U.S. Congressman Leonard Boswell and U.S. Congressman Tom Latham participated in an on-air, live debate Tuesday evening hosted by KSIB Radio in a joint sponsoring with the Creston News Advertiser.
The 90-minute debate took place in the wake of a campaign race being called one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country, as Boswell and Latham are pitted against each other because of redistricting.
Both are vying to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which has been Democrat Boswell’s territory in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past 16 years. Meanwhile, Republican Latham has represented the old Iowa 4th District for the past 18 years.
Latham made it clear Tuesday evening reducing the national deficit, currently exceeding $16 trillion, is his top priority. He eluded to the mounting debt in his opening and closing statements.
“This huge debt is simply not sustainable,” Latham said. “I have three children and five grandchildren and that debt is putting in jeopardy their American dream. That’s why I am running again.”
Latham said one way to reduce the deficit is a military-reduction plan already in place that would reduce military spending by $437 billion over the next 10 years.
Latham also said “we need better efficiency throughout the federal government.” Latham said he’s already introduced the Less Government Act, which introduces proven, private-sector practices he believes would reduce federal administrative costs by 25 percent.
Boswell said this debt is “real” and agreed with Latham the best way to reduce the federal deficit is by cutting military defense. Boswell said he’s all for a strong defense, but said Congress needs to take a hard look at how much is being spent.
“As a veteran and as a former soldier I believe in a strong military defense,” Boswell said, “but when we realize our Department of Defense costs more than all the rest of the countries in the world, we need to take a hard look at that cost.”
Boswell added he’s in favor of Simpson-Bowles, a bipartisan template expected to reduce the federal deficit by $6.3 trillion over the next 10 years. Simpson-Bowles was voted down in the House in March by a 382-38 vote.
Latham contested Tuesday that Boswell never voted for Simpson-Bowles. However, a fact check this morning shows Boswell was one of the 38 voting for Simpson-Bowles. (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/roll145.xml)
The farm bill, yet to be passed, was another debated topic Tuesday evening, and one Latham and Boswell could agree on for the most part.
Boswell said “we need a farm bill, and we ought to be back there right now working on it.” Boswell added it’s been difficult to pass because rural legislators are outnumbered compared to their “urban friends” and are constantly educating their “urban friends” because they don’t always understand the needs of agriculture.
Latham said he’s “extremely frustrated” a farm bill has not been passed and will do everything he can to get the bill on the floor and passed because farmers deserve certainty moving forward and should know what will be in the program next year.
Latham said he believes the farm bill will come to the floor after the November general election.
Other issues discussed Tuesday evening included Obamacare, education for the future and job creation, among others.
If you missed Tuesday’s live debate moderated by CNA Managing Editor Stephani Finley and KSIB News Director Brandon Lewis and KSIB Assistant News Director Terri Queck-Matzie, a replay of the debate will be available on the KSIB Radio website at www.ksibradio.com.
Also, a televised debate is slated between Boswell and Latham tonight from 7 to 8 p.m. from KCCI’s Des Moines studios and will be livestreamed at DesMoinesRegister.com and kcci.com.
KCCI is found on Channel 8 in Creston.