Loebsack, Archer show differences at forum

Cowd jeered both candidates during the one-hour forum in Coralville on Monday

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CORALVILLE – Iowa 2nd Congressional District candidates Dave Loebsack and John Archer made clear their differences on the economy, taxes and foreign policy in front of a sometimes rowdy crowd at a mid-afternoon forum Monday.

Archer, the Republican challenger from Bettendorf, said his experience as an attorney for Deere & Co., a co-owner of a business and a school board member make him the best choice to steer the economy back on track.

“It’s more common-sense business proposals we need to take to Washington, D.C.,” he said while talking job creation.

Loebsack, the Democratic incumbent from Iowa City, based his pitch for another two-year term on his focus on helping the middle class.

“This is about building this economy, building it out from the middle,” said the three-term congressmen, a former professor at Cornell College in Mount Vernon.

The 2nd District, which primarily covers southeastern Iowa, was redrawn after the 2010 census, with the biggest change being the dropping of Cedar Rapids and the inclusion of Davenport and Bettendorf.

More than 150 people made for a standing-room crowd in a meeting room at the Coralville Public Library for the one-hour forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Johnson County and the Johnson County Task Force on Aging.

Segments of the crowd jeered both candidates at times.

Archer, for example, heard it when he called President Barack Obama, a Democrat, an “imperial president.” Later in the same response, Archer said, “It’s time to stop the attacks.”

Loebsack said several times he has worked in a bipartisan manner during his six years in Congress, but he also frequently criticized House Republicans and their leadership. When Loebsack referred to “Tea Party types” blocking a new farm bill, some in the crowd heckled him.

“What happened to the bipartisanship you’ve talked about?” Archer said.

On the issues, Archer said the federal government does not create jobs, it creates the environment that gets businesses to spend money. To that end, he said uncertainty over regulations, tax policies and energy policies is hurting the economy. He also noted Loebsack voted against three free-trade agreements Archer said would have created thousands of jobs.

Those deals, with Panama, South Korea and Colombia, were approved by Congress last year and had the support of Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Democratic governor of Iowa.

Many Democrats opposed the agreements, however, and Loebsack said Monday they were “NAFTA-style” deals that would cost Iowa jobs. He called for a proper regulatory environment and the closing of tax loopholes.

“This is a big difference between the two of us,” Loebsack said.

On the Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare,” Archer said it was dysfunctional and too complex and should be repealed. Loebsack has supported repealing parts of the law, but said repealing the whole thing would cause millions of young people to be kicked off their parents insurance and would have negative effects on women and seniors, too.

“If it’s such a good piece of legislation, why are we now gutting it piecemeal?” Archer asked.

Archer and Loebsack both said they supported encouraging voter turnout. But Archer said if people have to show identification to board an airplane or buy alcohol, then it made sense to require an ID to vote.

Loebsack said flying and buying alcohol are not rights.

“We have a constitutional right to vote,” he said. “Those are not the same things.”

Loebsack said as a member of the House Armed Services Committee and after traveling to Afghanistan six times, he’s convinced the U.S. has accomplished its goals in the war there and he’d like to see the troop withdrawal occur sooner than Obama’s 2014 deadline.

Archer said he’s against “artificial timetables” and military commanders should be the ones who say when the mission is complete.

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