Gazette Editorial Board
U. S. Rep. Bruce Braley is a smart, hardworking and engaged lawmaker who clearly cares deeply about the needs of his constituents. We think he deserves another term in Congress representing the newly drawn 1st District.
It’s that concern for his constituents that strikes us as his most important asset. He talked passionately, for example, about his efforts to pass bipartisan legislation helping wounded veterans make their homes more accessible. The Andrew Connolly Veterans Housing Act is now law, thanks in large part to Braley’s work.
Braley made headlines by announcing his support for a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget, with flexibility for natural disasters and other crisis events. But we’re more interested in his basic fiscal philosophy, which calls for a balanced approach that includes spending reductions and some tax increases. Both will be needed to balance the budget.
Braley voted against the misguided Budget Control Act, which has done little to balance the budget and may actually harm the fragile economy. His Republican opponent, Ben Lange, says he will oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling, forcing the same sort of pitched partisan showdown that spawned the control act and led to a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating. We don’t see that as a prudent path to fiscal responsibility.
Braley says outdated weapons systems and other items should be sliced from the nation’s large defense budget. He concedes that the Affordable Care Act needs modifications but should be given a chance to work and should not be repealed. Lange contends that the act should be fully repealed, but also praises some its provisions, leaving us confused on where he stands.
We give Lange considerable credit for being a much stronger candidate than he was in 2010, with a far better grasp of the issues.
But we believe he doesn’t make a strong enough case for ousting Braley in 2012.