OCTOBER 27TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate
The conundrum in national politics is that you have to be in office for a long time to win coveted leadership positions and chair committees, where you can really direct the national agenda.
But the more time spent among the Washington elite, the more constituents back home feel a sense of disconnect with their elected representatives. It’s a legitimate concern.
Tom Harkin, however, has deftly been able to remain a down-home Iowan while spending more than three decades shuttling back and forth to Washington. Iowans should give him another six years to work on their behalf in the United States Senate.
Harkin of Cumming is a lock to win his fifth six-year-term over political novice Christopher Reed, a Solon businessman who has never held any public office.
Harkin is enthusiastic about development of renewable energy and bio-fuels and is a strong supporter of corn-based ethanol. He tagged a tax-credit measure into the massive $700 billion bailout bill to encourage development of an ethanol pipeline, to expedite the distribution of corn-based ethanol to other states.
Iowa is home to 32 ethanol plants, producing a combined 2.7 billion barrels of corn-based ethanol. Harkin understands losing the nation’s dependence on Mideast oil is a national security matter. That it’s good for Iowa farmers is a plus.
Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is pressing for tighter regulation over some over-the-counter credit transactions he says lack the transparency necessary to protect consumers.
As chairman, Harkin is a major voice for the farm bill and the direction of the nation’s food and nutrition policy.
Harkin has fans in southeast Iowa for helping to secure compensation for former workers sickened by exposure to cancer-causing agents while helping manufacture munitions at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middletown.
Despite his near 20-point lead in the polls, Harkin, 68, maintains a busy campaign schedule across all of Iowa. He says his health is good and his mind is sharp, and he wants to accomplish more things for Iowans.
He’s going to get that chance.
The choice between first-term congressman Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, and challenger, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, poses a tougher challenge.
Unlike Reed, Miller-Meeks on the campaign trail demonstrates a grasp of the difficult issues awaiting the next Congress—a crumbling economy mixed with managing two wars that are draining our military resources and our treasury.
Miller-Meeks would have three offices in the 2nd District, in Ottumwa, the Burlington area and in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City region. We expressed our disappointment before that Rep. Loebsack chose to have two district offices in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and no permanent presence elsewhere in the district, though he does have a representative who lives in Burlington who is accessible and does hold weekly office hours at city hall.
Loebsack hopes for a filibuster-free majority in the House, a position we don’t support because we don’t believe it’s the best way to govern. A nation that is more center than liberal left or conservative right is better served when both sides are forced by sheer numbers to work together.
Miller-Meeks’ criticism of Loebsack that he did little and took too long to secure flood relief funds is a bit of a stretch. President Bush, John McCain and Barack Obama toured flooded areas in the Midwest, yet funding wasn’t secured until attached to the bailout bill.
Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist and surgeon, understands the nation’s health-care problems. She has a military background. She has impressive credentials and would be a comfortable fit as our representative.
Like Harkin, Loebsack says Iowa can play a leading role as the nation works for energy independence, which, along with the economy, should be at the top of the agenda when Congress convenes in January.
We understand the difficulties a freshman must work through. And two years in that environment is hardly enough time to accomplish much. He’s hardly the “do-nothing Dave” Miller-Meeks portrays him to be.
Loebsack knows the lay of the land. Another term will allow him a little more leverage to push forward his hope to improve the nation’s education system and develop alternatives to wean us off our dependence on foreign oil.
The expectations of 2nd District residents are higher the second time around—they should be. We endorse Loebsack.