Government

Rod Blum, candidate for Iowa's 1st Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, Iowa’s 1st District
U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, Iowa’s 1st District

Name: Rod Blum (incumbent)

Party: Republican

Residence: Dubuque

Age: 63

Occupation: Member of Congress

Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance from Loras College and MBA from University of Dubuque

Website: rodblum.com

What are the three most important issues facing Iowans and our country, and how would you address them as a U.S. representative?

• Health care costs are too high, while options too few. Congress should pass stand-alone bills that fix specific issues in a bipartisan manner, instead of massive, comprehensive all-or-nothing “solutions.” The government has a role, but it certainly cannot be a total takeover of health care, and the free market can be unleashed to heighten competition, lower costs and increase innovation in our health care system.

• Taking action against countries that unfairly restrict access to U.S. producers.

• We must work out a bipartisan plan to update Social Security and Medicare to prevent them from going bankrupt so Iowa seniors get the benefits they’ve paid into and earned.

Do you support President Donald Trump’s approach to trade and tariffs? Why or why not?

My words have been twisted on this and made to seem like I am supportive of hurtful tariffs. Let me be clear: That is not true. I appreciate our farmers’ patience during negotiations, and I am confident that everyone will be better off soon — just as we are seeing with the recently finalized U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement to replace NAFTA, new deals with South Korea and Australia, along with the announcement from Taiwan to renew the $1.56 billion purchase of U.S. soybeans.

What will you propose or support in Congress to protect and promote Iowa’s farming economy?

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Our farmers in Iowa can feed the world if we open foreign markets and remove burdensome regulations. The farm bill I voted for in the House will extend essential programs to our farming communities in the 1st District, including a strong crop insurance program, make needed changes to the commodity and dairy programs, prioritize conservation dollars, increase access to rural mental health services, and encourage expansion of rural broadband infrastructure.

What steps are needed to help grow and retain Iowa’s workforce, especially in more rural areas?

With a reignited economy, there are now more jobs open than people looking for work. There are three important parts to this equation:

1. The increase in illegal immigration is driving down wages and making jobs less lucrative.

2. We need to eliminate incentives encouraging citizens to stay unemployed.

3. I 100 percent support legal immigration. I worked to negotiate the addition of an agricultural workers visa program in a recent immigration bill to offset the labor shortage our farmers have been facing.

Do you believe Congress should increase the federal minimum wage, currently at $7.25?

Ideally, increases in the minimum wage should be determined by states and local communities, because it doesn’t make sense to have the same minimum wage in New York City or San Francisco as in Center Point, Iowa. That will cost us jobs here at home. I do think, however, that any minimum wage increases should be indexed to inflation, so we don’t have this political football back and forth every 10 years.

What steps are needed to control the rising costs of health premiums and health care?

When Obamacare passed, millions were fined and premiums skyrocketed. The solution is not another massive overhaul. It is to address specific issues directly through stand-alone bills. The government has a role helping those with pre-existing conditions, buying down premiums, and negotiating lower drug prices; while the free market can increase competition, allow sales of insurance across state lines, allow increased contributions to health savings accounts, and re-import drugs from overseas.

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What is your approach to immigration reform? What steps will you propose or support in Congress?

I 100 percent support legal immigration. I do not believe in rewarding those who have broken the law and providing incentives for others to follow their lead. I stand behind my vote for H.R. 4760 to give legal status to DACA recipients while also authorizing funding for a wall on the southern border, halting federal funding to sanctuary cities that break federal law, implementing E-Verify, ending chain migration, and most importantly, improving the immigrant agriculture workers program.

If you are elected, what efforts would you make to listen to and include those who have political beliefs that don’t match your own? How would you communicate with your constituents?

Nearly every bill I have introduced has been bipartisan, to ensure those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage, provide options for patients following a mastectomy, or to eliminate perks for members of Congress, like flying first class on the taxpayer dime. I have prioritized communication with my constituents, as demonstrated by the 175,000 emails, 31,500 letters, tele-town halls with 68,219 constituents, and 13,000 phone calls sent this Congress alone.

Why are you the best candidate to represent this district in Iowa?

It comes down to experience from over 30 years in the private sector and my actions since being elected. I told you I would be an independent voice, work to reignite the economy, reform Congress, and serve my district. I advocated for the Cedar Rapids flood wall. I pushed for tax cuts and delivered a nearly $2,500 reduction for the average family. I’ve voted against my party when it is the right thing for the 1st district. I have kept my promises to the voters and will always do so.

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