OCTOBER 27TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate
For us, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin always has been something of an enigma.
We don’t support many of his viewpoints, especially those on the far left. Yet, we can’t quarrel with the senator’s commitment to projects that can and do make a difference in Iowa. Whether by finding federal dollars to help establish community health centers, investing in communities and businesses, helping fix schools in need of repair or acquiring funds for local law enforcement, Harkin looks out for the folks back home. Sioux Cityans can thank Harkin for his efforts on behalf of the Perry Creek flood control project.
Harkin, a Democrat, and fellow Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley are two of the strongest voices in their chamber. Having two such well-connected, high-ranking and influential senators clearly is good for this state.
In the end, Harkin’s experience and commitment to Iowa makes him a better candidate than Republican challenger Chris Reed, who has never run for or held public office. That’s why today the Journal endorses Harkin’s bid to retain his Senate seat.
In the last several weeks, Harkin has emerged as a surprisingly reasonable voice in the debate over the federal government’s $700 billion bailout package and calls for yet another stimulus plan. We supported the bailout, primarily because we felt something needed to be done to start thawing the credit market. Harkin agreed and voted for that bill.
But that doesn’t mean Harkin is necessarily in favor of a new stimulus deal. In a meeting with the Journal editorial board, he said he favored returning to Washington after the election and possibly carving a stimulus package out of the $700 billion already approved for the bailout. He was adamant that sending stimulus checks to taxpayers should not be part of that plan. “No way,” was his answer.
We hope Harkin applies that kind of sensible approach to other national issues during his next term in the Senate. On national issues, the kind that have led to an increasingly polarized nation, we are often in disagreement with the senator. For instance, he’s among the extreme in his party when he says things like “I felt I was lied to” when discussing the vote that ostensibly authorized the war in Iraq.
However, when it comes to issues that impact Iowans, especially farmers, Harkin has been steadfast. As chairman of the Agriculture Committee, he has proven himself a champion for and ally to farmers. He’s been a leading advocate for ethanol and other forms of farm-based renewable energy.
Of course, Harkin also earns high marks as a strong advocate for the rights of Americans with physical and mental disabilities. Properly, he counts the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1996 as one of his crowning achievements. That law required accessible buildings, transportation and workplace accommodations for those with disabilities.
Despite his faults, in this election the choice is clear. Iowans are better off with Harkin continuing his commitment to many of the issues they care about.