Tags: Tom Harkin

Iowans Prepare for a Long-Forgotten Ancient Ritual: Open-Seat Senate Race


Over the weekend, Iowa Democratic senator Tom Harkin, 73, announced he will retire, after a mere five terms in the U.S. Senate. His departure creates the first open Senate seat in Iowa since 1974.

The speculation about his replacement is focusing on three members of the U.S. House from Iowa — one Democrat and two Republicans:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley said Sunday that he is considering running for Harkin’s seat because supporters statewide have encouraged him to do so.

The Republican speculation is likely to focus on U.S. Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King.

Latham, of Clive, is a veteran member of the House Appropriations Committee who has won 10 consecutive elections. Latham’s office didn’t rule out a run for the Senate on Sunday.

“No decision has been made at this time. All doors remain open at this point,” said James Carstensen, Latham’s chief of staff.

Rep. Steve King, of Kiron, won a sixth term last fall by beating Iowa’s Democratic former first lady Christie Vilsack. King said in a statement that the retirement announcement was a surprise, and he congratulated Harkin on his long career.

“Iowans now have a real opportunity to elect a true constitutional conservative to help lead us out of our crisis of debt and deficit,” said King, who didn’t address whether he might run.

Latham has served in Congress since 1995; in 2012, under redrawn district lines, he beat a Democratic incumbent, Rep. Leonard Boswell, 52.2 percent to 43.5 percent. Latham’s district is made up of Iowa’s southwestern counties, and he carried all of them except Polk County.

Last year, King beat Christie Vilsack, wife of former governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack, 52.9 percent to 44.8 percent. King’s district is made up of Iowa’s northwestern counties.

USA Today looks at the map of 2014 Senate races and notes that with Harkin and Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia retiring,

Democrats must try to hang onto two open seats in addition to defending 18 incumbents — and seven of the 20 races are in states that voted Republican in the presidential election. The red-state Senators on the 2014 ballot include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Max Baucus of Montana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Republicans will have 13 senators up for re-election, all but one — Susan Collins of Maine — from red states.

Tags: Bruce Braley , Steve King , Tom Harkin , Tom Latham

Senate Appropriator: ‘I Don’t Know Squat About Investing Money.’


It’s Tuesday, so it’s time for President Obama to visit another swing state; today it’s Iowa.

CBS News’s Mark Knoller reminds us that this is Obama’s 10th visit to Iowa since taking office, 6th since officially becoming a candidate for reelection last year.

Obama won Iowa in 2008, 54 percent to 44 percent. The last three polls show a close race; WeAsk America finds Obama up by 1 percentage point; Rasmussen finds Romney up by 1 percentage point, and NBC News/Marist finds a tie. And then there’s Public Policy Polling, oh-so-often reassuring to Democrats, finding Obama up 10.

Then there’s this detail:

The latest report from the Secretary of State’s Office shows 11,516 more Iowans registered as Republicans at the end of June than in May. That increases the GOP advantage over Democrats to 21,378 voters.

The headline greeting the president in Iowa this morning, from the Des Moines Register:

Observers say Obama attacks on outsourcing are inaccurate, but effective

This seems to fit a trend: “Recovery Summer,” “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” “Solyndra was not our program per se” . . . as long as you don’t care whether what is said is accurate, Obama’s presidency sounds pretty good.

Elsewhere in the Register this morning:

[Democratic senator Tom] Harkin and his wife, Ruth, a former Story County attorney who’s on the board of directors for ConocoPhillips, have combined assets of $9.4 million to almost $21 million, which includes a vacation property in the Bahamas that’s worth from $500,000 to $1 million. Their assets generated the Harkins from $194,300 to $519,000 in earnings last year.

That would be the ConocoPhillips that his heavily into ethanol.

I hope that Sentor Harkin denounces Romney’s Cayman accounts from his Bahamas vacation home.

But we shouldn’t imagine Harkin is some financial genius or wheeler-dealer . . .

Harkin credits his wealth largely to his wife, telling The Des Moines Register this month that “I don’t know squat about investing money.” 

 . . . says the man on the Senate Appropriations Committee, directing billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars.

Tags: Barack Obama , Tom Harkin

Someone Remind Tom Harkin That It’s Not 2008 Anymore


I see that Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa), lifetime ACU rating of 7.99 out of 100, is calling tax-hike opponents a “cult fringe.”

He also states, “Democrats are willing to do whatever is necessary to raise the debt ceiling, not for future borrowing but to pay the debts that we racked up in the past. Which, mostly was racked up by a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican President in the last 8 years.”

First, not true. The debt’s growth has accelerated greatly in the past two years (and is likely to continue this year).

According to U.S. Treasury figures at Debt to the Penny, on January 20, 1993, as Bill Clinton took office, the total outstanding public debt was $4.1 trillion. On January 19, 2001, that same figure had increased to $5.7 trillion.

As I’ve noted before, the debt during Bush’s eight years in office increased from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion, or $4.9 trillion over eight years. That’s bad; that’s basically $610 billion per year. But in the less than three years Obama has been in office, the debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.2 trillion, a $3.6 trillion increase in about 27 months.  In other words, Obama is increasing the debt by $1.6 trillion per year, three times as fast as Bush.

Updating my numbers, under Obama total debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.3 trillion, a $3.7 trillion increase over 30 months. (The figure has actually gone down a bit in recent days, shrinking by $11 million from July 18 to July 19. Hooray for emergency measures enacted to avoid hitting the debt ceiling!) The average annual deficit increase under Obama is down to a mere $1.48 trillion per year, now only two-and-a-half times as fast as Bush.

Second, look closely at his comment. The “last eight years” begins in July 2003. Republicans have controlled Congress for roughly three and a half of those eight years (the latter half of 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. And remember that Democrats controlled the Senate from mid-2001 to January 2003).

What this tells us is that Harkin has gotten so used to complaining about “the past eight years” that he doesn’t realize that it’s not 2008 or 2009 anymore. Like Obama signing the year 2008 in 2011, Harkin’s worldview is forever preserved in amber in the moment of Obama’s accession, where everything can be blamed on Pres. George W. Bush and a Republican Congress.

Tags: Barack Obama , Tom Harkin

That Lame-Duck Congress Might Be Busier Than the Healthy Duck


It doesn’t matter how you vote in November, America; the liberals will still get what they want by passing all of those ideas you hate in a lame-duck Congress.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) suggested Thursday that Democrats might attempt to move “card-check” legislation this year, perhaps during a lame-duck session.

Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, strongly disputed that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA, or “card-check”) was dead in the Senate.

Why should a little thing like public opposition impede Democrats?

Tags: Tom Harkin

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