Home

Iowa Press Transcripts

Iowa Press Links

Iowa Press #3002
September 13 and 15, 2002

Borg: CONTROL OF THE U.S. CONGRESS COULD HINGE ON WHO WINS IOWA'S CAMPAIGNS.   WE'LL QUESTION THE CANDIDATES IN THE SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT --  REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT JIM LEACH AND HIS DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER, DR. JULIE THOMAS --  ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." 

ANNOUNCER: FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION;  BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION...   FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS,  AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS,  IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS  REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS;  BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA...   THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE;  AND BY IOWA NETWORK SERVICES AND YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT TELEPHONE COMPANY...   IOWA NETWORK SERVICES,  YOUR CLOSEST CONNECTION. 

 ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."   HERE IS DEAN BORG. 

Borg: WELL, THIS WEEK ON "IOWA PRESS," WE CONTINUE OUR COVERAGE OF THE CAMPAIGNS TO REPRESENT IOWA IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.   LAST WEEKEND WE BEGAN WITH THE TWO MAJOR-PARTY CANDIDATES IN THE FIRST DISTRICT, REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT JIM NUSSLE OF MANCHESTER AND DEMOCRAT ANN HUTCHINSON, WHO IS THE MAYOR OF BETTENDORF.   THIS WEEK IT'S THE SECOND DISTRICT, STRETCHING FROM CEDAR RAPIDS SOUTHWARD THROUGH IOWA CITY AND INTO THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF IOWA.   NOW, IN THAT RECONFIGURED DISTRICT, CONGRESSMAN JIM LEACH OF IOWA CITY, SEEKS A FOURTEENTH TERM IN CONGRESS, AND HE JOINS US TODAY BY SATELLITE FROM THE NATION'S CAPITAL.   CONGRESSMAN LEACH, THANKS FOR TAKING TIME TO JOIN US. 

 Leach: GOOD TO BE WITH YOU, DEAN. 

Borg: AND HERE IN OUR IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION STUDIOS, HIS DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER, DR. JULIE THOMAS OF CEDAR RAPIDS, A PEDIATRICIAN.   DR. THOMAS, WELCOME TO "IOWA PRESS." 

Thomas: THANK YOU. 

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE:   "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL  COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN  AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER. 

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, IN SHOWS LIKE THIS, WE LIKE TO GIVE THE CANDIDATES A CHANCE TO MAKE THE CASE FOR THEMSELVES, ASSUMING THEY WOULD ANYWAY, SO HERE'S YOUR CHANCE.   WHAT'S THE CASE FOR A FOURTEENTH TERM IN CONGRESS FOR JIM LEACH? 

Leach: WELL, FIRST LET ME SAY I NEVER SUGGEST ANYONE SHOULD VOTE FOR A PARTICULAR CANDIDATE, PARTICULARLY MYSELF.   ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT I ASK FOR CONSIDERATION.   MY BASIC RECORD IS WHAT I MUST RUN ON, AND THAT IS ONE OF MODERATE CONSERVATIVES AMONG FISCAL ISSUES, PROGRESSIVE VIEWS IN FOREIGN POLICY, AND A MODERATE VIEW ON CERTAIN SOCIAL ISSUES.   THE REAL QUESTION IN AMERICAN POLITICS IS WHAT IS THE MAKEUP OF THE CONGRESS, NOT SO MUCH BETWEEN THE POLITICAL PARTIES BUT WHETHER THEY'RE INDEPENDENT VOICES FOR THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA.   AND I TRY TO REPRESENT A CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT WITH AS INDEPENDENT A VOICE AS I POSSIBLY CAN, A VOICE THAT TAKES INTO VIEW THOSE OF MY POLITICAL PARTY AND THOSE OF THE OTHER POLITICAL PARTY, BUT A VOICE THAT IS DESIGNED TO BE ONE OF REASONABLENESS, COMMON SENSE AND, TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY, INTEGRITY. 

Glover: DR. THOMAS, THE SAME QUESTION OR CHALLENGE TO YOU.   MAKE THE CASE THAT IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE IN THE SECOND DISTRICT AND IT'S TIME FOR DR. JULIE THOMAS TO GO TO CONGRESS. 

Thomas: MY EXPERIENCE IS IN HEALTH CARE AND IN RUNNING AND GROWING TWO SMALL BUSINESSES, TWO MEDICAL PRACTICES OVER THE LAST TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS.   AND THOSE PROBLEMS THAT I'VE SEEN IN MY BUSINESS AND THAT I'VE SEEN CHALLENGING FAMILIES EVERY DAY ARE THE REASONS THAT I AM RUNNING, BECAUSE THEIR VOICES NEED TO BE HEARD.   EVERYWHERE I GO ACROSS THE DISTRICT, I'M HEARING ABOUT CONCERNS IN HEALTH CARE, WHETHER THEY'LL BE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE BECAUSE THEY MAY BE LOSING THEIR JOBS, WHETHER THEY WILL BE ABLE TO AFFORD PRESCRIPTION DRUGS WITH A SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK THAT IS NOT COVERING THOSE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ANY LONGER, AND WITH ANGER ABOUT CORPORATE MALFEASANCE THAT IS CAUSING PROBLEMS FOR OUR ECONOMY. 

Yepsen: DR. THOMAS, IRAQ, THE PRESIDENT SPOKE TO THE UNITED NATIONS LAST WEEK.   THERE IS A REAL POSSIBILITY THE NEXT CONGRESS WILL HAVE TO VOTE ON GOING TO WAR WITH IRAQ.   WHAT'S YOUR POSITION ON IRAQ?   HOW WILL YOU VOTE? 

Thomas: WELL, AT THIS POINT I DON'T THINK THAT PRESIDENT BUSH HAS MADE A SUFFICIENT CASE TO ATTACK IRAQ, ESPECIALLY -- ESPECIALLY AN INITIAL ATTACK ON IRAQ I DON'T THINK IS REASONABLE AT THIS TIME, WITH THE INFORMATION THAT WE HAVE IN THE PUBLIC.   I THINK THAT IN ORDER TO ATTACK IRAQ, WE NEED EVIDENCE OF IMMINENT DANGER.  I'M VERY CONCERNED ABOUT STARTING A WAR. 

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU.   WHAT'S YOUR POSITION ON IRAQ?   HOW WOULD YOU VOTE? 

Leach: WELL, I THINK THE PRESIDENT GAVE A VERY STRONG SPEECH TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AND IT WAS GOOD THAT HE WENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS;  HOWEVER, THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STRONG SPEECH AND A COMPELLING CASE FOR WAR.   I THINK HE HAS DEVELOPED A CASE FOR REGIME CHANGE.   I DO NOT THINK HE'S DEVELOPED A CASE FOR GOING TO WAR WITH THE PEOPLE.   AND THEREFORE, I AM A VERY STRONG SKEPTIC OF MILITARY INTERVENTION AT THIS POINT IN TIME. 

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, THE PRESIDENT HAS MADE IT CLEAR HE'S GOING TO COME TO CONGRESS AND ASK FOR A VOTE OF SOME KIND ON SOME KIND OF A RESOLUTION ABOUT IRAQ.   SHOULD THAT VOTE COME BEFORE THE ELECTION SO VOTERS HAVE A SENSE OF WHERE THEIR REPRESENTATIVE IS, OR SHOULD IT COME AFTER THE ELECTION WHEN POLITICAL PRESSURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT OF THE EQUATION? 

Leach: WELL, I THINK THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT IT SHOULD COME BEFORE ANY ACTION.  THE SECOND ISSUE IS WHETHER IT SHOULD COME BEFORE CONGRESS RECESSES FOR THIS ELECTION.   MY GUESS IS, YES, IT SHOULD.   THIS IS A VERY CRITICAL ISSUE FOR THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.   IT'S A CRITICAL ISSUE FOR CONGRESS AND ITS ROLE IN FOREIGN POLICY ITSELF, AND SO A VOTE BEFORE THE ELECTION WOULD BE PREFERABLE.   NOW, TO VOTE BEFORE ACTION IS ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY. 

Glover: DR. THOMAS, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU.   SHOULD CONGRESS VOTE ON THIS ISSUE BEFORE THE ELECTION SO VOTERS HAVE SOME SENSE OF WHERE THEIR REPRESENTATIVES ARE, OR SHOULD IT WAIT UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION TO TAKE POLITICS OUT OF THAT VOTE? 

Thomas: WELL, I DON'T THINK IT SHOULD BE A POLITICAL DECISION ABOUT TIMING.   I THINK THAT THE TIMING SHOULD BE ONE THAT IS BASED ON THE NEEDS FOR THE UNITED STATES TO TAKE ACTION, AND I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD BE RUSHED BY THE FACT THAT WE HAVE AN ELECTION IN NOVEMBER. 

Borg: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES DO YOU THINK THAT UNILATERAL ACTION WOULD BE JUSTIFIED?   AND BUILD INTO YOUR ANSWER, IF YOU WILL, THE COSTS.   IF THE U.S. GOES AHEAD ON ITS OWN, ARE WE ALSO RESPONSIBLE NOT ONLY FOR THE COST OF PROSECUTING THAT WAR BUT ALSO FOR REBUILDING THE DAMAGE WE'VE DONE. 

Leach: WELL, UNILATERAL ACTION IS ALWAYS DUBIOUS.   IT'S SOMETHING THAT SHOULDN'T NECESSARILY BE RULED OUT IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT GENERALLY IF IT'S NOT RULED OUT, IT'S RELATED TO AN ATTACK ON THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT HAS NOT EXACTLY OCCURRED HERE FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAQ.   ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE ARE LOTS OF EXTRAORDINARY RAMIFICATIONS THAT FLOW FROM ANY KIND OF ATTACK, SPECIFICALLY ONE THAT IS JUST SIMPLY THAT OF THE UNITED STATES OR ONE OR TWO PARTNERS.   ONE IS THE OBLIGATIONS THAT FLOW FROM WHAT HAPPENS AFTERWARD, AS YOUR QUESTION IMPLIED.   BUT SECONDLY, ARE OBLIGATIONS THAT OCCUR THAT MAY WELL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IRAQ ITSELF.   THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS TIME FOR ISRAEL, WHERE AN ATTACK BY THE UNITED STATES AND IRAQ COULD PRECIPITATE SOME SORT OF JIHAD RESPONSE, AS WELL AS THE POTENTIAL USE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AGAINST ISRAEL OR CONCEIVABLY EVEN THE UNITED STATES.   WHAT WE HAVE IS A CIRCUMSTANCE OF ENORMOUS RISKS.   THERE'S RISK IN ACTING.   THERE'S ALSO RISK IN INACTION.   SO THIS IS ONE OF THE PROFOUNDEST JUDGMENT CALLS IN MY MEMORY FOR A PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND FOR A CONGRESS. 

Borg: DR. THOMAS, YOU SAID YOU WANT SOME EVIDENCE OF IMMINENT DANGER.   IF YOU HAD THAT EVIDENCE, WOULD YOU SUPPORT UNILATERAL ACTION?   AND THEN ALSO, YOU HEARD MY QUESTION ABOUT THE COST INVOLVED EVEN AFTER THE WAR. 

Thomas: RIGHT.   I THINK THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS NOT DONE WELL WHEN WE HAVE NOT INVOLVED CONGRESS IN THESE DECISIONS WHERE WE HAVE GONE IT ALONE OR WHERE WE HAVEN'T TRIED EVERYTHING ELSE FIRST.   AND GENERAL WESLEY CLARK JUST HAD AN ARTICLE THAT TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE COULD PROBABLY DO THIS ALONE, BUT THE RECOVERY OF THE AREA WOULD NEED THE INVOLVEMENT OF OTHER NATIONS.   AND I STRONGLY THINK WE NEED TO GO INTO ANY ACTION WITH ALLIES.   MY SISTER SERVED AS AN ARMY NURSE IN VIETNAM, AND I DON'T WANT TO SEE THIS BECOME ANOTHER VIETNAM. 

Yepsen: DR. THOMAS, I WANT TO SWITCH GEARS HERE AND ASK YOU TO HELP THE VOTER.   WILL YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF WITH CONGRESSMAN LEACH?   WHY YOU OVER HIM?   HELP THE VOTER OUT WHO MAY BE UNDECIDED IN THIS ELECTION BY DIFFERENTIATING YOURSELF WITH THE CONGRESSMAN. 

Thomas: WELL, THE DIFFERENCE IS IN OUR EXPERIENCE.   MY EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN IN THE HEALTH CARE AREA, WHICH IS FACING CRITICAL PROBLEMS AT THIS TIME, WITH INCREASING COSTS AND INEQUITIES IN HEALTH CARE COVERAGE.   IT'S ALSO MY EXPERIENCE IN SMALL BUSINESS.   I HAVE RUN AND GROWN TWO SMALL BUSINESSES, TWO MEDICAL PRACTICES OVER TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS, SO I'M WELL ACQUAINTED WITH THE STRESSES AND CHALLENGES THAT SMALL BUSINESSES FACE IN IOWA.   AND EVERYWHERE I GO, THESE ARE THE ISSUES THAT FAMILIES ARE TALKING ABOUT. 

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU, SIR.   DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FOR THE VOTER IN THE DISTRICT, PARTICULARLY THE UNDECIDED VOTER WHO MAY BE HAVING TROUBLE MAKING UP HIS OR HER MIND.   HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF WITH DR. THOMAS? 

Leach: WELL, FIRST LET ME JUST SAY THAT BY BACKGROUND, WE DO HAVE DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS.   I ALSO HEADED A SMALL BUSINESS AT ONE POINT IN MY LIFE.   I WAS IN THE UNITED STATES FOREIGN SERVICE.   I HAVE SERVED IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS, SO THERE'S A DIFFERENT BACKGROUND, BOTH OF WHICH HAVE PLUSES TO ONE CANDIDATE VERSUS THE OTHER.   BUT THERE ARE ALSO PHILOSOPHICAL DISTINCTIONS THAT THE PUBLIC IS GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK THROUGH.   DR. THOMAS HAS NOT ARTICULATED VIEWS ON VERY MANY SUBJECTS, BUT SHE'S RUNNING, AS FAR AS WE CAN GATHER, AS PART OF THE LIBERAL WING OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.  I'M RUNNING AS A MODERATE REPUBLICAN, AS AN INDEPENDENT VOICE ON A WHOLE SPECTRUM OF ISSUES.   SO THE REAL QUESTION IS ISSUES, I BELIEVE, MORE THAN BACKGROUND. 

Yepsen: DR. THOMAS, WILL YOU RESPOND TO THAT?   ARE YOU TOO LIBERAL FOR THIS DISTRICT? 

Thomas: I DON'T BELIEVE THAT I'VE CHARACTERIZED MYSELF AS LIBERAL.   I THINK THAT I'M A MODERATE DEMOCRAT.   I FEEL THAT I AM ADDRESSING THE ISSUES THAT VOTERS IN THIS DISTRICT ARE CONCERNED ABOUT, AND HEALTH CARE IS AT THE TOP OF THAT LIST.  I'VE ALSO SPOKEN OUT ON SOCIAL SECURITY, CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, AND OTHER ISSUES THAT ARE AT THE TOP OF VOTERS' LISTS OF CONCERNS. 

Glover: DR. THOMAS, LET'S GO TO ONE OF THOSE ISSUES.   YOU MENTIONED HEALTH CARE IN GENERAL.   LET'S GO TO A SPECIFIC ISSUE WITHIN THE HEALTH CARE GENRE, AND THAT'S A PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT.   I ASSUME YOU FAVOR SOME KIND OF A PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT.  WHAT KIND DO YOU FAVOR? 

Thomas: YES, I DO.   I FAVOR THE DEMOCRATIC PROPOSAL THAT WAS IN CONGRESS TO PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR SENIORS WHO ARE HAVING GREAT DIFFICULTY PROVIDING FOR THEIR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.   THE REPUBLICAN PLAN THAT WAS PASSED BY THE HOUSE IS WHAT I CALL A PLACEBO.  IT IS A PILL WITHOUT ACTIVE INGREDIENTS.   IT DOES NOT COVER SENIORS FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF THEIR EXPENDITURES, AND IT IS BASICALLY A SUBSIDY TO INSURANCE COMPANIES TO PROVIDE THE BENEFIT.   AND WE NEED TO PROVIDE A DIRECT BENEFIT TO SENIORS, AN INTEGRAL PART OF MEDICARE SO THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS ARE LOW, SENIORS ARE NOT CONFUSED BY IT, AND WE GET COMPLETE COVERAGE FOR SENIORS. 

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, YOUR OPPONENT HAS SAID SHE FAVORS A PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN.   ISN'T THERE A CASE TO BE MADE AGAINST THIS CONGRESS?   MOST PEOPLE WANT A PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN.   THIS CONGRESS HAS BEEN UNABLE TO PRODUCE ONE.  ISN'T THAT AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS CONGRESS? 

Leach: WELL, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES VOTED FOR A PLAN, A PLAN THAT MRS. THOMAS SAID THAT SHE OPPOSES.   THAT PLAN IS A $350-BILLION PLAN THAT WOULD GIVE 100-PERCENT COVERAGE TO THE BOTTOM-TIER INCOME, ELDERLY.   IT WOULD GIVE 100-PERCENT CATASTROPHIC COVERAGE OF COSTS THAT EXCEED $3,400 A YEAR.   AND THEN ON A SLIDING SCALE, IT WOULD GIVE BENEFITS TO EVERYBODY THAT'S IN NEED OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, ALTHOUGH NOT 100-PERCENT COVERAGE, WHICH WOULD BE A MULTITRILLION DOLLAR COST.   NOW, HAVING SAID THAT, THE BILL THAT DR. THOMAS SAID SHE OPPOSED ALSO HAD IN IT THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT STEP TOWARDS CHANGING THE MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT FORMULA TO BENEFIT IOWA INSTEAD OF THE REST OF THE COUNTRY.   AND SO TO OPPOSE THAT IS SOMETHING VERY MUCH AGAINST THE INTEREST OF THE STATE OF IOWA, AGAINST THE HEALTH CARE INTERESTS OF OUR STATE, AND I THINK IT WOULD BE A MISTAKE. 

Glover: AND WHAT DO YOU SAY TO HER ARGUMENT THAT'S ECHOED ELSEWHERE AMONG CRITICS OF THAT PLAN THAT'S IT'S A PLACEBO, THAT IS REALLY DOESN'T DO MUCH AND THAT, IN FACT, IT'S A SUBSIDY OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY? 

Leach: WELL, YOU KNOW, IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS, ONE HAS TO MEASURE ONE'S WORDS.   I'M OPEN TO DOING MORE THAN THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN BILL.   BUT THE HOUSE BILL HAS A PRICE TAG OF $350 BILLION, THE LARGEST NEW PROGRAM COST IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.   AND IN PARTISAN TERMS, TO DESCRIBE THAT AS A PLACEBO IS ABSOLUTELY PREPOSTEROUS.   ONE CAN ARGUE THAT ONE WANTS A DIFFERENT DESIGN.   I'D BE OPEN TO A DIFFERENT DESIGN.   ONE COULD SAY ONE SHOULD HAVE EVEN MORE GENEROUS BENEFITS.   I'M OPEN TO THAT.   BUT MOST OF ALL, I'M OPEN TO SOMETHING HAPPENING AND HAPPENING NOW.   THE BILL THE HOUSE PASSED WILL BE SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.   THE SENATE, ON THE OTHER HAND, HAS PASSED NOTHING.   THAT SHOWS THE DIFFICULTY OF THESE ISSUES.   IT ALSO SHOWS THE DIFFICULTY OF PARTISANSHIP IN MODERN-DAY POLITICAL LIFE.   I AM FOR ACTION, THE MOST PRACTICAL APPROACHES THAT CAN BE MADE ON THE FASTEST POSSIBLE TIME FRAME.   AND I THINK THE HOUSE POSITION SUPPORTED BY THE PRESIDENT IS PRETTY CREDIBLE.   IT COULD BE MADE MORE GENEROUS.   I WOULD SUPPORT THAT BUT I DON'T WANT TO PLAY POLITICAL GAMES WITH THE ELDERLY.   I WANT SUBSTANTIVE ACTION. 

Yepsen: MR. LEACH, ONE ISSUE THAT'S OF IMPORTANCE TO A LOT OF VOTERS IN IOWA THIS YEAR IS ECONOMIC GROWTH.   YOU'RE IN A CAMPAIGN FOR A CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT.   IT'S GOT CEDAR RAPIDS IN IT, WHERE TRADE IS IMPORTANT.   YOU'VE GOT JOHNSON COUNTY WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, WHERE EDUCATION AND RESEARCH ARE IMPORTANT ISSUES.   YOU'VE GOT --  A BIG PIECE OF THAT DISTRICT IS RURAL IOWA.   WHAT WILL YOU DO TO FOSTER ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THAT DISTRICT? 

Leach: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, THE MAJOR THING THAT DEALS WITH ECONOMIC GROWTH ARE RELATIVELY REASONABLE LEVELS OF TAXATION, AND THE COUNTRY IS MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION.   A REASONABLE FOREIGN POLICY, AND I BELIEVE RESTRAINT IS A BETTER POLICY FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH THAN OTHER THINGS.   ALSO TRADE POLICY.   I'M A STRONG ADVOCATE OF AN ACTIVE ROLE OF AMERICA AND OF THE STATE OF IOWA IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE.   SURPRISINGLY, MY OPPONENT HAS COME OUT AGAINST NAFTA, AGAINST, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, THE EFFORT TO HAVE NEW TRADE AGREEMENTS.   I THINK MOVING IN THE DIRECTION OF WHAT WE USED TO CALL FAST TRACK TO SPUR AMERICAN EXPORTS WILL BE GREAT FOR AMERICAN AGRICULTURE, EXCEPTIONAL FOR CITIES LIKE CEDAR RAPIDS.   IN TERMS OF IOWA CITY, I'M A VERY STRONG ADVOCATE OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH, WHICH PROVIDES ALMOST $300 MILLION A YEAR TO THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HOSPITAL.   WE'VE ALMOST DOUBLED THAT.   WE'RE IN THE PROCESS OF DOUBLY FUNDING FOR N.I.H.   I THINK THAT IS ABSOLUTELY EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT.   I ALSO SUPPORT THE PEER REVIEW PROCESS, IN WHICH ITS DOCTORS MAKE A DECISION FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY ON WHO ALLOCATES FUNDS FOR THE N.I.H. GRANTS.   THIS, TO ME, IS ABSOLUTELY THE MOST IMPORTANT BASIS FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH THAT THERE COULD BE.

Yepsen: AND DR. THOMAS,  THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU.  WHAT WILL YOU DO TO FOSTER ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THAT DISTRICT?   AND PLEASE ADDRESS THE CONGRESSMAN'S CHARGE THAT YOU'RE AGAINST FREE TRADE. 

Thomas: WELL, AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH BUSINESSES IN THE CEDAR RAPIDS AND IOWA CITY AREA OVER TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS.   AND I THINK WE NEED TO PROVIDE MORE INCENTIVES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES TO GROW, BOTH HOMEGROWN BUSINESSES AND TO ATTRACT CLUSTER TECHNOLOGY BUSINESSES AS BEING DONE BETWEEN CEDAR RAPIDS AND IOWA CITY AND THE TECHNOLOGY CORRIDOR.   AND I THINK THAT TOO MUCH OF A VOICE HAS BEEN THERE FOR CORPORATE, LARGE CORPORATIONS AND NOT FOR SMALLER BUSINESSES THAT IS THE BACKBONE OF IOWA.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT THE TRADE ISSUE? 

Thomas: ON TRADE, I THINK, OBVIOUSLY, IOWA NEEDS TO TRADE WITH OTHER NATIONS, BUT WE SHOULD NOT DO THAT WITH AGREEMENTS THAT HAVE GREAT HARM TO CHILD -- CHILDREN WHO ARE IN THE LABOR FORCE IN THOSE COUNTRIES AND WHERE THE ENVIRONMENT IS BEING IMPACTED.   I THINK THAT NEEDS TO -- THOSE REGULATIONS NEED TO BE A PART.

Yepsen: SO IT'S SAFE TO SAY -- IT'S SAFE TO SAY THIS IS A DIFFERENCE -- AN ISSUE BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU, THAT HE'S MORE FOR FREE TRADE, YOU WOULD BE FOR MORE RESTRICTIONS ON TRADE. 

Thomas: I WOULD BE SURE THAT THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE COUNTRIES THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH AND WHERE JOBS ARE GOING TO OTHER COUNTRIES, THAT WE NEED TO BE SURE THAT THE ENVIRONMENT IS NOT IMPACTED AND THAT THERE AREN'T CHILDREN WHO ARE IN THE LABOR FORCE. 

Borg: AND YOU DON'T QUARREL AT ALL WITH THE ALLEGATION THAT YOU DO NOT SUPPORT THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT? 

Thomas: I THINK THAT, AGAIN, I WOULD SUPPORT IT IF THERE WERE THESE KINDS OF REGULATIONS WITHIN IT. 

Glover: DR. THOMAS, CONGRESS HAS PASSED A LARGE TAX CUT THE PRESIDENT PROPOSED.   PARTS OF THAT ARE SCHEDULED TO EXPIRE DOWN THE ROAD.   THE PRESIDENT HAS PUSHED HARD AS HIS EFFORT TO SPUR THE ECONOMY AND MAKE THOSE TAX CUTS PERMANENT.   WOULD YOU VOTE TO MAKE THOSE TAX CUTS PERMANENT AS A MEMBER OF CONGRESS? 

Thomas: WELL, AGAIN, AS A BUSINESS OWNER, I LOOK AT PRIORITIES ALL THE TIME.   AND I FELT THAT THE TAX CUT WAS A MISTAKE WHEN IT WAS PASSED, BECAUSE I IN MY PRACTICE COULD SEE THAT FAMILIES WERE STARTING TO LOSE THEIR JOBS EVEN IN THE SPRING OF 2001 WHEN THIS WAS PASSED, AND SO I THOUGHT IT WAS WRONG AT THAT TIME.   I AM VERY CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE 9/11 WITH OUR ECONOMY, AND WE NEED TO, I BELIEVE, LOOK CAREFULLY AT THE EXTENSION OF THOSE TAX CUTS AND DECIDE WHETHER THAT REALLY IS WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE OR WHETHER OTHER PRIORITIES SHOULD TAKE PRECEDENCE. 

Glover: CONGRESSMAN, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU.   CONGRESS HAS PASSED THIS TAX CUT THAT THE PRESIDENT PROPOSED.   THE PRESIDENT HAS NOW SUGGESTED THAT TAX CUT BE MADE PERMANENT.  WOULD YOU VOTE TO MAKE THAT TAX CUT PERMANENT? 

Leach: MOST BUT NOT ALL.   I SUPPORT THE BROAD THRUST OF THE TAX CUT IN THAT BILL.   I HAVE SOME DIFFERENCE ON THE INHERITANCE TAX ISSUE.   I BELIEVE STRONGLY THAT WE'VE GOT TO RAISE WHAT'S CALLED THE INHERITANCE TAX EXEMPTION SO THAT SMALL BUSINESS AND FAMILY FARMERS CAN BE PROTECTED FROM A RATHER PUNITIVE TAX AND CAN PASS THEIR FARMS AND THEIR SMALL BUSINESSES ON TO THEIR FAMILIES.   BUT I WOULD NOT LIFT INHERITANCE TAXATION ON THE VERY WEALTHY.   SO I WOULD NOT BE FOR ELIMINATION -- FULL ELIMINATION OF INHERITANCE TAX.  I WOULD BE FOR INCREASING THE INHERITANCE TAX EXEMPTION TO NEW LEVELS THAT PROTECT SMALL BUSINESS AND FARMING. 

Yepsen: MR. LEACH, WHAT SHOULD THE NEXT CONGRESS DO TO MAKE SOCIAL SECURITY SOUND? 

Leach: WELL, ONE THING THAT WOULD BE JUST AWFUL TO DO IS TO PLAY THE POLITICS OF THE GAME.   THERE'S KIND OF A ROLLER COASTER EVERY TWO YEARS THAT ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE'S A SIREN CALL THAT SOMEONE IS GOING TO JEOPARDIZE SOMEONE'S SOCIAL SECURITY.   THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT SOCIAL SECURITY IS IN PRETTY DECENT SHAPE FOR THE NEXT DECADE OR TWO, AND THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT SHORTLY THEREAFTER, IT'S GOING TO GO INTO DEFICIT.   SO THE REAL QUESTION OF SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOT FOR PROTECTING THE ELDERLY, IT'S WHAT'S GOING TO BE THERE FOR THE KIDS.   SO I AM FOR STRONGLY KEEPING THE SYSTEM AS IT IS FOR THOSE THAT ARE RETIRED OR ABOUT TO RETIRE.   BUT I'M OPEN-MINDED ON A PARTIAL SYSTEM OF PERSONAL ACCOUNTS, WHICH WOULD BE MUCH LIKE THE CONGRESSIONAL AND FEDERAL RETIREMENT SYSTEM, WHERE YOU GET PART FROM A DIRECT PAYMENT AND PART FROM A PERSONAL ACCOUNT.   IF YOU DON'T DO THAT, WHEN THE TWENTY-THREE YEAR OLD -- AND BY THE WAY, THE POLLS INDICATE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE THINK THEY'RE MORE LIKELY TO SEE A UFO BEFORE THEY SEE A SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK.   BUT IF YOU DON'T MAKE SOME CREDIBLE ADJUSTMENTS FOR A TWENTY-THREE YEAR OLD, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A SYSTEM THAT WILL PROVIDE TWO-THIRDS THE BENEFITS OF THE CURRENT SYSTEM.   AND IT COULD BE MUCH LESS THAN THAT IF WE HAVE LONGEVITY OF LIFE EXTENDED THROUGH MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS, WHICH IS QUITE A REAL PROSPECT.   SO I THINK YOU HAVE TO GO TO A PARTIAL SYSTEM OF PERSONAL ACCOUNTS FOR THE YOUNG AND KEEP THE SYSTEM FOR OLDER AMERICANS MUCH AS IT IS TODAY. 

Yepsen: AND DR. THOMAS, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU.   WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP SOCIAL SECURITY SOUND, AND SPECIFICALLY YOUR POSITION ON THIS IDEA OF PERSONAL ACCOUNT, PARTICULARLY FOR YOUNGER AMERICANS? 

Thomas: WELL, SOCIAL SECURITY HAS BEEN AN EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM.   IT HAS BEEN THE PROGRAM THAT HAS KEPT ELDERLY OUT OF POVERTY, AND WE NEED TO MAINTAIN IT.   IT'S AN INTERGENERATIONAL PACT, THAT IS THAT THE SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES I'M PAYING NOW ARE PAYING BENEFITS FOR SENIORS NOW.   ANY CHANGE IN THAT WILL IMPACT THE BENEFITS OF SENIORS.   AND IT CLEARLY HAS BEEN SHOWN THAT THE AVERAGE SENIOR IN IOWA WOULD BE PUT IN JEOPARDY OF GOING BACK INTO A STATE OF POVERTY.   I STRONGLY SUPPORT OTHER INCENTIVES TO HAVE PEOPLE SAVE MONEY, BUT AS I'VE TALKED TO VOTERS ACROSS THE DISTRICT, THEY'VE TOLD ME THAT PUTTING THEIR MONEY INTO RETIREMENT -- OTHER RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS, IRAs AND 401(k) PLANS, THEIR RETIREMENT HAS BEEN CHANGED BECAUSE OF THE MARKET.   WHEN I TALK TO COLLEGE STUDENTS, THEY ARE TELLING ME THAT THEY USED TO THINK IT WAS MORE LIKELY THAT THEY'D SEE A UFO THAN THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK, BUT NOW PUTTING IT INTO A PRIVATE ACCOUNT, THEY'RE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT LOSING THAT MONEY THROUGH THE MARKETS, AND SO THEY'RE NOT READY TO DO THAT EITHER. 

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, IT WOULDN'T BE AN OFFICIAL "IOWA PRESS" SHOW IF WE DIDN'T FOCUS JUST PURELY ON PARTISAN POLITICS.   LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR DISTRICT.  IT'S A 58-PERCENT DEMOCRATIC DISTRICT.   YOUR OPPONENT HAS RAISED SIGNIFICANTLY MORE MONEY THAN YOU HAVE, AND YOU'VE LOST YOUR BASE IN SCOTT COUNTY.   DON'T YOU HAVE A SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE THIS YEAR? 

Leach: OH, I COULDN'T AGREE MORE.   THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE.  I MAY BE THE ONLY REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT IN AMERICA THAT WILL BE MASSIVELY OUTSPENT BY THE DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER.   THIS IS A DISTRICT THAT LEANS VERY DEMOCRATIC.   I RECOGNIZE THAT VERY MUCH AND, THEREFORE, TO SOME DEGREE, I'M WILLING TO TAKE THE ROLE OF UNDERDOG, IF YOU WANT TO GIVE IT TO ME.   BUT THIS IS A DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCE THAT I RECOGNIZE FULLY. 

Glover: YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CONVINCE ME A LITTLE BIT TO MAKE A THIRTEEN-TERM INCUMBENT AN UNDERDOG.   DR. THOMAS, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU, TURNED A LITTLE BIT ON ITS EAR.   YOU'VE RAISED SIGNIFICANTLY MORE MONEY THAN CONGRESSMAN LEACH.   IT'S A 58-PERCENT DEMOCRATIC DISTRICT, AND HE'S LOST HIS BASE IN SCOTT COUNTY.   WHY HAVEN'T YOU SEWN THIS THING UP?   WHY HAVEN'T YOU PUT HIM AWAY? 

Thomas: WELL, I THINK THAT WE MAY BE UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF INCUMBENCY.   REPRESENTATIVE LEACH HAS HAD A LONG PERIOD OF TIME TO RAISE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR CAMPAIGNS IN THE PAST, SO HIS NAME RECOGNITION IS HIGH.   HE HAS STAFF -- CONGRESSIONAL STAFF TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE CONSTITUENT SERVICE, AND HE HAS HAD THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH THE MAIL AT TAXPAYERS' EXPENSE.   SO BEATING AN INCUMBENT IS NOT EASY, BUT I'M DOING THIS BECAUSE I FEEL THAT THE VOICES IN THE SECOND DISTRICT ARE ONES THAT NEED TO BE HEARD, VOICES OF FAMILIES THAT ARE FACING CHALLENGES THAT I SEE EVERY DAY AND WANT TO HELP THEM SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS. 

Glover: AND YOU'RE OUT THERE EVERY DAY TALKING TO THESE VOTERS.   WHAT'S MOVING THE ELECTORATE THIS YEAR?   IS IT THE WAR ON TERRORISM?   IS IT THE ECONOMY?   WHAT'S MOVING VOTERS?

Thomas: THERE ARE SEVERAL ISSUES THAT ARE MOVING VOTERS.   ONE ARE ALL THE HEALTH ISSUES, PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS, AND THEY ALWAYS TELL ME ABOUT THAT COMPARED TO THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK, SO THAT BECOMES PART OF THE ISSUE.   JOB SECURITY AND WHETHER THEY'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE BECAUSE THEY MAY LOSE THEIR JOBS.   I THINK THAT THEY'RE ANGRY AT CORPORATE MALFEASANCE, THAT THEY'RE SEEING THEIR FUNDS GO AWAY IN THE STOCK MARKET AND YET THE CEOs ARE WALKING AWAY WITH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM FAILED COMPANIES. 

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, SAME QUESTION TO YOU, AND WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS LEFT.   WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT'S MOVING THE ELECTORATE THIS YEAR? 

Leach: MIKE, THE ELECTORATE IS IN A VERY WATCHFUL MODE.   IT'S AN ELECTORATE THAT'S LOOKING AT ISSUES SUCH AS THE CORPORATE MALFEASANCE ISSUES, SUCH AS THE IRAQI ISSUE, SUCH AS SOCIAL SECURITY, AND THE ELECTORATE WANTS BALANCED, HONEST, ANSWERS.   IT DOES NOT WANT POLITICAL MISHMASH.   IT WANTS PEOPLE TO SPEAK DIRECTLY TO THEM AND DIRECTLY TO WHAT IS CREDIBLE, FEASIBLE, AND COMPASSIONATE. 

Borg: AND WITH THAT I HAVE TO CALL TIME.   THANK YOU, CONGRESSMAN LEACH, FOR BEING WITH US VIA SATELLITE FROM WASHINGTON.   THANK YOU, DR. THOMAS, FOR SHARING YOUR INSIGHTS WITH US. 

Thomas: THANK YOU.

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," WE CONTINUE WITH OUR COVERAGE OF IOWA'S CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS, MOVING NOW ONTO CENTRAL IOWA'S THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT.   NEXT WEEK WE'LL BE TALKING WITH THE TWO MAJOR-PARTY CANDIDATES, INCUMBENT CONGRESSMAN DEMOCRAT LEONARD BOSWELL OF DES MOINES AND HIS REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER, DES MOINES ATTORNEY STAN THOMPSON.   NEXT WEEKEND 6:30,  SUNDAY AT NOON.   AND THIS MONDAY NIGHT,  SEPTEMBER 16, WE'LL BE CARRYING THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF DEBATES BETWEEN THE MAJOR-PARTY CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR OF IOWA, TOM VILSACK AND DOUG GROSS.   NOW, THAT DEBATE, ORGANIZED BY THE "CEDAR RAPIDS GAZETTE" AND "KCRG TV" ORIGINATES AT COE COLLEGE IN CEDAR RAPIDS, BUT YOU'LL BE ABLE TO SEE IT MONDAY NIGHT AT 7:00 ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.   AND THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."   I'M DEAN BORG.  THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY. 

ANNOUNCER: FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION;  BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION...   FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS,  AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS,  IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS  REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS;  BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL  CONTRACTORS OF IOWA...   THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE;  AND BY IOWA NETWORK SERVICES AND YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT TELEPHONE COMPANY...   IOWA NETWORK SERVICES,  YOUR CLOSEST CONNECTION.