The new Senate Republican Leader at the statehouse has started his tenure with a volley of verbal taunts aimed directly at Democrats, a sort of preview of G-O-P arguments for this fall’s campaign season. Senate Minority Leader Ron Wieck of Sioux City is accusing Democrats of being too "greedy" to enact tax cuts for Iowans because of their "insatiable appetite" for spending.
"The Democrat Party controls all facets of Iowa government. They control the Senate, the House and the governor’s office. Literally all of the government in the State of Iowa is under the Democrats’ control," Wieck said in remarks today on the Senate floor. "…The Democrat majority appear to worship at the altar of poll-driven politics."
Wieck is offering a long list of complaints about Democrats, accusing Democrats of caring too much about popularity and too little about policy. "Take a poll, propose a bill, take some photos and call the press seems to be where we are today," Wieck said. "That’s just not leadership. It’s simply politics." Wieck’s Republican counterpart in the Iowa House, Representative Christopher Rants of Sioux City, was less antagonistic in his comments on the opening day of the 2008 legislative session.
Rants challenged Democrats to enact property tax reform and called for a move to enact an amendment to Iowa’s Constitution that will outlaw gay marriage. "I know that the quick and casual answer is that we don’t have time. We’ll let the courts sort it out. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we do have time," Rants said, smacking his hand on his House desk for emphasis. "If this chamber can spend an hour debating the merits of registering propane tanks as (the House) did last year, then ladies and gentlemen I would suggest to you that we have an hour to debate the merits of marriage."
Leading Democrats in the legislature were not confrontational on this opening day of the 2008 session. House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines said Democrats planned to put "people before politics" and were "perfectly poised" for 2008.
"If the Iowa Caucuses showed us anything earlier this year, it’s that Iowans want a more hopeful, optimistic politics," McCarthy said. "…Is it possible that we can disagree this year without being disagreeable? I hope so." House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, sounded a conciliatory tone, too, particularly when it comes to finding a way to plug more money into the state’s road construction and repair fund.
"We need to see where there is common ground, where we can come together to pass a bill that will help take care of our infrastructure needs so we don’t have the tragic incidents that occurred in Minnesota," Murphy said. The I-35 bridge in Minnesota collapsed last year as repairs were being made to the structure. Democrats control a majority of seats in both the Iowa House and Senate and therefore Democrats get to decide which bills are debated and passed — and which bills are not considered.