IA-03: Second Appel/Young debate liveblog and discussion thread

Former State Senator Staci Appel and David Young are holding their second debate, hosted by KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register at Simpson College in Indianola. I’m live-blogging after the jump. KCCI will have the video up later on their website.

Kevin Cooney of KCCI TV and Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register are on the panel tonight.

Opening statement of Young: Thanks hosts, sponsors, everyone attending and watching. He grew up in Van Meter, Dallas County. he graduated from Johnston High School and Drake University right here in third district. For last seven years it’s been an honor to work alongside Senator Chuck Grassley. He can hit the ground running in Congress. Elections are about the future. His great great grandparents came here looking for a better life, and he’s an optimist, he knows best days are ahead. There’s a big contrast in this election. My opponent is a big spender. She was in the state Senate and was voted out because of her big spending. We don’t need another big spender in Washington. He’s for small government, he’s for balanced budgets, he’ll put a check on these rules and regulations and taxes, and accountability and transparency, because it’s your government. Last week he visited all 16 counties in the district with Grassley. People are concerned about taxes and spending. He has solutions and can hit the ground running. He’s asking for your vote on November 4.

Opening statement of Appel: She’s lived her whole life in Iowa, raised her six children right here in Warren County [where Simpson College is located]. She worked her way up at Younkers, starting at minimum wage, then she was a financial consultant, helping people plan for retirement. She was elected to the state Senate and was an assistant majority leader, helped pass equal pay for equal work, helped to make quality pre-school available for every four-year-old, passed the statewide [public] smoking ban, helped reorganize state government. In Congress, she will support a strong education system, not eliminating the Department of Education. She will keep promises to seniors, not putting benefit cuts on the table. She wants to help build a strong economy with great-paying jobs, and will not raise taxes on our middle-class families. For her it’s not about partisanship, but doing what’s best for families.

First question to Appel: Obradovich asks her to clarify her position on whether terrorists should have passports. She re-states that she does not support giving passports to terrorists. We have a process involving the State Department for taking away their passports. She wants to be very clear, she’s not for giving passports to terrorists.

First question to Young: Young asked about having lived in Washington for 20 years and will he continue to live in Van Meter if he loses the election? He says he will never run away from his service to Iowa alongside Senator Grassley. He knows what works and what doesn’t work out there, and you know most of it doesn’t work. He knows what can be done and how to get it done. Iowa’s in his blood, he’s a sixth-generation Iowan. He’s proud to live in Dallas County and plans to stay there his whole life.

Young pivots to pressing the issue of Appel’s comment about passports. He compares it to a vote in Congress. You can’t take it back once it’s done. Obradovich asks if any misstatement should be considered the same as a vote in Congress? Young says that’s the standard. Follow-up: so there’s no room for any misstatements at all? That should be the standard candidates are held to? Young agrees with holding candidates to that standard.

Appel says Young is running a misleading ad about Medicare, saying she supported more than $700 billion in cuts. That claim has been debunked all over the country, the Des Moines Register just had an editorial about how misleading it is. (note from desmoinesdem: that editorial was about a similar charge made in an ad attacking Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley)

Cooney mentions fact that US Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals on same-sex marriage cases today.

Young says the issue has been decided in Iowa, it was decided by the Iowa Supreme Court, he wishes the people or the legislature had decided the issue in Iowa, but it is what it is.

Appel says love is love, we have same-sex marriage in Iowa, she supports it, and it should be decided at the state level.

Young confirms that he supports “traditional” marriage. Cooney asks shouldn’t Congress step in? Young says Congress did step in, passed Defense of Marriage Act, but Supreme Court struck that down. So now we have to make sure that churches and other religious institutions

Appel points out that the Iowa Supreme Court decision made clear that no church would have to perform

Next Q is about Medicare solvency: would you raise retirement age, raise taxes, or do means-testing to extend solvency? Appel says letting Medicare negotiate drug prices like the VA does would help people and would save money. It’s personal to her because her mother was put on a new prescription that’s going to cost $1,000 a month. She can’t afford that or even half that amount.

Young does not support Obamacare. He would go after waste, fraud, and abuse, maybe we also have to look at means-testing.

Q on minimum wage–should it be phased in or tied to some cost of living measurement to make sure value remains constant?

Young says he has worked minimum wage jobs–it was not meant to be a living wage, but some people are having to live on that. He wants to do it in a bipartisan way, combined with tax relief for small businesses, which employ most of the workers.

Appel thinks raising minimum wage is one of the best things we could do to improve the economy. One of her first 2/3 of people earning minimum wage are women. She would consider indexing the minimum wage to inflation.

Young is not for indexing the minimum wage but he would support having that conversation.

Appel points out that during GOP primary Young said raising minimum wage would be hurtful. He has changed position.

Next Q is on foreign policy. Are we over-extended, with too many wars harming the economy?

Appel says US should always be in a coalition, like what’s happening in Iraq.

Young says that when America leads, good things happen. When we don’t lead, there is a vacuum. Quotes Reagan, peace through strength. We have a president now who talks about reducing terrorism. We need to destroy terrorism.

Young says we need to allow generals to run these wars and leave it out of the hands of the State Department. [note from desmoinesdem: Seriously? He’s against civilian control of military?]

Appel says she would not support putting more US troops on the ground in the Middle East.

Next Q: Cooney reads full text of 2nd Amendment. Would the candidates change any current laws on guns?

Young is a firm believer in the Second Amendment. Not advocating for any changes in gun laws. When we see the awful tragedies, for the most part that happens with people who have mental issues. We need to improve our mental services. But he’s firm believer in Second Amend.

Appel also says she is a firm believer in 2nd Amend. She supports closing gun show loophole and universal background checks. Only criminals have reason to oppose background checks. She also says we need to have mental health parity so people are getting mental health services they deserve.

Next Q is about ebola virus. Do they think US is prepared for global pandemic such as ebola? What shd govt be doing here and in Africa?

Appel says it’s a terrifying infectious disease, we should be working to contain it. Supports humanitarian aid. We have to fully fund the CDC and the State Department. Not a political issue, it’s a health issue.

Young says Iowans are concerned. He heard about it a lot talking t people in the district. We need enhanced screenings at airports and we need to have a conversation with CDC and State Department about a possible travel ban. We need to take it seriously. We need to have the best scientists in the country working on vaccines.

Appel would continue to work with CDC and State Department. Should not be a political football. She would take cue from State Department and CDC.

Next Q: what should we do with 11 million undocumented immigrants in country, and the unaccompanied minors coming across the border?

Young says we’re a nation of immigrants, he’s a 6th generation Iowan, but we are also a nation of laws. Young doesn’t support refugee status for unaccompanied minors coming into country. They belong with their parents.

Appel says we have an answer to immigration. It’s the Senate bill that is sitting on [House Speaker] John Boehners’s desk. It strengthens our borders, it has a pathway to citizenship, it has the DREAM Act. Her heart goes out to the unaccompanied children. We need to find out if they need refugee status. Iowa has always been welcoming to refugees.

Next Q on health care reform. Should people get to keep health insurance policies that are not compliant?

Appel says she has been consistent for last year and a half: if people like their health insurance, they should be able to keep it.

Obradovich asked Young if he supports individual mandate. Young is against government forcing anyone to buy a product they don’t want. He says when Appel was in the state Senate, she voted against an amendment that would have allowed Iowans to keep health insurance.

Appel says she fully supports Affordable Care Act. We don’t want to go back to people not getting health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. She thinks it’s great that children can stay on health insurance of parents to age 26. We want to keep our kids healthy?

Obradovich follows up with Young: who should pay if uninsured people have catastrophic health problems? Should Young says premiums are going up, Obamacare is wreaking havoc on consumers and doctors.

Cooney wants to know what candidates believe about climate change. Young says man has some kind of imprint on environment. Question is how much? How much do natural factors affect it? He does know that EPA should not be implementing regulations on this. It should go before Congress. America is one of the cleaner nations out there, compared to China and India. There needs to be a national treaty for it to have an impact.

Appel believes climate change is man-made. 98 percent of scientists agree on this. We need to elect people to Congress who are willing to bring people together to solve this problem. Renewable energy, other things. She supports all of the above, this has been missing in Congress, working together.

Cooney asks whether Young would go along with Kyoto Protocol, since he said Young says he’d have to read treaty, but the problem with these treaties is there’s no enforcement.

Next Q is about Hobby Lobby ruling. Does 1st Amendment freedom of religion apply to businesses? Appel does not believe a business is a person. Women should make a decision with her doctor, the employer should not be in the room. Congress needs to make sure a woman can use whatever birtth control is best for her.

Young says Hobby Lobby decision says it’s a matter of religious freedom no contraception was banned here, it’s just a question of who pays for it. He says FDA should decide matters related to birth control.

Appel says decision should be between woman and her doctor. No one else. That’s her position.

Next Q on replacing gas tax with other user fees to fund infrastructure. Young is not for raising gasoline tax. It’s not fair that the gas tax isn’t enough for roads and bridges. Some people are using electric vehicles or other things that don’t contribute to road funding.

Appel does not support raising the gas tax. Middle-class families can’t afford a gas tax increase. My opponent did support that in our last debate. We need to close loopholes that allow corporations to take headquaters and profits overseas to avoid taxes. Put a portion of the proceeds toward road fund.

Young denies that he supported raising the gas tax during the other debate.

Appel says Iowa has some of the worst bridges and roads. This is important to me. We can close some tax loopholes, we can go through the budget line by line looking for savings so more money can be spent on roads. We need good farm to market roads.

Next Q is about marijuana. Should federal government be enforcing laws on drugs in states that have legalized it?

Appel says that as a mom, she can’t support legalizing marijuana in any form. Really hard for families who have a child who could benefit. She would be willing to look at cannabis oil, but legalizing marijuana is not the way for her. After Obradovich follows up, Appel confirms that she thinks federal government should enforce drug laws.

Young is also not for legalizing marijuana. He talks about how Attorney General Eric Holder doesn’t like to enforce laws. FDA needs to be involved in any conversation about legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Cooney follows up: if it’s legal in Colorado and legal in Iowa, should’t people be able to transport cannabis oil through Nebraska?

Appel says she is a mom of six, and she knows how hard it would be not to be able to get a child what they needed. She would support safe transit.

Cooney asks about govt shutdown. Would Young support doing that under any circumstances? Young says the shutdown was a symptom of dysfunction. He didn’t support it. A shutdown is more expensive than keeping government open.

Appel says that’s interesting, because her opponent did not support the deal that ended the shutdown. The shutdown cost families money. We need to elect people who can get things done. I’ve done that. We worked with Republicans to get good ideas to save money in government.

Young says that 99 percent of the time, Appel voted with her party, not across party lines.

He also says she voted for the largest budget in state history, and had to be bailed out by Obama stimulus money. That record is partly why her constituents voted her out.

Appel says her record speaks for itself. Government reorganization that saved millions of dollars. We balanced the budget every year I was there. The [state] budget has been higher every year under Terry Branstad.

Q from Simpson College student to Appel: how would she address student debt? Should burden be on taxpayers? She supports letting students refinance their loans for lower interest rates. We need students to have those opportunities.

Q from student to Young: What Social Security reforms would you like to see, and what would it look like when I reach retirement age? Young says we need to keep promises to seniors and people like you. President Reagan and the liberal Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill sat down and worked this out. We need to improve economy so more people are paying into system. We may also need to means-test the program.

Next Q: would you support a war tax so we don’t have another military conflict on the credit card? Young says war is expensive, it does put a burden on our national debt. There is waste and fraud in the Department of Defense. But would you go into debt to protect your family if you were threatened? As member of Congress I will not be afraid to take on these tough questions. Follow up: would you support a war tax or spending cuts? Young says there need to be some spending offsets.

Q to Appel about government reorganization: We saved millions of dollars for Iowa taxpayers. We consolidated a lot of things that happened in state government. We eliminated some waste, fraud, and abuse.

Next Q: what can any one person do in a dysfunctional Congress? Young says one person can make a difference. Senator Grassley uncovered the Fast and Furious scandal. I’ll do the oversight. I believe in oversight. My opponent is against transparency and oversight. She voted against creating a government accountability office.

Appel agrees that one person can make a difference. She mentions her record on expanding pre-school, equal pay for equal work, etc. She says that government accountability office would have been duplicating what our state auditor was already doing, and she wasn’t interested in duplication.

Next Q: could you live on minimum wage? Appel says she could not raise her family on $10.10 an hour. Many women working for minimum wage have children. She has a record on this, she stands by her position to raise minimum wage.

Young says minimum wage was not meant to be a living wage.

Q on campaign finance reform: Young says he wishes he could control his message but there is a First Amendment. Most important thing is transparency so we know who is spending the money. Follow-up: would he change law so people can find out who is donating to the group? He supports transparency.

Appel says she put forth two bills to curb money in politics. That’s important. Billionaires who don’t even live here are deciding how Iowans should vote. She supports transparency so we know who is funding these ads.

Next question is about education policy, federal government’s role. Appel would love to have federal government help more kids go to preschool. She still hears from kindergarten teachers who say thank you thank you, kids are coming in better prepared. Appel supports the Core Curriculum that we did in the state Senate in 2007.

Would Young support selling off public land to reduce national debt? He says it’s alarming that federal government is buying up land. We need better oversight and accounting. He wants to know why government is buying up lands.

Quick questions, short answers: Which Supreme Court justice would you most like to see retire? Appel says Scalia. Young says Kennedy.

Name one committee you’d like to serve on, one you wouldn’t want to serve on? Young would like to serve on Ways and Means and would not want to serve on the House Administrative committee that handles parking spaces. Appel would be honored to serve on any of the committees.

1st legislation you’d sponsor if elected? Appel says raising minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Young says he’d introduce bill saying that whatever law Congress passes for American people, they have to apply to themselves.

Cubs or Cardinals? Appel says Cubs, Young says Cardinals.

Most important trait a member of Congress must have? Appel says honesty, Young says good judgment.

End of debate.

Immediately after the debate, two ads supporting Iowa House Republican candidates aired on KCCI-TV. The first was for Zach Nunn, who is challenging first-term Democrat Joe Riding in House district 30 (eastern Polk County). The second was for Brian Best, who is challenging two-term Democrat Dan Muhlbauer in House district 12 (Carroll County and part of Crawford County).

Initial thoughts on the debate: Appel seemed more confident than during the first debate on September 11. She presented her record well and was particularly strong when answering the question about the Hobby Lobby ruling. No woman wants to have to run her birth control decision by her employer, and some forms of effective birth control are too expensive for many women to afford out of pocket.

I thought the weakest point for Appel was on the marijuana question. Pain-killers and other prescription drugs are abused by many people, but as a society, we don’t prevent people who have a genuine medical need from obtaining those drugs. Many drugs that are legal have potentially severe side effects. I just think it looks bad for politicians to say they can’t support medical marijuana.

Young’s didn’t do badly, but I thought it looked desperate the way he was pressing his case on the “passports for terrorists” issue. No, an awkward comment during a debate, on a topic you weren’t expecting, is not the same as a vote on legislation, which you’ve had time to read and consider thoroughly. Young was smart to leave the door open to considering lots of potential solutions to some big problems (on Social Security and Medicare). I don’t agree with him on means-testing those programs, but in general it’s better for him to look reasonable than to look like a Steve King radical who won’t compromise on anything.  

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