Brad Zaun needs to clarify his stand on flood relief

As of yesterday, 44 of Iowa’s 99 counties are under disaster proclamations because of flooding in June or July. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee noted today that Republican Brad Zaun, the GOP nominee against Representative Leonard Boswell, has a record of opposing government assistance for flood victims. At an forum in March of this year, Zaun suggested that Americans have forgotten about “personal responsibility” and gave this example: “We lost that as a country, we expect when there’s a flood or something that’s going on, the government to come in and help us.” Like all other Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate, Zaun voted against the bills that created the I-JOBS infrastructure bonding program in 2009. I-JOBS included $100 million to rebuild the University of Iowa campus, $46.5 million to rebuild sites in Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Palo, Elkader and Charles City, plus $118.5 million in “competitive grants available for reconstruction of local public buildings and flood control prevention.”

Zaun told the Des Moines Register that the DCCC took his remarks out of context, adding, “Obviously the people who are affected by the [Lake Delhi] dam break, I would obviously expect the government to play a role in that… there’s certainly is a role for government when there’s big disasters like this.”

What would that role be, Mr. Zaun? You voted against recovery funding after the biggest flood disaster in this state’s history. The Des Moines Register’s Jason Clayworth observes, “Republicans have previously said their opposition [to I-JOBS] was primarily due to their concern about long-term debt and not a sign of opposition against flood mitigation or recovery.” Fine. Let Zaun spell out how he would have paid to rebuild the University of Iowa and Linn County landmarks, let alone finance flood mitigation efforts elsewhere, without state borrowing. We didn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars lying around in 2008 and 2009, because the worst recession in 60 years brought state revenues down.

Zaun wants to have it both ways: he brags about opposing I-JOBS but doesn’t want voters to think he’s against government aid when there’s a “big disaster.”

Speaking of incoherent campaign rhetoric, Zaun’s comment about flood relief at the March forum was part of his answer to a question about new financial regulations. After lamenting the lack of “personal responsibility” in this country, Zaun concluded, “there needs to be some changes with our banking system, but its not with more government red tape and I would not support that current bill [under consideration in Congress] that you’re talking about.” I would love to hear details about the banking system changes Zaun would support.

Getting back to flood recovery, I still wonder what Representative Steve King has against the federal flood insurance program. Unfortunately, property owners around Lake Delhi are unlikely to benefit from that program, because Delaware County had declined to participate.

UPDATE: Boswell’s campaign released this statement on July 27:

“It is unfortunate that Senator Zaun made such insensitive and out-of-touch comments, especially as Iowans are experiencing widespread flooding across the state for the second time in two years. He has a long record of repeatedly voting against helping Iowa’s families, small businesses, and farmers in the aftermath of the 2008 floods. Iowans pay taxes into their local, state, and federal governments with the expectation that when a disaster strikes their investment will pay off. They trust that they will have a place to go, someone to counsel them, and a way to rebuild their homes and businesses. After all, this is their tax dollars – their government. I know that my conscience would never allow me to stand idle as these families, small business owners, farmers, and communities suffer following a natural disaster. This November Iowans will have to choose whether they want to elect a representative that will stand by them in times of need and fight for their fair share of their tax dollars, or someone who turns his back on his constituents.”

  • It is very clear now....

    It is clear from today’s Boswell press release why Boswell urgently needs voted out of office asap.  For a congressman that has only 3 lead sponsored bills to his name to make law in 14 years (and 2 of those simply renaming buildings) it seems less than petty for him to be pulling a Vilsack move and quoting his opponent out of contest in a 4 month old quote.

    Boswell needs to concentrate on his job, as we have paid him over $2.7 millon dollars in salary so far with little result.

    Boswell is pulling out desperation moves at this point.

    • Whoa

      You’re basing the entirety of your response, and thus its argument, on a count of ‘sponsored bills’?

      As the ex-officio spokesman for a candidate who is proud of showing his ostensible small-government credentials, oughtn’t you find your own response at least to be bordering on the incredible?

    • give me a break

      Members of Congress do a lot more than sponsor bills. I don’t always agree with Boswell, but he has done a lot for the district.

      Zaun’s votes against flood recovery money are much more significant than his offhand comment. If he’s for the government helping after a really big disaster, then why did he vote against $100 million to rebuild the U of Iowa campus, which unlocked $500 million in federal funds to repair university buildings? What was his game plan for rebuilding after the 2008 floods? Not a big enough disaster for him?

    • Zaun either

      needs to criticize some of his GOP colleagues for their stances against some of the I-JOBS funding or at least talk about which projects he supports and which he opposes within it.    Plain and simple.  I don’t believe Zaun opposes flood recovery projects, but dmd was asking for nuance.  

      You need to follow the House Ag Committee if you don’t believe Leonard has done anything in Congress, you might also disagree with his stance on campaign finance that he loudly took this year as well.  I can go on if you’d like.  

      • if Zaun doesn't oppose flood recovery projects

        why did he vote against them during the 2009 session? How would he pay for them? State revenues were lower because of the recession.

        You raise an important point about Boswell’s work on the House Ag Committee. I expect him to outperform the top of the Democratic ticket in rural areas of IA-03.

        Boswell has also brought a lot of money to the district as a member of the House Transportation Committee.

        • Political calculation

          Zaun was running in a GOP primary, he had to boost his conservative cred that he is my guess.  He doesn’t strike me as an ideological neanderthal in the mold of Dave Funk or someone who has no clue what’s going on like Jim Gibbons.  My point is that Zaun doesn’t strike me as a callous man either, just someone who was making a political calculation  

  • correction....

    whenever you say Boswell has brought a lot of money to the district, make sure you put the word “borrowed” money from our grandchildren in front of the word money.

    Boswell and the left wing liberal spenders have mortgaged our country’s future and left it in the hands of China.  To have the debt we have as a country is irresponsible, and places all of our future at risk.

    Boswell has been in office 14 years.  Check the debt levels over that period.  Check where he has recommended cutting back on spending (cough, cough).  Boswell, who’s slogan is “standing up for iowa” simply stood by and voted with Pelosi 98% of the time, and NO one can say that liberal agenda is Iowa’s agenda.  

    It is clear that it’s time for Boswell to “sit down”.

    • Repubs love to say

      things like: “simply stood by and voted with Pelosi 98% of the time,” but they never say something like “simply stood by and voted NO with Mitch McConnell 100% of the time”.

      Is that different?

    • mirage

      Mirage my friend, Leonard Boswell has a right to secure dollars for his district.  Your side of the aisle has been the one calling for fast track authority, normalizing trade relations with China (Clinton got this wrong as well), a country that does not even provide safe drinking water for its workers.   Three percent interest is not going to kill the United States, should we cut or at least debate some of the earmarks that get passed?   Most likely, but there isn’t one spending project in Leonard Boswell’s career that I would call into question.  

      There is a lot of bureaucracy that could be cut within the DOE for example and other departments, but to sit there and act like Boswell is misspending our money is flat out false.  

      I am tired of people acting like our financial situation is akin to Greece, Portugal, etc. Our financial situation would be in excellent shape if Milton Friedman and his ilk hadn’t destroyed the middle class in this country by forcing poor people in this country to suffer and lose their factory job to the “benefit” of some other poor people around the world.

  • not one spending project???

    did you NOT just read in the newspaper about the new west des moines road to nowhere?  Connections won’t come for 30 years…or more!!!

    this, as birdland has waited years, and years, and years for a rebuild?

    spending priorities….even in the 3rd district….are incredibly poor….

    do i have to go even into Boswell’s ongoing support of the DSM tram to nowhere that doesn’t connect to the new DSM transit hub, can’t get within 5 blocks of the capitol, and, according to their own figures, costs $17-$22 PER ride!

    moderatedem, you surprise me and i am sure MANY others with your claims of Boswell not mispending time and or money.

    I go back to my original assertion that Boswell has MUCH better things to do than smear an opponent.  How about work on his district’s spending priorities?

    • Not one

      DOT projects may be poorly managed, but the principles behind the projects you list are sound.  I don’t believe Boswell works for the agencies that are in charge of the projects, you would like to see the projects ended, not simply the proper oversight, there’s a huge difference.    

    • I didn't support that SW connector road

      That was a stupid project. But there are plenty of good federally-funded projects in the third district as well.

  • And here we are,

    arguing Boswell’s spending record, when the issue at hand is Zaun’s inability to voice a clear stance on flood relief.  Whether he’s callous, calculating, or confused, I’m not comfortable with a candidate who speaks out of both sides of his mouth so blithely.  When he says “Don’t expect the government to come in and help,” in a hypothetical situation but argues that, “Obviously the government would play a role,” after the Lake Delhi dam break, he’s plainly contradicting himself.  If Zaun wants voters to give him Boswell’s job, he should have to explain that.

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