A paper about the corporate tax base co-authored by Austin Frerick (MPA ’14) inspired the Iowa native to delve deeper into the issue of economic concentration in the United States. Further research prompted a return to his home state, where he launched a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives this summer.
“I honestly didn't intend to run for Congress in my late 20s, but this seemed like the moment to do so,” Frerick said, referencing the proposed Monsanto-Bayer merger and his research examining the difference between a corporate income tax base and a corporate consumption tax base over time.
Frerick is one of six Democrats who have announced their candidacy in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses 16 counties and includes the metropolitan Des Moines region and Council Bluffs. A June 2018 primary will determine who will challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. David Young, a Republican who was first elected in 2014.
“In exploring micro-economic tax return data from 1992 to 2013, we found this growth of excess returns – essentially, non-competitive/monopoly profits – and it made me really curious,” said Frerick. “The barriers to making something like crackers shouldn't be high, yet we were seeing monopoly-level returns.”
Frerick, who has written several guest columns for the De Moines Register, believes economic concentration – especially in the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors – hurts rural Iowa. “Time and again, studies have shown that monopolies result in less innovation, fewer choices and higher prices for farmers and consumers,” he said in one column.
A first-generation college graduate, Frerick received his bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in east-central Iowa and his master’s of public affairs from the La Follette School two years later.
“My education from the La Follette School, research with UW–Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty, and work at the Congressional Research Service and Treasury give me an in-depth policy knowledge,” he said.