King, Vilsack debate health care, farm bill

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
U.S. Rep. Steve King and democratic challenger Christie Vilsack squared off in their first public debate Saturday at the Clay County Fair. (Photos by Gabe Licht and Paula Buenger)
An estimated 700 fairgoers attended Saturday's debate between U.S. Rep. Steve King and democratic challenger Christie Vilsack.

Rivalries took center stage at the Clay County Fair Saturday afternoon and evening, with the Iowa vs. Iowa State game followed by a debate between U.S. Rep. Steve King and democratic challenger Christie Vilsack.

The two may not have revealed which team they had been cheering for, but instead squared off over issues like health care reform and the farm bill in front of about 700 people.

King continued his crusade against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, calling for a "full, 100 percent repeal of Obamacare."

He said he would replace the bill with a system that allows health insurance sales across state lines, the full deductibility of health insurance policies and tort reform to curb lawsuit abuse and defensive medicine.

"He (Barack Obama) argued there should be a federal insurance company to compete with our private sector health insurance companies," King said. "When that began, there were 1,300 health care insurance companies in America and over 100,000 possible policy varieties. One more was not going to solve the problem, but selling insurance across state lines does."

Vilsack did not comment on King's proposals, but focused on aspects of health care reform that she favors.

"One of those is making sure we can keep our children on our policies until they're 26," Vilsack said. "We need to make sure seniors have access to affordable prescription drugs and we need to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions are covered by health insurance."

She acknowledged the need to address health care costs.

Christie Vilsack, the democratic candidate for the newly configured 4th congressional district, talks to Lynne Swan following a debate at the Clay County Fair.

"One of the best ways to address that cost is to concentrate on a coordinated care program so that we no longer pay for services, but that we pay for results," Vilsack said. "We really need to make sure that we try to keep people out of hospitals and we pay health care professionals to make sure they're doing that."

King noted that Iowa already allows 26-year-olds to stay on their parents' insurance and has a taxpayer-subsidized pool to make premiums more affordable for people with pre-existing conditions.

"Wouldn't it be great if everyone in the country could have what Iowa has?" Vilsack responded, eliciting applause from her supporters.

On the topic of the farm bill, Vilsack defended the estimated 75 percent of funding that goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, saying 14 cents of every dollar spent in the program goes to a farmer. She also called on King to sign fellow Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley's discharge petition to force a vote on the bill.

King advocated for cutting SNAP, arguing the program has been abused to pay for tattoos and bail bonds.

When Vilsack contended that 93 percent of SNAP recipients are seniors citizens, children and the working poor, King disputed that percentage to a mixed crowd reaction.

The two agreed that job creation would extend the life of the Social Security Trust Fund beyond 2033, when funds are expected to be depleted.

Vilsack touted her proposals for an apprenticeship program and jobs related to energy, conservation, outdoor recreation and infrastructure.

In her closing statements, Vilsack argued that she and King see the job differently.

"Rep. King sees it through the lens of someone who is really not interested in taking care of the issues that we need to deal with here on a local level," Vilsack said, referencing King's support for a 23 percent national sales tax. " ... The way I see this district is the way I see my students on the first day of school."

King used his closing statements to call for a Lincon-Douglas debate and promote a balanced budget amendment.

"We have a $16 trillion national debt that will not be eradicated unless we pass a balanced budget amendment out of the Congress and to the states, where 38 of them have to ratify it and rebuild our American Dream on the jobs that are created by that," King said.

The debate closed on chants of "King for Congress" and "Vote for Christie."

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  • I have never heard of bail bondsmen or tattoo artists taking food benefits (SNAP) for their services. I wonder where in Iowa this is taking place. :-/

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 9:08 AM
  • Rember Amy this is for the U.S. Rep. seat not just Iowa.

    -- Posted by Gamegetter on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 9:26 AM
  • Amy I wondered that too? To me it sounds like the state should have caught that and stopped the transaction. I know in the store when someone scans their EBT card it only covers the groceries that are okayed by EBT. I wonder if King was pulling this out of his (nevermind). 'GO CHRISTIE!' King - the man who votes down bonuses for the armed forces and votes to give himself a raise.

    -- Posted by joe2 on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 9:32 AM
  • Do they have to use a picture of King that makes him look like he's a mindless zombie...maybe so.

    -- Posted by A. View Point on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 11:14 AM
  • Amy and joev please do some homework before you post it took me about 15 sec. to google {buy tattoos with food stamps} I found a hole page of news reports on this.

    -- Posted by Gamegetter on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 11:46 AM
  • Gamegetter my problem is why didn't the state catch this? Its not an issue with food stamps its with they way our state runs the program.

    -- Posted by joe2 on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 12:38 PM
  • KING FOR CONGRESS..... I attended the debate: would have been honored to tell Ms. Vilsack to please requent that her husband return the money that Iowa paid him for his tenure as our inept governor.

    -- Posted by petula on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 12:43 PM
  • Gamegetter please post a link to an article where this happened in Iowa. I can't find one pertaining to Iowa.

    -- Posted by joe2 on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 12:43 PM
  • I know, for a fact, that food stamps are used as legal tender in our poorer neighborhoods. The seller "buys" products or services (drugs, alcohol, etc) with the vouchers. The new owner then uses them for groceries or to "buy" other products or services. The state isn't involved until they are redeemed for groceries.

    -- Posted by FormerNwIowan on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 12:50 PM
  • If you read the articles it is happening in one state, Massachusetts. The governor and the state legislature can not agree on a food stamp fraud bill. The governor wants to not allow businesses like tattoo parlors to accept EBT cards. The legislature wants the restriction to apply to certain items like tattoos and not exclude the business if they sell eligible items.

    -- Posted by Henry Blake on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 12:51 PM
  • In Massachusetts? So how does this affect Iowa's food stamps? Why can't republicans use actual facts to back up their arguments. I had a very staunch republican tell me today he hopes Vilsack beats King.

    -- Posted by joe2 on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 2:21 PM
  • Steve King is in the U.S, house the laws that thay make are for all of the U.S. I was at the debate and I never heard him say it ever happend in Iowa.

    -- Posted by Gamegetter on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 2:35 PM
  • King governs at the national level representing the state of Iowa. SNAP is a federal program under the USDA.

    -- Posted by FormerNwIowan on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 2:50 PM
  • My bad, I will read up more on SNAP. I still hope she wins.

    -- Posted by joe2 on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 3:20 PM
  • voting in another vilsack will be a even bigger mistake than putting obama in as the worst president,only 14% of each usda dollar goes to the farmer.that means 86% goes back into taxpayer pockets.maybe citiots who complain about the farmers getting rich off the taxpayer need to consider that fact.steve king is the best rep we have had in a long time and it would be a horrible mistake to vote him out and lose all the work he has put into our state.vilsack is not good for our state at all.all her accusations sound antagonistic,unreasonable,and shrill,much like her supporters.i was there and saw the people backing her.they are a lot like the occupy wall streeters,loud,dirty,pushy,and want something for nothing from the people who actually work for their living.

    -- Posted by big12cc on Sat, Sep 15, 2012, at 2:56 PM
  • What an antique! We expect this man to lead, not dictate against progress. Now he is calculating that driving 55 mph is costing him 75 hours of his time, when that is how we save lives. King, like a number of other Republicans, is strongly opposed to government regulations on energy. Energy-efficient light bulbs, especially, are a pet peeve of his. King told a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February he once made interns cry because he sent them on an unsuccessful search for "Edison light bulbs."

    -- Posted by A. View Point on Sat, Sep 22, 2012, at 11:03 AM
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