Hubbell to the rescue

EDITORIAL

BY ART CULLEN

Fred Hubbell was drawn to run for governor because state government was being mismanaged, in particular by the privatization of Medicaid. He is right on the button. We continue to believe that the private administration of the health program for the disabled and elderly poor costs the state at least $100 million more than state administration did. This is causing a structural deficit that is being papered over by cuts to all other programs, an implosion in public education and the denial of services to the very people Medicaid was designed to serve. Look no further than the closing of North Lake Manor in Storm Lake within a year of the “reform.”

Handing over Medicaid to two private insurance companies is an abdication of responsibility masquerading for an effort to apply private-sector efficiency to a program that is supposed to help poor people live and die with dignity. It doesn’t work. It is cruel to recipients and to their families. It erodes communities. And it is sucking resources from other areas of the state budget, like public education, all because the Republicans decided to mess with something that was working. Those sorts of blunders are accomplished when one party controls government and there is no check.

Hubbell actually understands insurance. He ran Equitable of Iowa and later worked for Dutch insurance giant ING. He knows numbers and how to manage problems. He is precisely what our messed-up budget needs.

School appropriations are growing at 1% a year. State university tuitions are rising. The Koch Brothers are filling holes at Iowa State University left by decreasing state appropriations. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is so stretched it doesn’t even know how many hog confinements are in the state. All because Republicans led by Kim Reynolds cling to the Medicaid failure and to the tax cuts that surely haven’t fattened our wallets.

Hubbell is right about another thing: Reynolds will have to increase taxes because the public cannot stand any more cuts to education or human services. Case loads for social workers have doubled or tripled. The insurance companies will not run Medicaid without increasing profits every year. She cannot continue to borrow from cash reserves. Hubbell acknowledges that he will raise taxes by eliminating tax credits to companies like Apple and Microsoft that don’t need them, or Egyptian fertilizer firms. He will reduce expenses by returning Medicaid where it belongs, under state administration with better service and lower cost. Hubbell has managed revenues and expenses effectively before in private enterprise and in government service.

He acknowledges that climate change exists and challenges Iowa to the core, that our surface waters are polluted, and that the state has a role in protecting natural resources. He can build a conversation about resiliency in agriculture that we have been avoiding for too long, but which holds untold promise and opportunity for rural places.

He will resume control of the state university system by and for the people, and not some outside corporate chemical or fertilizer company. He will be able to tell the Farm Bureau, which thinks it owns this state, where to go in a way that keeps them at the table and in their place.

Kim Reynolds has done none of these things.

She is someone whom the agrichemical and insurance companies like Farm Bureau gave the keys to Terrace Hill, which they bought fair and square. Reynolds has not been elected governor, she ascended with Terry Branstad’s departure for China. (One would think that Reynolds could make some progress through Ambassador Branstad on solving our trade war over pork and soybeans with Beijing — she said she talked with him about it, already.) She is tied at the hip with President Trump, who has plundered our ag markets with tariffs. Steve King, who even Chuck Grassley rebuked this week for making racist and insensitive remarks, is her campaign co-chair and cleared the way for Trump’s vulgar regime.

If you want change for the better, Kim Reynolds is all hat and no action.

If you want sound management and business acumen, Hubbell has the resume and the guts to do the job that Iowa needs. His running mate, Rita Hart, is a teacher and farmer universally respected and admired in the statehouse. That’s the sort of bridge-building leadership we need.

If you want higher property taxes for your school and community college, Reynolds and the Republicans will find a way. That is what they have delivered so far. If you fear local control over livestock facility sitings, stick with Reynolds. If you don’t want a buffer along Cedar Creek, Reynolds will hear your plea.

But if you want Iowa State University to be the greatest land grant school in the country again, vote for Hubbell. If you want a sales tax to build the new early childhood center in Storm Lake, vote for Hubbell. If you want safer cops and streets, vote for Hubbell. If your heart rends when someone is forced out of a nursing home, vote for Hubbell. If you want at least a chance for rural vitality, give Hubbell a chance. The Republicans have had their turn, and they have made a mess of things. Hubbell will clean it up. Vote for Fred Hubbell on Tuesday.