A worthy successor

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Of course, we were sad to see Rep. Dan Huseman’s recent announcement that he would retire from the Iowa House after 16 years of service. The Aurelia Republican farmer has been a strong voice for fiscal restraint, natural resource enhancement and civility in government. He listens to everyone and takes their concerns to heart, and we have never heard him say a foul thing about anyone. He had a good lesson in his predecessor, Cherokee newspaper publisher Tom Miller, also a friendly and thoughtful Republican who knew the value of a dollar.

It was welcome news, then, that former Alta-Aurelia Schools Superintendent Lynn Evans announced that he would run as a Republican for Huseman’s seat. Evans says he wants to restore education funding to some level of predictable growth. We’re all for that. We’re sure he will give the same ear to voters that Miller and Huseman did and try to find practical ways to solve their problems.

We will always remember Huseman most for his tremendous contributions to lake restoration across Iowa, and especially for Storm Lake. He co-chaired an important appropriations subcommittee, first with Sen. Steve Kettering, R-Lake View, and later with Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge. The subcommittee was able to direct gambling and tobacco settlement revenues to build the lake restoration account from virtually nothing to more than $9 million per year. It was a lesson in bipartisan governing that deserves to be mentioned for history’s sake, at least. Storm Lake was in deep trouble from sedimentation. Through steady lobbying from the hometown folks, a strong friendship among Kettering, Beall and Huseman, and the commitment of Gov. Tom Vilsack we were able to dredge our lake over a 20-year period and return it to some semblance of health.

Huseman the Republican and Beall the Democrat both loved our lake. They were classmates together at Buena Vista University. They had more in common than what separated them. Their goal, along with Kettering and former Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, was to save our glacial lakes. We made great progress at Storm Lake, Clear Lake and the Iowa Great Lakes. That’s how good politics is done. We miss it.

Evans will do fine as long as he follows in the footsteps of legislators who put Iowa first and party second, legislators like Dan Huseman.

More Deere layoffs

One of the under-reported stories of this presidential cycle is the damage trade wars have had on Midwestern swing states like Iowa (yes, Iowa remains a swing state even if Michael Bloomberg is unaware). On Monday, the largest manufacturing employer in Iowa, John Deere, announced that it will lay off 105 workers at its Dubuque plant in April. This comes on top of two layoffs at Davenport totaling 170 workers, and we have heard of buyout talk from Waterloo.

President Trump told farmers that they should buy bigger tractors and more farmland because things are going to be so great. When he called a truce to his trade war with China (following trade skirmishes with Mexico, Canada and Europe) soybean prices actually dropped. That is not a market signal to buy a new John Deere. Steel prices went up because of these trade conflicts. Export markets are much weaker, and China does not value as a preferred provider anymore.

Elections have consequences. In Trump’s case, they are lower commodity prices and layoffs at big Midwestern manufacturers. As Deere goes, so goes Caterpillar and Case-IH. Those union members who dabbled with Trump know full well the consequence and are not likely to make the same mistake next November. Wisconsin is in the same boat as Iowa — lots of economic angst that has only intensified with Trump. It will not get better before the fall, from Iowa to Pennsylvania. Democrats who run on pocketbooks and put aside their culture wars are set to sweep the Midwest that gave Trump the election in 2016.

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