Guest Columnist

Time for Iowa leaders to help us get back on our feet

Sen. Ernst forgot about Iowa and now we're paying the price

Businesswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield speaks to IBEW Local 405 union registrar Mike Olson as he pos
Businesswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield speaks to IBEW Local 405 union registrar Mike Olson as he poses a question during her visit at the IBEW Local 405 union hall in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Right now Iowans are struggling. From the pandemic to the derecho, it’s more important than ever that we have leaders who will fight for us. That’s why I released my Back On Our Feet plan to help us through these tough times.

To start, we need to keep Iowans safe. We all want to get back to normal. The fastest way to do that is by finally stopping the spread of this virus. Let’s listen to public health experts, expand testing and contact tracing, and issue a statewide mask mandate that even the White House Task Force says Iowa needs.

We also have to put our workers first. My plan calls for expanding paid sick leave, restoring the $600/week unemployment benefits and implementing Emergency Temporary Standards for front-line workers.

And third, as someone who has been in small businesses most of my career, I’ll fight to rebuild our economy and provide urgent economic relief to small businesses. We must also pass another round of direct payments for families, relief for our state and local governments, and dedicated aid for our biofuels industry.

Expanding health care has never been more important — even before this pandemic, it was the number one issue I heard about. Instead of trying to repeal it like Sen. Joni Ernst, let’s strengthen the Affordable Care Act, protect people with preexisting conditions and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, saving seniors and taxpayers $500 billion.

Just as I will fight to make sure health care is a right for all Iowans, I also will fight to keep our promises to workers, protecting hard-earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare. I’ll work with anyone to protect these benefits and stand up to anyone who tries to lay a finger on them.

This fight is personal to me. Growing up during the farm crisis, I remember seeing families sell off everything they owned in boxes just to get by. When the farm crisis threatened my dream of going to college, I worked to put myself through school with part-time jobs. And when I was 24 and my first husband, a lineman with the power company and an IBEW member was killed on the job, it was Social Security, his hard-earned union benefits, and family, friends and community that helped me get back on my feet.

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I’ll never forget what it’s like to go through tough times, but I’m also frustrated because the same day I released my new plan, Sen. Ernst said relief won’t come until after the election.

That’s because Sen. Ernst has no plan to get us through this pandemic. She voted to gut protections for preexisting conditions, downplayed the virus, tried to strip paid sick leave and critical unemployment benefits from relief, and was even forced to publicly apologize for spreading a dangerous and debunked conspiracy theory that our medical heroes are inflating COVID-19 deaths to line their pockets.

While this is going to be one of the most consequential times of our lives, Sen. Ernst forgot about Iowa and now we’re paying the price. I will bring to Washington a personal understanding of the struggles we’re all facing, along with the grit and resolve to work with anyone to get results.

Theresa Greenfield of Des Moines is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

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