The Register’s Editorial Board
October 22, 2014
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack has served parts of eastern and southeast Iowa in Congress for four terms. In that time he has worked hard on issues he cares deeply about, including giving a fair shake to veterans, improving job training and providing opportunities for middle class families.
The Iowa City Democrat’s party has been in the minority for the past four years, yet he won bipartisan support for legislation aimed at closing the gap between workers’ skills and employers’ needs. And he has cast votes on the right side on key issues, including voting for the Affordable Care Act and against the across-the-board federal budget cuts. Yet, he has not reflexively backed the Obama administration, parting company on proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations of agricultural dust and kids working on farms.
Loebsack brings to Congress an important personal perspective on social welfare issues, reminding people that he grew up poor as the son of a single mother who relied of Social Security survivor benefits after the death of his father. Those experiences shaped his determination to preserve federal safety net programs, raise the federal minimum wage and put more people to work. He wants the same education opportunities for others that helped him to rise from poverty to become a college professor.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Republican candidate in the 2nd District contest, presents a serious challenge to Loebsack. She has an impressive resume. She enlisted in the U.S. military at the age of 18 and moved to the officer corps after graduating with a degree in nursing followed by medical school. She was the first female member of the University of Iowa ophthalmology faculty and operated an ophthalmology practice in Ottumwa until 2008. She served for three years as director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Miller-Meeks, however, has not made a persuasive case for why voters should remove the incumbent.Her policy positions are vague, and she hedges on a number of key issues, including offering no specifics on how to assure both Social Security and Medicare will be solvent for future retirees. She supports more spending for roads and bridges, but she says she needs more information on options for how to pay for such improvements. She also wants to see more study on climate change causes and solutions.
She is not shy about expressing contempt for the Affordable Care Act, though she acknowledges it is law. And she is unflinching in criticizing President Obama for pulling U.S. troops from Iraq too soon and for a lack of clarity in dealing with terrorist threats.
Iowa has a tradition of sending people to Congress who are quietly but persistently devoted to improving the lives of the people in their districts rather than pursuing a personal ideological agenda. Dave Loebsack has served in that tradition, and he deserves a fifth term.