DEAN BORG: Vacancy applicants. Nominees ... Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young, campaigning to fill an approaching vacancy in Iowa's third district congressional seat. During the next hour, Young and Appel debating campaign issues in a special edition of Iowa Press.
ANNOUNCER: Live from the Arts Center on the campus of Iowa Western Community College, this is a special debate edition of Iowa Press. Here is Dean Borg.
BORG: Welcome to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs. This is Iowa's third congressional district, stretching from central Iowa southwestward to the Missouri border and the Missouri River too. And so that includes Des Moines to Council Bluffs and along the way, Creston, Red Oak, Shenandoah and Atlantic. The district's incumbent Congressman, Republican Tom Latham, isn't seeking re-election, so that makes it one of the 44 open seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats hoping to reclaim that seat are pinning those hopes on Staci Appel. She is a former state senator serving a term from 2006 to 2010. Republican David Young hasn't held elective office, but he has Capitol Hill experience as Senator Charles Grassley's Chief of Staff. Mrs. Appel, Mr. Young, welcome to this special edition of Iowa Press.
YOUNG: Great to be here.
BORG: And, of course, you're familiar with our traditional format but we're in a different setting here in Council Bluffs with a live audience, in addition to our television viewers, and they here in the audience have agreed not to cheer during the debate. And we're following our regular Iowa Press format. That means no debate rules. That means no opening or closing statements. Just ideas and issues. I'll be moderating and questions will be coming from political journalists, Des Moines Register Columnist Kathie Obradovich and Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson. Let me just say, Mr. Young and Mrs. Appel, before we begin we're producing this debate on September 11th, the anniversary of 9/11. There are half-mast flags flying throughout the nation today. I'm wondering, Mrs. Appel, where were you on 9/11?
APPEL: Well, I happened to be feeding, when I found out the news I was feeding my 3rd child on our couch with my two-year-old son sitting beside me.
BORG: And how has 9/11 changed your life?
APPEL: Well, I think it has made us more cognoscente of the whole world and knowing that it's a dangerous world. And I remember today I was driving the two kids into school and we went by Gray's Lake and the flags are all over, hundreds of flags there, and it was really, it was really moving to think of all those lives that were lost that day and the families that were left behind and the first responders that went in there and tried to --
BORG: Mr. Young, where were you?
YOUNG: I was sitting at my desk on Capitol Hill in an office, and I saw the first glimpse of all this on the TV at my desk. And someone called over and said, turn on the TV, it looks like someone has flown into the World Trade Center. And I saw that, and right then when the second one hit you knew that there was a problem. And it changes your life.
BORG: How has it changed your life?
YOUNG: Well, you want to live every day to the fullest because you never know when it can be your last day. And you want to make sure that those that you love, your family, your friends, you spend valuable time with them and you make sure that they know that you care for them.
BORG: We'll start the questioning with Kay Henderson.
HENDERSON: 13 years on, terrorism still exists. President Obama this past week announced that he authorizes air strikes into Syria. Mr. Young, do you think Congress should vote to authorize those strikes? Or do you think the President has authority to do as he has done?
YOUNG: Well, the President has outlined in the War Powers Act from 1973 that he has those powers. And you hear many members of Congress say that, and acknowledge that he does have that. But I think Congress needs to buy into this, to be consulted for authorization, appropriations, because when the president and Congress work together on issues, especially such as this national security, it's very important. I think Congress needs to be involved.
HENDERSON: How would you vote were you a member?
YOUNG: Well, I don't get classified briefings or have that intelligence information, but I would make sure that I was on the floor and listening to the debate at every moment.
HENDERSON: I'll turn to you. How would you approach this as a member of Congress? And do you think the President has the authority to act on his own?
APPEL: I think he has the authority to act whenever our homeland is threatened. And I think we are threatened with ISIS. I do believe the way that he has put forward the air strikes and the humanitarian aid and working with folks on the ground makes sense and the training. So, I approve of how he has done it.
HENDERSON: She mentioned working with people inside the state of Syria. Mr. Young, do you agree that it's a good idea to arm and train people inside Syria?
YOUNG: Well, we need to make sure we know who we are arming and what side they fall on. You know, when the President spoke last night for months that he had been indecisive. I did see some resiliency in him last night. He talked about not just demeaning or managing this crisis and this threat of ISIS but he talked about destroying it, and I was happy to hear that word finally because I thought it was long overdue.
HENDERSON: Mrs. Appel, one final question on this subject. Congressman Dave Loebsack who sits on the Armed Services Committee said it's really hard to tell who the good guys and the bad guys are in Syria. He is concerned about that component of the President's proposal. It sounds as if you do not share those concerns.
APPEL: Well, I do share those concerns. We just need to make sure we're working with the right people and arming the right people. We need to work with people that want to defend their own freedom and so that takes time and working and listening to the folks on the ground.
OBRADOVICH: You mentioned a security interest for the United States. The President last night talked about that there had been threats and that ISIS might pose some future security threat to the United States. Do you think that is sufficient American interest to get more involved militarily in that region? Or are there other interests as well that are involved here?
BORG: Mrs. Appel?
APPEL: So, ISIS is, you know, it's growing and it is taking over two really weak countries. And we need to make sure, you know, I look at it as a mom, I want to make sure my homeland, my state, my family is protected. So, I appreciate what the President is doing.
OBRADOVICH: And Mr. Young, do you feel like American interests are sufficiently represented in this action? Is there going to be enough, is there enough of a threat actually to the United States to justify this? And are there other interests in the United States that the President should be paying attention to?
YOUNG: Well, the threat is big and it's getting bigger and it is getting larger and ISIS is on the move. They're looking to overtake Baghdad. I believe that they want to go south from the news reports that I've heard and what I have read. They want to grasp control of the oil fields in the Middle East. Imagine if they harness that and what that could do to the price of fuel around the world, what that could do to the pocketbooks of Americans. Look at what that could do to our economy. But more importantly, these terrorist thugs are trying to come to America. There's homegrown terrorism here. We're getting reports about it. We need to be diligent in all angles, overseas and here at home.
BORG: But what does that mean if you were elected to Congress, sitting there now what would you be urging?
YOUNG: I'd be urging our State Department to revoke the passports of those that they suspect who have admitted that they are part of terrorist organizations. Our State Department has that authority. Right now they're not doing it. They're guising it under the gauge of religious freedom. That is absurd to me.
BORG: And Mrs. Appel, what would you be doing if you were sitting in Congress now?
APPEL: Well, Congress has the role of oversight. They need to make sure that what we're working on –
BORG: What would you be urging?
APPEL: I would not be urging taking away their passports. I think we need to make sure that we work through the system and look through it on a very diligent basis.
HENDERSON: Let's move to, from being the world's policemen, if you will, to perhaps being the world's doctor. There is an Ebola outbreak in Africa. Mr. Young, what role should the U.S. play in outbreaks such as this? Has there been not enough done to curb the threat of a pandemic?
YOUNG: This is so new, this pandemic that could possibly be right here in our back yard. Across the river in Omaha there is a biocontainment unit and there's a patient there with Ebola. It's kind of unnerving, it can be, because what happens if this gets out? I believe we need to push forward with a vaccination as fast as we can. The FDA has a role in that, the CDC does, we need to work with other countries as well and we need to expedite this.
HENDERSON: Does Congress need to provide more money for those efforts?
YOUNG: If they're asked, possibly. I'm not sure that there has been a request.
HENDERSON: And you said it's unnerving for Dr. Sacra to be over the river, over in a hospital in Omaha. Is it inappropriate?
YOUNG: I don't know if it's inappropriate because I think probably the best treatment is right here in America.
HENDERSON: Same question to you. What sort of role should the U.S. play in these horrific outbreaks that are occurring elsewhere, they haven't yet reached our shores?
APPEL: Well, a humanitarian effort and a huge humanitarian-- we have the best scientists in the world here in our country and coupled with that, that's what we should be working on.
HENDERSON: What about the fact that the doctor who contracted Ebola was flown here to the Midwest for treatment? Are you fine with that?
APPEL: That doctor is a U.S. citizen. He should be here. We should be taking care of him. His family wants him taken care of.
OBRADOVICH: Talk about the U.S. role in health care around the world, but health care here in the United States still hasn't been entirely sorted out. What is your position on the future of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare? Are there things in that law, Ms. Appel, that you would like to fix?
APPEL: Well, of course there is things that need to be fixed but--
OBRADOVICH: Such as?
APPEL: So, I would say it's everybody's right to have access to health care. I think there's great things within the Affordable Care Act. Making sure that big insurance companies cannot take away your insurance coverage just because you have a pre-existing condition. I look at it as a mom thinking about a child being diagnosed with leukemia or cancer and then being told the next day that no longer do they have coverage.
OBRADOVICH: But if you had the opportunity in Congress to fix this law, what is it that you think would need to be fixed?
APPEL: One of the things that I think is if you were told that you could keep your insurance coverage, you should keep it. Another thing that we should be able to do is with Medicare, we should have been able to negotiate drug prices, just like the VA does. That would save billions of dollars. But what we shouldn't be doing is repealing it. I have traveled the country for, or the state for the last 15 months, I have never had one person say they want to repeal the law. What they have said is we need people that want to get together and fix it. I think it's atrocious that we have spent 50 times to vote to repeal it. We should spend 50 times trying to fix things that need to be fixed, work together.
OBRADOVICH: And Mr. Young, a lot of republicans have said repeal the law. I think you have said repeal and replace, correct? What is it that you would replace Obamacare with?
YOUNG: I think it's a bad law. I thought it was a bad process. It was a very partisan process. I wish this could have been a bill, a law that both sides could have come together and it would have been voted on in the Senate 90-10 or 90% in the House as well but it didn't and so we're stuck with it.
OBRADOVICH: Do you think it's --before you go on -- do you think it's fixable? Or does it have to be repealed and start over?
YOUNG: Well, when the President delays parts of it, it's hard to tell if we're ever going to see if it ever comes into play so it can stand on its own merits or if it is fixable or not fixable. But we had a President who said if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, if you like your insurance you can keep it, your health insurance premiums won't go up and we're seeing the reverse of that. Iowans are telling me every day in my visits with them that they've got real problems with this. It's hurting relations, relationships between employers and employees, between doctors and patients and you wanted solutions, yeah --
OBRADOVICH: Yeah, so what are the solutions to that? And, again, does that start with repeal? Or can you fix it?
YOUNG: It's not going to be able to be repealed as long as we have this President. This is his keynote legislation, his keynote law and it's going to be there for the long haul. I would have dropped those barriers around the state lines so people could have shopped for insurance across the states lines, much like they do for car insurance or homeowners insurance. That would have brought down the price. We need price transparency. Consumers need to know what they're paying for before they go into the doctor, before they see their provider and not wait to see the sticker shock afterwards.
BORG: Did you favor the expansion of Medicaid, which was included in Obamacare?
YOUNG: It seems to be working in Iowa and I would make sure that in any regards to Medicaid states have some kind of flexibility.
BORG: Mrs. Appel, Medicaid, should it have been expanded? Was that good?
APPEL: Yes, we have more women, we have more children getting coverage.
BORG: Would you expand it still further?
APPEL: If need be we would.
HENDERSON: Let us turn to what occurred in Washington, D.C. last October. There was a debt ceiling vote and republicans, such as yourself Mr. Young, decided that let's push this, try to get President Obama to capitulate in regards to the Affordable Care Act. Should you become a member of Congress, would you tie future votes to raise the debt ceiling to some other issue? Or would you vote on a stand-alone prospect of raising the debt ceiling?
YOUNG: Well, first of all, you have to take a look at how we got there. We're not doing budgets, we're spending money, it's out of control. And I have outlined some budget principles, such as auditing the federal government so we know where the waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement is, the duplications so we can cut those programs. Sunsetting legislation, a balanced budget amendment. But when it comes to the debt ceiling, you know, over 40 times in the past I think 30 years there have been other items that have been tied to the debt ceiling. And I think there are some opportunities where you could add that. Maybe it's the Keystone Pipeline, something like that. Maybe tax simplification. We're seeing corporations go overseas because of corporate tax inversion, maybe lowering the corporate tax rate. But I think it would be healthy to get something out of this for those who are not in favor of raising the debt ceiling.
HENDERSON: Ms. Appel, should you become a member of Congress, would you vote to raise the debt ceiling? Is there a point at which you would say, okay, the credit limit has been reached? And also address the issues that he brings up, tying future debt ceiling reports, votes rather, to other issues.
APPEL: Well, I think once again we need to work on where the money is being spent and how it is being spent. When I was in the State Senate I did the government reorganization, I became the chair of state government and I worked with Democrats, Republicans, the Senate, the House, managers of departments, employees, citizens and we found ways to save money for the Iowa taxpayers, we made it more effective and efficient --
BORG: That sounds like you wouldn't be in favor of raising the debt ceiling without some cost savings being in that bill.
APPEL: Dean, what I think is we have so much gridlock and we have people that are elected that are not working and they're not doing their job and they need to sit down and work together and do their job so we're not coming to a shutdown. They should be working to do their job. That's what we need to elect.
OBRADOVICH: Speaking of spending money, there are a lot of infrastructure problems in this country, not just potholes in the road but problems with the electrical grid, all kinds of infrastructure. Mr. Young, if you were in Congress, what priority would you give to infrastructure improvements? And would you consider any sort of revenue such as a gas tax increase to help pay for that and have the users pay for it?
YOUNG: Well, for our roads and bridges the gas tax just isn't doing it anymore because we have so many new vehicles out there that are not fueled by gasoline. You have electric, propane, natural gas, and so I believe that we need to have a long-term solution, be very creative and make sure that the users of those other vehicles who are using our roads and bridges pay a user fee --
OBRADOVICH: What is that solution? Is it toll roads?
YOUNG: I wouldn't go with toll roads. I think it would be something in the line of a gas tax compared to how much fuel they put in their vehicle or maybe by wattage. I don't know. But we need to have the, we need to not kick this can down the road like we have been doing where the highway trust fund depletes and then we throw our hands up in the air saying oh no, what do we do right now.
OBRADOVICH: Ms. Appel, would you raise the gas tax to pay for highway repairs across the nation? And are there -- what other commitment would you make to repairing infrastructure in a time when budgets are tight?
APPEL: Well, I do not support raising the gas tax. Our middle class Iowans and their families cannot afford any more taxes. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Here in the third district we have some of the worst bridges and roads that need to be fixed. This is a budgetary issue and it's a priority and we need to start making it in those budgets.
OBRADOVICH: Well, I mean, just about every dollar spent in Washington is red ink. Do you borrow to pay for infrastructure repairs knowing that there would be jobs created in doing those repairs around the country?
APPEL: I think it's something that you have to sit down and look at the budget line item by line item and make priorities and this is a priority, infrastructure is a priority here in Iowa.
BORG: Something else -- Kathie is saying that something else has to go then. And so if you're going to devote money to infrastructure and roads then you're taking it away from something else or you're going deeper in debt. Where are you going with this?
APPEL: Well, I think you just have to sit down, look at the budget and find your priorities. That's what we did in the State Senate, we worked through it, every line item by line item and found ways that we had priorities and effective efficiencies that we can find.
BORG: You wouldn't raise the gas tax. I forgot, what did you say about the gas tax, Mr. Young?
YOUNG: The gas tax alone the way it is it's not doing the job because we have so many other vehicles out there. We need some equity with the other vehicles out there that are using our roads and highways.
BORG: So, would you be in favor of raising the gas tax if need be then?
YOUNG: We need to have that debate first. But our state legislature also needs to have that debate as well.
HENDERSON: The United States Senate passed what they called a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The House did not act. If you are elected to the House, what sort of immigration plan would get your vote?
YOUNG: One that protects the border first and foremost and secures the border. And in the Senate bill the bill gave the delegation of authority to the Department of Homeland Security to certify whether or not that border was secure. I didn't trust this President, I may not trust any other president to just have somebody willy-nilly in bureaucracy say it's secure. I think Congress needs to have skin in the game, they need to go down and visit that border and vote on whether or not it's secure or not. And we need to make sure that we reform our legal system. Would people be coming in here the way they are illegally if it was maybe easier to come in legally with visa reform. It's a challenge we have, it's a problem we have but we live in the greatest country of the world still and we have to put a human face on this. People are coming over here to better their lives, I understand that and I believe in a guest worker program as well.
HENDERSON: Do you either fault or favor the business community's effort in regards to passing immigration reform? Do you think there needs to be more workers brought into the country than the native born?
YOUNG: Well, it depends on how our economy is and the need for the workers at any one time. And the immigration levels that we let in, you may have to match those up to what our unemployment rate is or where the needs are for certain workers.
HENDERSON: Ms. Appel, immigration reform, President Obama has delayed what was rumored to be executive action on his own to address this issue. If you become a member of Congress do you think that Congress should act instead of the President?
APPEL: I think Congress should act and we have a bipartisan bill that is sitting on Speaker Boehner's desk. It increases the border control by over 22,000 individuals. It creates the Dream Act. It also buys a pathway to citizenship for our 11 million undocumented workers. We have a piece of legislation that is ready to go. What we need is people that want to go up there and do the work. You need to do the work that is in front of you.
HENDERSON: So, you think President Obama has the authority to act on his own in this regard? Or do you think Congress needs to set the policy?
APPEL: I think Congress and the President need to work together. But right now we have a Congress that does not work and we need to change that.
BORG: Mr. Young, what about the undocumented young adults, children, under ten years old some of them, coming to the United States over the border and trying to find either relatives here or a place to live? Should Iowa or in some way the federal government be involved in finding them a place to live?
YOUNG: Well, you have to put a face on this. I mean, these are children and they're separated from their families in Central America and it's heartbreaking. I mean, you see some of the video and the pictures and hear some of the stories of what's happening. But I know this to be certain, I do believe that governors need to be notified when these children are dropped into our state or any state. And I want to make sure that these kids are taken care of. I mean, there's health needs from their own needs as well as could they have some communicable disease as well that could be harmful to the public.
BORG: I hear you saying some humanitarian things and that is, do I hear you saying, let's take care of them, they're here, let's take care of them and settle them and find them a place to live and not send them home?
YOUNG: I want to match them up with their families in Central America and make sure that they are with their families and I think we also need to lean on our southern neighbor, Mexico, to lean then on their southern border to make sure that their borders are secure.
BORG: Mrs. Appel, send them home or resettle them here?
APPEL: Well, there's a process. We need to find out how they got here, why they came. Are they refugees? So, if they have true refugee status, you know, Iowa has always been very welcoming to refugees.
BORG: Are you?
APPEL: I am. And if they have true refugee status. I'm a mom. I'm a mom of six. I can hardly imagine how hard it must be as a mother to send your child over, you know, miles and miles.
YOUNG: I mean, I'm hearing from teachers and parents in communities and they're saying, we have enough needs to take care of in our municipalities and schools to take care of our own children here and it's just another layer of burden. So, it's really hard to make sure that everybody is taken care of but we need to take care of our children first.
BORG: I ask that question because you're seeking to identify yourselves to third district congressional voters and as you're seeking to do that there are others who are running commercials doing it for you negatively. And we have a couple of those commercials. Mr. Young, first one about you.
YOUNG: I can't wait.
Announcer: After 20 years in Washington, David Young says --
David YOUNG: I've seen the ugly in Washington, D.C. I've been caught by its trappings.
Announcer: Caught by its trappings. Maybe that is why Young wants to give more tax breaks to big corporations and billionaires and pay for it by slashing funding for schools and eliminating the Department of Education, because David Young got caught up in Washington. He'll never work for Iowa. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.
BORG: Mr. Young, that was a comment that was made on Iowa Press.
YOUNG: You bet. Yeah, I remember it.
BORG: You were a guest on Iowa Press. And really the key word there is, the operative phrase is, campaigning and I've been caught by its trappings, that's the phrase. That brings up the question, are you campaigning as a Washington insider, I know the system so I can get things done? Or are you campaigning as an outsider that send me there and I'll change things?
YOUNG: Well, first of all, can I comment on that commercial? I find it very laughable. You see these happen all the time, these attack ads, words are taken, parsed out of paragraphs and sentences. I have seen Washington, D.C. up close and it's ugly and you can get caught in a bureaucratic, massive, big government maze trying to penetrate it. There are traps sometimes where you're banging your head against the wall but you find ways to be creative and advocate and penetrate it on behalf of Iowans and I have done so and I will never run away from my service for Iowa. Alongside Senator Grassley working day in and day out, being on the phone with Iowans, hearing their heartaches, their problems, their solutions, being in meetings with them, seeing their tears at times when the EPA or the IRS is coming down on them and that is why I want to go to Washington.
BORG: Mrs. Appel, those opposing your candidacy want voters to know some things about you too.
Announcer: When your family makes its budget, what are your priorities? The mortgage? Groceries? When Staci Appel voted to spend your tax dollars she had different ideas. On the eve of the Great Recession, Appel voted to spend $120,000 on decorative flower pots at the State Capitol. And Appel voted to spend $80,000 to repair an organ. Staci Appel's spending priorities? They're a little off-key. The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.
BORG: Mrs. Appel, you catch the drift there and it's big spending. Flower pots, you said you'd set priorities, spending priorities and yet the commercial says, she spent money for flower pots and repairing an organ.
APPEL: Well, this is a negative ad that they try and take away from what my record actually is and the smaller parts of it. My record is about creating preschool for every four-year-old in the state of Iowa, reorganizing state government and saving millions of dollars, creating equal pay for equal work and the statewide smoking ban. Those are big pieces of legislation.
BORG: Are those votes that are in that commercial votes you wish didn't exist?
APPEL: You know, they both were vetoed. The organ was a matching program with Senator Grassley when my opponent was his chief of staff. So --
BORG: I think I need to point out too, neither of you are paying for those negative ads against each other, they're coming from outside sources.
YOUNG: You're correct. This is what is unfortunate during a campaign when you have outside groups come in and do this and you can't coordinate with them, you can't control it. But those votes are real. I mean, that shows the contrast between me and my opponent. She voted for the largest budget in the state's history, which had to be bailed out by federal stimulus funds. And she talks about reorganization and oversight and those are new words to me from her because she voted against a state accountability office at the time and we need to be watching our government every day, day in and day out, from the local, state and federal level.
APPEL: Can I talk just --
OBRADOVICH: Respond to that because I was interested in that question about the government accountability office as well. I mean, wasn't that adding more government bureaucracy in a bill that was supposed to be organizing and making government more efficient?
APPEL: Yes it was and I joined with a bipartisan -- it was an amendment and I joined with bipartisanly, Democrats and Republicans, against creating an accountability office. We already have --
OBRADOVICH: Whose idea was that to create a government accountability office?
APPEL: It was the republicans. I'm not sure which individual, you know, put the amendment forth. But we already have -- at that time we had a republican auditor that was doing a pretty great job. And to increase government was not what we were going for.
YOUNG: But this is an investment. Every dollar put in for accountability, you get so much in return. I mean, I have a direct experience in this as Senator Grassley's Chief of Staff, oversight and watching this government and some of the fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement that comes out of there with its military contracting or overreimbursements in the Medicare program, those save taxpayers' dollars and we need to save it at every level.
APPEL: And this is what we did with government reorganization, we made sure and we went through department by department and we found ways to make government more effective and efficient. And we also put forth that every other year we would go through in an interim, do it again.
OBRADOVICH: Let me ask you this, we've just heard each campaign trying to define each of you. And most people who live in this district probably don't know you very well. So, starting with you Mr. Young, how do you define yourself? What is this person that you want these folks to send to Washington, D.C.?
YOUNG: I'm somebody who knows how to listen. I cannot be a better advocate for Iowa if I don't know what people are thinking. Now, my mouth is open right now but usually when I'm in the towns in the third district I'm asking questions because Washington, D.C. as we have seen does not have all the answers. I'm somebody who remembers who my boss is. Should I be honored and humbled to be elected to the third district as the congressman, I remember who my boss is. And we see what happens when people go to Washington and they go wayward. Look what happened to Eric Cantor. He was the House Majority Leader and he just lost a primary because he forgot who he was, he forgot who is bosses, the people in his district. I will never forget who they are. I'm someone who believes that the best government is the government that governs closest to the people.
HENDERSON: Mrs. Appel, how do you introduce yourself to Iowans who have never heard of you before?
APPEL: That I'm a very independent thinker that has result of getting things done for the people of Iowa. I know that Democrats don't have all the right ideas, Republicans don't have all the right ideas. I learned that in my service in the State Senate. And that is what I bring to the table.
OBRADOVICH: When you talk about your experience, your experience as Chief of Staff, your experience as a State Senator, people don't have very much of a voting record with both of you. You served a term. You didn't take votes. Why should somebody, Mr. Young why should somebody trust that you're going to do what you say you're going to do?
YOUNG: Well, I can hit the ground running. And I would say that if you want to know what kind of person I am, call Senator Chuck Grassley. He's somebody who Iowans trust and he knows and they know that he wouldn't have a chief of staff or any staff that he didn't trust. And so I would just add that. I can hit the ground running for Iowa. We have so many challenges in Washington, D.C. I want to be at the table. I know who the honest brokers are. I know what can be done and how to get it done and I want to represent Iowa and help take care of these problems.
BORG: Mr. Young, what differentiates you then from Mrs. Appel?
YOUNG: I think two things that I just mentioned contrast in our philosophy. I like balanced budgets, I like keeping an eye on this federal government, she voted against a state government accountability office and voted for the largest budget in Iowa's history. And that doesn't fare well to Iowans. Iowans hate debt. I hate debt. I want to take care of debt in Washington, D.C.
BORG: Mrs. Appel, he said that you aren't for a balanced budget, he inferred that. Is that true?
APPEL: I don't think so. Here in the state of Iowa we have to balance our budget every single year.
BORG: Well, what differentiates you then from David Young?
APPEL: Well, I think that my service for the state of Iowa, my background, being a mom, mom of six, being a financial consultant for 12 years, working with families trying to help them with their retirement and putting their kids through college. There's a lot of differences between myself and Mr. Young. I would not have been for the government shutdown, he is. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I do not.
BORG: You said be a mom. Is that playing the card of send a woman to Congress?
APPEL: Well, I think you want to send the most independent thinker that is willing to work hard for the middle class families of Iowa. That's what you're looking for.
HENDERSON: Would you vote to pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
APPEL: I think we need to have a balanced budget that carves out for Social Security and Medicare.
HENDERSON: So, you would vote, if it had those conditions, to amend the U.S. Constitution requiring a federal balanced budget?
APPEL: I do not believe I would.
HENDERSON: Okay. Let's move on to something --
YOUNG: I would. I'll just add that.
HENDERSON: Many Iowans --
BORG: Just a minute, Kay. You would what?
YOUNG: I would vote for a balanced budget amendment if it allowed for, to make sure that in more time there could be a possibility of busting those caps if there are emergencies where we had to protect our homeland, things like that and we had to make sure that our priority was the mandatory spending, the benefits that folks receive under Social Security and Medicare.
APPEL: A balanced budget amendment could be a 20% across-the-board cut. That would affect Social Security, Medicare, our education budgets. We have to be extremely careful when we do things like that.
YOUNG: That is why you make sure the mandatory spending is a priority.
HENDERSON: Iowans who are watching their television sets and listening to their radios are hearing a lot of ads for the United States Senate race and in that race there is a focus on issues which neither of you have focused upon tonight. That would be Social Security, Medicare and the Veterans Administration. Let's start with Social Security and Medicare. Mrs. Appel, how would you solidify, make those systems solvent?
APPEL: Well, I would keep my promise to seniors and the 40 year olds and 50 year olds that are paying into the system. Social Security and Medicare is not a goal, it's a promise. The best way to shore up Social Security and Medicare is to create great paying jobs so there's more people paying into the system. And that is the best way to do it. I also think taking a look at Medicare, I think we spoke about it earlier, is being able to negotiate drug prices, just like the Veterans Administration does. It would save billions of dollars. This is pretty personal to me. My mom called a couple of months ago and said her doctor wanted to put her on a new prescription and it was $1,000 a month for the copay. She says, I can't afford that, I can't even afford $500 a month and I bet there's lots of other families just like that across the state of Iowa.
HENDERSON: So, beyond those ideas you wouldn't vote to, for instance, raise the retirement age? You wouldn't vote to, for instance, require wealthier Americans to contribute more above the cap on their income, pay perhaps Social Security taxes on their entire income?
APPEL: You know, when I was a financial consultant sitting at kitchen tables, we made plans with the promise of Social Security being there for them, Medicare being there for them.
HENDERSON: And so how do you make it solvent if you don't make any changes?
APPEL: Well, just like I just said, we need to create great paying jobs for our middle class families and making sure that more people are paying into the system. That makes it solvent.
HENDERSON: Mr. Young, how would you change the system?
YOUNG: Well, I want to make it clear that we need to make sure that we keep that promise and those are not entitlements, those are benefits that Americans have paid into. You have to ask yourself, how did we get here? If a trust fund was pillaged on Wall Street like Bernie Madoff did he'd be thrown into jail. But for some reason our trust fund can be raided and there seems to be nothing happens. We need to make sure there's a lock on that. But we need to do what conservative President Ronald Reagan did along with liberal Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill did and they got together and they put everything on the table. Republicans and Democrats alike are saying, not all of them, they're saying this is an American problem now and then you can take things off the
table. I would take raising the retirement age right away off the table.
BORG: Mrs. Appel --
YOUNG: I would make sure that we look at I think the wealthier Americans, they have to forego. But you have to have solutions and I want to be at the table to make sure that Iowans are heard.
HENDERSON: Another issue that is--
BORG: No, Mrs. Appel wanted to respond.
APPEL: Thank you. It's interesting to hear my opponent say those things because he has talked about privatizing Social Security, he has applauded that and changing Medicare as we know it. I think seniors need to know where he stands on these issues.
YOUNG: Can you quote where I said I wanted to privatize Social Security?
APPEL: You applauded it and I will make sure that after that we will give all the --
YOUNG: I'd like to know when I said that.
OBRADOVICH: Is that off the table for you, any sort of private account?
YOUNG: It has become such a political issue, it's amazing that so many Americans when they want to get a better investment on their dollar they look to mutual funds or stocks but it has been so politicized it's going to be taken off the table.
APPEL: As a financial consultant I know and we saw how a lot of our 401K's and our retirement plans went way down. I don't see how we can afford to privatize Social Security.
BORG: So, you would keep Social Security, let me be clear now -- where would you put Social Security? You're not in favor of raising the retirement age.
BORG: You want to keep the traditional pay-as-you-go Social Security without the option of putting it into 401K type plans.
APPEL: Yes, absolutely.
BORG: So, how would Social Security be under your vote?
APPEL: How would it be?
APPEL: Just like it is right now. We need to make sure we keep that promise to our seniors.
BORG: And how would you pay for it?
APPEL: Just like I said prior, we need to make sure we're creating good paying jobs so there's more people paying into the system.
BORG: And good paying jobs means setting the minimum wage where?
APPEL: Setting the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. I, one of my very first bills
that I voted on in the State Senate was to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. But, folks, that was 7 years ago and those folks deserve a raise.
BORG: The federal minimum wage.
APPEL: Yes, sir.
BORG: Where would you set it, Mr. Young?
YOUNG: I think it's time to raise the minimum wage but you have to do it in a way that
Congress has done it in the past, in a bipartisan effort, where you make sure you're also keeping in mind the small businesses out there that employ 70% of the workforce out there. It's time we need to make sure we tie it together and we need to make sure that the main streets in our smaller cities here, they thrive.
BORG: Give me a dollar figure, $10.10?
YOUNG: $10.10 seems to be --
OBRADOVICH: And by tying it together, how do you consider small businesses that are having to pay the minimum wage? What consideration would you have in the law for them?
YOUNG: Well, in the -- just reauthorize it the same way it has been done in the past where
there has been some tax incentives and tax credits for small businesses.
HENDERSON: But when you said tie it together, are you saying that it should be indexed in the future?
YOUNG: I'm saying that the raise with the tax credits should be in one piece of legislation.
HENDERSON: So, you want some sort of comprehensive package that would raise the minimum wage and also redo corporate taxes?
YOUNG: Not corporate taxes, just for small businesses.
OBRADOVICH: Just for small businesses.
APPEL: It's interesting though that my opponent has always been against the minimum wage until this evening, increasing the minimum wage.
OBRADOVICH: Is this a new position for you?
YOUNG: No, I believe I spoke on Iowa Press that I was open to it and I spoke on Iowa Public Radio.
OBRADOVICH: I mean, a lot of your fellow Republicans say this is a job killer. Do you not agree with that?
YOUNG: Well, the CBO has said half a million jobs could be lost. But with the small business tax relief, like it has been done in the past, it seems to offset that they say.
HENDERSON: The Renewable Fuel Standard is under debate it seems every month in the
heartland and in Washington, D.C. Do you support continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard? And how long should it be maintained, Mr. Young?
YOUNG: I do support continuing the standard. What I do not support is the EPA meddling with it because the standard has been set into law and if it's going to be changed it should be done through Congress. It's hard to -- I don't have a crystal ball and can't tell at what stage you remove that standard if you remove it at all but it probably will be removed
someday because I believe that our industry, ethanol industry will get to the level where we'll be competitive at the pump with other fuels.
HENDERSON: Ms. Appel, would you maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard forever?
Or do you foresee a point at which it could be removed?
APPEL: You know, our economy, Iowa's economy depends on the Renewable Fuel Standards, our farmers and their families depend on it. And so I truly support it and we need to make sure we send somebody that truly supports the Renewable Fuel Standards here. Unfortunately my opponent has stated numerous times that he wants to phase out the Renewable Fuel Standards.
BORG: I didn't hear him say that tonight.
APPEL: He did not say it tonight. It's interesting.
OBRADOVICH: Well, what about what he said to have this go through Congress instead of it being an administrative rule through the EPA? Would it be a good idea to have Congress decide what standard there should be for renewable fuel?
APPEL: Well, it would be if we had a Congress that was actually working and doing their job. There's too much gridlock. And so we need to continue -- Iowa's economy depends on these Renewable Fuel Standards so we need to have them continue.
OBRADOVICH: And Mr. Young, are you feeling confident that if Congress were in charge of setting the Renewable Fuel Standard that in fact this is something they would actually want to continue, especially considering the fact that this is a big interest to Iowa, but
it's not necessarily a priority all over the country?
YOUNG: It's not necessarily a priority all over the country but if you look what's happening globally and if you want to get away from being dependent on Middle East fuels we're going to have to have a comprehensive energy strategy. We have a Department of Energy but we don't have an energy policy. And Renewable Fuel needs to be a part of that and I'll be at the table to make sure it's there.
OBRADOVICH: Let me ask you about a comment you mentioned earlier about one of the problems with our political climate here is all these ads, negative ads. Congress this week had an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment dealing with the Citizens United ruling in the Supreme Court to open the doors to super PACs, corporate funding of campaigns through, not of campaigns, but of campaign advertising. Would you have voted for that constitutional amendment? And generally how do you feel about campaign finance reform?
YOUNG: Well, when it comes to campaigns and fundraising and the FEC I think we need to make sure we have full transparency. So, in the Citizens United case I believe that it should stand. But I think we need to make sure that we know who is funding what and at what level. And there voters, consumers, Americans can make a better judgment on who to vote for or who to note vote for, who is standing behind what advocacy or not.
OBRADOVICH: Do you agree then with the Supreme Court and Citizens United that money from corporations counts as constitutionally protected political speech?
YOUNG: I do.
OBRADOVICH: And so you don't want to change that at all, just report who is giving the money?
YOUNG: I'd like to see more transparency and oversight, transparency.
OBRADOVICH: And Mrs. Appel, would you have voted to amend the Constitution to deal with the issue that came up in the Citizens United ruling?
APPEL: Absolutely. In the State Senate I put forth two pieces of legislation to take money out of politics. There's way too much money in politics.
OBRADOVICH: What about the philosophical question, is campaign money from individuals, does that count as constitutionally protected speech?
OBRADOVICH: What about the philosophical question, is campaign money from individuals, does that count as constitutionally protected speech? Or from corporations? And is there a difference?
APPEL: I do not think a corporation is a person so I don't think that should be protected.
OBRADOVICH: And what would you do with campaign finance? You said you proposed legislation to take money out. How so?
APPEL: Well, to limit here in the state of Iowa, there is no limits for any of the statewide or anything below that, there is no limits. That's just wrong. There has to be limits on how much people can contribute to campaigns.
HENDERSON: Mr. Young, it seems as if there's a limit to some Republicans' tolerance for farm subsidies. At what point would you as a member of Congress be able to convince your fellow Republicans that farm subsidies should continue? And would you also ever countenance separating the food and nutrition part of the Farm Bill from the farm policy itself?
YOUNG: Well, in the most recent Farm Bill there was a reduction in direct payments so we're making some progress there. And even the Farm Bureau has taken a look at this and said maybe it's a good time to start talking about this and having this conversation. You know, the Farm Bill, $800 billion I believe it was, 80% of that was the food stamps, the other 20% of that was in the farm programs. We have many Iowans who are suffering, who are hungry, who are dependent on those food stamps. I don't like the fact that there are not asset tests necessarily to make sure that people aren't defrauding the program and it's not there for the people who really need it. But the best way to lower the amount of people who are on food stamps is to make sure we get this economy rolling so there are good jobs out there.
HENDERSON: How would you make the argument that farm policy should be united with the nutrition aspects of the Farm Bill?
YOUNG: Well, it has been a marriage between the rural folks and the more urban centers in our country and its alliance that they both kind of hold their nose up and hold hands and walk down the aisle and get it passed and I think they both need each other.
HENDERSON: But some of your fellow Republicans want to end that alliance.
YOUNG: Well, that is where they stand.
HENDERSON: Ms. Appel, at what point do you think farmers should get a subsidy to buy insurance whereas the small business owner on Main Street doesn't get a subsidy to buy insurance for his business?
APPEL: You know, the farming is so important here in the state of Iowa and the Farm Bill is critical. It was terrible that we had three years of non-passage of the Farm Bill, we had to wait. I remember sitting at the dining room table, I've got four children that are in debate and we were talking about non-passage of the Farm Bill and why that wasn't working and the gridlock in Congress. And I remember my oldest son saying, Ted saying, mom you did so much for the people of Iowa, you should run for Congress, I bet you can get this fixed. And so that is one of the primary reasons I'm running is to make sure we break up that gridlock and get things passed, like a Farm Bill.
BORG: And that includes also guaranteeing some prices such as for corn, it'll be below the target price of last March and so farmers this year will be getting some payments from the government to subsidize that loss?
APPEL: Right. And our farmers, yes, our farmers need to know how to make their plans for the next year, the next two years.
BORG: And Mr. Young?
YOUNG: The farming industry is different than any other and there needs to be a support system, a base support system. For farmers it's like going to Las Vegas every day when they wake up, regarding the weather. And so they depend on the weather and when it's really bad there needs to be that support there so that they can make sure that they can do the right things for the next season to make sure we have feed and fuel and food on the table.
OBRADOVICH: Speaking of crops, there is a new cash crop in Colorado with the legalization of marijuana, and states around the country are looking at medical marijuana, including Iowa, with approving a derivative of marijuana for kids with epilepsy and other disorders. Would you as a member of Congress consider backing off of the federal laws and allow states to make their own decisions on how to control and distribute marijuana?
APPEL: You know, I look at it as a mom. I think any legalization of marijuana I'm not supportive of. I do have a lot of compassion for these families that are dealing with a child with epilepsy and they're seeing a solution for that. And I can see a pathway there.
OBRADOVICH: Okay, but some of these state-by-state pathways are being hamstrung by the fact that you can't transport this product across state lines, there are a lot of federal regulations that actually make this difficult. Would you as a congressperson say the states know best about what is right for them?
APPEL: Well, I think Iowa is making, they're working through the problems of it and working through the rule process right now. So, I think we have to let the rule process work.
OBRADOVICH: Okay, so you'd leave the law the way it is.
APPEL: At this point, right.
OBRADOVICH: And Mr. Young, should the states be able to write their own destiny when it comes to medical marijuana? Or should you keep the war on drugs laws in place in the federal system?
YOUNG: Well, the states are doing it regardless of what the federal law is right now, so that's happening. I have met with parents here in Iowa who have tried every effective means of medicine or therapy to help their child going through epilepsy. I want to make sure that they have the most safe and effective products available. If that is medical marijuana, then so be it. But there needs to be, I believe, to make sure the FDA has a role in this to make sure it's safe and effective.
HENDERSON: Candidates, we haven't much time left. I do want to mention the Veterans Affairs Administration. Would you allow a veteran to have a voucher and go get medical care anywhere, Mr. Young? And if so, why have the VA?
YOUNG: I live in Van Meter where the Iowa Veterans Cemetery is, and every day I pass by that exit and that cemetery and I think about the men and women who have served our country. And I think about what we have just witnessed with what has been happening in the VA program. And it didn't just happen under this administration, it has been there before. We have a new director there, Secretary McDonald. He has given it 90 days to make sure that they turn things around. But I believe the veterans who put their life on the lines for our freedoms, they should have those vouchers.
HENDERSON: Ms. Appel, would you give veterans a voucher to go get care anywhere? And if so, why have the VA system at all?
APPEL: You know, I have sat down and spoke with veterans, spent time with them. What they really want is us to fix the VA system. They want us to fund the VA system. They want us to streamline the paperwork within it. That is what needs to get fixed. I think we just had the President just signed into law, if you are 45 miles outside you can get care right where you're at so you don't have to travel for it.
BORG: Several times tonight you have mentioned good-paying jobs need to be created. What is the single most important thing that you could do as a congresswoman to create good-paying jobs?
APPEL: We need to make sure that we fund the Small Business Administration and their loan program, because small business is what creates our best-paying jobs. And when they want to expand their business they need to know that the Small Business Administration is funded.
BORG: Mr. Young, the single most important thing?
YOUNG: Go after the U.S. tax code that is 75,000 pages long that complicates the lives of every American and make the tax code certain and permanent so people can invest in this economy and create jobs.
HENDERSON: 18 months ago neither one of you were seeking this office. If you are elected, Mr. Young, how long will you serve?
YOUNG: As long as the people want me and as long as I have the desire and I want to get there and get things done.
HENDERSON: Mrs. Appel?
APPEL: Once again, the same way, I would be there as long as the people will have me. I plan to work hard for the people of Iowa.
OBRADOVICH: So, neither of you would term-limit yourself, be it a certain period of time --
APPEL: I would not do a self-imposed term limit but I do think that term limits is something that needs to be discussed in Congress. We have, you know, when I serve on the board of directors I don't spend, I don't want to spend longer years on it because we need to put new information in –
BORG: Mr. Young?
YOUNG: I would not self-impose term limits on myself. I think elections are term limits. What you really have to think about is that federal bureaucracy, those government workers work 30, 40, 50 years and they will outlast any member of Congress.
BORG: I'm time limited. I'm sorry. And we're out of it. Thank you so much for being with us.
APPEL: Thank you.
YOUNG: Thank you.
BORG: Well, this is the third in Iowa Public Television's special election programming, Iowa's most comprehensive statewide debate series, as we travel the state from border to border, beginning at the Iowa State Fair with the governor's race and then it was two weeks ago the Second Congressional District candidates debating in Iowa City. So, for today, for the entire Iowa Public Television crew, live from the Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, I'm Dean Borg. Thanks for joining us.