CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s not declaring the recession over, but U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley says the economy appears headed in the right direction.
“We haven’t gotten to where we need to be, the steps we’ve taken have put us on a path where today the national unemployment rate went below 8 percent for the first time and we’ve had a long period of private sector job growth for consecutive months,” Braley told The Gazette Editorial Board Oct. 4.
Braley, a three-term Waterloo Democrat, is seeking re-election. He faces Independence attorney Ben Lange, a Republican he defeated by less than 2 percentage points in 2010.
Braley called for a “balanced approach” – a combination of spending cuts and new revenues — to stabilize the economy and avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that would lead to drastic cuts if Congress doesn’t act before the end of year.
Braley also renewed his call for bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan now.
“They’ve been over there for 11 years,” he said. “The situation is not improving. We’ve accomplished all the principle objectives that led us to go to war in Afghanistan.”
Bringing the troops home would allow Congress to take the $100 billion a year it has been spending – outside the budget – “and invest it in our own economy.”
The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have added about $1 trillion in additional spending outside the normal budget process – decisions made before he was a member of Congress, Braley noted.
“We’ve been spending money we don’t have,” Braley said. “So whether it’s borrowed money or it’s in the budget, we won’t be incurring costs of $100 billion a year in Afghanistan if we bring our troops home.”
He defended congressional spending on farm programs, including subsidized crop insurance. It’s a good trade-off, Braley said, eliminating direct payments to farmers without over-burdening taxpayers.
“Everybody who farms in Iowa knows they are one bad year away or one change in policy away from seeing prices fall, profit margins disappear and farm sales start to appear the way we saw them in the 1980s,” he said.