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Democrats seeking Iowa’s US Senate seat debate student loan debt

JOHNSTON — The three candidates competing for the Iowa Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination say college student debt is a problem, but they disagree about providing relief to borrowers.

During a debate last night on Iowa PBS, Mike Franken of Sioux City said wage stagnation and the profits banks and investors make from college loans have made the situation worse. “But I believe it’s a divisive issue in America to set aside student loans,” Franken said. “…Somebody who graduated two years ago, do we compensate them?…Is this an ongoing thing and if we constantly wipe out student loan debt, what do you think the cost of college is going to do?”

Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids, suggested college debt relief could be offered as an incentive to get college grads to settle in places where there’s been population loss. “If we do anything when it comes to relief, it should be targeted,” Finkenauer said. “I mean, you should not be giving anything to anybody who’s making more than — gosh — $100,000 or more a year. That’s just not how anything like this should work.”

Glenn Hurst, a physician from Minden, said he supports not only wiping out current college loan debt, but paying back people who paid off their loans.

“We really need to be looking even farther forward,” Hurst said. “…Community college should be free, so should trade schools.”

The candidates agree that congress should pass a law guaranteeing access to abortion nationwide and were asked during the debate if requirements for things like parental consent or a definition of fetal viability should be added. Finkenauer said as a 33-year-old woman, her presence in the Senate would send a strong message as lawmakers debate abortion rights. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to replace the oldest man currently in the United States with the youngest woman in history ever to get there?” Finkenauer asked.

As the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v Wade, Franken said it’s time to put the framework of the opinion in federal law, without additional restrictions. “I believe this is a responsibility of the women, and her doctor,” Franken said.

Hurst said the Supreme Court should be expanded from nine to 19 justices.  “We’ve got to have a complete change in the way we do things in Washington, D.C.,” Hurst said.

Finkenauer said congress should consider term limits for Supreme Court justices. Franken suggested justices should be limited to serving no more than 18 years.

These three candidates are asking Primary voters to choose them as the General Election challenger to Republican Chuck Grassley. Grassley, who is seeking an eighth term in the U.S. Senate, is widely expected to defeat a primary challenger. Jim Carlin, a Republican state senator from Sioux City, had about $5400 cash on hand in his campaign account at the end of March.



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