As the Iowa caucus nears, ethanol politics start rising: The Flyover

Source: By Seth A. Richardson, • Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Flyover
The Flyover

Happy Halloween, passengers. President Donald Trump’s handling of ethanol waivers has angered just about everyone – and created an opening for a Democratic rival. Flyover states have better rates of children with health insurance. And as the election nears, election laws come under scrutiny.


Fuel to the fire: It isn’t just farmers who are upset at Republican President Donald Trump’s decision to grant more waivers to oil refineries for ethanol blending. Per Reuters, everyone is upset with the administration’s handling of the matter. The ethanol industry says Trump went back on his word by granting more waivers in the first place, then reneging on a deal to increase demand. The oil industry says they’re having the rug pulled out from under them after complying with the law.

Average Joe: Amid questions over the viability of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, the Democratic presidential hopeful amped up attacks on Trump over his handling of trade as it relates to farmers, The Gazette’s James Lynch reports. Biden visited an ethanol plant and the campaign released a video with Indianola, Iowa, farmer Kevin Middleswart, lambasting Trump for using corn and soybean farmers as pawns in the trade war with China.

Sweet child of mine: A new report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute found the rate of children in Flyover states without health care coverage is overall less than the national average. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa are all below the 5.2% national average, with Indiana significantly higher at 6.6%.

But… That might sound like mostly great news, but the number of uninsured kids increased in all of those states save for Pennsylvania, where the rate remained flat. Ohio’s rate increased a full percentage point – or 29,000 kids – good for the seventh-highest increase in the nation’s Laura Hancock reports. Illinois and Indiana were also in the top 10 with 20,000 and 10,000 more, respectively.

Expand your mind: One key finding from the report is that states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare had a much lower uninsured rate. All of the Flyover states have expanded Medicaid, save for one: Wisconsin. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, won in 2018 largely on the promise to expand Medicaid, which he has been unable to deliver because of the GOP-controlled legislature. Evers’ office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Easy work: Contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Company went much better than with General Motors, the Detroit Free Press’ Phoebe Wall Howard and Jamie LaReau report. After a 40-day strike with GM, Ford and UAW came to a tentative agreement in just three days. Local shops still have to approve the contract for it to become official.

Back to school: Not yet for the Chicago teachers on strike, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Nader Issa. After a meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates, the members voted in favor of an agreement reached with the city, but plan to remain on strike until Mayor Lori Lightfoot agrees to their demands on makeup days.

Hungry like the Wolf: A bipartisan-negotiated elections reform bill is heading to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk, PA Post’s Emily Previti reports. Wolf, a Democrat, is almost guaranteed to sign the measure, which includes money for new voting machines and changing the deadline to register to vote from 30 days to 15 days out from an election. Critics say the changes are coming too swiftly, including ending straight-party ticket voting, and could lead to long lines in 2020.

Sign here: Priorities USA, one of the largest liberal super PACs in the country, is suing the state of Michigan to challenge its laws allowing absentee ballots to be discounted based on signatures, the Detroit News’ Craig Mauger reports. The group argues that there is no standard to the Michigan law, which allows elections officials to toss absentee ballots if a signature on the ballot does not match a reference signature.

Bad grades: Wisconsin’s education system has a distinction that it might not want to put on its resume in the near future, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Molly Beck reports. National standardized tests showed the state with the largest gap in academic achievement between white and black students, the second time that’s happened in the last six years.

Home is where you make it: The Trump administration wants control over rules to give auto companies duty free treatment from the administration’s proposed update to NAFTA, Bloomberg’s Jenny Leonard reports. The administration is arguing that the White House should be able to dictate where cars are produced when it comes to trade duties, but critics say it opens up the possibility of politically motivated decisions.

Same game: After the NCAA announced it would amend its rules to allow athletes to cash in on their likeness, the Illinois House advanced a bill doing the same, the Chicago Tribune’s Jamie Munks reports. With seemingly overwhelming support from both lawmakers and backing from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, Illinois appears poised to become the second state to pass such a law following California.

The big gamble: The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill with bipartisan backing that would legalize sports betting and internet gambling, but some serious hurdles remain, the Detroit Free Press’ Kathleen Gray reports. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said she opposes the bill and wants a higher tax than the proposed 8.75%, which would be the second-lowest in the nation after Nevada.

It’s the economy, maybe: More national outlets are taking note of some of the negative economic trends in Flyover states and how they might – or might not – matter in the 2020 election. Following this excellent breakdown from Sabato Crystal Ball’s Louis Jacobson, both the Washington Post’s David Lynch and the Associated Press explored how manufacturing contraction in the Midwest could be a dire sign for Trump, considering his appeal to the manufacturing base in 2016.


Sen. Kamala Harris of California was in Newton, Iowa, on Wednesday, per the campaign.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was in Maquoketa and Dubuque, Iowa, on Wednesday, per the Des Moines Register.

Harris will be in Ankeny, Iowa, on Thursday, per the campaign.

Biden will be in Columbus, Ohio, and Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Thursday, per the Columbus Dispatch and the campaign.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will be in Des Moines on Thursday, per the campaign.

Most of the Democratic candidates, as well as Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, will be at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty and Justice Dinner in Des Moines on Friday. Per the party, the list includes:

  • Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro
  • Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

Former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania will be in Davenport, Iowa, on Friday, per the campaign.

Actor Kelsey Grammer is all over the airwaves in Pennsylvania, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. Grammer is pitching Marsy’s Law – more commonly known as the crime victim bill of rights – which, following an injunction, will appear on the upcoming ballot but won’t be immediately counted, per PennLive.

This Is Your Captain Speaking

“The time has come for Ohio to lead the way in the abolition of this outdated and harmful practice of changing our clocks. Let’s stop fooling ourselves by fooling with our clocks.”