CEDAR RAPIDS – A visit to one of northeast Iowa's largest employers illustrated the impact of federal policy, Republican congressional hopeful Ben Lange said after a tour of Rockwell Collins.
Lange was briefed by Rockwell officials on Aug. 7 on the impact of new health care policy, trade agreements and research and development tax credits.
“You see the implications of federal play out here in Cedar Rapids,” the Independence attorney said after a tour that included a hands-on demonstration of Rockwell’s virtual reality lab.
The Republican challenger said his opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley, has been on the wrong side of the issues that affect Rockwell and other “job creators.”
Rockwell officials, Lange said, expressed concern the firm, which employs about 8,800 in the Cedar Rapids area, will have to pass costs associated with the Affordable Care Act – ObamaCare – on to those employees “because Bruce Braley voted for it.”
Lange also said Braley, who visited Rockwell in April, hasn’t voted for trade policies that Rockwell needs to maintain its markets.
Braley has been reluctant to support trade agreements that will cost Iowans their jobs. Last year, for example, he wrote Republican Gov. Terry Branstad to urge him to withdraw support from a free trade agreement with South Korea.
The agreement “could lead to the loss of more than 5,000 manufacturing jobs and hurt the agricultural industry to the tune of $173 million in the 1st District,” he wrote. “That’s simply unacceptable.”
Braley for Congress campaign manager Jeff Giertz defended the congressman’s record on both health care and trade.
“Bruce's record on trade and health care is clear: he supports keeping American jobs here in America, and making health care more affordable for Iowa families and businesses,” Giertz said. “If politician Ben Lange wants to speak frankly about health care, I’d love to hear him explain why he wants to end Medicare as we know it, which will both increase costs and cut benefits for seniors.
“If it were up to him, your job would be shipped away when you’re young and your Medicare would be taken away when you’re older,” he said.
The lack of congressional action on research and development tax credits creates uncertainty for employers like Rockwell, which reinvests about a quarter of its earning in research and development.
“Without that, there are going to be fewer high-quality jobs -- not just this year, but down the road,” Lange said.
He lays the blame for the uncertainty on “Washington politicians who are unable to come up with solutions.”There’s plenty of blame to go around, Lange said, but the bottom line is “they’re not getting the job done and employers here will feel the impact.”