Republican Congressman Rod Blum and Abby Finkenauer, his Democratic challenger, had a contentious debate tonight, their final face-off before the November election.
The first district candidates fielded questions on immigration, college affordability, the Farm Bill and the tax cut package Blum and the Republican-led congress approved last December. Finkenauer argued the benefits have primarily gone to the wealthiest one-percent of Americans and to corporations.
“Folks making $90,000 or less are not seeing an increase in their take-home pay and that’s happening all across our country right now,” Finkenauer said.
According to Blum, the biggest percentage of tax relief went to the middle class.
“I don’t know what country you’ve been living in Abby…but our economy is booming, if you haven’t noticed and it’s due in large part to those tax cuts,” Blum said. “They are working.”
Finkenauer took a shot at Blum’s wealth.
“Congressman, I understand the economy might be doing well for you, but I am out there talking to folks right now who are working two jobs…and, quite frankly, you’ve forgotten about ’em in DC.”
And Blum accused Finkenauer of bringing notes to the debate.
“Abby, attacking me with more canned lines from your ads atttacking me is not policy,” Blum said. “I haven’t heard policy yet.”
The two had a pointed exchange about health care as well.
“What we’ve got to do is add a public option…allowing people up to the age of 65 buy into Medicare,” Finkenauer said.
Blum, during his turn to answer, replied: “The key is to bring down the costs of health care and you don’t do that by having your neighbor pay our health insurance.”
As they did in their previous debate, the candidates quarreled about the president’s trade policies — Finkenauer again saying Trump has used farmers as “poker chips” in trade talks and Blum calling Trump “one heck of a good negotiator.”
The debate was sponsored and broadcast by KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids and KXEL Radio in Waterloo.