Yepsen on Politics is a weekly Q&A with Iowa Press producers and David Yepsen, host of IPTV’s Iowa Press. This week we cover town hall uprisings, the pace of the Iowa legislative session, and reporting dangers in "funnel week."
ARE 2017 TOWN HALLS A SIGN OF LIBERAL MOVEMENT? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR INCUMBENTS?
Andrew Batt, IPTV Senior Producer: Were the Iowa town halls full of angry Democrats this week a replay of Tea Party protests in August 2009? Should Democrats want that comparison and should Iowa's Republican-heavy congressional delegation be worried?
David Yepsen, Host of Iowa Press:
The town hall protests this week do look a lot like the Tea Party protests of 2009. Those were focused primarily at Obamacare while these were focused at a lot of different issues and complaints. Democrats and Progressives were surprised by what happened to them last November and they are upset at the consequences coming out of Des Moines and Washington. The question is whether organizers on the left can bottle and can this anger and deploy it next year in voter registration and turnout efforts.
Right now, I doubt any incumbent member of Congress from Iowa has much to worry about. Incumbent members always have an edge in this state and the question is whether Democrats can field viable challengers to take advantage of all the unhappiness.
Lots too will depend on the events of the coming 21 months. Long time until Election Day. No predictions.
ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS?
Batt: The Iowa legislature is pumping out conservative bills at a breakneck pace. Is this one of the busiest Iowa sessions you've seen? And what does that mean for Iowans?
Yepsen: The 2017 session of the Iowa Legislature appears likely to be historic. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your point of view.
It's hard to look at the list of things on the GOP agenda and the discipline they are showing in the Legislature and not conclude this isn't a normal session.
FUNNEL WEEK 101
Batt: We gathered statehouse reporters this week on Iowa Press and they brought a lot of insight about the Iowa legislature and current politics in Iowa. What is it like for a reporter covering the session as you near funnel week? What should Iowans look for during that time?
Yepsen: A "funnel week" is always crazy for a reporter, especially in a session as busy as this one. It's difficult to keep track of all the bills that are alive or dead.
One thing I learned covering these things is the rule: You never kill anything too dead.
Even though bills don't make it through funnels, issues have a way of re-emerging as amendment or leadership bills at the end. Leaders will be scrambling for votes and the floor and some members will want them to resurrect some "dead" issue in return for their support.
Hence, you never kill anything too dead as you write your stories.