast ballots over a period of weeks in advance the official Election Day. Here in Iowa early voting is now underway. Ballots can be cast at county auditors’ office. Absentee ballots are also available for voters unable to pay a visit to their courthouse.

Unfortunately, many people choose not to vote. That poses a serious threat to our democratic system. American governmental institutions won’t work as intended if citizens fail to express their preferences by voting.

If you are one of those who think that individual voters don’t matter, it may be useful to reflect a bit on history.

In the 2000 presidential election, if a few more people had showed up to vote in Florida, George W. Bush might now be known primarily for his service as governor of Texas. In 1960, the presidential vote was so close that the outcome was decided by about one vote per precinct nationwide. Right here in Iowa, in the 1998 Democratic primary, Tom Vilsack won his party’s nomination for governor by less than two votes per precinct.

In many elections a few nonvoters could have altered subsequent history mightily had they chosen to participate.

It’s troubling that some people believe that who wins will have no impact on them personally. Over time, such nonparticipation undermines the legitimacy of the governmental system. It becomes hard to claim that officeholders reflect the will of the public a great many people had no role in their selection.

This year there are important contests for a wide array of offices. Here in Iowa we will select a governor and other statewide offices as well as members of the state Legislature and an array of other offices. On the federal level there is closely contested battle for control of Congress.

Defend your democratic birthright by voting early, by casting an absentee ballot or by showing up at the polls on the official Election Day.


Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. October 7, 2018

Trade deal a relief, but tariffs remain

President Donald Trump called “truly historic” a proposed new trade deal with Canada and Mexico that supposedly bears no resemblance to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he deemed “the single worst deal ever approved.”

Despite the lack of love from those on the left (Bernie Sanders) or right (Trump), NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, was truly historic.

The Congressional Research Service reported trade among U.S., Canada and Mexico increased from $293 million in 1993 to nearly $1.1 trillion in 2016. U.S. food and agricultural products exported to Mexico and Canada grew from $11 billion to more than $43 billion during that period.

The proposed USMCA (United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement) is a limited improvement.

The agreement primarily affects the auto industry, helps the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, provides a modest boost for American agriculture, addresses copyright infringement and refines mechanisms to settle disputes.

However, it doesn’t address Trump’s 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, which prompted retaliation from Canada and Mexico against U.S. agricultural products, including pork and soybeans.

Since Trump launched his tariff wars against Canada, Mexico, China and others, the price of soybeans has declined 30 percent, according to Reuters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting a record 2018-19 harvest of 4.6 billion bushels.

A quarter of U.S. pork production is exported. Mexico has imported 20 percent to 35 percent of that total the past 20 years and Canada 10 percent.

The impact of the tariffs has cost Iowa farmers alone $2 billion, according to an Iowa State University study.

Trump railed with reason against Canada’s ridiculous protectionist tariff (270 percent) for its dairy industry, but 97 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to Canada had no tariffs under NAFTA.

Meanwhile, according to the World Trade Organization, the weighted tariff for other nations exporting agricultural products to Canada was 12.4 percent and 20.1 percent on average to Mexico.

In the USMCA, Canada agreed to an exemption on tariffs for “fluid milk, cream, butter, skim milk powder, cheese and other dairy products” - notably milk protein concentrate, skim milk powder and infant formula - that went beyond concessions it made in the Trans Pacific Partnership (which Trump pulled out of). Wheat, egg and poultry access was expanded.

In addition, stores in British Columbia could no longer have grocery shelves only for wines from the province, but would have to include U.S. wines alongside them.

U.S. pharmaceutical companies could sell drugs in Canada for 10 years - rather than eight before generic competition ensues. It’s 12 years in the U.S.

The most significant change involves car and truck parts, which would have no tariff beginning in 2020 if 75 percent of components are made in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, compared to 62.5 percent now.

Thirty percent of workers (40 percent in 2023) would have to make at least $16 per hour - triple the current wage for Mexican autoworkers. The average U.S. autoworker earns $22 per hour.

The administration hopes that will boost U.S. production and jobs, but it also could boost car prices. Automakers could shift manufacturing of low-profit, small cars to Asia, depending on any new auto tariffs imposed. Inevitably, existing North American production of cars destined for Asia could be shifted there.

The USMCA still isn’t a done deal. It must be debated in Congress, probably early next year. Because it stands to boost drug prices in Canada and impact the dairy industry, it isn’t a given there. Mexico will have a new, leftist president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who may not buy it.

We’re greatly relieved Trump, who has consistently scorned multilateral trade deals, has found an agreement with Canada and Mexico to his liking, even if his hyperbole again is over the top.

He also envisions the agreement as putting pressure on China. It even has a clause prohibiting members from negotiating trade deals with “non-market economies.”

But amid Trump’s tariffs, China is trying to wean itself from U.S. goods, including a six-part plan to forgo U.S. soybeans by substituting rapeseed and cottonseed to feed hogs while getting more soybeans from South America.

China, which has a staggering internal debt, also is promoting buying domestic goods to unburden Chinese businesses.

Trump’s claim of a widening trade deficit with China, while ignoring a growing U.S. surplus in services, doesn’t bode well for a deal.

“What really matters,” Harvard University economist Jeffrey Frankel said, “is that China’s current-account surplus has been falling since 2008, and now stands at a relatively small 1 percent of GDP.”

Iowa farmers remain in limbo. A resolution to the tariff dispute with Canada and Mexico will help them, but for now they are still taking it on the chin and in the wallet.


Dubuque Telegraph Herald. October 10, 2018

Easy, hard choices for Dubuque’s House seats

Two Iowa House districts encompass the City of Dubuque, where voters have the decision whether to return a veteran lawmaker in District 100, or in District 99, to choose a political newcomer.

Going for his sixth term, Democrat Chuck Isenhart is challenged by Republican Hank Linden, who ran for this seat in 2010. For 10 years, Isenhart has been a dedicated, diligent and thoughtful representative. Voters would be well served to return Isenhart for another term.

A decision might be more difficult for voters in District 99, where Democrat Lindsay James faces Republican Pauline Chilton for the seat currently held by congressional candidate Abby Finkenauer. A positive note is that whatever voters decide, the seat will continue to be represented by a woman - notable because fewer than one-quarter of Iowa legislators are women. Whichever way this election goes, District 99 will be represented by someone who brings enthusiasm for the position - but also someone who faces a steep learning curve. That said, in our view, James edges Chilton as the better candidate.

James expressed deep concern for people in poverty and lists health care and income inequality as key motivating issues. She speaks passionately about working toward civil discourse and helping constituents. Issues she would like to address include food “deserts,” reversing the privatization of Medicaid, fully funding community colleges and working with local governments on housing needs.

However, her energy and enthusiasm notwithstanding, James comes up short in articulating specific legislation she would support concerning some of those issues, and how a state government facing revenue shortfalls could possibly take on some of the costly initiatives she supports.

A college chaplain and adjunct instructor at the University of Dubuque, James holds a master’s in divinity and has served on both the city’s Community Development Advisory Commission and the County Ag Extension Council, an elective office, which gives her some government service experience.

Her opponent, Chilton, said she believes running for office is her calling and what God intends for her. Her key issues include growing the state’s economy and attracting and retaining workers. A real estate agent, Chilton has served on numerous boards, including the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, the Multicultural Family Center and as a Network Partner for Inclusive Dubuque.

While Chilton has been a dedicated community volunteer and seems eager to learn, her depth of knowledge on the issues facing the state is shallow.

While either candidate would have homework to do, James gets the nod for the Editorial Board’s endorsement.

In the District 100 race, Hank Linden declined to meet with the Editorial Board - he said he “didn’t like it” his previous visit - though he has met us previously regarding this seat as well as other offices. In those meetings, Linden, who in the early 1990s served three years on the Dubuque School Board, expressed little insight into the challenges facing the state or legislation he would support.

Isenhart, meanwhile, has been a leader in the state’s effort to combat the opioid epidemic and has fought hard to strengthen clean water legislation. He has been a convener between the Dubuque community and state government, seeking ways the city can take advantage of state programs.

Isenhart’s years of experience have given him insight in getting things done for Dubuque constituents. Unlike the District 99 race, where both candidates offer strengths, in District 100, Isenhart is by far the better choice.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment PolicyThe Washington Times welcomes your comments on, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.Read More

Leave A Comment

More News

FOX News

CBC | World News

WorldPost - The Huffington

World – The Daily Caller

NYT > International Home

Reuters: World News

Disclaimer and is not the owner of these news or any information published on this site.