Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa City) used part of his time away from Washington D.C. to tour the southeast corner of his district.
He spent nearly two hours at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middletown on Wednesday and more than an hour at River Hills Village in Keokuk.
Rep. Loebsack’s trip to the roughly 19,000 acre military installation took him far beyond the administrative building along Highway 34.
The Congressman got to visit the new production line for 40 mm grenades and see them being tested on a large firing range.
They were launched at a large dirt mound, allowing onlookers to see a poof of dust before the explosion occurred.
Rep. Loebsack wanted to see the new 40 mm production line, which was transferred to the IAAAP from a similar installation in Milan, TN.
“It’s going to involve a significant number of new jobs as well, which is really good,” says Rep. Loebsack, “bottom line, though, is what they are doing here is for our national defense.”
He touted his office’s involvement in bringing more production lines to Middletown.
Rep. Loebsack says while the new lines are a positive now, he has some concerns about what sequestration could do to the IAAAP.
“To take a meat ax approach to this part of the budget, or any part of the budget, does not make any sense,” says Rep. Loebsack, “what Congress and the President have to do is make sure that they allow thoughtful considerations as far as what happens. Sequestration must be avoided.”
He does not expect any type of budget deal to occur before the last few days of 2012.
The Congressional Budget Office says the tax increases and budget cuts set for January could result in recession and higher unemployment.
RIVER HILLS VILLAGE
Rep. Loebsack used the second day of his southeast Iowa swing to visit River Hills Village, a retirement community along Highway 61 in northern Keokuk.
He toured the facility, which was built in 1999, focusing on a new rehabilitation complex designed to help people return home after a serious injury.
Rep. Loebsack says elder issues are very important to him for a variety of reasons.
“Part of it has to do with the democraphics of Iowa as we have a large elderly population in Iowa and it is oinly going to get larger,” says Rep. Loebsack, “as a congressman representing ¼ of the state’s population, it is very importatnt to come to a facility like this and hear from these folks and see how they are doing.”
He says he also has personal connections to facilities like River Hills Village, through his mother and through his daughter, who is a nurse.
Rep. Loebsack concluded his tour with a listening post session with about a dozen residents. They didn’t have a lot of questions, focusing on the future of Keokuk Area Hospital and social security.
The Congressman said he will continue to fight for KAH to gain critical access status.
Rep. Loebsack says when it comes to Social Security, lawmakers must work together on ideas to protect such a critical program.
He says Social Security is also personal to him, having grown up on Social Security and utilizing its benefits to get through college.
Rep. Loebsack says he would back an increase in the cap on taxable income and a means test.
“For seniors who can afford it, they may not be able to get quite the extent of the benefits,” says Rep. Loebsack, “in terms of the Social Security income they get when they are seniors and when they qualify.”
He says he would be hesitant to increase the eligibility age because he feels people who worked physical jobs deserve their benefits as soon as possible.