Congressman Leonard Boswell.

The first of a series of debates between Congressman Leonard Boswell and Congressman Tom Latham took place last night in Creston.

The 90-minute exchange included topics ranging from the farm bill to health care and education to the deficit. Democrat Boswell noted one of the biggest problems looms.

“We got a big challenge now, we’ve got a deficit we have to deal with, a little amnesia how we got there, but the question is real, we we have to deal with this, it’s serious, it’s real, the question is how,” Boswell said.

Despite the economic difficulties, there are still things that need to be done, like passing a Farm Bill, as Republican Latham addresses.

Congressman Tom Latham

“We’ve got to have a farm bill I think that represents, number one savings, and farmers are willing to contribute to deficit reduction doing away with direct payments, revising the countersicyclical payments. If in fact there’s a safety net for them, basically with crop insurance, risk management tools,” Latham said.

Boswell agrees, the farm bill needs to be passed, and adds they should be in Washington doing it. He also sees the need for rural infrastructure, and suggests ways to pay for it.

“We’re gonna have to look at the revenue side, nobody likes that word. We’re gonna have to look at it, and I’ve said I long time ago I’m willing to. And I’ve noticed now Farm Bureau and others are saying the same thing,” according to Boswell.

“We’re gonna have to look at that because the steel costs more, the concrete costs more. If we’re gonna stay competitive, we’re gonna have to do that.”

Staying competitive in the global economy was a topic of discussion. Latham looks to the community college system and programs like Iowa’s STEM initiative. “We’ve got to have people understand that they’ve got to train for marketable skills out there that are available, jobs that are available, careers that are available in the workforce,” Latham said.

At times the discussion was contentious:
Audio: Boswell and Latham  :20

And at times cooperative:
Audio: Latham and Boswell   :37 

The two incumbents are facing off  to represent the Third District after one congressional district was eliminated following the 2010 Census. Latham is seeking his 10th term, Boswell his 9th.

By Terri Queck-Matzie, KSIB, Creston