Iowa Public Television

 

Reporters' Roundtable

posted on February 16, 2007

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Borg: MAJORITY POWER, DEMOCRATS PUSH THEIR PRIORITIES THROUGH THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS TO GOVERNOR CHET CULVER. INSIGHT FROM IOWA POLITICAL JOURNALISTS ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE STRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: THE OLD ADAGE 'TO THE VICTOR GOES THE SPOILS' APPLIES IN SPADES IN POLITICS. DEMOCRATS CONTROLLING IOWA GOVERNMENT FROM GOVERNOR CHET CULVER TO A COMFORTABLE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAJORITY, SOCIAL LEGISLATION, THE SCHOOL ANTIBULLYING BILL, AND LABOR LEGISLATION, THE FAIR SHARE UNION ASSESSMENT, IS PROVIDING EARLY INDICATIONS OF THE DEMOCRATIC BULLDOZER. THE STILL-EMERGING DOLLAR-A-PACK HIKE IN IOWA'S CIGARETTE TAX, A LINCHPIN IN GOVERNOR CULVER'S AMBITIOUS BUDGET, BUT IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN WHETHER OR NOT LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATS CAN DELIVER ON THAT. POLITICAL JOURNALISTS AROUND THIS TABLE ARE AT THE STATEHOUSE DAILY WATCHING THE ACTION: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN, 'RADIO IOWA' NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON, 'LEE NEWSPAPERS' CAPITOL BUREAU CHIEF TODD DORMAN, AND 'IOWA PUBLIC RADIO' STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JENEANE BECK. KAY, I SAID THE DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY THERE IS SHOWING ITSELF AND ITS POWER. IN YOUR JUDGMENT, WHAT'S THE MOST PROMINENT INDICATOR OF THAT POWER?

Henderson: WELL, IT WAS INTERESTING TO WATCH THE STEM CELL DEBATE UNFOLD. AS WE ALL KNOW, GOVERNOR CULVER MADE THAT AN ISSUE IN THE FALL CAMPAIGN. HE BROUGHT IN THE ACTOR WHO PORTRAYED ALEX KEATON ON TELEVISION TO HAVE A HUGE RALLY IN FAVOR OF CHANGING THE IOWA LAW THAT RESEARCHERS SAY PREVENTS THEM FROM DOING STEM CELL RESEARCH ON HUMAN EMBRYOS. WHAT WAS MOST INTERESTING TO ME ABOUT THAT WAS NOT THAT DEMOCRATS CHOSE TO PICK UP THAT BALL AND RUN WITH IT EARLY IN THE SESSION BUT THAT REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE WERE IN LOCK STEP AGAINST IT. WHEN THIS WAS DEBATED AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, YOU'LL ALL RECALL THAT THEN-MAJORITY LEADER OF THE U.S. SENATE BILL FRIST, A REPUBLICAN, ALSO A DOCTOR, OPPOSED THE EFFORT TO CURTAIL STEM CELL RESEARCH AND ARGUED IN FAVOR OF IT; WHEREBY, REPUBLICANS AT THE STATE LEVEL HERE AT THE IOWA STATEHOUSE DECIDED TO BE AGAINST IT. I THOUGHT THAT WAS THE MOST FASCINATING PART OF THAT PARTICULAR DEBATE.

Borg: THAT SHOWED THE REPUBLICAN UNITY THEN --

Henderson: CORRECT.

Borg: -- IN OPPOSITION. ANY INDICATOR OF DEMOCRATIC -- I MEAN WERE THEY MARCHING LOCK STEP TOO?

Henderson: THEY WERE NOT.

Borg: OH, GOT IT.

Beck: WELL, ONE INTERESTING INDICATOR TO ME JUST OF DEMOCRATIC CONTROL AT THE SENATE HAS BEEN THE NUMBER OF UNION AND LABOR T-SHIRTS I'VE BEEN SEEING AT THE STATEHOUSE THIS YEAR. AND ONE OF THE LOBBYISTS FOR THE UNITED STEEL WORKERS HAS BEEN ALWAYS A FREQUENT VISITOR AT THE CAPITOL, BUT HE IS NOW A DAILY VISITOR AT THE CAPITOL, SO I THINK TO ME THAT'S BEEN A SURE SIGN OF DEMOCRATIC CONTROL AT THE STATEHOUSE.

Borg: TODD?

Dorman: THEY ARE IN CONTROL, OBVIOUSLY, AND THEY'RE ABLE TO PUSH LEGISLATION THROUGH AT A PRETTY RAPID RATE EARLY, BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF SIGNS THAT THESE FOLKS ARE GOING TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON A LOT OF DIFFERENT ISSUES. IT'S ALREADY HAPPENED ON THE MINIMUM WAGE. THE HOUSE DIDN'T WANT A BILL THAT ALSO GAVE AUTOMATIC INCREASES EACH YEAR FOR THE MINIMUM WAGE. THE SENATE WANTED AT THAT. DIDN'T GET THEIR WAY.

Borg: THAT WAS FIRST CRACK OUT OF THE BOX.

Dorman: SURE. AND THE SENATE PASSED A BULLYING BILL. THE HOUSE CHANGED IT TO EXEMPT SOME RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS FROM THAT. THE SENATE IS INSISTING ON THEIR VERSION. SO THERE IS A CONFLICT BETWEEN DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS ARE FLEXING THEIR MUSCLES, BUT THE REAL CONFLICT THAT'S GOING TO MATTER IS BETWEEN DEMOCRATS WHO CONTROL THE HOUSE AND DEMOCRATS WHO CONTROL THE SENATE.

Borg: AND WHY DO YOU SAY THAT? IS THERE DIFFERENCE IN PHILOSOPHIES THERE?

Dorman: WELL, I THINK THERE ARE DIFFERENCES IN THAT, FOR ONE THING, THE SENATE DEMOCRATS HAVE A VERY WIDE MAJORITY. THEY HAVE A TEN-SEAT MAJORITY AND THEY ALSO WERE KIND OF SHARING POWER WHEN THE SENATE WAS DIVIDED 25/25. SO THEY'VE KIND OF ALREADY GOTTEN THEIR FEET WET ON HOW TO RUN THINGS. THE HOUSE IS STILL TRYING TO GET THEIR FEET WET. THEIR MAJORITY IS SOMEWHAT MORE NARROW. AND REALLY THEIR CAUCUS IS MAYBE A LITTLE BIT MORE MODERATE TO CONSERVATIVE THAN THE SENATE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS, SO THAT CAUSES SOME CONFLICTS. THE SENATE WANTS TO RUN. THE HOUSE WANT TO WALK.

Borg: BUT NO PLACE, DAVE, TO ME AT LEAST, IS THE DEMOCRATIC DOMINANCE IN POWER MORE APPARENT THAN IN THE FAIR SHARE -- WHAT'S CALLED FAIR SHARE. THAT'S A FLASH POINT WITH REPUBLICANS.

Yepsen: WELL, FAIR SHARE IS A BILL THAT IS -- THE PURPOSE OF IT IS TO CHARGE A FEE TO NONUNION WORKERS WHO WORK IN UNION SHOPS FOR SERVICES THAT THE UNION PROVIDES.

Borg: SOMETHING WE HEARD ABOUT ONLY AFTER THE CAMPAIGN --

Yepsen: RIGHT. IT WAS ONLY MENTIONED TANGENTIALLY, AND THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY IT'S HAVING SUCH TROUBLE, ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I THINK IT'S POLITICALLY FOOLISH FOR DEMOCRATS TO BE PURSUING THIS. ORGANIZED LABOR HAS BEEN FOR IT. IN ORDER TO ACCOMPLISH IT, YOU'VE GOT TO TAKE THE IOWA RIGHT TO WORK LAW AND YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE EXEMPTIONS IN IT. YOU'VE GOT TO NOT WITHSTAND PORTIONS OF IT. IT SORT OF DRILLS HOLES IN IT. SO I THINK THE DEMOCRATS, PARTICULARLY IN THE HOUSE, ARE HAVING A HUGE DEBATE, YOU KNOW, AMONG THEMSELVES OVER DO WE DO THIS, WHAT CAN WE DO. THEY'RE NOT UNSYMPATHETIC TO THE PLIGHT OF ORGANIZED LABOR BUT, ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE'S THIS FEELING OF WHERE THE HECK DID THIS COME FROM. WE RAN ON JOBS AND HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION, AND NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN WE'VE GOT A RIGHT TO WORK FIGHT IN IOWA. THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS UP IN ARMS. SO I THINK THAT ISSUE IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY IN THE LEGISLATURE TRYING TO FIND ITS WAY. AND YOU HAVE A LOT OF DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENCY GROUPS THAT HAVE FORTY SOME YEARS OF PENT UP DEMANDS THAT THEY WANT. SO THEY'RE ALL UP THERE BANGING ON LEGISLATORS SAYING WE'VE GOT TO HAVE THIS OR THAT, AND LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ARE HAVING TO BE TRAFFIC COPS: IF WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS, WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO THAT. THEY'RE STILL SORTING THAT OUT.

Borg: DEMOCRATS WHO WOULD BE OPPOSING FAIR SHARE, THOUGH, ANY WHO DON'T SEEM TO WANT TO GO ALONG WITH THAT, AT THEIR OWN PERIL; WOULDN'T THEY?

Beck: YES AND NO. YES, THEY WOULD BE ANGERING SOME OF THEIR LABOR FRIENDS AND LABOR SUPPORT BUT, ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE ARE DEMOCRATS ESPECIALLY IN THE HOUSE THAT LOOK AT THIS AND SAY, 'WE RUN IN TWO YEARS, NOT FOUR YEARS LIKE THE SENATE, AND WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVEN'T ANGERED THE REST OF IOWA VOTERS WHO ARE NONUNION OR EVEN IOWA UNION VOTERS WHO ARE PART OF A UNION BECAUSE IT'S HELPFUL AT THEIR JOB.' IT MAY NOT BE STRONG UNION SUPPORTERS, AND THERE ARE A LOT OF IOWANS WHO AREN'T IN UNIONS AND THEY WILL GO TO THE POLLS IN TWO YEARS AND THEY KNOW THAT.

Borg: TODD, THE SOCIAL LEGISLATION -- I MENTIONED AS I LED INTO YOUR INTRODUCTIONS HERE, THE SCHOOL ANTIBULLYING BILL. THERE'S ANOTHER INDICATION OF A DEMOCRATIC PRIORITY THAT WITH REPUBLICANS IN CONTROL IN PAST YEARS IN THE LEGISLATURE REALLY WASN'T EVEN GOING ANYPLACE. AND THOSE WHO SUPPORT THAT BULLYING BILL WERE TRYING TO GET IT ENACTED IN SCHOOL POLICIES BY OTHER MEANS. NOW THEY WANT TO PUT IT INTO STATE LAW.

Dorman: YEAH, AND THE FIGHTING POINT IS THAT IT DIRECTS SCHOOLS TO ADOPT A BULLYING POLICY THAT INCLUDES A SPECIFIC LIST OF PROTECTED CLASSES. THAT LIST OF PROTECTED CLASSES INCLUDES SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY. THAT DOESN'T SIT WELL WITH SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES WHO FEEL LIKE THIS IS A STEALTH EFFORT, THIS ISN'T REALLY ABOUT BULLYING, BUT IT'S REALLY ABOUT GETTING THOSE CLASSES INTO THE IOWA CODE AND TO EVENTUALLY ADD THEM TO THE CIVIL RIGHTS CODE. THAT SAID, THE FIGHTING POINT IN THE LEGISLATURE HAS BEEN SHOULD THIS BULLYING BILL, WHICH APPLIES TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS, SHOULD IT APPLY TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS WHO MAY TEACH THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN. AND IF THEY DO THAT, IS THAT CONSTRUED AS BULLYING. DEMOCRATS SAY, NO, THE CONSTITUTIONAL -- THE CONSTITUTION PROTECTS THOSE SCHOOLS. REPUBLICANS AREN'T SO SURE. AND THAT'S KIND OF BEEN THE FIGHTING POINT OF THE BILL AT THIS --

Borg: SO IT ISN'T SO MUCH -- I MEAN MOST SCHOOLS HAVE PROTECTION FOR STUDENTS IN POLICIES. SO IT'S ADDING A PROTECTED CLASS, THAT'S THE FLASHPOINT; IS THAT RIGHT, KAY?

Henderson: CORRECT.

Borg: YEAH. AND IS THAT NOT GOING TO -- THAT IS, THE OPPOSITION THERE IS NOT GOING TO PREVAIL IF ANY WAY. THAT BILL IS GOING ON TO GOVERNOR CULVER.

Henderson: IT'S STILL UNDECIDED WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

Borg: IS IT STILL IN DOUBT?

Henderson: AGAIN, AS TODD MENTIONED EARLIER, YOU HAVE HOUSE DEMOCRATS ON ONE SIDE OF THIS ISSUE AND YOU HAVE SENATE DEMOCRATS ON ANOTHER SIDE OF THIS ISSUE. THAT'S SOMETHING THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO FIGURE OUT IN THE COMING WEEKS.

Yepsen: I THINK IT WILL PASS. I THINK IT'S AN IMPORTANT SYMBOL FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. I THINK ALSO THE FACT THAT THE REPUBLICAN -- THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY ARE SO ADAMANT AGAINST THIS SORT OF MAKES DEMOCRATS GET THEIR BACK UP AND SAY, 'WAIT A MINUTE, THIS IS ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS, WE'RE IN CHARGE NOW.' I THINK IT WILL PASS.

Borg: STEM CELL RESEARCH. JENEANE, THAT PASSED THROUGH SOME OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS ALL THE WAY --

Beck: JUST THROUGH THE SENATE AND VERY NARROWLY THROUGH THE SENATE BY A SINGLE VOTE. AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT SPELLS TROUBLE IN THE HOUSE. THE SENATE DEMOCRATS HAVE A TEN-SEAT MAJORITY, AND YET THAT STEM CELL BILL PASSED BY A SINGLE VOTE!

Borg: WHAT'S THE ISSUE HERE?

Beck: WELL, THE ISSUE IS THAT THERE ARE REPUBLICANS WHO SAY THAT THIS OPENS UP IOWA'S LAW AGAINST CLONING BECAUSE IT ALLOWS YOU TO CLONE THE EMBRYO SO THAT YOU CAN DO RESEARCH ON IT. NOW, THEY THEY'RE SAYING, LOOK, WE'VE BANNED REPRODUCTIVE CLONING. YOU CAN'T LET THAT EMBRYO TURN INTO A CHILD. WE'RE NEVER GOING TO PUT IT IN A WOMB. IT'S ONLY GOING TO BE IN A PETRI DISH IN A LAB. BUT TO SOME REPUBLICANS WHO BELIEVE THAT LIFE BEGINS AT A EMBRYO STAGE, THEY THINK THIS IS A SLIPPERY SLOPE. THEY THINK IT'S CLONING AND THEY DON'T WANT ANY PART OF IT. AND THERE ARE DEMOCRATS THAT ARE PRO-LIFE THAT SIDED WITH THEM. SO IF ENOUGH DEMOCRATS PEELED OFF IN THE SENATE, YOU'VE GOT A MUCH TIGHTER MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE. AND YOU'VE GOT ONE DEMOCRAT IN THE IRAQ WAR, SO HE'S NOT EVEN THERE TO VOTE. I THINK THAT THEY ARE LOOKING AT WHETHER THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE THE VOTES FOR THIS.

Yepsen: THIS ISSUE IN THE HOUSE IS A BIT LIKE FAIR SHARE. DEMOCRATS TOOK CONTROL BY ELECTING HALF A DOZEN DEMOCRATS IN RURAL DISTRICTS, CONSERVATIVE DISTRICTS, CATHOLIC DISTRICTS, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN NOW WE'RE TALKING IN IOWA ABOUT BULLYING AND GAYS AND LESBIANS AND STEM CELL RESEARCH. IT GETS KIND OF TOUGH FOR SOME OF THOSE NEW DEMOCRATS TO BE VOTING FOR THIS STUFF AND THE REPUBLICANS ARE JUST WAITING, BECAUSE IN THE 2008 ELECTION, THOSE DEMOCRATS, THEY'VE ALREADY GOT TARGETS PAINTED ON THEM AND IF THESE DEMOCRATS VOTE FOR STEM -- A LOOSE STEM CELL RESEARCH, IF THEY'RE SEEN AS BEING FOR GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS, IF THEY'RE SEEN AS HELPING THE UNIONS, THEN THE REPUBLICANS HAVE AN ISSUE TO USE AGAINST THEM AND THEY CAN TAKE THE HOUSE BACK.

Borg: TODD, DO YOU WANT TO WEIGH IN ON STEM CELL RESEARCH? THIS IS ACTUALLY REPEALING SOMETHING THAT THE REPUBLICANS PUT IN PLACE AS FAR AS A BAN ON STEM CELL RESEARCH.

Dorman: WELL, THE ISSUE OF STEM CELL RESEARCH HAS BEEN A POLITICAL WINNER FOR DEMOCRATS, I MEAN WHEN THEY CAN PAINT IT AS ALLOWING RESEARCH THAT COULD LEAD TO TREATMENTS OF ALZHEIMER'S, DIABETES, REALLY, YOU KNOW, TOUGH CHRONIC DISEASES. BUT IN THIS CASE THEY'RE TOYING WITH THE HUMAN CLONING BAN. AND SO THAT ALLOWS REPUBLICANS TO SAY THIS ISN'T ABOUT STEM CELL RESEARCH AND TREATING A FAMILY MEMBER'S ILLNESS, THIS IS ABOUT OPENING THE DOOR TO SOME SORT OF SINISTER SCIENCE AND ALL OF THE THINGS THAT YOU CAN THINK ABOUT WITH HUMAN CLONING. IF REPUBLICANS CAN SUCCEED IN DOING THAT, THEN IT IS GOING TO BE A TOUGH ROAD IN THE HOUSE. THE HOUSE SPEAKER ACKNOWLEDGED THIS PAST WEEK THAT HE'S NOT SURE THE VOTES ARE THERE TO PASS THE BILL AT THIS POINT.

Borg: KAY HENDERSON, CHET CULVER, GOVERNOR, WAS OUT CAMPAIGNING THIS WEEK IN FAVOR -- TRYING TO PROMOTE HIS DOLLAR-A-PACK HOPES -- INCREASE IN THE STATE CIGARETTE TAX -- A DOLLAR-A-PACK INCREASE ON A PACK OF CIGARETTES. THAT SEEMS TO BE THE LINCHPIN OF REVENUE THAT HE NEEDS FOR THE BUDGET THAT HE'S PROPOSED. THE FACT THAT HE'S OUT CAMPAIGNING FOR THAT, DOES THAT MEAN THAT IT'S IN TROUBLE, THAT HE'S NOT GOING TO GET THAT DOLLAR A PACK?

Henderson: I THINK THE QUESTION RIGHT NOW IS HOW MUCH OF A TAX INCREASE THERE WILL BE ON A PACK OF CIGARETTES. I THINK DEMOCRATS HAVE DECIDED, YES, THEY WILL VOTE TO INCREASE THE TAX ON CIGARETTES BUT MAYBE NOT BY A DOLLAR. PLUS, YOU ALSO HAVE THE FACTOR OF BORDER COMMUNITIES. YOU HAVE SOMEONE WHO LIVES IN A BORDER COMMUNITY HEADING THE HOUSE TAX WRITING COMMITTEE. THE BORDER ISSUE IS RETAILERS IN THAT BORDER TOWN ARGUE FOLKS ARE GOING TO GO ACROSS THE BORDER INTO NEBRASKA OR TO ILLINOIS TO GET CHEAPER SMOKES IF IOWA'S TAX PER PACK GOES UP TO A DOLLAR. SO THE INCREASE THEY'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IS SOMETHING IN THE RANGE OF 30 TO 64 CENTS.

Yepsen: I THINK IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS THE GOVERNOR WILL GET HIS DOLLAR, AND THE REASON I SAY THAT IS, FIRST OF ALL, POLLS SHOW OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FOR THIS AMONG IOWANS. ABOUT 70 PERCENT OF IOWANS SAY THEY'RE FOR DOING THIS. SECONDLY, IN ORDER FOR THIS BUDGET THAT HE'S PROPOSED TO BALANCE, HE NEEDS THE REVENUE. AND DEMOCRATS, THEY'VE ALL GOT LITTLE THINGS THEY WANT TO SPEND MONEY ON UP THERE. AND SO ANY TIME THEY CAN GO OUT AND GRAB SOME EXTRA REVENUE NOW, IT'S GOING TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR THEM TO GET THEIR LITTLE GOODY IN THE BUDGET LATER. AND THE THIRD THING, DEAN, IS THE POLITICAL HIT FOR VOTING FOR A DOLLAR IS THE SAME AS THE POLITICAL HIT FOR VOTING FOR A 60-CENT INCREASE. IT'S THE SAME. ONCE YOU VOTE TO RAISE TAXES, YOU'RE A TAX RAISER AND THE ATTACK ADS AND THE BROCHURES ARE GOING TO COME AT YOU. SO ONCE A MEMBER DECIDES, WELL, IF I'M GOING TO TAKE A HIT FOR VOTING FOR 50 CENTS, I MIGHT AS WELL VOTE FOR A BUCK AND GET SOME MORE MONEY TO SPEND.

Beck: AND THAT'S ONLY ONE TAX VOTE YOU HAVE TO TAKE. IF YOU DO THE DOLLAR A PACK ON THE CIGARETTE TAX, THEN MAYBE THEY DON'T HAVE TO TAKE ANOTHER VOTE ON SOME OF THE OTHER CORPORATE LOOPHOLES THAT THE GOVERNOR HAS PROPOSED CLOSING. AND, YOU KNOW, THOSE ARE LESS LIKELY TO GET ACCOMPLISHED IF THEY DO THE DOLLAR A PACK.

Borg: BUT, TODD, IT'S BEING MADE MORE PALATABLE BY A HEALTH CARE IMPLICATION THERE, CAUSING PEOPLE -- IF WE CAN INCREASE THE COST SO MUCH, IT WILL PERSUADE PEOPLE TO DROP OR AT LEAST CUT BACK ON SMOKING. THE GOVERNOR WAS OUT CAMPAIGNING IN A HEALTH CARE SETTING.

Dorman: I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MONEY, BECAUSE THIS IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES. [ LAUGHTER ] THIS ISN'T ABOUT RAISING MONEY FOR TAXES. THIS IS INCREDIBLE. YEAH, I MEAN THEY'VE SHOWED -- OR THEY'VE, YOU KNOW, -- THEY'VE TALKED ABOUT STUDIES THAT SHOW IF YOU RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX A DOLLAR, 17,000 PEOPLE WILL QUIT SMOKING. THEY ARGUE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE WON'T START BECAUSE IT'S A DOLLAR MORE, ALTHOUGH, YOU KNOW, THEY BUY SONGS OFF OF iTUNES FOR 99 CENTS APIECE. SO I'M NOT SURE HOW MUCH -- THEY'VE GOT A COUPLE EXTRA DOLLARS. BUT THE HEALTH CARE ISSUE IS KIND OF THE WAY THIS IS BEING SOLD, THAT THIS IS A GOOD THING FOR HEALTH CARE. AND THE PEOPLE THAT ARE FOR IT, THEY DON'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE BUDGETARY IMPLICATIONS. THEY WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE SAVING LIVES IMPLICATIONS.

Yepsen: AND THIS ISN'T THE ONLY ANTICIGARETTE, ANTITOBACCO THING FLOATING AROUND UP THERE. THERE'S TALK ABOUT BANNING IT IN THE WORKPLACE, IN BARS AND RESTAURANTS, DISTANCES AROUND PUBLIC BUILDINGS, ALLOWING CITIES MORE AUTHORITY TO ENACT SMOKING RESTRICTIONS. SO THIS ISN'T THE END OF IT, BUT IT COULD BE ONE OF THESE DEALS WHERE AFTER THE BATTLE OVER RAISING THE CIGARETTE TAX AND THEY'VE STUCK IT TO SMOKERS THAT WAY, THEY MAY NOT HAVE MUCH STOMACH FOR DOING SOME OF THESE OTHER THINGS THIS YEAR.

Borg: EVEN THE LOCAL OPTION?

Yepsen: YEAH. I MEAN IT'S JUST HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO PICK ON SMOKERS IS THE POLITICAL EQUATION, AND LEGISLATORS WHO HAVE JUST VOTED TO RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX A DOLLAR A PACK MAY NOT WANT TO DO OTHER THINGS.

Dorman: AND THERE ARE A LOT OF LEGISLATORS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS, WHO SAY, YOU KNOW, ON THE SMOKING BAN, THE MARKETPLACE IS TAKING CARE OF THIS. THEY CAN ALL CITE RESTAURANTS IN THEIR OWN TOWNS THAT ARE SMOKE FREE NOW, AND THEY'RE SAYING THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T NEED TO STEP IN, THAT PEOPLE ARE ALREADY DEMANDING SMOKE-FREE ENVIRONMENTS AND THAT OVER TIME THIS WILL HAPPEN WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERING.

Borg: KAY, GAS PRICES HAVE INCREASED ABOUT 10 TO 15 CENTS HERE IN THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. DOES THAT HAVE ANY EFFECT -- YOU KNOW, IT MAY HAVE BEEN MORE PALATABLE TO INCREASE THE GAS TAX WHEN IT WAS DOWN AROUND $1.99 A GALLON AND SO ON. UP TO $2.19 IN SOME AREAS NOW IN THE STATE, MAYBE EVEN HIGHER. DOES THAT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON THE TALK ON INCREASING THE GAS TAX IN THE LEGISLATURE?

Henderson: I HAVE ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT IT WAS A VERY SLIM CHANCE THAT THEY WOULD VOTE TO RAISE THE GAS TAX BECAUSE IT'S LIKELY THEY'RE GOING TO VOTE TO RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX. IF THEY VOTE FOR TWO INCREASES, THEY WILL BE THE TAX AND SPEND DEMOCRATS IN THE 2008 ELECTION. SO -- AND ALSO I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE PRICES AT THE PUMP GO UP BECAUSE OF MARKET FORCES IN THE COMING MONTHS. AND THE IDEA OF ADDING EXTRA TAX ON A GALLON OF GASOLINE THAT MAY COST OVER $3 A GALLON IS JUST UNPALATABLE FOR PEOPLE.

Yepsen: YEAH, AND THE REPUBLICANS ARE ALREADY NEEDLING THE DEMOCRATS. WE HAD TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE IN IOWA SO YOU CAN PAY THE GAS TAX AND THE CIGARETTE TAX THAT THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO DO. THEY'RE ALREADY TAKING HITS OVER THIS. BUT I DON'T RULE IT OUT COMPLETELY, DEAN. AND HERE'S THE SCENARIO BY WHICH A GAS TAX IS INCREASED, AND I SAY IT'S LONG ODDS. A LOT OF COMMUNITIES IN IOWA WANT ROADS. A LOT OF THOSE COMMUNITIES ARE IN RURAL AREAS AND THEY'VE GOT REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS. THE ONLY WAY THOSE ROADS ARE GOING TO GET BUILT IS IF THERE'S MORE REVENUE GIVEN TO THE ROAD FUND. THE CONSTRUCTION COSTS ARE GOING THROUGH THE ROOF, AND YOU CAN'T BUILD AS MANY ROADS. YOU WANT TO DO FOUR-LANE HIGHWAY 20, DEAN, YOU WANT TO DO FOUR-LANE HIGHWAY 30 ACROSS IOWA, YOU'VE GOT TO PUT MORE MONEY IN THE POT. SO MY POINT IS THE ROAD LOBBY IS SAYING AND THE DEMOCRATS ARE SAYING IF WE'RE GOING TO DO A GAS TAX, IT WILL BE A JOINT DEAL. THERE WILL BE REPUBLICAN VOTES FOR THIS; THERE WILL BE DEMOCRATIC VOTES. I STILL THINK IT'S A LONG SHOT.

Borg: I CAN SEE WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, ADD MORE MONEY TO THE POOL AND THAT WILL GET MORE MONEY UNDER THE CURRENT FORMULA TO RURAL ROADS AND MAKE IT MORE PALATABLE THERE. BUT I THOUGHT ALSO A COMPANION IDEA ON THIS IS CHANGING THE FORMULA OF DISTRIBUTION.

Yepsen: THAT'S ALWAYS CONTROVERSIAL. BUT TYPICALLY -- HISTORICALLY IOWA NEVER CHANGES THE FORMULA FOR DISTRIBUTING WITHOUT ADDING MORE MONEY TO THE POT. SOME PEOPLE GET MORE. SOME PEOPLE DON'T GET AS MUCH. BUT THERE IS MORE MONEY ADDED TO THE POT.

Borg: JENEANE, GOVERNOR CULVER AGAIN CALLED FOR IN HIS CONDITION OF THE STATE -- OR AT THE BUDGET ADDRESS. I GUESS BUDGET ADDRESS -- HE DIDN'T GIVE CONDITION OF STATE; VILSACK DID -- BUT FOR TEACHER PAY ENHANCEMENTS.

Beck: HE WANTS $70 MILLION THIS YEAR. THEY HAD ALREADY SAID IN THE PREVIOUS LEGISLATURE THAT TEACHERS WOULD GET AN EXTRA $35 MILLION THIS YEAR, AND THE GOVERNOR SAID, YOU KNOW WHAT, WE NEED TO DO EVEN MORE SO THAT WE CAN GET UP TO 25TH IN THE NATION EVEN FASTER, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW TEACHER PAY RANKS ABOUT 42ND IN THE NATION. SO DEMOCRATS HAVE ALREADY AGREED, I THINK, IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO $70 MILLION THIS YEAR ON TEACHER PAY. THE REAL ISSUE NOW IS DO WE TIE SOME SORT OF PAY FOR PERFORMANCE TO THAT, SOME SORT OF TEACHING STANDARDS TO IT. AND THE DEMOCRATS I TALK TO SAY, LOOK, NO, WE PASSED PAY FOR PERFORMANCE LAST YEAR, WE'VE GOT PILOT PROJECTS COMING IN AND THAT OUR DISTRICTS SAY SHOW ME THE MONEY BEFORE YOU SHOW ME MORE HOOPS TO JUMP THROUGH. AND THEY'RE HAPPY TO JUST GIVE THE MONEY AT THIS POINT.

Borg: LET'S SHIFT TO ANOTHER POLITICAL EPICENTER. I KNOW THE STATEHOUSE IS ONE BUT THERE IS ANOTHER ONE AND IT'S THE ENTIRE STATE OF IOWA IN PRESIDENTIAL CAUCUSES. KAY, THE STYLE OF CAMPAIGNING -- DAVE WROTE A COLUMN ABOUT IT EARLIER THIS WEEK. DO YOU SEE THAT THE STYLE OF CAMPAIGNING IS CHANGING? DO YOU ALSO SEE THAT?

Henderson: WELL, IN THE PAST MONTH, WE'VE SEEN HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON COME INTO THIS STATE AND ATTRACT HUGE CROWDS. WE'VE SEEN BARACK OBAMA COME IN AND ATTRACT CROWDS THAT WERE TWICE AS LARGE. THE QUESTION IS CAN THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE SEEN AS THE RISING STARS IN THEIR PARTY CONTINUE TO ATTRACT CROWDS THAT LARGE. IT WILL CHANGE THE NATURE OF CAMPAIGNING IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES, WHICH HAVE HERETOFORE BEEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES GOING INTO SOMEONE'S LIVING ROOM AND TALKING TO A DOZEN PEOPLE. THOSE TWO CANDIDATES CAN'T DO THAT, (A) BECAUSE THEY'RE ATTRACTING LARGER CROWDS AND (B) BECAUSE THEY'RE ATTRACTING LARGER MEDIA ATTENTION. YOU CAN'T GO INTO SOMEONE'S HOUSE WITH 150 ACCREDITED JOURNALISTS AND HAVE THE KIND OF CONVERSATION THAT CANDIDATES HAVE HAD WITH IOWANS IN THE PAST. IT WILL ALSO DEPEND ON HOW OFTEN THOSE TWO CANDIDATES DECIDE TO COME HERE TO CAMPAIGN.

Beck: YOU KNOW, JUST ASK INDIANA SENATOR EVAN BAYH IF THE TYPE OF CAMPAIGNING HAS CHANGED. YOU KNOW, WHEN HE WAS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE ONE WEEKEND -- AND THEY'RE SIMILAR TO US IN THAT IT'S BEEN A VERY RETAIL TYPE OF POLITICS OVER THE PAST YEARS. YOU KNOW, HE HAD, WHAT, LESS THAN A HUNDRED PEOPLE AT HIS RALLY AND OBAMA HAD A COUPLE THOUSAND. AND IT WAS A CLEAR INDICATOR TO HIM THAT THINGS HAVE CHANGED AND YOU CAN'T RUN THAT WAY AND HE WASN'T GOING TO HAVE THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT. AND SO, YOU KNOW, HE DIDN'T GET IN THE RACE. BUT, LIKE KAY SAID, WAS THIS A ONE-TIME -- YOU KNOW, THEY HIT THE STATE AND EVERYONE WANTS TO COME OUT AND SEE THEM, OR ARE THEY GOING TO ATTRACT THOSE KIND OF CROWDS EVERY TIME? AND THAT'S WHAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN TO ME. AND WHAT'S FUNNY IS THEY HAVE TO REALIZE THOSE CROWDS DON'T NECESSARILY TRANSLATE INTO VOTES. I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE I'VE TALKED TO AT LEAST AT THE HILLARY EVENTUALLY THAT SAID, 'OH, I'M SO EXCITED TO SEE HER. THIS IS VERY EXCITING. SHE'S DONE A WONDERFUL JOB.' 'WELL, ARE YOU SUPPORTING HER'? 'OH, IT'S FAR TOO SOON FOR ME TO DECIDE THAT.' [ LAUGHTER ] OR THEY MIGHT TELL ME THEY WERE SUPPORTING SOMEONE ELSE. THEY WERE THERE TO SEE HER, NOT NECESSARILY VOTE FOR HER.

Yepsen: I THINK IN BOTH PARTIES, THE EARLY FRONT RUNNERS, JOHN MCCAIN, HILLARY CLINTON, BARACK OBAMA, HAVE FIGURED OUT THIS PRIMARY NOMINATING SCHEDULE IS SO COMPRESSED -- WE HAVE TALK NOW OF CALIFORNIA COMING UP AND DOING ONE ON FEBRUARY 5 -- THAT THEY CAN SCORE A KNOCKOUT VICTORY BY WINNING IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE AND JUST ENDING THIS NOMINATION FIGHT BY ROLLING UP VICTORIES HERE. SO I THINK YOU WILL SEE THEM -- SOME OF THESE BIG NAME, THESE ROCK STAR CANDIDATES STARTING TO COME INTO IOWA AND TRY TO POUR IT ON, COLLECT NAMES, TRY TO WIN THE CAUCUSES ON THE THEORY THEY DON'T WANT TO LET SOME EVAN BAYH OR TOM VILSACK OR SOMEBODY GET IN UNDERNEATH THEM WITH A WIN IN ONE OF THESE TWO STATES. WE'LL SEE. RUDY GIULIANI IS THE EXCEPTION TO THAT, DEAN. WE HAVE NOT SEEN HIM IN THIS STATE, AND I REALLY DON'T KNOW WHY HE'S NOT BEEN HERE.

Borg: NOW, THIS JOCKEYING, THE FLUIDITY OF THE DATES, WE REALLY DON'T KNOW IF A STATE IS GOING TO JUMP AHEAD. IS THAT -- YOU'VE ALREADY SAID IT MAY CHANGE THE STYLE OF CAMPAIGNING, BUT DOES IT HAVE ANY OTHER EFFECT ON IOWA? IOWA HAS A LAW THAT WE NEED TO BE FIRST.

Yepsen: HERE'S THE -- THE SHORT ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION, DEAN, IS NEW HAMPSHIRE IS VERY UPSET AT ALL THESE OTHER STATES CROWDING IN BEHIND THEM. THEY THINK IT TAKES AWAY FROM THEIR LUSTER. THEY'VE NEVER BEEN REAL HAPPY WITH IOWA. THE SECRETARY OF STATE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE WILL SET THE DATE FOR THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY MAYBE AS LATE AS DECEMBER OF 2007. AND IF HE'S OF A MIND TO THINK THAT CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA AND THESE OTHER STATES ARE TAKING AWAY SOME OF THEIR LUSTER, HE'LL MOVE THAT DATE UP TO EARLIER IN JANUARY, WHICH WILL FORCE IOWA TO DECIDE DO WE WANT TO HAVE THESE THINGS AT ALL, DO WE WANT TO HAVE THEM OVER CHRISTMAS VACATION. AND SO THAT'S WHY THE GOVERNOR TOLD ME THAT HE WANTS TO CONVENE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS AND TRY TO THINK ABOUT MAYBE CHANGING THAT REQUIREMENT IN THE LAW SO THAT COME DECEMBER WE HAVE SOME FLEXIBILITY IN THIS STATE TO MOVE.

Borg: TODD, DOES THIS CHANGE IN THE STYLE OF CAMPAIGNING? IS IT PERILOUS FOR CERTAIN CANDIDATES?

Dorman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

Yepsen: I'M NOT SURE TOM VILSACK IS GOING TO BE ABLE TO RAISE THE MONEY TO STAY IN THIS RACE. WHEN HILLARY CLINTON AND BARACK OBAMA ARE GOING THROUGH THE MONEY COMMUNITY WITH A VACUUM CLEANER, I'M JUST NOT SURE HOW MUCH IS LEFT OVER FOR SOME OF THESE LESSER CANDIDATES LIKE TOM VILSACK, OR ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, A MIKE HUCKABEE OR A SAM BROWNBACK. THE FIRST PRIMARY AND CAUCUS ISN'T IOWA. IT'S THE MONEY PRIMARY OF 2007.

Dorman: WELL, AND THE DANGEROUS THING FOR TOM VILSACK IS THAT AT ONE POINT PEOPLE WERE LIKE, WELL, HOW MUCH CAN HE WIN THE CAUCUS BY, AND THEN IT WAS CAN HE WIN THE CAUCUS, AND NOW PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT WILL HE EVEN BE AROUND WHEN THE CAUCUS HAPPENS OR WILL HE DROP OUT AT SOME POINT BEFORE THAT. I MEAN SO THE TREND LINES ARE NOT GREAT FOR HIM AT THIS POINT.

Borg: TOM VILSACK HAS A LINE FOR THAT, KAY, AND THE WAY I REMEMBER HIM SAYING IT, HE SAID, 'WE'RE IN THE ROCK STAR STAGE OF THIS CAMPAIGN RIGHT NOW.' THEY'RE ASKING HIM CAN YOU WIN IOWA. AND HE SAID, 'WE'RE IN THE ROCK STAR STAGE RIGHT NOW, BUT PEOPLE IN IOWA WILL BE LOOKING FOR ROCK SOLID.'

Henderson: THAT'S RIGHT. HE TRIED THAT LINE OUT ON THE JAY LENO SHOW THIS WEEKEND THIS PAST WEEK. AND I'M NOT SURE THAT HE WILL BE IN THIS RACE THIS FALL. AS MY COLLEAGUES HAVE SAID, THE MONEY PRIMARY IS GOING TO REALLY AFFECT HIS CAMPAIGN. PLUS, DOES HE REALLY WANT TO STAY IN IT AND COME IN THIRD, FOURTH, FIFTH? I DON'T THINK THAT'S A LEGACY THAT HE WOULD LIKE WRITTEN IN HIS BIOGRAPHY COMING ON DOWN THE LINE. I THINK THAT HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO REALLY THINK THINGS OVER STARTING IN JUNE.

Yepsen: BUT IN FAIRNESS, DEAN, HE HAS ACQUITTED HIMSELF WELL OUT THERE. HIS STOCK HAS RISEN AMONG PARTY INSIDERS. IF HE CAN'T MAKE IT, HE STILL WINDS OUT WITH AN ENHANCED STATURE INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, HE MAY NOT WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION THIS TIME. MAYBE IN THE FUTURE. MAYBE HE WINDS UP IN THE CABINET. MAYBE HE WINDS UP ON SOMEBODY'S TICKET AS A RUNNING MATE. TOM VILSACK IS STILL AHEAD OF WHERE HE WAS WHEN HE STARTED.

Henderson: THE OTHER THING THAT SPRINGS TO MIND IS WE'VE SPENT SO MUCH TIME TALKING ABOUT THE ROCK STARS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. I'VE BEEN OUT AT REPUBLICAN EVENTS, AND THEY ARE SO JEALOUS OF THE ATTENTION ON THOSE ROCK STARS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. AND THAT'S WHERE I THINK RUDY GIULIANI HAS A REAL SHOT AT GETTING THE NOMINATION, DOING WELL IN IOWA, BECAUSE THOSE REPUBLICANS WANT SOMEBODY WHO CAN GO TOE TO TOE ON A ROCK STAR STATUS ON A NATIONAL STAGE.

Borg: JENEANE -- GO AHEAD, DAVE.

Yepsen: JUST REALLY QUICKLY. THERE'S ONE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE CROWDS REPUBLICANS ARE GETTING AND THE ONES DEMOCRATS ARE GETTING BESIDES SIZE. DEMOCRATS ARE PUMPED UP. THEY'RE ENERGIZED. THEY'VE GOT THE WIND AT THEIR BACK. REPUBLICANS ARE DOWN. THEY'RE SPOOKED. THEY'RE WORRIED. YOU KNOW, BARACK OBAMA GETS 5,000 PEOPLE; MIT ROMNEY GETS 200. THAT TELLS YOU SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT MAY BE COMING IN 2008.

Borg: JUST IN THE FINAL HALF MINUTE THAT WE HAVE, JENEANE, THE IMPLICATION FOR TOM VILSACK AND THIS ROCK STAR MAGNETISM, IT ATTRACTED A COUPLE OF KEY ENDORSEMENTS.

Beck: FOR OBAMA THIS WEEK, YEAH. TOM MILLER AND MIKE FITZGERALD, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SECRETARY -- OR THE TREASURER, SO EARLY JUMPED AWAY FROM VILSACK. THEY'VE BEEN FRIENDS WITH HIM FOR YEARS, AND THEY'RE ON OBAMA'S TICKET. I'M SURPRISED AFTER TOM HARKIN ENDORSED HOWARD DEAN SO EARLY -- AND LOOK HOW THAT WENT -- I WAS KIND OF SURPRISED THEY JUMPED ON BOARD SO EARLY.

Borg: WELL, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE. THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHTS TODAY. WE'LL BE BACK TALKING ABOUT THE CAUCUSES, I KNOW, MANY MONTHS TO COME. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INSIGHTS. NEXT WEEK, SHIFTING FROM THE IOWA STATEHOUSE TO A NATIONAL FOCUS. NEWLY ELECTED SECOND DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN MOUNT VERNON DEMOCRAT DAVE LOEBSACK WILL BE HERE. CONGRESSMAN LOEBSACK, AT THE USUAL 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES NEXT WEEK: AT 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.


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