Lange: Address deficit before Cedar Rapids flood protection

Congressional candidate speaks to Cedar Rapids Rotary Club members

April 1, 2014 | 2:44 am

Cedar Rapids shouldn't get federal help with flood control until Congress reduces the debt, Republican congressional candidate Ben Lange said.

"Once we get that under control to a point where our revenue is meeting our expenditures or pretty close to it, then what we need to understand is that as a representative it's my job to go out there and advocate for you on what the interests are to make sure that Cedar Rapids has a levee here to protect downtown," Lange told Cedar Rapids Rotary members Monday. "It's about putting in a priority of solving the overall national problems that could sink us all, and then advocating for the interests that can help us here in Cedar Rapids."

Lange, an Independence Republican challenging three-term Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley in northeast Iowa's new 1st District, said he understands the city's need for flood protection.

"I understand the importance," Lange said. "This is where all the surrounding communities come to spend their money and I want to make sure we continue to have the vibrant downtown I think we're starting to see with the NewBo Market and so forth. We can do that, but we need advocates for it."

The government's debt is "the one single issue that drives me," said Lange, 33. He said a balanced-budget amendment and capping spending federal spending to a share of the gross domestic product are key to restraining the deficit.

Some deficit spending is acceptable, Lange said, but he declined to specify what level.

"The dollar amount has to be reflective of the size of the economy, the ability to pay that back," he said in response to an audience question. "It's all right sometimes to have a little bit of debt, because we leverage that so we can continue to grow. It's to a point where it's 100 percent of our GDP, that's when we start to throw the red flags. The answer of it is, there may not be a specific dollar amount. It's based on the size of the pie and the ability to pay that back."

Total debt was $16 trillion at the end of the federal fiscal year Sept. 30, when the GDP was $15.77 trillion GDP. Federal spending for the year - spending as a share of GDP, cited for capping by Lange - was 7.3 percent of the economy, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Lange, who lost to Braley by about 4,000 votes, or just under 2 percent, in 2010, said "it was a tough decision to run again. It was a tough decision, because you know what you're getting yourself into."

Lange said internal polls give him a thin lead heading into the campaign's final week, in a district that could decide the presidential election, too.

"There's a reason you are all so sick of political ads," he said. "They're targeting you. As Eastern Iowa goes, so goes the nation."

 UPDATED 10:45 a.m. Tuesday

Lange's complete answer to the audience member's question:

“From a perspective of knowing that the national debt is going to sink us all, Republicans, Democrats, independents, it doesn’t matter. First thing we do is, we prioritize that we have to get that under control. Once we get that under control to a point where our revenue is meeting our expenditures or pretty close to it, then what we need to understand is that as a representative it's my job to go out there and advocate for you on what the interests are to make sure that Cedar Rapids has a levee here to protect downtown, that Cedar Falls has the ability to provide for protection with the Cedar River there, that Dubuque has the ability to provide for their citizens. It's about putting in a priority of solving the overall national problems that could sink us all, and then advocating for the interests that can help us here in Cedar Rapids. I mean I grew up a half-hour north of here, Cedar Rapids is where I came to school shop, where I came to the movies. I mean I understand the importance, this is where all the surrounding communities come to spend their money. I want to make sure we continue to have a thriving downtown and I think we’re trying to see with the NewBo Market and so forth we can do that, but we need advocates for it.”

 

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