By Ed Tibbetts, Quad City Times
Dave Loebsack moved to Iowa City in order to remain in the 2nd district, where he’s facing Republican attorney John Archer in a race largely focused on jobs and the economy.
The district includes 24 counties in southeast Iowa, a region that has some of the state’s highest unemployment rates.
Archer, a corporate attorney for Deere & Co., has called for balancing the federal budget. On his campaign website, Archer accuses Democrats of trying to control the economy “for the entrenchment of their power base” and argues that the Obama administration seems eager “to push as many citizens as possible into some form of dependency on government.”
Archer, 40, said tax rates for employers and investors are too high and government regulations too onerous.
Loebsack, 59, a college professor at Cornell College in Mount Vernon before being elected to Congress in 2006, has made it a priority to help constituents deal with the federal government.
He talks frequently about growing up in poverty and being raised by a single mother, which he says keeps him focused on the needs of families and small businesses.
Loebsack says his past is intricately woven into who he is and why he fights to keep in place the new health insurance law that will mean coverage for millions of people. And it’s why he objects to the prospect of changes to Medicare and Social Security.
“These are two programs that help seniors stay in the middle class, and I’ve seen that personally over the course of my life,” he says.
Loebsack recently has criticized Archer for supporting a House Republican budget plan that would change Medicare so that future beneficiaries would have the choice to get a voucher and buy insurance on the private market.
Republicans say that would give seniors a choice in how they want to be insured and it would lower costs through competition. But Democrats say the change would raise out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.
They also see a more sinister motive.
“It really is to end Medicare as we know it,” Loebsack says. “That’s the goal.”
Much of Loebsack’s campaign so far has honed in on the idea that American jobs are being outsourced. He blames trade deals, even those that won the approval of President Barack Obama, and parts of the tax code he says encourage it.
Archer, who is on leave from Deere and also is part-owner of Schebeler Co., a Bettendorf metal fabrication manufacturer, argues his experience qualifies him to go to Congress at a time of economic weakness and fiscal difficulties.
Whether it’s reining in entitlement spending or setting an energy policy, Archer says vision is needed in Washington.
“That’s no different from what we do in business,” he says. “We say here’s the strategic plan. … Now let’s go implement that plan.”
Archer has argued that Loebsack is “ineffective,” and he has been particularly critical of Loebsack’s votes against the three trade deals with Panama, South Korea and Colombia. He notes that former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, supported the pacts.
“We have a current sitting congressman voting against jobs for Iowans by voting against those free trade agreements,” Archer says.
Archer also says he thinks the Medicare cuts in the new health care law ought to be restored.
He’s also called for changing the law so that companies that have kept their overseas earnings parked overseas be given the opportunity to bring them home tax-free.
That, Archer says, would lead to investment in the 2nd District economy. Critics say those profits probably would just go to shareholders in the form of dividends.
Loebsack argues in favor of legislation that curbs tax breaks he says encourage outsourcing and prevent people from getting the kind of jobs that are needed for people to enter the middle class.
“I’m interested in ensuring we make things in America,” he says.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.