Sunday, August 03, 2008

News From Iowa GOP House Leader Christopher Rants

Offering REAL Solutions

Recently I received a letter from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Directors of RSM McGladrey (area accountants from the area most affected by the recent flooding). This letter was stressing the fact that Iowa taxpayers “need help now.” The accountants proposed a few suggestions for tax incentives in light of the 2008 floods which would help provide some immediate relief to the affected taxpayers.

I agreed with the folks at RSM McGladrey, I believe their suggestions would go along way to opening the door to further discussions. Below is my release:

(DES MOINES)—Today House Republican Leader Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) rolled out a proposal centering around tax incentives for Iowans affected by the storms and flooding of 2008.

Rants’ main suggestion focuses on bonus depreciation and extending the benefit through 2009 for taxpayers who qualify. In early 2008, the federal economic stimulus package included a provision that was designed to aid business taxpayers by increasing the expensing allowance for depreciable assets. However, Iowa failed to couple with the federal law and Iowa businesses were faced with a tax increase.

Rants suggests immediately coupling with the federal standard and then going further; extending that provision into 2009. By coupling and extending the bonus depreciation, taxpayers affected by the weather will be able to replace damaged property, equipment and machinery without having to pay increased taxes. Failure to enact this proposal means that Iowans replacing flood damaged equipment will see their tax liability go up.

“Small businesses, which are the backbone of our communities, large businesses, which employ so many Iowans, and farmers that feed the world are all trying to put the pieces of their operations back together. It’s important to their vitality to offer some immediate relief so they are able to purchase equipment to rebuild their businesses,” said Rants. “I am committed to coming up with solutions and tax incentives to help those businesses who are starting with nothing, allowing them to get back on their feet.”

The Republican Leader is also interested in considering property tax relief for Iowa homeowners who are struggling from weather-related damage as well as sales tax relief on building supplies, materials and other furnishings.

Rants’ ideas have already been endorsed by Cedar Rapids and Iowa City managing directors from RSM McGladrey accountants.


Shortly after I sent my release, Democrat Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent out a press release of his own—here are some clips:

“The House Republican Leader's plan for flood relief is an utter embarrassment and flood affected Iowans should be outraged.”

“Their proposal is another major warning sign that the Republican party has veered terribly to the political right and is completely out of touch with mainstream Iowa. We have thousands of individual Iowans hurting right now...many of them with their homes and property devastated. We have levees that need repaired or entirely rebuilt. We have hundreds of miles of roads and rail that need repaired. We have insurance obligations that need to be monitored and federal assistance that needs to be obtained - and the list goes on and on. And what is the House Republican proposal to deal with flood relief? Tax cuts for big corporations!”

I’m not entirely sure exactly what the Majority Leader is talking about here—not sure how we’ve “veered terribly to the political right” by trying to make nonpartisan solutions for those who’ve had their homes and businesses destroyed.

As you can clearly read, Republicans are not suggesting that these tax incentives are the end all/be all solution to dealing with transportation, agriculture, education, public health or housing issues.

I was not trying to make partisan statements, but apparently Republicans are not allowed to even make suggestions on how to help those affected by the catastrophic events.

Maybe Leader McCarthy didn’t really understand that these suggestions came from LOCAL folks who have had friends, family and neighbors suffering from the destruction. Maybe he didn’t understand that businesses that he calls “big corporations” are mom and pop retail stores, local contractors and builders, or small owners who are just trying to pick themselves up and rebuild because they want to stay in our state.

Maybe Leader McCarthy should stop trying to politicize the floods and instead of criticizing suggestions, offer some of his own.