116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
By The Gazette Editorial Board
We don't agree with all of his ideas, but we're impressed by 1st District Rep. Bruce Braley's command of the issues and his relentless work for constituents.
Braley, D-Waterloo, is fast establishing himself as a leader on Capitol Hill. The attorney is a sharp, well-prepared congressman who gets our nod for a third term.
Braley's signature achievements this term included fixing pay owed to National Guard members and the Plain Language Act. The latter will require federal documents - from tax forms to Department of Veterans Affairs paperwork and much in between - to be written in concise, easily understood wording. It also could save millions of taxpayer dollars.
Still, one of our reservations about Braley is his role in driving up the federal deficit and national debt. Braley's opponent, Republican Ben Lange, a young attorney from Independence, has some good ideas about fiscal responsibility, but doesn't yet have the depth of knowledge on several issues to convince us he's ready for the Washington, D.C., environment.
If Braley's re-elected, he must work more on tightening federal purse strings. Some deficit-spending during the recession was needed but we can't afford to keep living so far beyond our means.
The need for more fiscal responsibility in Congress weighed in our decision to endorse state Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, who hopes to unseat longtime Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell in the 3rd District.
We are impressed by Zaun's straight talk.
We also admire his willingness to occasionally break party ranks, even when he knows it will be unpopular - as he has on some ag and biofuels tax credit issues.
Zaun lays blame for the massive federal debt where much of it belongs - both major political parties - and has laid out specific ideas for budget cuts. Above all, federal legislators need to prioritize spending and stick to it, he argued.
Some of his proposals strike us as radical - such as possibly eliminating the federal Department of Education - but we like Zaun's overall approach: Spend only what you've got, and take a hard look at what you're funding.
We could use more of that attitude in Washington. We fear Boswell, despite his seven-term tenure, won't be a leader in that area. Zaun, a state legislator and former Urbandale mayor, will better rock the fiscal boat.
Friday: State legislator