Skip to main content

Thank you for this Greg Sargent:

Iowa Republican senatorial candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst looks on during a break in live televised debate at KCCI-TV studios, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
National political reporters love the story about Iowa Dem Senate candidate Bruce Braley’s dispute with a neighbor over chickens. But analysts appear to see less significance in Republican opponent Joni Ernst’s string of eyebrow-raising statements about everything from impeachment to the United Nations.

Commentators have widely claimed that Braley has committed a series of missteps that have helped Republicans paint him as out of touch. And it’s true that the race remains a dead heat. But Democrats believe Ernst’s true views and policy positions have not received a full airing out before Iowa voters.

Case in point: Back in March, Ernst seemed to suggest that Medicaid recipients “have no personal responsibility for their health.” A Democrat points out that in a newsletter Ernst sent to constituents last year, in which she laid out her objection to the state’s Medicaid expansion, she said this:

    Participation in the broken Medicaid program has doubled over the past decade. Iowa has nearly 500,000 Medicaid enrollees. If the program is expanded, it is estimated the Medicaid population will grow by an additional 110,000 to 181,000 recipients who have no personal responsibility for their health and no accountability for the care provided.  - Washington Post, 8/15/14

Sargent goes on to showcase some other examples of Ernst's extremism. Like this:

Ernst was asked what “punishment” Obama should suffer if the Supreme Court ruled against him in a then-pending case on the constitutionality of his recess appointments, and what she would do as a senator to stop his “blatant abuse of power.” The Supreme Court has since ruled against the administration in that case.

“I do think that yes, he should face those repercussions, and whether that's removal from office, whether that's impeachment,” said Ernst, who is supported by the establishment and the tea party wings of her party in her quest to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat.

“As a U.S. senator, though, we have to push that issue, we can't be silent on things like that,” she said. “And unfortunately we have a number of legislators right now that simply let these things happen. They're not speaking up against these actions. They're not speaking out against the president when he oversteps his bounds, when he makes those appointments, when he's appointing czars, when he is producing executive orders in a threat to a Congress that won't do as he wishes. So he has become a dictator.”

Continued Ernst: “He is running amok. He is not following our Constitution, and unfortunately we have leaders who are not serving as leaders right now, they're not defending the Constitution and they're not defending you and me.” - Yahoo News, 7/8/14

And most recently, this:

The latest primary comments that could haunt her Senate bid are on the topic of Agenda 21, a community planning provision in a decades-old United Nations treaty that’s become an object of fear and conspiracy theories on the right, and especially in the commentaries and writing of Glenn Beck.

Yahoo News has obtained video showing Ernst at a January GOP forum in Montgomery County, Iowa, warning that Agenda 21 could force Iowa farmers off their land, dictate what cities Iowans must live in, and control how Iowa citizens travel from place to place.

“The United Nations has imposed this upon us, and as a U.S. senator, I would say, ‘No more. No more Agenda 21.’ Community planning — to the effect that it is implementing eminent domain and taking away property rights away from individuals — I don’t agree with that. And especially in a place such as Iowa, where we rely heavily upon our agricultural community, our rural communities. We don’t want to see things like eminent domain come into play,” Ernst said in response to a question about Agenda 21 at the forum.

“We don’t want to see a further push with Agenda 21, where the Agenda 21 and the government telling us that these are the urban centers that you will live in; these are the ways that you will travel to other urban centers,” Ernst continued. “Agenda 21 encompasses so many different aspects of our lives that it’s taking away our individual liberties, our freedoms as United States citizens. So I would adamantly oppose Agenda 21. I don’t believe it is responsible, not for United States citizens.” - 8/13/14

These are just a few examples but I think this one is a significant example:

Iowa Republican Senatorial candidate Joni Ernst speaks during a meeting with supporters, Wednesday, May 21, 2014, in Waukee, Iowa. Some Iowa Republicans are quietly anxious that issues addressed during the U.S. Senate primary campaign will haunt the party come November, despite chipper talk that the five-way race is a healthy way to ignite the GOP. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) ORG XMIT: IACN202
During the primary, she suggested impeaching the president should still be on the table, something she has since tried to walk back from. She also made comments that seemed to suggest she was against the Renewable Fuel Standard.

On Thursday, Braley pummeled her on the topic, and the next day Ernst was on the defensive, holding a press conference with Branstad, Reynolds, and Northey, where the four repeatedly said she supported the Renewable Fuel Standard.

On Friday, Ernst dodged a question on whether she would support Mitch McConnell as majority leader if Republicans took control of the Senate, saying she was “not there yet.” It is a question many conservatives see as a measure of ideological purity — and her answer marked one of the few moments when she sounded like a rehearsed politician.

Braley brings up her impeachment comments and suggestions of opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard when calling her “extreme.” - Roll Call, 8/12/14

And while the press likes to paint Braley as the one being out of touch with people because of the Grassley 'farmer's gaffe" and this hyped story about his neighbors and chickens, here's a true example that shows Ernst is the one who's out of touch:

“You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”

Ernst, a first-term state senator, has never explicitly supported pro-nullification legislation in her time in the Iowa state senate. However, she co-sponsored a resolution that says “the State of Iowa hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.” It was introduced in response to “many federal mandates [that] are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

States cannot nullify federal laws, of course.

In embracing the concept of nullification, Ernst harkens back to a discredited theory that the Constitution is a compact and states are free to void federal laws that they dislike. This view was widely promoted by John Calhoun, the great Southern advocate of slavery, prior to the Civil War and was touted by segregationists in the 1950s and 1960s. In recent years, the idea was purged of its most racist overtones and fringe elements of the right adopted it as an argument against Obamacare, gun control, and other federal regulations. - Daily Beast, 7/28/14

Now Braley has also been hitting her on her support for privatizing Social Security and for opposing raising the minimum wage, despite the fact that the majority of Iowa voters support raising the minimum wage. Braley has to highlight more of extremism and he has to do it soon. Luckily Braley will be debating Ernst soon so he'll have a real chance to do so. In the mean time, click here to donate and get involved with Braley's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site