The two major party candidates in Iowa’s first congressional district differ over the need for a second economic stimulus package from congress. A package passed early this year provided "stimulus" checks to most taxpayers.
Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, is seeking a second term representing the first district. "I think that we need another economic stimulus package, but I think the next one needs to deal with our crumbling infrastructure," Braley says. "One of the things we know is that when we have been in times of economic crisis in this country, such as after the Great Depression, one of the quickest ways to infuse money from the bottom and have it percolate up through the economy is to create jobs by focusing on our deteriorating infrastructure."
According to Braley, public construction projects create jobs that "can’t be exported overseas" and Braley says there’s great need to repair crumbling infrastructure. "We are aware of hundreds of thousands of deteriorating bridges that are both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient around this country," Braley says, "and as somebody who worked on bridge crews growing up, I understand how important it is to have the ability to transport goods and services and people as a way of stimulating the economy."
State Senator David Hartsuch of Bettendorf, the Republican challenging Braley’s reelection bid, is opposed to another stimulus package. "The idea of a stimulus package is really just cover for more government spending," Hartsuch says. "…I do believe that these are best put just right into the corpus of the budget. Instead of allowing the fat to persist in that budget, we need to get in and actually tighten our belts. This is not a time that we should be spending more money. We should be cutting back on government spending, not increasing it."
Hartsuch, an emergency room doctor who once worked as a Certified Public Accountant, says the Bush Administration has had a "confused and contorted" reaction to the economic meltdown. "Every time there has been a stimulus package, it has been transient and has not produced longterm growth," Hartsuch says.
The candidates made their comments earlier today during an hour-long forum broadcast on Iowa Public Radio.