The two major party candidates in Iowa’s fourth congressional district disagree on a raft of key issues like health care, tax policy and the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan. 

Republican Congressman Tom Latham of Ames and Bill Maske of Truro, the Democratic challenger in the district, appeared together today during the taping of an Iowa Public Television program.  Latham vows to vote against a tax package that would keep the Bush-era tax cuts in place for 98 percent of American households if it also lets tax rates return to higher levels for those making more than $250,000 annually.

“I don’t think in the middle of a recession, very difficult times that we’re going through, that we should raise taxes on anyone,” Latham said.

Maske disagrees and supports raising taxes on the top two or three percent of American households with an annual income about a quarter of a million dollars.

“It will bring more money into the government.  It will help us drive down the debt,” Maske said. “Trickle-down economics does not work.” 

Maske supports a universal health care system and he calls the health care reform plan that cleared congress this year a good first step.  Latham opposed the bill and vows to help unravel portions of it if Republicans gain a majority of seats in congress in the fall election. 

The two candidates also disagree on President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan.  Maske, the Democrat, is calling for withdrawal of all U.S. troops.

“Chasing terrorists in Afghanistan is a lot like what one might say pushing Jell-O,” Maske said.  “We enter into Afghanistan and they go into Yeman, they go into Somalia, they go into Pakistan.  Are we going to chase them into all these other countries?” 

Latham, a Republican, favors the stay-the-course approach in Afghanistan because terrorists pose a “dangerous” threat to the U.S.

“I tell you one of the days that sent chills up my spine was when we saw the troops coming out of Iraq because President Obama had followed up with the plan that George W, Bush had in place to have victory in Iraq,” Latham said. “…And to have (Obama) continue the policies that were in place, I think, is the right thing.”

The nearly half-hour long discussion between the two candidates will air tonight at 7:30 on Iowa Public Television.