The two major party candidates running in Iowa’s first congressional district disagreed over changes in the Postal Service, union bargaining rights and the federal minimum wage during tonight’s Labor Day debate on Iowa PBS.
“You cannot raise a family on $7.25 an hour,” said Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids, the Democrat seeking a second term in the U.S. House. “The reality in our country is we’ve got people working 40 hours a week, or over that, who can’t afford rent, who are struggling to afford to raise their families.”
Republican challenger Ashley Hinson of Marion said the minimum wage may need to be raised by “a moderate amount,” but the rate should be set by states, not the federal government.
“What you’ll get is on this Labor Day you’ll have people out of work,” Hinson said. “You’ll have people who are replaced by kiosks and machines. We’ve already seen that happen. A $15 minimum wage isn’t the answer.”
Hinson is a current member of the Iowa House and Finkenauer’s a former member of the Iowa House. Finkenauer, the Democrat, criticized Hinson for voting to forbid Iowa cities and counties from setting a local minimum wage that’s higher than the state rate. Hinson, the Republican, criticized Finkenauer for voting against an increase in the state gas tax when Finkenauer was a state legislator, saying the extra money was needed to shore up Iowa’s transportation infrastructure.
The two candidates have different views of changes the new Postmaster General has made to the U.S. Postal Service. Hinson, the Republican, said she “has faith” that the Postal Service can be improved.
“We need to be, across government, looking for efficiencies,” Hinson said. “Our government has spending problems.”
Finkenauer, the Democratic incumbent, said removing mail processing equipment and slowing down mail delivery is unacceptable.
“Especially as folks are relying on mail for their prescription drugs, for example,” Finkenauer said.
In an extended and sharp exchange, the two candidates disagreed over a state law that Finkenauer said “gutted” collective bargaining rights for public sector unions.
“That went after our teachers, our corrections officers, our bus drivers — folks who are just working their tails off, trying to provide for their families and you went out of your way to make their lives harder,” Finkenauer said.
Hinson responded: “The collective bargaining bill I think was a great bill to protect Iowa taxpayers and give them a seat at the table. It was important because it was imbalanced and it had gone in favor of labor unions.”
The two next disagreed over another law that changed the standards for workers compensation cases in Iowa. Hinson said Iowa’s workers compensation benefits were among “the richest in the country” and the law struck a better balance between workers and employers. Finkenauer said because of the law change, people who get hurt on the job aren’t getting “fair compensation.”