DES MOINES — Republican congressional candidate Christopher Peters told a Des Moines business group Thursday he believes he would be more effective in representing the interests of Iowans living in the U.S. House than what they’re getting now.
Peters, 58, a Coralville surgeon making his second bid to unseat incumbent Democrat Dave Loebsack of Iowa City in the 2nd Congressional District, said he is frustrated to see Congress unable to do its job due to partisan bickering, which has given the executive branch more power in directing national policy.
“Our politics is broken,” Peters told a candidate forum sponsored by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “I think we need to change that dynamic.”
Peters said he has had differences with the Trump administration on some issues, such as trade tariffs, but overall, he said, “I think I would be able to work with the president. I think Mr. Loebsack is unlikely to even get an audience or have a working relationship with him.”
Loebsack, 65, who has held the 2nd District seat since 2006, won the 2016 election with 54 percent of the vote while Peters garnered 46 percent. Loebsack is slated to address the same business group next week.
Peters said he would not be afraid to buck his political party if a bill did not meet his criteria of being constitutional, beneficial to the country and beneficial to his constituents.
“If it’s bad for my constituents, absolutely I have no problem voting against my party,” he told the afternoon gathering. “Just marching in lockstep with the Republican Party, that’s not my motivation.”
Peters said he was “not a fan” of the Trump administration’s decision to use tariffs as a way to negotiate new trade agreements.
“I thought that was a very blunt instrument to pull out and use” that created uncertainty and hurt farmers and manufacturers in Iowa, he said.
He said he would have supported the GOP federal tax-cut plan enacted last year, which lowered the corporate tax rate and improved America’s competitive position.
But he said he would have closed more corporate loopholes and favored more simplification while opposing an omnibus spending bill that meant more “spend and borrow” rather than common-sense budgeting.
On immigration, he said he favored expanding legal immigration to make the process easier and faster. He said he supported stronger, cost-effective border security but not necessarily building a wall along the southern U.S. border.
“I don’t want to waste taxpayers’ dollars building an immense wall over a desert that nobody crosses. But securing the border to the degree that we have a cost-effective manner makes sense,” he said.
“For people who are here who came outside the legal process but are living peaceful, productive lives, I think we should find a pathway for them to have permanent status,” Peters added. “Whether that means actual citizenship, I’m going to leave that to the political process, but if I had my dream, that’s what I would like to see.”
People with a history of violent crime who are found in this country illegally should be deported, he added.
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