Healthcare Reform Obstacles

Every time I write about healthcare reform, I receive at least one comment about the need to get the government out of healthcare entirely. I’m not unsympathetic to this argument, but I think it’s unrealistic.

It is true that industries, which have seen the largest increases in costs over the past few decades, such as healthcare and higher education, are also some of those most highly impacted by government interventions. Since 1965, when the federal government got seriously involved in healthcare with the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid, inflation-adjusted per-capita spending on healthcare has increased more than six-fold, to an average of over $12,000 per person today.

Is Iowa Prepared for the Federal Debt Crisis?

Uncle Sam is broke and the nation is on the verge of a serious debt crisis, if we are not already in one.  The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released an alarming report regarding the nation’s fiscal health and their conclusions aren’t good.  The report, which should be taken very seriously, flatly states, “The federal government faces an unsustainable fiscal future.”  Consider the magnitude of Congress’s own watchdog cautioning the nation that we cannot continue down the same spending path we are on.

Rural Schools Stand to Benefit from School Choice

Rural citizens and legislators are concerned that school choice would take critical funding away from their local schools. ITR Foundation Deputy Director Walt Rogers sat down with Need to Know host Jeff Angelo to debunk this myth and explain how school choice would improve education quality through the competition. The discussion starts at the 9:25 minute mark.

The Fight To Preserve Iowa’s Voice

It appears the Republican Party will maintain Iowa’s first in the nation status for its 2024 presidential caucus, but uncertainty remains whether Democrats will continue to have Iowa leadoff their party’s nominating process. Iowa’s first in the nation presidential caucuses have become a tradition and are an integral part of the state’s political culture. As a reminder, Donald Trump won Iowa’s Republican caucus in 2020 and Pete Buttigieg was the choice of Iowa Democrats that year.

WHO’S GETTING THE BIGGEST SLICE OF PROPERTY TAX PIE?

Iowa has a long history with property taxes and it is one of the most debated issues, even dating back to before statehood. The very first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa met in 1838 in Burlington, and one of their primary goals was to develop a revenue system. A few short months later the Iowa Territory created a property tax for residents, levied and collected by the counties – a function which the county still performs to this day.

How Does Your Property Tax Bill Compare?

How’s your property tax bill?  If you tell us it’s too high, we won’t argue with you.  In fact, we keep proposing solutions to deliver stronger taxpayer protections.  But property taxes exist to fund our K-12 education system and city and county governments, as well as other services we all have access to; they are never going away.  So maybe […]

Drive A Tesla, Get Free Property Taxes

Maybe you missed it, but April 3-9 was Affordable Housing Week in Iowa, where one of the main takeaways was that Iowa needs to increase its housing supply. It’s no secret that many states, including Iowa, have a housing shortage. Housing advocacy groups have identified a particular shortage of affordable homes, especially for lower-income Iowa families. In fact, it is such a pressing need that the State has designated $330 million over a five-year period to help aid in the issue.

The School Choice Questions We Should Be Asking

The education establishment has done an amazing job of creating the perfect “Emperor’s New Clothes” scenario when arguing against school choice.  We’ll remind you of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale that raises questions about believing our own two eyes or buying into a pretense that is being sold to us.  In the story, the emperor is fond of clothes […]

The Growing Cost of Municipal Debt

With inflation and rising interest rates, it’s normal to worry about the national debt and what that means for our country. But what about Iowa and our local communities?

During the last few years, the state of Iowa tightened its belt and has reduced its overall debt burden. However, the combined total of state and local government debt increased by 5.3% to $18.8 billion in FY2021, the highest percentage increase in a decade.

Iowa Poised to Make a Move

For fifteen years the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has produced Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. This broad index measures 15 policy variables that ALEC has deemed important to economic growth, with a particular focus on tax and spending policies.

Intentions Don’t Always Equate to Results

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results” – Milton Freedman

This quote hits home for many of us who care about public policy, and it applies most accurately to using our tax dollars to incentivize companies to do business in Iowa.  Depending on one’s view of incentives, this can be thought of as economic development, or corporate welfare, or even crony capitalism.  The reality is incentives are a tool used to compete in our global economy and literally every state in the nation has adopted some form of incentive program.

Foreign Acquisition of American Agriculture

The United States is growing more dependent on foreign nations for necessities, including potentially hostile nations such as China. As we examined last month, 2021 was the 10th straight year America’s trade deficit with the Chinese eclipsed $300 billion.  If that pattern is not alarming enough, though, there’s more worrisome activity being undertaken by China: the massive acquisition of American farmland.  By the United States Department of Agriculture’s own estimate, investments from China held $2 billion of American agricultural land at the beginning of 2020.

Truth-in-Taxation: A Rock Chalk Taxpayer Protection

March Madness wrapped up last week with the Kansas Jayhawks being crowned National Champions.  While there may not be many Iowans who joined Jayhawk fans in celebrating that victory, there was another win in Kansas that we can all be happy about: property taxes.  The map above identifies 21 Kansas counties that actually experienced a decline in property taxes this year.

Before examining what caused the big win in Kansas (the property taxes, not the basketball), we should reflect on the property tax situation in our state.  Iowans are demanding property tax relief and nobody can blame them.  Even before inflation reached record highs, putting a major squeeze on household budgets, Iowans felt the pain of having a heavier property tax burden than 40 other states.

Benefiting the Few With Resources From the Many

Most citizens expect the property taxes paid to their city to be used for road maintenance, snow removal, building maintenance, and of course, public safety. These activities are all considered core government services and functions. However, in current times we see some of our city governments spending considerable dollars on things that could be better managed by the private sector – and that’s a problem.

Did Iowa Spark A Tax Reform Movement?

This year may be one of the most historic for states lowering income tax rates across the nation.  So far, at least six other states have joined Iowa in passing tax cuts, while many more have tax reform legislation under consideration. The graph above illustrates the new rates that will be delivered to individual taxpayers in their respective states. The […]

A Common Sense Approach To School Choice

Let us take a step back from all the numbers, charts, and research on the issue of school choice.  If we’re honest, most of us only believe the data that fits with our narrative anyway.  Instead, we can discuss a couple of arguments that opponents of school choice trot out and apply some basic common sense to both of them.

What Would Hamilton Say About China?

A few recent headlines have passed without much attention. The first story is our national debt has reached $30 trillion, while the second is the trade deficit for 2021 hit a record  $859.1 billion. Both stories were virtually ignored because the American people have just become numb to the topics, though they may be missing some wider ramifications, especially when it comes to trade.

A Very Short Primer on What Causes Inflation

By Patrick Barron What almost everyone calls “inflation” is really a rise in the general price level. OK. But the real definition of “inflation” is inflation of the money supply. A rise in the general price level is a consequence of inflation of the money supply. Technically, the price level is determined by supply and demand, one of economic science’s […]

Is the Media Skipping Facts and Promoting Agendas?

Somehow Hunter Biden has managed to make himself the common thread that ties together a war in Eastern Europe with everything people dislike about politics in America, while pointing to this country’s  collective and completely justified distrust of the media.   We are not suggesting that Hunter’s activities in Ukraine have anything to do with Russia’s invasion.  But if American citizens […]

Iowa’s Gold Standard Tax Reform

For several years we have praised North Carolina for its historic tax reform. The Tarheel State is the gold standard for prudent state tax policy that pairs conservative budgeting with shrinking tax rates. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa’s legislature have followed a similar path to deliver pro-growth tax reform by balancing restrained spending growth with income tax cuts. Years of prudent budgeting enabled the passage of historic tax reform this year, which will create a flat 3.9 percent income tax rate by 2026.