During your speech on Wednesday, you effectively accused President Trump of fanning the flames of white supremacy in this country. Steve King, who represents this district, has been in public office a lot longer than President Trump and has been accused of similar things by the media and by some within his own party. How much of this is a problem specific to Trump and how much speaks to broader trends? When I said that his four years would be an aberration I meant that people will say that we went through, we got out of it and we moved on.
But the President’s words matter. What I said in that speech is presidents can lift countries up or embrace the darker side of human nature. It’s a constant struggle in America with regard to race and racism. What he has done and the language he used, the specific attempts to get people upset about an invasion, that has an impact on people. And it’s liberated an awful lot of people.
Is it different in that it seems there are now more people willing to forgive that behavior? No. We’ve been through periods like this before that have been worse even than this one is but the point is that we are in a battle for the soul of America.
There’s been an ongoing trade war with China and the district we’re in has an interest in that dispute, how much do you worry about that impacting farmers in this district? The Trump trade war has exacerbated it to the point that you’re going to see an awful lot of farmers going under. I think they’re going to get hurt badly. And it’s all for the wrong reason. China is a problem but China’s biggest problem is that they’re stealing intellectual property. That’s where we should be confronting China.
Just this week the U.N. Climate Panel came out with a report that said humans must drastically alter food production to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming. Is that a tough pitch to make to Iowa farmers that “Hey, you’re really going to have to fundamentally change the way you do things?” No because Iowa farmers are pretty darn smart. They have to know how to plant and harvest and how to be mechanics and know foreign policy. They have to do it all.
Investing four hundred billion dollars and research for carbon capture, research for new technologies to deal with global warming, that can create 10 million new jobs. It’s an opportunity for new farmers.
A local issue here that has national reach, the federal government is going to get back into capital punishment. One of the first up is a convicted murderer, who killed five people, from around here. What role should the federal government play in deciding who lives and who dies?- The gentleman from around here committed heinous crimes and there seems to be little question that he’s the one who did it. But what happens is if we decide we’re going to engage in capital punishment we put the wrong people to death sometimes. I would not reimpose the federal death penalty. Minimum mandatory life in prison is a god awful sentence to begin with.
You unveiled your plan to secure rural health in America on Thursday. One of the health-related issues in our area is that occasionally there has been a need for sharing agreements for ambulance assistance and emergency medical resources because the resources just don’t exist everywhere. How does your plan address that issue? We can address the provider shortage by creating more incentives for professionals to serve in rural areas. That’s true for homegrown docs and we can encourage that through things like the public service loan forgiveness program.
I want to create a rural emergency medical center designation. The idea there is that we make it easier for a lot of medical facilities to stay open by helping them to get fully compensated and reimbursed on their Medicare and Medicaid.
A third thing has to deal with telehealth. This is a really powerful technology. It was first used in the 90s to help with stroke victims but there’s much more we can do in the digital age when we do need that kind of specialized care or different kinds of care that lend themselves for remote service.
A state story that’s bubbled up a little bit. We had a case down in Des Moines where two bodies were found in rail car that was shipping steel from Mexico to southern Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, the sheriff’s office said that it appears one was from Honduras. It’s gotten some traction. Do you think it’s more difficult to get people to pay attention to immigration issues when they’re this removed, physically, from the border? The irony is that in communities like the Midwest, where we live, immigration is a big part of the story but in the form of benefit, economically, for our communities.
What you see at the border, it’s not just about immigration. It’s about people fleeing for their lives. They’re not necessarily here trying to chase the American dream, they’re trying to avoid a nightmare in their own countries. We really need to help make sure that people can prosper in their own countries. That’s the long-term solution to the migration crisis which is only going to be made harder by things like climate change.
This week there was a climate change U.N. panel that said humans are going to need to drastically alter food production, which has the potential to impact farmers here in Iowa and then another burgeoning issue with farming is automation. Both have the potential to disrupt a lot of farmers. What can be done to mitigate both of these issues? What those two issues have in common is that they both represent profound and shift change at the very foundations of our economy and society.
When it comes to climate, we are now nearing a state of emergency. We no longer have the luxury of arguing whether it’s real. When it comes to automation, the big question is how do we master these changes that make them better for us? If automation is going to push more people into gig work, then we’ve got to make sure that gig workers are protected. We can no longer organize our society around assuming you’re going to have a lifelong relationship with the same employer.
You gave a speech about white supremacy this week. Others in the field have painted some of the biggest perpetrators of bigotry, racism and white supremacy as somewhat of an aberration. Can people afford to treat it as an aberration if it’s something much deeper? I believe it is much deeper than that.
I think a figure like this president never ever gets close to election under ordinary circumstances. I’m very nervous that our party could attempt to play it safe and wind up with a strategy that is self-defeating. Part of how we got here is that the old normal wasn’t working.
The rise of these white identity politics reflect these deeper issues that we’ve got to deal with or perhaps they’ll produce somebody even more problematic than the current president.
Gun control has come out a lot this week and when the topic comes up it’s typically focused on mass shootings, which makes sense, but why do you think suicide by gun doesn’t come up as much?- Suicide is something we need to address through better mental health access and resources in our country. But we do need to talk about gun suicides. I think there’s a myth out there that somebody who attempts suicide would do the same thing regardless of whether they have access to a gun. That’s just not true. You can look at the statistics and it’s clear that there is less likelihood of suicide attempts being completed when people don’t have access to guns.