Iowa Press Debates: Third Congressional District

Oct 26, 2016  | 58 min  | Ep 402 | Transcript

Freshman term complete. Republican Congressman David Young finishing a first term. Seeking a second. Democrat Jim Mowrer also wants the seat representing Iowa's third congressional district. During the next hour Young and Mowrer side-by-side in a special debate edition of Iowa Press.

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For decades Iowa Press has brought you political leaders and newsmakers from across Iowa and beyond. Celebrating more than 40 years of broadcast excellence on statewide Iowa PBS, this is a special edition of Iowa Press, the Third Congressional District Debate. From the Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, here is Dean Borg.


Borg: Iowa's third congressional district, 16 counties, more than half a million residents across the southwest quarter of Iowa, includes Des Moines, Ankeny and Guthrie Center, south to the Missouri border including Indianola and Mount Ayr, then westward to Council Bluffs. But even with that geographic diversity the republican and democratic candidates are both from the Des Moines, central Iowa part of the district. 48-year-old Republican David Young calls Van Meter home, completing his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The democratic nominee, 30-year-old Jim Mowrer, ran unsuccessfully in the fourth congressional district two years ago, against Republican Steve King. Gentlemen, welcome to this special edition of Iowa Press and welcome to western Iowa.

Thank you, Dean.

Borg: Looking forward to seeing areas of agreement in your campaigns as well as the contrasts. We'll be going an hour, as you know. And because this is an Iowa Press election special edition, we have an audience here in the Iowa Western Community College Arts Center. But they're watching and listening and not cheering or otherwise distracting from our discussion. We've also expanded as I just said this program to 60 minutes to accommodate additional issues and questions. Across the Iowa Press table, Des Moines Register Political Columnist Kathie Obradovich and Radio Iowa’s News Director Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Mr. Mowrer, you have been a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. As you’ve been watching the news and seeing these double digit in some states even doubling of the cost of buying insurance, isn't it time to junk it and start all over again?

Mowrer: Well, Kay, I appreciate the question. I want to thank you, Kathie, Dean, thank you so much. I thank Iowa Western and my wife, Chelsea, who is here this evening, for all her support over the years and thank my two sons, Carter and Jack, for all of their support, hopefully they're in bed, for my mother-in-law's sake but speaking of my two sons, my youngest son, Jack, suffers from a rare neurodegenerative disease, called ataxia telangiectasia. There is no treatment and there's no cure for it. It's never affordable for an insurance company to provide him with insurance. And through the Affordable Care Act has done a lot of very important things, a lot of step forwards. Ensuring kids like him with a pre-existing medical condition can get health insurance, can't be discriminated against for having health insurance. You can have your children on your health insurance until the age of 26. We now have the highest insured rate we've ever seen in this country over 90% so we have taken a lot of steps forward with the Affordable Care Act but on the affordable front we do still have some challenges that remain and we need to address and fix those. I, in Congress, will look for the fixes through the Affordable Care Act. I believe that there are things that do need to be fixed.

Henderson: Such as?

Mowrer: You look at the relicensing requirements placed on physicians, you look at the Cadillac tax, the taxes that are placed on folks who have health insurance that is deemed to be too generous in some cases, I disagree with those things. So we need to address the affordable side of the Affordable Care Act but the wrong approach is repealing the Affordable Care Act which would take away coverage from millions of Americans and go back to a time where being a woman was a preexisting condition.

Obradovich: Mr. Young, you have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act but when you were first running for Congress you said that you thought the Affordable Care Act was here to stay at least while President Obama was in office and you'd be at the table to try to fix it. Where is that table and what have you done to try to fix it?

Young: First of all, thank you, Dean, Kay and Kathie for the opportunity to be here and Iowa Western Community College and Dr. Kinney. And Jim I want to thank you for being here today and getting in the race and I want to thank you for your service, for putting on the uniform and fighting for         our liberties and freedoms. Thank you for that. I've been consistent with my stance on the Affordable Care Act the president's signature health care law. It's not working. It is causing people's premiums to go up dramatically. 30% will be the next year average in Iowa. People have lost access to their doctors. Insurance, people have lost insurance. I spoke to a gentleman yesterday, got an email from him in a letter where his premiums are going up from $342 to $1,390. Now some of these premium increases and where they go, that's about as where a mortgage payment is at right now so this is really squeezing Iowans. There's some things within the Affordable Care Act that I would keep, okay, some of the wellness provisions, making sure that folks with preexisting conditions weren't kicked off, up to the age of 26, staying on your parents' insurance, but we need to empower Iowans with their health care dollars to make the decisions they need for of their families and transparency is an issue. We need to know what we're paying for before we go in to a provider, waiting after that can create quality health care through competition.


Obradovich: Are you prepared to take, to say now that we're this far down the road to say yes, we're going to keep 26-year-olds on of their health insurance but we're going to kick off everybody else who is already committed to being on the exchanges. Are we too far down the road to go back there now?

Young: Time will tell I guess but it’s falling apart even now. Even President Clinton says this is a circus, it's the craziest thing out there, Governors on both sides of the aisle in their respective states are seeing what's happening with this Affordable Care Act, the President's signature health care law and it is causing people great anxiety in economic hardships.

Borg: I think the basis of Kathie's question really is, what you have in that letter there. What are you writing back to that gentleman whose premiums have increased three-fold? What are you going to tell him? Because she’s really asking what are you doing?

Young: We had a conversation last night on the phone for about –

Borg: What did you tell him?

Young: -- for about 45 minutes. I told him first of all that I opposed the Affordable Care Act and where there are areas where things can be fixed I'm going to do what I can for the people of the third district. We've had some opportunities here already in the last Congress to make some fixes and so I want to help relieve the burden to the folks in Iowa, but I think it's falling apart. I think you have to start all over.

Henderson: Mr. Mowrer, would you support universal health care?

Mowrer: Well, the good news is that again, today we now have over 90% of Americans who have health

insurance which is more than we've ever had so I think what we need to work on is making the Affordable Care Act work, making it more affordable and try to get as close --

Henderson: How do you address the premium increase that the gentleman that Congressman Young just referenced?

Mowrer: Well, the good news is if you look at folks on the exchange, for example, right now three-quarters of the folks will still have access to health insurance that will be under $75. And so a lot of people still do have access to quality and affordable health care. We need to look to expand that and the people that are seeing undue premium rises we need to look at that and fix it. But unfortunately, this is the same thing that we heard Congressman Young say in 2014. And he went to Washington, and then did the exact opposite, which was vote 12 times to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act and I think that's the wrong approach.

Young: I've always been consistent in my position since I ran in 2014 I was for repeal and for replace. This health care law has helped some people it really has but also hurt a lot more. I'm seeing letters and hearing from constituents about 30%, 40% increase in their premiums, and it's not helping Iowans overall, in my opinion.

Borg: After that, though, excuse me, Kay, the question is what are you going to do if you repeal, what's next?

Young: Sure, and I talked about expanding health savings accounts, we need medical liability and we need transparency in our health care system, those who have preexisting conditions aren't thrown off, those are some of the things but we need to recognize the difference between states and the innovations that are going on there already and what could be done, what was happening before wasn't perfect but where we are now has become disastrous.

Henderson: You mentioned states. Many states expanded the number of citizens who were eligible for Medicaid with the proviso that the Federal government would be sending states money. After President Obama is gone, will you as a member of Congress under whichever President takes office on January 20th, vote to extend that money to states or do you expect states to pick up that cost from here on forward?

Young:  First of all, we want to make sure that safety net is there and that people are taken care of, those who are most destitute so I will work with any president and anybody in my party or across the lines to try to make sure that this is handled in a way where states have some relief and help, but they're also given power to have some innovation and freedom to do what they think is best for the people in their state.

Obradovich: Mr. Young, one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act was to make health care affordable for everyone and the idea was down the line the cost of health care at the doctor's office and at the hospital would actually go down at some point, not just be an insurance program but an actual cost of health care reduction program. That was not happened in any substantial way at all. So Mr. Young mentioned liability reduction for example. Are there ways that you see to actually cut the cost of health care at the doctor's office?

Mowrer: That's exactly right. We are seeing more people have access to health care and to coverage which is a major accomplishment. We should acknowledge that. But when you look at the cost we need to look at ways to reduce the cost and it is going to require fixing it but unfortunately every time someone tries to fix it, republicans just hold another vote to repeal it. We need democrats and republicans who are willing to get past just the repeal part and get the good public policy and fixing it.

Obradovich: Let’s say you have a democratic Congress or a democratic president, what ideas will you bring to the table?

Mowrer: Well, I think we have to look at working with providers, hearing what they’re saying. What I mentioned before, when I travel around the district I talk to doctors, I talk to medical administrators. They tell me their concerns with the relicensing requirements and other bureaucratic pieces to it. We have to work with all the stakeholders. And I’m open to innovation and working to fix it. Unfortunately what we're seeing from Congressman Young is simply voting repeatedly to repeal it.

Henderson: Congressman Young there's a lot of talk about there being a "rigged election." If you are in the next Congress, will you feel compelled to vote to extend money to states to improve the voting systems or even to have some uniformity across the entire country rather than relying on a hodgepodge of state-by-state rules for elections?

Young: Well, I've talked to our county auditors and our Secretary of State about the elections and we have integrity in Iowa with our elections. I want to keep Iowans in our state government in charge of our elections. I'm not so keen on federalizing the election system. But I'll be open to the debate and we'll see what happens but I don't believe that we're having any problems here in Iowa.

Henderson: After the 2000 election, the federal government did send money to the states to invest in new voting machines. That's almost 16 years ago. Is it time for there to be additional investment in more modern voting methods?

Young: I'm up for the debate. I’m not sure because we have not talked about that in Congress and I've not heard that from the folks in the third district, auditors or Secretary of State.

Mowrer: It is something I've been hearing from folks concerned about the rhetoric that we're hearing from Donald Trump, the person that David supports for president, and it is undermining our democracy. We do need to invest more in our voting systems. Democracy is fundamental to our state and country and we do have a hodgepodge of different voting systems across the country. They're underfunded. We're seeing long lines in a lot of places, people waiting to vote. We do need to fix our voting system. We need to invest in it, and we also need to restore some of the provisions of the voting rights act that were struck down by the Supreme Court.

Henderson: Such as?

Mowrer: Investing in voting?

Henderson: No, the voting rights act.

Mowrer: There's a bill in the House right now Representative John Lewis that works to restore some of the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Obradovich: Would you support those changes in the Voting Rights Act or update?

Young: I don't have the details on them. I want to make sure that we are, are taking precautions here and making sure we respect the role of the states in the elections like we have for so long.

Obradovich: This presidential campaign has overshadowed a lot of this season and also led to a lot of divisiveness but I want to ask you about unity. Mr. Young, how would you find a way to work with a President Clinton should she be elected?

Young: Just like I've done every day with folks on the other side of the aisle in Congress. It doesn't matter to me what party you're in. The successes I've had for the third district have been in a bipartisan way.

Obradovich: Are there specific issues you would think you would have in common?

Young: I hope that we could, I think I want to make sure that in the next Farm Bill we're making sure that agriculture and farmers have a seat at the table, renewable energy and crop insurance, conservation practices, energy independence, those are a few things.

Obradovich: And Mr. Young, sorry --

Mowrer: That's all right.

Obradovich: You guys look so much alike. Mr. Mowrer, how would you work with President Trump and other specific issues where you could work together?

Mowrer: I'm very confident it will be President Clinton but if it is President Trump, I would look to work on any issues I could. I know one of the few things that I agree with Donald Trump on is I do oppose the TPP, the Transpacific Partnership, both Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton oppose the Transpacific Partnership and that's an area where I disagree with Congressman Young because I know he's a strong supporter of that. I would look to work with any President on any issue I could. But I would also have disagreements with any president, even if it is President Clinton, while I do support many of the ideas she has proposed I'm sure that there will be things that we will disagree on.

Borg: You know, when you came in here I saw you shake hands and you thanked each other for being here, and voters in the third congressional district are hearing your responses to the questions tonight but many of them up to now have been evaluating both of you by advertising purchased by those opposing your election. We have a couple of those ads. One about each of you. First, Mr. Mowrer, an ad about your candidacy.

Beheadings, executions, deadly terrorist attacks right here in the Midwest. ISIS is a real threat, and Jim

Mowrer supports bringing thousands of refugees from ISIS war zones right here. What's worse, Jim Mowrer supports the dangerous deal putting Iran on a path to get nuclear weapons, a deal that gives Iran billions, money they can use to fund terrorism. Jim Mowrer, risky, dangerous. Congressional Leadership Fund is responsible for the content of this advertising.


Borg: Tells me a lot about you, by somebody else's voice saying it. What's your response?

Mowrer: It really makes me angry, frankly, because I have a long record of keeping our country safe. My entire career has been in service, serving in the Iowa Army National Guard serving in Iraq, serving as an intelligence analyst, as a civilian in Iraq and going to the Pentagon, where I focused on keeping our country safe as well. So I have been very disappointed to see these attacks come from David Young and his allies, who have questioned my commitment to national security, and I think I have a very clear record. I'm the only candidate in this race who has a clear, direct national security experience. That's what I will bring to Congress. We have the lowest percentage of veterans serving in Congress right now than at any other point in our nation's history. I believe that while you don't need to be a veteran to be in Congress, you do bring a unique perspective and unique experience. I've always been committed to

keeping America safe. It's what I've done. I know how to do it and that's what I'll do in Congress.

Borg: Congressman Young you stand behind that ad?

Young: It's not my ad. I will point that out, I did not put that ad out. That's from another group and I don't coordinate because the law says you can't coordinate.

Mowrer: So you disagree with that?

Young: I agree with that ad though and I'll tell you why. The Iran agreement is very flawed. Even the State Department said that funds going, the $150 billion will be likely used for terrorist activities. We've seen the hostage situation, right? You're for that act, that agreement, but Sunday night on a KMA radio debate you said we can't trust Iran, and there are a lot of other people who do not trust this Iran agreement and support me because of my views on this and one is former commander of the Iowa National Guard General Dardis. He supports me in this campaign because he thinks I have a better view on national security.

Obradovich: Mr. Mowrer, how do you know Iran will comply with this deal and not be able to get nuclear weapons?

Mowrer: I don't know, and that's why this deal is not based in trust in any way, shape or form. It is based on inspections and verifications, and so this deal has stopped Iranian nuclear development in its tracks.

You know, when I was a civilian intelligence analyst I was primarily focused on Iran. I know a great deal about Iran. I know what they do supplying Shia militants, General Soleimani, the Quds force, everything they’re doing. I know a great deal about Iran and this deal stops Iranian nuclear development in its tracks. The commander of the Israeli Defense Force, our strong allies in Israel, have said that this removes the biggest threat to Israel's future for the foreseeable future and what I hear is not an alternative to the deal, but just criticism. There are only two alternatives to the Iranian deal, either going to war with Iran to remove the nuclear threat or to allow them to continue to develop nuclear weapons. I would like to hear what Congressman Young's alternative is.

Young: People on both sides of the aisle before the deal was struck said the economic sanctions were working and now look what's happening. You say you don't know if this is going to work, you don’t trust Iran but you support the agreement. Iowans that I hear from here in the third district they're very worried what's happening in the Middle East and giving Iran any more power and funds than they have. We also gave them $1.7 billion.

Mowrer: I know what it means to send Americans to war and what the Congressman is proposing is either invading Iran or allowing them to continue development.

Young: Those are your words, Jim. Those are your words, not mine.

Mowrer: Wait a second, when you look at what's happened in North Korea, we have put tough economic sanctions on them. We’ve isolated them. But they still were able to develop a nuclear weapon.

Borg: Congressman did you want to say something?

Young: Those are his words. I never said that.

Henderson: The other issue raised in that ad is about Syrian refugees. How many Syrian refugees should the U.S. accept on a yearly basis, Mr. Mowrer? And are you comfortable with the process whereby they are "being vetted"?

Mowrer: Well again I've always been committed to keeping America safe and when you talk about the topic of refugees our number one priority has to be the vetting and ensure that we keep Americans safe.

The process we have in place for vetting refugees is a post-9/11 process, put into place by President Bush, an over a year-long process that includes comprehensive interviews, biometric checks, fingerprint high risk scans. It's primarily women and children. We've accepted the 10,000 refugees in August, it's stated in the ad and Congressman Young says he opposes those refugees. My question to him would be does he want to send those 10,000 families, women and children back to a war zone and potentially to their death?

Borg: I'll give you a chance to answer the question.

Young: The head of the national director of intelligence, the head of the FBI, the secretary of homeland security says we don't have the proper vetting process in place to deal with what we're dealing with from Syria and Iran. I'm going to trust their judgment.

Mowrer: You want to send them back?

Young: I want to protect America, Jim.

Mowrer: So do you want to send them back?

Young: I want to protect America.

Borg: All right –

Mowrer: What is your experience protecting America, Congressman?

Young: My first solemn oath when I was sworn in is to protect and defend the constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. I'm not taking a chance. ISIS says they want to infiltrate our refugee system I’m taking it seriously.

Mowrer: I've lived it, I know what it takes to keep America safe.

Borg: Now, we’re going to be reversing direction here. Congressman Young, this is a commercial helping voters understand you.

Donald Trump says he'll defund Planned Parenthood.

I would defund Planned Parenthood.

David Young voted to do it already five times. And Donald Trump says about women who have abortions –

There has to be some form of punishment.

David Young has already voted to make abortion a crime and even though Donald Trump brags about sexually assaulting women, David Young continues to support him for President and now we understand why.

I'm Jim Mowrer, and I approve this message.

Borg: Congressman, we have Jim Mowrer saying "I approve this message" it ties you to the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. What's your reaction?

Young: I want to make sure folks know I have voted to increase funding for women's health care by $7.8 billion this last year and that goes to our community health centers. We have over 200 in Iowa so I take women's health care seriously and also being a member of the Appropriations Committee voting for cancer research for women, cervical cancer research as well. You may remember a time about a year and a half ago, a year ago, when there's some videos out there talking about unfortunately this entity possibly selling baby body parts, okay? That's a big deal, right? We should pause that. I'm just not for taxpayer funding if to that organization. I'm prolife, it's a matter of faith for me.

Borg: What about the aspect you haven’t addressed, Donald Trump was cut in there, alluding and insinuating that you have the same view as the republican nominee, is that true?

Young: Well, he'd like everybody to think that. Everybody has their opinion about the presidential nominees. I disagree with both in many ways. Some of the things Donald Trump has said are disgusting and indefensible. But these are our choices right now. They're both very imperfect. We're all going to be voting for flawed candidates and I would just let folks know regardless of who the president is, who the nominees are, who leadership in Congress is, they're not my boss. I don't answer to them. I answer to the people here in the third district.

Borg: Just to be clear I think you said in the past you don't endorse but you will vote for Donald Trump.

Young: I did not endorse in the primary, I’ve always said that. But looking between the two candidates I'm supporting my nominee because of policy, because of things like my opponent here is for Waters of the USA with what the EPA is doing, President Obama vetoed the repeal of that. I think the next president, if it's the republican nominee, will allow that to go away. He'll sign the keystone pipeline so it's a matter of policy to me and these are our choices.

Borg: Mr. Mowrer that Ad was tagged "and I support this Ad." Do you?

Mowrer: That's correct, I do, absolutely.

Borg: Even after you heard him explain?

Mowrer: Absolutely. He supports Donald Trump for president. Those are what the facts are. He doesn't want to say his name but he supports Donald Trump for president and their views on these policies are the same. He can bring up videos that have been debunked, the people who made it have been indicted, proven false. I support Planned Parenthood. Growing up with a single mother, my wife, Chelsea, I understand that women can be trusted to make their own health care decisions, they should be empowered to make their own health care decisions and his votes are very clear. He has voted to defund Planned Parenthood and that is Donald Trump's position as well.

Obradovich: Mr. Young, you said there are aspects of what Donald Trump proposes that you probably won't agree with. Do you know particularly what you would not agree with?

Young: Well, trade, tone. That's certainly one of them.

Obradovich: We'll talk a minute about trade but are there other aspects of his proposals, not necessarily about his comments or his rhetoric.

Young: I agree with wanting to make sure the borders are secure. We have a real issue in Council Bluffs we did, a young lady Sarah Root was killed by an illegal immigrant and got away. I introduced a bill in a bipartisan way called Sarah's Law. And these are real issues.

Obradovich: You support an entire wall along the border and try to get Mexico to pay for it?

Young: We need to secure the border. You can do it in different ways. I've been to the border and the area near San Diego, Cochise County in Arizona and Texas as well. You have different needs and sectors. Department of homeland security votes on the Rio Grande, a more horseback border patrol, unmanned aerial vehicles in the sky, getting more coast guard in San Diego so different needs for different sectors.

Obradovich: Mr. Mowrer, you can comment on immigration as well, but I wanted to ask you, are there specific things Hillary Clinton proposed if she is your president you wouldn't go along with?

Mowrer: As I mentioned earlier, we're running for two very different offices. She's running for president, I'm running for Congress. I don't know if it's useful to point out areas where we might disagree. But as I said earlier, I promise you there are things we will disagree on.

Obradovich: I think voters might find it useful to know where you disagree.

Mowrer: There's only one real choice of one person who is actually qualified, who has a clear record to be president and that is Secretary Clinton and I think that David supports Donald Trump, who is unfit to be president, whose comments about demeaning women, attacking veterans, gold star families have proven he's unfit to hold the office and attacking women.

Borg: Mr. Mowrer, if she is president and sends something to Congress of a proposal you know you could not support what would that be?

Mowrer: Again, I don't think it's useful to look for individual policies that we disagree on.

Henderson: Then let’s turn to a policy he just raised. Sarah' Law do you support that in reference to Sarah Root who was killed by an undocumented immigrant who ran into her in a high speed accident in Omaha, right after she had graduated from college?

Mowrer: Absolutely. Well we do have a broken immigration system and we do need to fix it, and number one, that is securing the border. But we have to do it in a comprehensive way and I support a bill that came out of the United States senate with 68 votes, an overwhelming bipartisan majority that would secure our border, have the 11 million people here without a legal status register, go through a corrective process, pay a fine, learn English, background checks, et cetera, over that time period and so we have to fix our immigration system top to bottom. Unfortunately that bill that came out of the United States Senate was never brought up for a vote in the House of Representatives so we have to have a Representative who will look to fix our immigration system in a comprehensive way.

Henderson: Are there components of that legislation that you support?

Young: It's hard for me to believe he wouldn't support Sarah's Law. I didn't hear him answer a yes or no on that.

Mowrer: As I said, we need to fix our immigration system –

Young: It’s a bipartisan bill.


Mowrer: We have to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The Farm Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce --

Henderson: But this is a different piece of legislation.

Mowrer: Again I think we have to fix it in a comprehensive way. We can look at the individual pieces of it that need to be addressed and it is broken. The only way to fix it is in a comprehensive way top to bottom.

Borg: Congressman you've tried to answer and I'll give you a chance right now if you want to.

Young: Kay, you asked about immigration so the border is very important. I don't like the 10,000 page bills out there where who knows what is shoved in there. I like more piecemeal approaches. I want to deal with employment practices. When they're smaller and more transparent you can see what's in there. Reforming our legal system, 40% of those here illegally are, overstayed their VISAs and that kind of thing, so look at that. So I want to do targeted approaches to this and I think that's the way it will be.

Borg: You mentioned earlier the Transpacific Partnership. One of you brought that up. Congressman Young, tell me, generally farmers and agricultural interests support that. Labor unions do not. You support it.

Young: I had a great opportunity to visit with farmers in the agriculture industry and manufacturing folks throughout the last few years. Yesterday I did my harvest tour, I do it annually in Neola and Minden, Red Oak, Clarinda, Atlantic. We can have the best yields out there, right? Booming yields, record-busting yields. If we had no place to sell our grains, what's it all about?

Borg: When you say to the labor union people in your district who say this takes our jobs?

Young: There are provisions within the TPA that we passed before the trade promotional authority which dealt with labor guidelines, environmental guide lines and sovereignty issues and there's always a piece that goes along with it called the trade adjustment assistance, in case there are repercussions in our employment, there's some funds there to help our workers in those times gain new skills as well. There's an area in the Pacific Rim that is hungry for our goods and services. 95% of the world's consumers are outside of America. If we want our economy to do well, we need to start selling our goods and services to others and China is right there as well. If we could show strength there, we will have respect there.

Borg: Mr. Mowrer you previously expressed support, no, opposition to, I'm sorry, opposition to the Transpacific Partnership. What do you say to agricultural interests? Southwest Iowa is a big agricultural area.

Mowrer: I think it's remarkable that the one area they agree upon, oppose TPP because they know it will continue to ship American jobs overseas, it’s actually something that Congressman Young supports. So the one area they agree is so dangerous for our future and continuing to ship our jobs overseas he does support. I grew up on a family farm. When I talk to farmers they understand we have to have trade deals that get our products to market but have appropriate protections that will protect American jobs. The TPP does not have proper environmental and labor standards in place. It would on it ship jobs overseas. What I do support are good trade deals that do have appropriate provisions in place but also the export/import bank. The export/import bank helps small businesses get their products to market and move them overseas. The export/import bank supports 1,500 jobs in Iowa, costs the taxpayers nothing, returns $1 billion to the treasury every year and David Young opposes the export/import bank. He voted against it to shut it down.

Borg: Congressman Young a response if you want to, you oppose the export/import bank?

Young: The export/import bank came up for reauthorization, it was fraught with fraud and abuse and mismanagement, people went to jail and the majority of it went to the biggest corporations in the country. Some that don't pay taxes, GE, Boeing. So we reformed that and we had it targeted to smaller businesses who really need the help. I don't think GE and Boeing need the backing of export/import bank at all.

Mowrer: Even Governor Branstad sent a letter to Congress saying that Iowa supports it because the export/import bank because it costs taxpayers nothing and supports 1,500 jobs in Iowa.

Obradovich: Before we move away from trade I wanted to ask, Mr. Mowrer, is there a trade deal that we currently have on the books that you think was a good example of making sure that American jobs are protected? Have we ever had one that's good enough for you and for American labor?

Mowrer: Again we have to look at the protections that are in place. We have to have good negotiations that do ensure that the countries that we're dealing with are paying their workers fairly so that American workers can compete, that there's environmental standards in place so we're not polluting and Americans have to shoulder that extra cost so again we have to have good trade deals in the future.

Obradovich: There one that you like? Do you like NAFTA, CAFTA or would you agree with Donald Trump those are bad deals?

Mowrer: They have their pros and cons but we have to do the cost-benefit analysis in the future to see whether they’re going to benefit more than they cost. Again, when we talk about the agricultural provisions of the TPP there is some analysis that shows it will provide short term gains for some agricultural interests but the cost comes with continuing to ship American jobs overseas and that’s not a good deal for Americans.

Henderson: Mr. Young, the next Congress will be reauthorizing the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill will likely include subsidies for the purchase of crop insurance. Should there be some effort among Congress members to sort of link that to environmental stewardship, in other words restrict the amount of farm chemicals that can be applied to farmland?

Young: I don't know if we'll get to the point where we're linking environmental stewardship with crop insurance. That debate will come. I know it is a big issue for Iowa crop insurance. Last fall there was a budget deal that I opposed, took $3 billion out of the crop insurance program. Farmers were depending on that. That was kind of opening up the Farm Bill in the middle of it all. But I introduced a bill in a bipartisan way to get that restored and it passed as part of the five-year highway bill I voted for and was signed into law. In the next Farm Bill we want to make sure that we analyze the crop insurance system and make sure that farmers have skin in the game of course because taxpayers do as well in case of catastrophes and droughts. Water quality initiatives are something that I’ve been working on being on the Agriculture Subcommittee. There's an equipped fund environmental quality incentive program, I worked to increase funding for that. Also I have a precision conservation bill that's bipartisan coming out. I don't want to dictate what happens here on our land from Washington, D.C. when it comes to environmental quality and the water issues that we have, kind of one size fits all approach, but I do want there be some resources because I care about this very much and I have the most, you know, population dense county in the state, Polk County, and the least populated county is in this district, Adams County, and so we want to make sure we work together and I'm at the table.

Henderson: Mr. Mowrer, democrats in your party think the voluntary approach is no longer working and time for the federal government to regulate farmers. Do you agree?

Mowrer: Agriculture is very important to me. Mowrers have been farming in Iowa since the mid-19th century. When you look at conservation, the ability for my two sons to potentially farm someday, to hunt, to fish, to have clean drinking water, these are very, very important things and when you look at the Farm Bill as a vehicle to help provide a safety net for farmers to invest in agriculture and invest in the conservation techniques it's a very good vehicle to do that. That's what we do. We do need to link incentives to behavior, because the farmers that I talk to when I travel around the district here, is that they want to do the right thing. They're trying to do the right thing. But they’re also trying to run a business and make a profit.

Borg: Just to distill what you're saying you would use the Farm Bill to leverage behaviors that might improve water quality.

Mowrer: I think that funding of efforts for farmers to put in nitrogen removal, buffer strips, et cetera, would be the Farm Bill is the appropriate place to do that and the farmers I talked to want to want to do those things but they come at a large cost and so providing those, that assistance to farmers to do the right thing I think is the right approach and the appropriate use of the Farm Bill.

Henderson: But would you support or oppose federal restrictions, which would regulate the amount of nitrogen, for example, that a farmer could put on his or her land?

Mowrer: If farmers had been provided the ability to invest in all these areas, and do those things, then they should be able to meet those criteria.

Borg: Go ahead Congressman.

Young: If you wonder why we lose so many farms in Iowa sometimes is because of the heavy hand of the government, the rules and regulations and mandates that are choking farmers. I have a bill, a beginning farmer loan program gaining headway. I want to make sure the current beginning farm loan program is extended to allow for environmental quality initiatives on their farms as well as purchasing unused equipment. But another thing, the way we're losing our farms is through the death tax. I want to make sure the family farmers pass on from generation to generation and my opponent unfortunately supports the death tax.

Borg: You just brought that up, let's let you respond.

Mowrer: First there is no such thing as the death tax, it doesn't exist. There is an estate tax that is in place to ensure that billionaires like Donald Trump, who can go decades without paying taxes pay their fair share to ensure our roads, our military –

Borg: What about changing – we’re talking here about what is called the death tax, which is an estate tax at a certain level.

Mowrer: The estate tax I don't support any changes to the current estate tax system.

Henderson: You would oppose Hillary Clinton's proposal?

Mowrer: As I said I don't support any changes to the current estate tax.

Obradovich: What tax priorities would you have, if you're in Congress, Mr. Mowrer, and just limit ones that you think are really important to help get the economy going and to possibly help with job creation.

Mowrer: Absolutely. Well, I think we need comprehensive tax reform. We need to lower the rates. We need to broaden the base. We need to close loopholes for big companies.

Obradovich: Such as?

Mowrer: Like giving subsidies to big oil companies, when you look at the tax expenditures that we have there, passing the Buffett rule which ensures people who make more than $1 million a year through capital gains, through investments, more than $1 million a year pay taxes on that as if it's income. It's called the Buffett rule because even Warren Buffett understands it's a huge loophole the wealthiest folks take advantage of and they’re not paying their fair share.

Obradovich: It's a goal to have more revenue coming into the government or less?

Mowrer: Right now we have a massive inequality in the country. The economy is doing better, unemployment is lower but too many people aren't getting ahead. Yet Wall Street is seeing record levels, we’re seeing the richest Americans do even better, and so those folks do need to pay their fair share so that every single American –

Obradovich: Would revenues go up or down under your priorities?

Mowrer: I think revenue for the wealthiest Americans would pay more of their fair share to ensure that we have quality and affordable education, that veterans have access to the resources that they need, that we have a strong national defense and we're investing in our future and not saddling that debt on younger Americans.

Obradovich: Mr. Young, your top tax priorities?

Young: I'll work with anybody. The President opened the door on lowering the corporate tax rates. If you wonder why so many companies are domiciling overseas and not paying taxes here, we need to stop that. I want to stop that. So lowering the corporate tax rate, bring it down to 15%, 20%, a number that's been put out there. In return you have to get rid of a lot of the credits, incentives and deductions and the tax code -- the oil production tax credit that those kind of things. I don't think big oil needs that, but we have to look at the multitude of them but 75,000 pages in the tax code but in the end, and there may be some that we keep, Kathie, such as the interest deduction on mortgage, charitable giving, and because for certain public policy reasons we want to promote things. Whatever it is in the end we have to make it permanent. We have to bring certainty to the tax code because there’s over $4 trillion sitting on the sidelines where people want to invest in the economy and create jobs and when you create jobs you create more tax revenue. I want to use that to drive down the debt and deficits.

Obradovich: You said your overall goal is to reduce or increase tax revenue?

Young: Bring certainty and I think more revenue would come in if there’s more certainty and people are then investing in the economy.

Obradovich: Would do you think of the Warren Buffett rule?

Young: I agree with my opponent.

Henderson: Both of the presidential candidates have talked about the need to invest in the nation’s infrastructure, roads and things like airports. Would you, Mr. Mowrer, vote to raise the federal gas tax or do you have some other tax in mind that would finance those kinds of construction projects?

Mowrer: I think we need to look at different revenue streams available. We need to invest in our infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our schools. When you look at what built this America, you know, when the greatest generation came home from war they invested in our roads and bridges and schools, they invested in the big things and that's why America is the greatest nation on earth. That requires us to continue to invest in those areas and yes that sometimes means we have to have the revenue to invest in those areas but it's very, very important. I was very disappointed that Congressman Young was the only member of the Iowa delegation and one of only 64 members of Congress to vote against the bipartisan highway bill. All along while Iowa has a third most efficient roads and bridges in the country. I will ensure that we invest more in our infrastructure here in Iowa.

Borg: You want to – Congressman Young?

Young: My opponent, he knows this, but he knows I voted for the five-year highway bill on December 3rd, 2013 that extended for five years and that was signed into law by President Obama.

Mowrer: He can try to explain how he voted against it before he voted before it and said he didn't want it to pass. I'll leave that to him.

Henderson: The underlying question I started this discussion with was how do you finance infrastructure projects like fixing roads, bridges and the nation’s airports? Do you raise the federal gas tax, Mr. Young, or do you find some other means by which to pay for those projects?

Young: With this economy right now and the folks I talked to in the third district barely getting by some of them I don't think it's a good time to raise taxes. I’m on the Transportation Subcommittee on Appropriations and we are increasing funding, it's going to come out of general revenue. We have to make sure there's equity and equality with some of the new vehicles out there on our roads. I think it's, you have to make sure that everybody is paying into the system. Pay to play. Nobody should ride for free.

Borg: You were holding your tongue.

Mowrer: I was going to say one bill in particular I support is a bipartisan effort presented by Congressman John Delaney from Maryland, has 22 democratic sponsors, 19 republican cosponsors. It has a unique funding mechanism. It would allow American companies that currently have profits sitting overseas to repatriate that money, put it into this infrastructure fund, they would pay a lower rate by putting it into the infrastructure fund and the congressional budget office predicts this would spur tens of billions of dollars of new investment.

Borg: We have more topics than we have time. Kathie?

Obradovich: Mr. Mowrer, a bunch of states have started to legalize marijuana in one way or another but the federal laws are still on the books, and they're just not being enforced. So would you go into Congress and vote to repeal those laws and let states manage marijuana however they want? Would you enforce those laws and roll back the marijuana laws that states are doing or would you continue to just look the other way?

Mowrer: I think that this is a state’s rights issue, should be up to individual states if some want to legalize, if they want to have medical exceptions et cetera, I think that should be up to the individual states. We need to update the federal law to reflect what's happening in the country. I don't think approach is to continue to throw Americans in jail for minor drug offenses. That's why we're seeing so many problems that we have with our criminal justice system. I think it is a state’s rights issue and it should be up to the individual states.

Obradovich: Do you agree? Let's ask about sentencing reform as well. Would you roll back some of those nonviolent offenses and roll back sentences for those?

Young: I would and I'm on a bipartisan bill to do that, nonviolent offenders maybe do some dumb stuff in the early years or whatever, however old they are. I believe in second chances. I would put the drug kingpins away, but the occasional user who may be busted for something, no.

Obradovich: Would you take those marijuana laws off the books being basically ignored?

Young: That's the thing. We have these laws not being enforced. I think they should be enforced. I'd like to have states have more jurisdiction over these things. It shouldn't be happening unless you repeal any kind of federal law. I am for moving marijuana from the schedule 1 to a schedule 2 under controlled substances. I think there can be great research to help with medical marijuana. I'm for allowing cannabidiol oil to be used because I’ve met many families out there who are looking for treatments for their children, their loved ones and that’s why I'm a big supporter of the 21st century Cures Act.

Henderson: How would you deal with the jurisdictional, the border issues that arise when you go from state to state with the oil?

Young: For cannabidiol oil I think there should be agreements between states, like a permit, some waiver for that. There's not that potency within that oil anyway that would get you high.

Henderson: Mr. Mowrer, what sort of gun restrictions would you be an advocate for, if any, were you to be elected?

Mowrer: I grew up on a family farm, gun owners hunting. I am a gun owner. I served in the military. I've slept with an assault rifle in a war zone. Don't tell my wife about that. But I'm very comfortable with guns, and I believe in the second amendment but we have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, of domestic abusers, and so we need to have universal background checks, every single gun purchased in this country that person should undergo a background check. We also need to pass no fly, no buy which ensures people who are on the no fly list, the terrorist watch list can't purchase guns. It's a common sense approach. It's interesting because I've heard David Young when he's in Iowa says he's in favor of no fly no buy. He voted 27 times in Congress to block no fly no buy from coming to vote on the House of Representatives.

Borg: Congressman Young?

Young: Those were procedural votes and weren't substantive and didn't have the due process that I am for. So I am for taking people who are terrorists on the terror watch list and taking away their guns, only if there's due process if there are Americans on that list who shouldn't be there and they’re law abiding. The second amendment is important and the constitution is important to me and important to this district.

Borg: The NRA says it's not constitutional, what you're talking about there. You disagree then?

Young: Well I don't listen to them. I mean, I look at the constitution. We ran that through the Judiciary Committee and the protections were there for due process.

Henderson: A year ago you expressed the belief that there should be something that could be done to make sure that people who are suffering from mental illness don't get their hands on a gun. It's a year later. What should Congress do in that regard?

Young: I hear about the mental health issues all over the district, whether it's in the urban areas or rural areas. It’s a big issue for Iowans. I’m a cosponsor of a bipartisan bill that made its way through the House already that address this is. It takes the many multitude of detrimental health programs within the federal government and puts them under an umbrella and targets them to states. Talking about gun violence we want to make sure those who are not mentally capable of understanding a firearm and a weapon what it's for, they shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun, they should be adjudicated in court to have that taken away but also a right to petition if they get better.

Obradovich: Mr. Mowrer, we talked about a lot of issues over the last hour but Congress has been so dysfunctional, voters may not believe anything you say you would like to do is going to get done. How do you break through that dysfunction and make sure that the things that you propose are actually a possibility?

Mowrer: This has been a very divisive election. Once we get past this election we need representatives to go to Washington and work in a bipartisan way to get things done. I have a record at the Pentagon, working with the 54 state and territory governors, both democrats and republicans, as the army's lead representative to the Council of Governors. I oversaw the Army Office of Business Transformation where I worked with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, both the democrats and the republicans on those committees. There's currently a post-9/11 caucus in the House of Representatives, it's made up of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, it’s made of democrats and republicans and they have found a way work in a bipartisan way because they are folks who have put their country first before they entered partisan politics.

Borg: You know the word I think that's been mentioned here most tonight is bipartisan. You're using it, Congressman Young, you've used it, and yet I don't think that your record or your proposal, who's to believe that you will work in a bipartisan way or your record reflects that, Congressman?

Young: My record, everything I've done has been in a bipartisan way. I started a bipartisan task force to prevent identity theft and fraud, bipartisan. We have amendments passed in a bipartisan way on that. My bill to fix the Veterans crisis line, passed 357 yeas to 0 nays. A bill to prevent dropped calls in Iowa bipartisan, work on appropriations committee bipartisan because I know how to get things done. You have to work across the aisle to do that. If you pick up the partisan fights not a lot gets done. You can't override a veto.

Mowrer: David Young, when he's here in Iowa, he says one thing. When he goes home to Washington, D.C., where he's been for the last 20 years, he does another. He says pay no attention to my record. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Borg: You're going to do something different?

Mowrer: I will. I have a record of results in a bipartisan way working in the executive branch to get things and that's what I'll do in Congress.

Borg: The final half minute I'm giving to you because why do you then deserve another term?

Young: Check out my record I'm proud of it, my accomplishments in a bipartisan way. I know enough to not promise that I'm just going to get all of these things done in Washington, D.C., because I've seen what's happened there and those who promise too much break promises and that's why we have the  frustration out there.

Borg: The promise I have is to get off on time, and we're out of it. Thank you both very much.

Thank you, Dean.

Thank you Kay and Katie.

We'll be back next week with another edition of Iowa Press, a special reporters’ roundtable on the final weekend before election 2016. That's Iowa Press on statewide Iowa PBS 7:30 Friday night and noon on Sunday. For our hardworking Iowa PBS crew here at the Arts Center of Iowa Western Community College here in Council Bluffs, I'm Dean Borg and thanks for joining us.


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