Narcisse has ‘no idea’ about bean, corn prices
A Des Moines Democrat challenging Gov. Chet Culver in a primary says rural Iowans will overlook the fact that he didn’t know the prices of corn and beans when asked in Carroll because his tax plans will benefit farmers.
Jonathan Narcisse, 46, a former controversial school board member from Des Moines and publisher of newspapers who has pledged to run as an independent should he fail to make it out of a Democratic primary, said he understands rural issues and economics.
That said, when asked directly the prices of corn and beans, roughly, he could not answer.
“I have no idea what the price of corn and beans is today,” Narcisse said. “I’m not even going to take a shot.”
Can he come within a couple of dollars?
“No,” Narcisse said.
Narcisse said the fact that he doesn’t know the prevailing numbers on the state’s major commodities doesn’t matter.
“The governor doesn’t need to know the price of beans,” Narcisse said. “People in the private sector do.”
Narcisse said rural Iowans would be more interested in his solutions for their tax concerns than his lack of knowledge on basic commodity pricing.
He would link taxation to purchase price of property instead of randomly assessed property values.
“That means when you fix your barn, you don’t get killed by the assessor,” Narcisse said.
But two Iowa leaders involved in agriculture think Narcisse’s ignorance of farm commodity prices reveals a lack of basic understanding or even curiosity about rural issues, as those figures are liberally sprinkled throughout basic news coverage of agriculture. In short, if you are reading about ag initiatives, trends and challenges, even casually, you will stumble across the prices, and should, if you are at all engaged, be able to make a rough estimate.
“If he doesn’t know the price of grain within $2, he has no idea what the ag sector is going through,” said Carroll County Supervisor Gene Meiners, a Democrat and retired manager of a cooperative.
Meiners said grain prices affect the totality of the Iowa economy — and anyone who would dismiss the importance of knowing where they stand “is so wrong.”
Wayne Seaman of Seaman Enterprises, said Narcisse’s answer on commodity prices adds up to one conclusion: “He’s toast,” Seaman said.
“If you don’t know the value of commodities that are produced here in Iowa, you’re not going to be able to understand the rest of agriculture,” said Seaman, a well-respected ag-businessman who is a strong supporter of State Rep. Rod Roberts’ (R-Carroll) run for governor.
As of press time today the price of corn was $3.53 and soybeans $8.97.
For his part, Narcisse pressed the case that he has the best ideas on taxes, and that rural voters would see that.
Narcisse said he would reduce the state sales tax to 4 percent after two years and to 3 percent after four years. He would end sales tax exemptions except for food and medicine.
There would be no state tax on income after more than 40 hours of work a week under his plan, Narcisse said,
Narcisse wants to phase out Iowa’s corporate tax using a zero-percent option that allows a company to reduce their tax by a dollar for every dollar re-invested in their Iowa operation or spent on goods and services purchased from an Iowa company. He would eliminate all business tax credits.
Narcisse spent much of an interview criticizing Culver, saying one his of his chief concerns is that he doesn’t believe Culver is a skilled appointer of personnel — and that state government is too large.
Narcisse said he would dramatically reduce the ranks of state employees.
“When I got done, Donald Trump would be asking to be my apprentice,” Narcisse said.
While he’s running as a Democrat, Narcisse takes traditionally conservative positions on two leading social issues.
“I’m pro-life, and I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Narcisse said.
Moving back to economics, Narcisse takes issue with the Iowa smoking ban. He says smoking shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants and generally public places. But if ventilation and adults-only policies are in place, there should be smoking venues, besides casinos.
“Consenting adults should be able to have smoking clubs,” he said.
Narcisse added, “The law right now is not only inconsistent, but to me it’s dubious. You take people with addictive personalities and you tell them the only place they can go in public to have a drink and smoke is a casino. Are you kidding me?” CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.