While the world is looking at the presidential race, Iowans have another race to consider – the race for an Iowa seat in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Admiral Mike Franken came to the Java 18 coffee shop in Garner last Tuesday morning to speak with local residents about his campaign and the issues Iowans are concerned about.
The three-star Navy admiral launched his campaign in August 2019, running as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Joni Ernst.
At the small event, which around 15 people attended, Franken said his campaign stands on three legs: climate change and addressing it from an agriculture perspective, comprehensive healthcare for everybody and addressing the great political divide in our country, especially focusing on special interest groups.
Franken, a rural Sioux County native, joined the Navy in 1978 and retired in late 2017. In his 39 years of service, he lived on four continents as a naval officer, visiting most of the world’s countries and leading multiple operations.
Franken said he joined the race because after the midterm elections, he saw there was a chance President Donald Trump could be re-elected and he “wanted to do something about it.”
“I thought it would be best if Iowa was represented by a senator who was part of the majority that could put constraints upon [Trump’s] lesser tendencies,” he said.
When asked what kind of solutions he would support in addressing the United States’ massive debt, he said he would support repealing 80 percent of the Trump tax cut and lifting the cap on Social Security
“That’s just a no-brainer,” he said. “That’s irrefutable, frankly.”
America has good health care, but it’s “inordinately expensive” with accessibility and efficiency issues, Franken said.
To solve this issue, Franken said the U.S. should go all in on the Affordable Care Act, fix the inefficiencies associated with it and see where that goes.
“Ultimately, I think we ought to have Medicare in place of the exchange of public and private option,” he said. “I don’t exactly know, but there are plenty of studies out there that address a plethora of options.”
Franken said the ACA is the only plan that provides a solution to give healthcare to the 30 million Americans who don’t have it.
“It doesn’t do it cleanly, but at least it’s a solution and it put people on the path to coverage,” he said. “I don’t know what else there is that helps out in that regard.”
In regard to foreign affairs, Franken said the U.S. has a problem of commonly stepping forward with military solutions when that is the last thing it should do.
“You can’t kill your way out of these problems,” he said. “It just doesn’t work. Regime change is so yesterday. It just doesn’t work. And it really won’t work in a place like Iran.”
According to Franken, special interest groups are the major cause of the political divide in America, and he won’t accept any support from a special interest group for his campaign.
“I think we either change the way we fund elections or we do something alternate, less binary,” he said.
If the special interest groups are addressed, Franken said the political divide in the country would be at least partially resolved as a natural consequence.
“There is a plethora of special interest-driven legislative initiatives in this country which inordinately change the way we think about and who’s advantaged by legislation,” he said. “And it creates an abnormal divide, which separates us versus brings us together.”
Franken said he has been doing events similar to the one in Garner about twice a day since he started his campaign.