Iowa 2nd District candidates' experiences lead them to different conclusions

By James Q. Lynch

The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS – Both U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack and his Republican challenger John Archer say it is their experiences that qualify them to represent the new 2nd District.

Their experiences, however, are quite different.

Loebsack, an Iowa City Democrat seeking a fourth term, frequently refers to growing up in poverty with a mother who struggled with mental health difficulties and relying on Social Security survivor benefits to go to college.

The former college professor wants to make sure those programs his family relied on are there for others “if they were willing to pull themselves up by bootstraps as I was growing up … if they want to achieve the American Dream,” Loebsack told The Gazette Editorial Board Oct. 12.

Later, Archer said his experience as corporate counsel at John Deere where he negotiates contracts, as a small business owner and a member of his local school board have taught him how to find the compromises necessary to make progress.

“When a company enters into negotiations with a supplier,” he told the Editorial Board, “both parties know they must come to an agreement for the betterment of both parties (even though) both parties realize they aren’t going to get everything they want.”

While Loebsack talks about his experience working with both Democrats and Republicans on a balanced budget amendment, jobs bills and regional issues including the I-74 bridge at the Quad Cities and the Rock Island Arsenal, Archer said both parties share the blame for the lack of action on critical issues – the farm bill and the looming fiscal cliff, for example.

Not surprisingly, their experiences lead them to different conclusions on many issues.

Loebsack is a big fan of the Affordable Care Act – ObamaCare, but Archer wants to repeal it and replace it with something he believes will be less onerous for businesses and more affordable.

“We’re starting to see it unravel,” Archer said. “As people read and begin to understand it, it’s not all that good.”

There are parts of the president’s plans he would keep – provisions dealing with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.

Loebsack is open to changes. He agrees with Archer it makes sense to remove the tax on medical devices, which a Kalona company says will cost it $1.5 million a year in taxes.

However, Loebsack cautions, that a revenue stream is necessary to fund the federal health care program.

He sees ObamaCare as a good thing for small businesses, especially those with fewer than 25 employees. They will be able to get tax credits if they provide health insurance, Loebsack explained.

For larger companies, he said, “It’s a business decision they’ll have to make in their given circumstances” whether to offer health insurance or pay a penalty.

Archer and Loebsack will air more differences when the debate at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Des Moines Area Community College Conference Center in Newton. The debate will be broadcast live on Iowa Public Television.

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