(Shenandoah) -- The KMA studios in Shenandoah was the site of the first major debate between Iowa's 3rd District congressional candidates.
Republican incumbent David Young, Democratic nominee Cindy Axne, and Libertarian candidate Bryan "Jack" Holder fielded questions on a wide variety of issues in Sunday's one-hour live debate heard on KMA AM and FM. Video of the debate was livestreamed at kmaland.com, as well as on our Facebook page. One of the questions dealt with the $3 trillion tax reform package approved by Congress at the end of September, on the heals of the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill passed last year. Axne, a Des Moines business owner, called the GOP-backed tax bills "disastrous."
"Over 80% of the provisions give opportunity to corporations and the wealthy--the top wealthy, by the way," said Axne. "We've reduced taxes for them. You know, there have been reduced taxes for working class families, but that's been offset by the inability to deduct particular elements that we used to be able to do in Iowa, like state and local taxes. So, it's certainly a wash."
Congressman Young countered by claiming the tax bills have boosted the U.S. and Iowa economies.
"Since that bill's been signed into law," said Young, "We've seen 1.8 million new jobs in this country. Our GDP is at 4.2%--we were just wondering if we could get to 3%. Our unemployment rate is at 3.7% nationally, and here in Iowa, it's at 2.5%. And, we're at a point where we're having a hard time finding workers. That's a nice problem to have, I guess."
Holder, meanwhile, discussed the complexity of the multi-page tax bill, and said any tax reform package should be done for the benefit of Americans.
"It's difficult to examine some of these bills they passed into law," said Holder. "Just for the fact that the shear volume of pages, and the shear number of subjects that these things cover. I'm not sure Congressman Young knows how many pages the new tax bill was. But I think most of us, we get to about page two, and our eyes gloss over."
On the subject of trade, the candidates were asked what they saw as the biggest hurdle to solving the trade impasse between the U.S. and China. Young says he's glad new trade deals were finalized with Mexico and Canada, and believes those two countries should help the U.S. isolate China.
"China has been robbing us," said Young. "They've been hosing us. The retaliation from China has been hurting our farmers. Thank goodness the Trump Administration has put forward a mitigation plan that has helping our farmers. They don't necessarily want the help--they want markets, they want trade. They may need it at this time. But, the president needs to sit down with the leader of China."
Holder says he's glad former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is U.S. ambassador to China. He also wishes Branstad could speak directly to the Chinese people on the trade war between the two countries.
"I would like us to be able to have a fair playing field with these trade policies," said Holder. "Sometimes, when you get too many countries involved, and it becomes a big long, multilateral trade policy, the benefit to us sort of gets lost in the process. I would like to see more transparency in this trade policy."
Axne called the current trade war and tariff exchange with China "reckless."
"Certainly, right here in Iowa, we're feel the impacts of it," she said. "Our manufacturers have already felt it, with the earlier tariffs that were put on our products. Certainly, our farmers are feeling it. Right now, in our communities, we're seeing banks that aren't loaning as much, we're seeing implement dealers not taking in as many orders, and our farmers are wondering what they're going to look like at the end of this harvest."
Other topics tackled by the candidates included immigration, agriculture, health care and security. The complete video of Sunday's night debate can be found here: