Courier Staff Writer
The Second Congressional District’s incumbent representative of six years will go up against a John Deere attorney in two weeks for the position that covers 24 Iowa counties.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City
In 2010, the nation was in worse shape than it is now, said Loebsack, though jobs and the economy are still in the forefront of each campaign’s battle.
“We’re at a tipping point,” he told the Courier this week. “We really have to make a critical decision at the presidential level and at the congressional level as to what we’re going to do. I do believe that we’re going to go back to those other policies or move forward with policies that will get the deficit under control, get the debt down, but continue to make investments, especially in education.”
Loebsack said the difference between himself and his opponent lies in their priorities.
“It’s all about tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts [with John Archer],” Loebsack said. “That’s all well and good but that’s not going to solve the problem by any means.
“What Indian Hills [Community College] is doing and what this area is doing, it’s a model that can be used for other parts of the country for that kind of rebuilding of the local economy and therefore of the national economy.”
With only four Iowa voices in Congress now, Loebsack said Iowa needs people in D.C. who can work across the aisle.
“I’ve done that on the floods, on the Ag Bill, on disaster relief this summer,” he said. “I have worked across the aisle on National Guard issues, on military issues, on jobs issues. My opponent talks about negotiating contracts. That’s all well and good in one company. But I have six years of actually negotiating with people on the other side of the aisle, of getting them on my side.”
This district is far more diverse than those outside Iowa realize, he said.
“I was always concerned about rural development even before redistricting,” he said. “Now I am even more.”
Loebsack is pushing for broadband in rural Iowa, a component he said will attract people and businesses to the area and will give rural schools more educational opportunities.
Loebsack said the United States needs to draw out of Afghanistan sooner than President Barack Obama’s timeline of 2014.
“We’ve got Bin Laden,” he said. “It’s time to come back. We need to expedite the process beginning right now.”
He said the United States should continue to have a presence there, but there should not be 60,000 active military on the ground.
He also said the U.S. should do everything it can to make sure Iran doesn’t have nuclear access.
“We’ve got to do everything short of military action to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran,” he said.
Loebsack said he talks about his background a lot, but he said it’s because he can relate to “average, ordinary Iowans.” He grew up in poverty in a single-parent home, but worked his way to where he is today.
“I didn’t drop out of the sky in 1982 teaching at Cornell College,” he said. “I pulled myself up by my bootstraps.”
Loebsack said Archer is out of touch with “ordinary folks who may need some help along the way,” referencing a comment Archer made during a radio interview this spring that it was a weakness that 50 percent of the population “believes that they are entitled to a government handout.”
“I was insulted and I think most people when they hear that are going to be insulted,” Loebsack said. “I think it means, to be perfectly blunt, that if a veteran comes to him and wants help with the CBOC, it’s going to be hard for him to relate to that person and to be effective in that situation.”
Loebsack said there’s an opportunity after the election, no matter who’s president and no matter who makes up Congress, to get things done.
“I think there’s going to be a very short window of opportunity, because I’m hoping that there are enough people who are running for Congress right now who are going to get elected who will say you know what, we better do what the people are telling us to do and put down those partisan arms and get things done,” he said.
John Archer, R-Bettendorf
Archer said he has both the large business experience at John Deere and the small business experience at tTe Schebler Company in Bettendorf to create common sense regulations for large businesses that won’t produce negative effects on small businesses.
He said his contract negotiations work between John Deere and other companies have taught him how to compromise and cooperate across the aisle to complete a contract by the end of the day.
“I want to fix what’s broken, not create more problems and more government,” he said. “I’ve had situations where two groups are not communicating and I finally said, enough is enough. Let’s get together, tear down those silos of each department and get into a room so we can solve this problem.”
America has to be as competitive as possible with respect to the rest of the world, Archer said, and right now the nation has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.
“These companies are moving because they will save hundreds of millions of dollars,” Archer said. “That’s not the America I believe in.”
A company will set up operations in India, for example, to compete against local Indian firms. If they don’t, it means the local firms will grow the market share in India, he said, and start encroaching upon the market share in the United States.
“We have to allow these companies to bring back the dollars that they have made overseas at a much lower tax rate, perhaps even zero, repatriate that money and invest here in southeast Iowa, invest in America to create the jobs that are needed,” he said.
As with any other country, if they’re breaking the rules, they need to be punished, Archer said when asked about China.
“They hold a lot of our debt,” he said. “So it’s not in their best interest, nor is it in our best interest to see a very, very weak China or a very weak United States.”
Southeast Iowa has some of the world’s best manufacturers and some of the best farmland and farmers, he said.
“We need a five-year farm bill to provide stability and certainty to our farmers,” he said. “At the end of the day, farmers are small business owners.”
He also said the Mississippi River is a vital resource for farmers that needs to be improved.
“Our farmers rely on the Mississippi River to export commodities, and it’s in terrible shape,” he said.
Archer said the nation’s timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan needs to be based on information from those on the ground.
While Archer agreed the nation needs to withdraw as soon as possible, he said announcing publicly an end date of 2014 was dangerous, as was Loebsack saying the United States should withdraw even sooner.
“Everyone needs to be on the same page, and Loebsack doesn’t have as much information as the commander-in-chief, so saying that was a dangerous proposition,” he said.
Archer also said the nation is less safe than it was a few years ago.
“Yes, bin Laden is dead, but the biggest threat to our national security is our $16 trillion in debt,” he said.
While he said cuts need to be made, he said there’s plenty of waste outside of the defense budget — especially czars — that need to be considered first.
“We can streamline some processes without gutting our military,” he said.
Archer said if elected, he will have at least four open town hall meetings in each county per year. He would also incorporate technology into his work, using email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and FaceTime in order to still have a presence in his district while working in Washington, D.C.
While Archer’s plan is to come back to Iowa every weekend, he said that may not always happen, since sometimes the job isn’t finished in a week’s time.
“The problem I see is trust,” Archer said of the relationship between congressmen and congresswomen. “They spend so little time together.”