Iowa City Press-Citizen Our View: Dave Loebsack has earned re-election

Press-Citizen Editorial Board
October 28, 2014

Nothing showcases the sheer grandstanding and operational dysfunction of the current political alignment in Washington than the dozens of votes the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have passed over the past four years to repeal, defund or otherwise gut the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

As if such measures would go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate. As if, even if they did get past the Senate, President Obama would ever agree to sign a bill overturning what he considered his signature accomplishment.

When asked directly whether she would have joined those votes to repeal Obamacare, third-time Republican nominee Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks tries to redirect the question. In debates and editorial board interviews, Miller-Meeks is clear that she recognizes there are beneficial aspects of the now four-year-old law, but she also favors overturning and overhauling significant sections to ensure that the law does more to increase affordability rather than just access.

But in her answers, Miller-Meeks always leaves enough wiggle-room so that, if elected and called upon by the House leadership, she would be able to vote for a full-on repeal of Obamacare without having to betray any campaign promises.

It’s an important distinction because, make no mistake, the Republicans are going to hold control of the U.S. House on Nov. 4 — maybe even take control of the U.S. Senate. As Dave Loebsack knows well from his own election in 2006, history shows that a president’s party will lose congressional seats in the mid-term election of that president’s second term.

That’s why we were hoping for more from Miller-Meeks. We were hoping that her past two campaigns and her time spent heading the Iowa Department of Public Health would have provided her with a more specific, credible and nuanced critique of the nation’s health care system and a more realistic diagnosis for what needs to happen to improve the Affordable Care Act.

Miller-Meeks is correct that Loebsack generally can be counted on for a party-line vote. But over the years, he has refused to toe the line on various free-trade agreements, he was vocal in his call for the president to bring home troops from Afghanistan sooner than the administration’s time line and, more recently, he was one of only two dozen Democrats who voted “yes” on the Farm Bill — despite their misgivings over the bill’s draconian cuts to food assistance.

Not to mention how, in the past few years, we’ve seen less and less of the sleepy professor who sought only to go along with his party’s platform and seemed satisfied with a list of small parliamentary victories. We’ve started to see a more tenured politician who is learning how to exert influence in Washington and who is no longer afraid to use some sharp elbows when needed to get his point across in debates.

Iowa’s Second District would benefit from having Loebsack remain in Washington to fight aggressively on flood relief and recovery, to help to protect veterans and to continue looking after Iowa’s interests.

Loebsack has earned a fifth term in Congress, and we urge our readers to vote for him.