Business & Economy
American Jobs Act Continually Blocked by Republicans. And Here Are The Results: PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Maureen Groah   
Sunday, 09 September 2012 13:21

Exactly a year ago, President Obama laid out a series of policy proposals known collectively as the American Jobs Act. The plan included stimulus spending in the form of immediate infrastructure investments, tax credits for working Americans and employers to encourage consumer spending and job growth, and efforts to shore up state and local budgets to prevent further layoffs of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public safety officials.

The American Jobs Act never became law, however, because Republicans opposed it from the start, blasting it as another form of “failed stimulus” that wouldn’t help the economy. (They ignored the fact that the first “failed stimulus,” the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, wasn’t a failure at all.) One month later, the GOP blocked the bill in the Senate, preventing the creation of more than a million jobs and the added growth that multiple economists predicted would occur if the bill passed:

–Moody’s Analytics estimated the American Jobs Act would create 1.9 million jobs and add two percent to gross domestic product.

–The Economic Policy Institute estimated it would create 2.6 million jobs and protect an addition 1.6 million existing jobs.

–Macroeconomic Advisers predicted it would create 2.1 million jobs and boost GDP by 1.5 percent.

–Goldman Sachs estimated it would add 1.5 percent to GDP.

The American economy has continued to recover since the American Jobs Act failed. It added 96,000 jobs last month, according to today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report, making August the 30th consecutive month in which the private sector has grown. But growth could have been faster: the public sector shed 7,000 jobs in August, adding to the more 700,000 it has lost since 2009. That includes hundreds of thousands of teachersand educators, firefighters, and police officers. Had the public sector spent the last three years growing at its previous rate, unemployment would be at least a full point lower than it is now.

The American Jobs Act and policies like it would have unquestionably boosted job creation and economic growth, a stark contrast to the tax-cutting policies put forth by congressional Republicans, whose “job creation” bills would have actually destroyed thousands of jobs. Republicans nevertheless continue to ignore economists and basic economics, instead pushing supply-side tax policies that have repeatedly failed to boost job creation and economic growth.

Branstad, Reynolds celebrate largest capital investment in Iowa history, calls for Iowa income tax reform PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Governor Branstad's Office   
Sunday, 09 September 2012 12:33

(DES MOINES) – Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds celebrated the single largest capital investment project in the history of the state and called on lawmakers to turn their focus to income tax reform during the next legislative session. They joined representatives of the Iowa Fertilizer Company to announce their final selection of a Lee County site for their $1.4 billion project that will create 165 permanent jobs and more than 2,000 construction-related jobs.

To successfully compete for this project, Iowa had to offer incentives to overcome its current corporate income tax structure.  The governor used this project as an example of why tax reform is necessary.

“If our income tax structure was more competitive, we would be better able to compete for job and capital investment creation projects like this one. It also will level the playing field for our existing Iowa companies, allowing them to grow and create even more jobs,” said Branstad.

Iowa Fertilizer Company is a subsidiary of Orascom Construction Industries, one of the world's largest fertilizer producers.  The new plant would supply needed ammonia and other nitrogen fertilizers to farmers in Iowa and the Midwest.   


Lt. Governor Reynolds added, “In addition to the jobs and massive capital investment this project will mean for Iowa, it also will have a tremendous impact for our ag economy. In fact, when this fertilizer plant comes online, it could save Iowa farmers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”

In February 2012, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board awarded Iowa Fertilizer Company incentives to locate in Lee County, Iowa. Due to some unforeseen challenges with the original site, the company resumed its search for a suitable location and was pursued by other states to locate outside of Iowa. 

Earlier today, the IEDA Board met to amend its original award to ensure Iowa would win this project. The amendment that was passed includes an increase to the investment tax credit portion of the High Quality Jobs award, increasing the total tax credits to $57.5 million. The IEDA board will also be asked to consider future amendments in FY14 and FY15 to increase the ITC portion of the award by $25 million in each of those years. If the board passes those amendments, the final award to Iowa Fertilizer Co. would amount to $100 million of tax credits. The direct financial assistance award remains unchanged at $1.6 million (half loan, half forgivable loan). 


USDA Information Available for You PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:51

Have you ever struggled to find information on or someone to talk to about a USDA program?

The USDA has developed a guide to organic and organic-related programs, and is implementing a department-wide training program to improve service to current and prospective organic stakeholders.

USDA has also developed a toolkit that helps farmers and businesses answer the question, "is organic an option for me?"

Organic Literacy Initiative

In response to requests from the organic community, USDA developed these materials to help connect current and prospective organic operations with appropriate USDA resources.


Through this effort, USDA staff will be better equipped to help current and prospective organic customers:

  • Obtain technical and financial assistance.
  • Insure crops and livestock.
  • Access and fund research.
  • Secure loans.
  • Develop conservation practices.
  • Find current organic price information.
  • Access local, regional, and international markets.

By 2015, the USDA hopes to have 20,000 certified organic farmers and businesses in the United States. We're well on our way to achieving this goal, but we're not there yet.

We hope you will use and share these materials widely, helping current and prospective organic operations fully benefit from USDA services.

View Guide to Organic and Organic-Related USDA Programs

Access All Organic Literacy Initiative Materials

Includes training and outreach materials

Are You a USDA Employee?

In order to credit your training and track USDA participation, please access the organic 101 and 201 courses through USDA's AgLearn system. However, AgLearn is currently down for routine maintenance until September 12th.

Once AgLearn is back online, USDA staff will be invited to access these online training modules.

In the meantime, we welcome you to:

Thank you for your patience and help supporting organic agriculture!

About the National Organic Program (NOP)

The NOP facilitates trade and ensures integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations throughout the world. Learn more.

About the NOP Organic Insider

The NOP Organic Insider is intended to inform the organic community on a wide range of NOP functions, including organic standards, accreditation and international activities, compliance and enforcement, the National Organic Standards Board, training events, and the Cost Share program.


You are receiving this email because you elected to receive selected updates from the USDA National Organic Program. You may manage your profile to receive additional updates on other NOP functions or unsubscribe at any time by using the links below.

Branstad, Reynolds praise trust fund management as Iowa’s employers see $100 million in tax savings PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Office of Governor Terry Branstad   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:44

(DES MONIES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today praised Iowa’s management of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds, which for the second year in a row will allow a significant savings for Iowa’s employers.

This year, Iowa employers will see $100 million in tax savings by moving from tax table four to table five. The average rate will fall from 2.4 percent to 2.0 percent for 2013.

“Our efficient, effective management of this trust fund will allow Iowa’s employers more flexibility with their own dollars,” said Branstad. “This is $100 million that will be reinvested in Iowa’s communities, and is a clear sign that Iowa works to ensure that our valuable employers are successful in building Iowa’s economy.”

In 2013, over 52 percent of Iowa businesses will experience a zero rate.  Iowa is one of only six states in the country that provides a zero rate within the tax tables. Additionally, the new employer non-construction rate will decrease from 1.5 percent in 2012 to 1.1 percent in 2013.

“This is another positive signal we are sending to Iowa’s employers,” said Lt. Gov. Reynolds. “The state of Iowa is leading with sound management of our resources, and employers are counting on this stability when considering whether to locate or expand here.”

Iowa Workforce Development is the state agency charged with collecting unemployment insurance taxes from employers and operating Iowa’s unemployment insurance payment programs for workers. Annually, Iowa Workforce Development identifies the appropriate table for the following year. Unemployment tax rates are based on wages and recent unemployment benefit payments.  In 2013, the tax rate will move favorably to table five.

“This is exciting news for Iowa businesses and the economy,” stated Iowa Workforce Development director Teresa Wahlert.  “While states across the country have struggled with the stability of their Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds, Iowa has moved the rates in a positive direction for businesses two years in a row.”

“The people of Iowa have our commitment to carefully manage the trust fund in the coming year to continue this beneficial trend for Iowa businesses.  Iowa has one of the lowest UI tax rates in the nation,” stated Wahlert.

Due to the design of Iowa’s unemployment tax system developed under Gov. Branstad’s administration in the 1980’s and Iowa Workforce Development’s diligent oversight of the UI Trust Fund throughout the national recession and initial recovery, Iowa businesses will benefit with an average decrease in taxes.

Throughout the state, Iowa Workforce Development provides critical services and resources to support the prosperity, productivity, health and safety of Iowans and their communities. Services are available in 15 regional centers, four satellite offices and hundreds of Access Points.



Let's Call It Labor Week PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ed Fallon   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:34
Dear Friends,

It’s appropriate that America designates a day to recognize the incomparable contributions of labor unions. But with so many politicians (mostly Republicans) actively working to obliterate organized labor, we would do well to spend more than just a day discussing issues affecting America's workers.

With that in mind . . . Tuesday, Colin Gordon with the Iowa Policy Project talks about wage theft and the $600 million each year stolen from Iowa workers! Folks might be astounded to learn how many low-wage workers are not paid the wages they are legally owed. And if you think the State of Iowa is doing its job to crack down on violators and protect such workers, think again. For a little homework on the subject, check out the Iowa Policy Project’s new report.

Wednesday, Chris Wilbeck of Greene County talks about the potential impact of a 5,000-head corporate hog confinement proposed for her area. Folks there are still reeling from an unsuccessful battle to stop a confinement earlier this year. If the second one is built, there would be 12,400 hogs within a two-mile radius of Chris’ home. (To sort of put that in perspective for us city folk, the population density of two-square miles in Des Moines is 5,030 - and a hog produces twice as much excrement as an adult human!)

The confinement operator is Prestage “Farms,” a huge enterprise with its corporate tentacles wrecking havoc in six states. To sign a petition to stop them, click here.

And let me just throw this out there: What is it going to take before Iowa Democratic lawmakers - who for years campaigned in favor of local control yet did nothing when they had power - free themselves from the chains of corporate money and stand with the people they pledged to support?

Thursday, we discuss why labor leaders are unhappy with Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey, who once said that binding arbitration is "not the way we normally do things in the United States" and that allowing workers to organize without a secret ballot "violates a bedrock principle of American democracy." As Mother Jones once pointed out, “Mackey's tired canard has been debunked over and over. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board, home of anti-labor commentary, finally admitted . . . that the ‘the bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option.’"

Also, Thursday, Sonia Ashe with Iowa Public Interest Research Group discusses a new report on Super PACs. The report is called “Megaphones for Millionaires,” and it’s timely given the vast infusion of corporate money in the November election.

Friday, with one eye looking back at this week’s Labor Day celebrations and one looking forward to an Iowa Legislature set to convene in just four months, we’ll talk about some other issues affecting Iowa workers, including raising the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

So, join the conversation live, Monday-Friday, online from 12:00-1:00 pm on the Fallon Forum website. Call in at 244-0077 or toll free (855) 244-0077. And tune-in to Bradshaw, Monday-Friday from 1:30-2:30, also on the Fallon Forum website. Video and audio podcasts are available, too.

Thanks! - Ed



September 6 - Drinking Liberally (Des Moines)
You don't have to be a card-carrying liberal to enjoy political conversation and excellent libations at AJ's, 419 E Court starting at 8:00 pm every Thursday. If the revolution is going to start anyplace, it's over a frosty libation. Contact

September 14-30 - World Premiere of “Sense and Sensibility” (Des Moines)
The book by Jane Austen has been adapted for the stage by Iowa’s Kerry Skram. Performances are at the Des Moines Social Club’s Kirkwood Theater, 4th and Walnut. For tickets, call MIDWESTIX at (515) 244-2771.

September 18 - Irish Jam at Open Sesame (Des Moines)
Discover the fusion of Lebanese and Celtic culture every third Tuesday of the month with Irish jigs and reels, Mideastern belly dancing, and Lebanese cuisine washed-down with a pint of Guinness. All musicians and patrons are welcome at 313 E. Locust St from 8:30-10:30 pm.

September 27 - Coleen Rowley 'Blowing the Whistle on War' (Des Moines)
At 7:00 pm at Plymouth Congregational Church, 42nd and Ingersoll, Iowa's own Coleen Rowley talks about the need to end our permanent war economy and state of perpetual war. Coleen grew up in New Hampton Iowa and was part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation before blowing the whistle on bad intelligence work in the wake of September 11. She was Time magazine's PERSON OF THE YEAR in 2002 and is an important voice in favor of government transparency. Contact Jeff Weiss at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

October 3 - Jim Hightower: Taking Back Our Food and Agriculture (Fairfield)
Hightower gives the keynote at the Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors annual meeting at 7:30 pm at the Arts & Convention Center, 200 N Main St. An outspoken critic of CAFO animal production, Hightower will address what is needed to turn around our environmentally destructive, nutritionally compromised system of industrial food production. Contact Diane at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

October 6 - The Shrinking Middle Class (Des Moines)
At Plymouth Church, 4126 Ingersoll Avenue, 10:00-2:00. Cost is $10 and lunch is provided for this presentation and panel discussion. Income inequality, rising costs, political corruption, and economic instability threaten our global household. This seminar will explore a variety of current problems and contemplate solutions surrounding the erosion of middle class political and economic power while providing a theological context for these contemporary struggles.

October 7 - Images of Peace Interfaith Prayer Service (Des Moines)
A 7:00 pm at DMACC Auditorium, Urban Campus, 9th and University for an interfaith prayer service featuring a video by Rodger Routh, presenting images of peace from various faith traditions and a variety of perspectives. At the end of the service people will walk to the Path of Peace Sculpture nearby to scatter the soil gathered from representatives of many different faiths at last year’s Interfaith Service. Sponsored by the Des Moines Area Ecumenical Committee For Peace. Contact Eloise Cranke at (515) 262-5974 or Susie Paloma at (515) 480-1872.

October 20 - Contra Dance at Odd Fellows Hall (Des Moines)
Contra-Indications is hosting a contra dance at Odd Fellows Hall, 2904 Kingman Blvd, 8:00-11:00 pm, with lesson at 7:30 pm. Live music by Barn Owl Band; Jill Allen as caller. $10 adults; free under 12; $25 family maximum. Visit This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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