In his only scheduled town hall meeting, Congressman Leonard Boswell told a crowd of 100 people that he might not vote for the health care reform bill. Boswell, who is considered to be the most vulnerable congressional incumbent in Iowa, told the audience, “I can’t answer that because we don’t have a bill.”
However Boswell’s congressional website tells a different story. The front page of Boswell’s website states, “As a Member of Congress, representing the Third Congressional District of Iowa, I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and with President Obama to create real reforms that will help Iowans and all Americans receive health insurance and access to their family doctors. Since H.R. 3200, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, was introduced on July 14th, I have been in various meetings analyzing this bill with the needs of Iowans in mind, voicing my support and criticism for the many provisions in this monumental bill. I am fighting for strong provisions that will contain the cost of health care, pay providers fairly, and maintain access to services.”
Why is Congressman Boswell lying to his constituents? It’s bad enough that Congressman Boswell has only made time to hold one town hall meeting addressing the healthcare issue in his district during the August recess, but misleading his own constituents for political convenience is unacceptable. Boswell’s lone town hall meeting occurred in Sigourney, a tiny town in the easternmost county in his district. Sigourney is a two hour drive from Des Moines, which is also in Boswell’s district.
Boswell’s website also states, “The Public Option should be self-sustaining and deficit neutral.” That statement indicates that Congressman Boswell supports the Obama administration’s single-payer, government-run program. However, the thousands of people who have turned out to town hall meetings all across the state are vehemently opposed to the Democrats’ proposal, and so Boswell was singing a different tune than is on his website when he had to meet his constituents face to face.
Boswell is splitting hairs by claiming that, since there isn’t a final version of the bill, he doesn’t know whether or not he will support it. Boswell’s website is very clear. He supports a public option and clearly communicates that he will support H.R. 3200 as long as it fixes the Medicare payment formulas. Congressman Boswell owes his constituents a clear explanation of his position on healthcare reform. The one way in which he can do that is to hold additional town halls across his district.
Boswell is trying to have it both ways on this issue to avoid an embarrassing situation like other members of congress have experienced in their town hall meetings. Boswell is also probably worried that showing strong support for the bill could hurt him in next year’s election.
While Congressman Boswell faced a primary challenge by former State Representative Ed Fallon in 2008, Boswell won easily and defeated his Republican opponent by a 14 point margin. Still, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has included Boswell in its incumbent protection program.
Speculation remains that Poweshiek County Attorney Mike Mahaffey is considering another run against Boswell. Mahaffey is a former GOP state chairman and was the Republican nominee for congress in 1996, the last time the seat was open. Mahaffey narrowly lost to Boswell.
If Mahaffey does run for the third district congressional seat, he will have to first win a primary to earn the Republican nomination. Thus far, two relatively unknown candidates have stepped forward and announced their intentions to run. Dave Funk, a medically retired Northwest Airlines pilot, had a campaign kickoff fundraiser Wednesday night, which Congressman Steve King attended. Funk is the current President of the Iowa Chapter of the Safari Club and served as the Co-Chair of Iowa Sportsmen for McCain-Palin in 2008. The other candidate is Pat Bertroche, a psychiatrist with a practice in Clive.
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