MUSCATINE — Potential Democratic presidential candidate Senator Michael Bennet visited Muscatine again on Monday for another campaign stop, this time stopping by the Black Pearl Café.
Having already visited Muscatine once, Senator Bennet was glad to be back, citing Muscatine (as well as several other counties in Iowa) as important swing counties. Before his speech, Bennet was introduced by Henry Markboard, the county chairman for the Bennet campaign, who called Bennet the ‘anti Donald Trump’.
“In Iowa, one of our important jobs every four years is helping select the next president and making sure we get the right person,” said Markboard, “This is the choice we have to make.” Markboard added that Democratic-aligned residents should be concerned with electing a president who could beat Donald Trump, making sure Dave Loebsack is replaced with a Democrat, uniting the party and by extension uniting the country.
When Bennet took the stage, he promised to work hard and stay in the race until Iowans have made up their minds on who they want to represent the Democratic Party. “If we’re going to win… we need to have a candidate whose agenda is one that folks can run with,” Bennet explained. He added that he believes people who can’t always afford a middle class life are looking for a change to government that would fix the inequality problem, and that he sympathizes with those who are stuck in economic and educational systems that enforce rather than liberate.
Another one of the big points Bennet made throughout his visit was working on the behalf of the next generation of Americans, and that he has the interests of American families at heart. “I think society is judged by what we leave for the next generation,” Bennet continued, “and if we keep going down the road we’ve been going down the last ten years or so, we are going to be the first generation to leave less opportunity to those who come after us.”
When the floor was opened up for questions, several Muscatine residents asked for Bennet’s perspective and plans for issues such as the national debt, voting security, housing, barriers preventing people from being self-sufficient, climate control and pollution, and even the disrespect and name-calling that’s been present in American politics from several candidates, including President Trump.
“What has become acceptable behavior in the political discourse on television would have been unacceptable to generations of Americans,” he said, comparing it to bad reality TV, “It’s up to all of us to take back the democracy and to restore the morality and the patriotism of the democracy.”
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When asked about the national debt, Bennet pointed out how despite the country’s unemployment rate being down the deficit is still going up and critiqued the government for continuing to spend rather than preparing for economic down times. “This is a moment when what we should be doing is paying down our debt.” Bennet then compared the things that the government has been spending money on, such as tax cuts for the rich and wars in the Middle East, to simply lighting all that money on fire. “We need to stop spending the money the way we’re spending it and start investing in America.” Such investments would include funding towards mental care, schools, infrastructure and health care costs.
Housing was another issue Bennet had a lot to say about, pointing out how hard society has made it for poor people to house themselves in America and how these struggles prevent them from holding onto a job. “The punishment is worse than the crime, and the economic effects of evictions on an entire community are really, really damaging,” Bennet explained, “and the economic effects of evictions on an entire community are really, really damaging. If we can think of ways of dealing with this other than just evicting people, I think that would be a step in the right direction.”
One of the solutions Bennet suggested for this issue was building more affordable housing units near jobs and transportation, both in rural areas and in cities. He also touched on how the government should be creating economic opportunities that give marginal benefits in order to help working class and poor people lift themselves out of the bottom of the economy. This includes raising the minimum wage, paid family leave, and child tax credit. “We need to make working hard pay again in this country.”
Finally, Bennet talked about climate control and pollution, saying that he would reinforce helpful regulations and vehicle standards if elected and that he wouldn’t work in favor of big oil companies. “If we don’t get started on climate change, (the next generation) is going to be furious with us and they’re never going to forgive us.” Bennet added that, when it comes to the argument that working to fix the environment would harm the economy, he isn’t going to lose that argument. “We can make the transition we need to make on climate and the environment and still drive economic growth for everyone in this country.” As far as Bennet is concerned, he thinks Trump should be the last climate denier in the White House.
When asked what he would do first as president if he were elected, Bennet confidently answered that it would be overturning Trump’s tax cut for the rich and replacing it with a tax cut for the middle class. While his café crowd was small, the Muscatine residents that did come to the event were very pleased with the points that Senator Bennet made and the answers he gave to their questions, clearly showing their support.