DES MOINES — U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack said he doesn’t want to have the fight again over the future of social programs for senior citizens, but if he must, he is prepared to stand his ground.
Loebsack, the Democrat representing Eastern Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, said Thursday he will not support any Republican changes to Social Security or Medicare.
Democrats have expressed concern that Republicans — if they maintain in control of Congress through the midterm elections — will use the ballooning federal budget deficit to justify scaling back Social Security and Medicare. The deficit has grown in part because of tax cuts passed largely with GOP votes.
In an interview with Bloomberg News this week, Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the social programs are the biggest drivers of the federal deficit, and that it will take bipartisan cooperation to change them.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said of the rising federal deficit and debt. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”
McConnell said changes to the programs under all-Republican control of Congress are unlikely because of the potential voter backlash.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that entitlement changes, which is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard, may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government,” McConnell said.
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Loebsack, who spoke Thursday to the Greater Des Moines Partnership as part of a candidate series. said he remains opposed to any attempts to “privatize” Social Security or “voucherize” Medicare.
“I don’t want to have the debate because I don’t think it makes any sense,” he said. “Some of the things that have been proposed in the past, like I said, they would undermine those programs,” Loebsack said in an interview after speaking.
“Those programs help keep our seniors in the middle class, help prevent them from sliding into poverty when they’re in their 60s, 70s and 80s, maybe even 90s.
“So no, I’m not going to support any of those schemes that don’t make any sense at all,” he said. “I hope we don’t have that fight, but if we have to have it, I’ll fight it.”
Loebsack is running for a seventh two-year term in Congress. He is being challenged by Republican Chris Peters, who spoke to the business group last week, and Libertarian Mark David Strauss.
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