(Iowa City, IA) I watched the Iowa Press hosted debate in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District tonight. I Mariannette Miller-Meeks impressed me with her performance tonight. In a word – solid. She was knowledgable, articulate and aggressive. She put Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) on the defensive, right off the bat by referring to The Des Moines Register referring to him as the least-effective member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation.
The debate covered topics such as Obamacare, debt ceiling, Iraq and ISIS, Ukraine, the Farm bill, general dysfunction in Washington, Veterans Affairs, the Border Crisis, and President Obama’s use of executive orders.
They both agreed that Washington is dysfunctional, but Miller-Meeks did a great job pointing out that Loebsack is part of the problem, not the solution. Loebsack tried to make the debate about Congressman Steve King (R-IA) and the Tea Party. The problem is that he is not running up in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, and he has little to show for his 8 years in office. Loebsack said “he led” on bipartisan efforts with several local issues, but Miller-Meeks pointed out he can’t point to a bill that he sponsored that passed.
Miller-Meeks attacked President Obama’s policies, and challenged Loebsack on that. She linked Loebsack to Obama and Nancy Pelosi calling Loebsack a puppet of the President and the House Minority Leader.
The three areas where she stood out and was heads and shoulders above Loebsack were foreign policy, the V.A. and Obamacare. She came across as more credible. She’s former military, an ophthalmologist and the former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. She has expertise in this area, Loebsack does not.
There was not a single thing that Loebsack distanced himself from the President on other than acknowledging that some in the White House got ISIS wrong. Miller-Meeks clearly and consistantly pointed out the lack of a foreign policy strategy from the Obama administration connected Loebsack with that.
Miller-Meeks avoided becoming tangled with the talk of impeaching President Obama. She did address his use of executive orders, and made a compelling non-partisan case of it. She said that the use of executive orders is not a political issue, but a balance of power issue. She challenged Democrats to consider the abuse of executive power if a Republican wins the White House in 2016. She said that, “Congress needs to reassert it’s authority under the Constitution.” Loebsack complained about Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama, but didn’t offer any solutions or even suggest that it was a problem that the President simply bypasses Congress if they don’t do what he wants.
Iowans should find that unacceptable.
Addressing the debt ceiling Miller-Meeks pointed out that Washinton needs to employ consistent budgeting and general accounting practices and pointed out that Loebsack has been on a spending spree for the 8 years he has been in Congress.
This debate pointed out some clear differences between the candidates. Miller-Meeks represents reform and ideas. Loebsack represents status quo, ineffectiveness and he could not point to anything substantive that he has done for Iowans.