WATERLOO, Iowa — Bruce Braley thinks voters have a right to be fed up with Washington politics. He feels the same way.
The three-term incumbent Democrat representing Iowa’s 1st Congressional District met with the Courier’s editorial board Tuesday. He repeatedly spoke of how key pieces of legislation, from the farm bill to the debt ceiling, have been unable to pass because of a lack of compromise in Congress.
Braley faces a challenge from Republican Ben Lange in a rematch from the 2010 election.
Braley supports an organization called No Labels that supports non-partisan problem solving. As far as his own voting record, the non-partisan web site Open Congress shows Braley voted with his party 93 percent of the time. That puts him near the middle of the pack as far as party loyalty in his own party and in Congress overall.
According to Braley, Congress needs to get its act together. If not, he supports No Labels’ proposal that Congress shouldn’t get paid if it doesn’t pass a budget and all annual spending bills on time.
Deficit reduction is certainly on Braley’s mind. He expects Congress will be forced into compromise following the election and thinks voters need to hold their Congressmen accountable and make sure that gets done. Braley supports some increases in revenue to go with targeted spending reductions, rather than the across the board cuts in the sequestration deal that would slash the budget Jan. 1, 2013 if Congress does not act. He agrees with economists that warn against too steep of immediate spending cuts.
“It has to be a gradual pathway so that when we have this very unstable economy we don’t do something so significant on deficit reduction that it takes us back into recession,” Braley said.
Braley read Paul Ryan’s budget plan, his copy is filled with paragraphs highlighted in bright yellow. Braley has been critical of the Ryan plan and its Medicare provisions and his campaign has tried unsuccessfully to pin Lange down on whether he supports the Ryan budget. Many of Braley’s highlighted sections have no comments, but next to some he has written, “agree.”
For example, Braley talked about how health care, Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security are all stressed systems with increasing costs that need attention from Congress.
“Those are inescapable facts that define how we have to come up with solutions to these problems. People on both sides of the political equation have to understand that. If we’re serious about protecting and preserving those programs, lets deal first with that reality and then talk about what we could do to make sure they’re more solvent going forward,” Braley said.