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Loebsack: Manufacturing key to future job growth

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | OCTOBER 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, has served nearly six years in Congress, and he is now facing off against Republican candidate John Archer on several key issues, including unemployment — which stands at approximately 90,000 people in Iowa — and job creation.

Loebsack believes one of the main obstacles to job creation is economic uncertainty, which is due to a variety of factors, including the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, saying it “creates a drag on the economy.”

“Everybody is talking about uncertainty,” he said. “Of course, companies want certainty, of course investors want certainty. People who have jobs at a convenience store next year want to know what their income-tax rate will be next year."

One University of Iowa economist said he sees no logic in economic uncertainty but mentioned it could affect long-term business plans, instead stating a lack of demand is one of the main factors of long-term unemployment.

“Firms that have demand for product should be inclined to hire workers right now,” said John Solow, a University of Iowa associate professor of economics. “It’s hard to understand why worrying what next year’s tax rate or regulatory environment does; if its conditions change, companies can just cut back or lay off workers as they have done in the past.”

The growing federal deficit remains another major issue, and Loebsack said a balanced-budget amendment is where debate should start, in addition to further cuts to programs, specifically noting cuts to the Department of Defense.

“We have to start out with a balanced-budget amendment,” he said. “But it starts serious enough conversation about the budget and debt, and no one has been serious when it comes to budget cutting.”

UI political-science Professor John Conybeare agreed with Loebsack’s position on defense cuts.

“I doubt whether [cuts to U.S. bases] would affect U.S. stature worldwide,” Conybeare said. “The U.S. can move soldiers quickly enough now, so I don’t really see those bases as necessary.”

Loebsack voted against free-trade agreements, including those signed by President Obama, as a possible source of job creation — a contrast between his and Archer’s belief that NAFTA-style trade agreements “bleed jobs from Iowa and the United States.”

“We’ve got to build things in America again and rebuild our manufacturing base,” he said. "I’ve heard from a lot of people who would be hurt by this.”

Archer characterized Loebsack’s position on the agreements as out-of-touch, and he believes the agreements, specifically those with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, are a source for new markets for Iowa.

“For our congressman to vote against these trade agreements was a thumb in every Iowan’s eye, in my opinion,” Archer said when asked about Loebsack’s vote. “We compete globally, and for Congressman Loebsack to not understand that is a crying shame.”

Loebsack further pushed for a tougher stance on China, something he feels he has pushed Obama’s administration on, stating U.S. manufacturers don’t always compete on a level playing field.

“We have to get tougher with China when it comes to its currency manipulation,” he said. “We’ve got to go much further to push China to do the right thing.”

Conybeare disagreed with Loebsack’s stance.

“There’s not a lot of evidence that China’s currency is overvalued, and long-term, the stance would ‘hurt job opportunities,’ ” he said.

UI Associate Professor of political science Tim Hagle stated that while redistricting doesn’t give Loebsack the “usual incumbent advantage,” the 2nd Congressional District has the biggest voter registration advantage for Democrats, an advantage he feels Obama could help with given his campaign’s early voting efforts.


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