Iowa?s first-in-the-nation caucuses make it a focal point of presidential campaigns because every candidate wants to get off to a good start.
For John Delaney, that means starting early, even a few years early. Representing Maryland?s 6th District in the United States House of Representatives, Delaney is the first Democrat to announce his run for president in 2020. He stopped in Fairfield Friday morning at Riverside Family Restaurant III to share his thoughts on national political topics and field questions from the public.
Delaney began by talking about how the economy has become more global in the past few decades. He said globalization has been a boon to mankind, lifting millions of people out of poverty.
?The Democratic Party needs to embrace where the world is going,? he said. ?We need to educate our children so they?re prepared for it.?
Delaney criticized the Republican Party for looking to the past for inspiration.
?The Republicans are debating between an economic policy from the 19th century and one from the 20th century,? he said.
Delaney said starting trade wars through imposing tariffs is a 19th-century idea, and trying to bring back coal-mining jobs reflects a mindset stuck in the 1950s.
One old way of thinking Delaney wants to get past is tying health care and retirement to employment. He believes health care is a right, though he wants to explore ways of providing it beyond requiring employers to pay for it. He said it made sense to tie those things in an economy where most people work a single job, but not in an economy in which people work two or three jobs.
The congressman asked the audience rhetorically, ?Why are we progressive?? to which he answered, ?Because we think about the future,? and said that means engaging with the world. He said the U.S. should do that through trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. signed in February 2016 but withdrew from after President Donald Trump assumed office in January 2017.
He lamented Trump?s desire to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, too, an agreement designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Later in his talk, Delaney said the way to give renewable sources of energy a ?fair shot? is to put a price on carbon by taxing it.
?We need to assert our leadership so we can be part of these global discussions,? he said. ?And asserting leadership doesn?t mean going to war.?
Delaney said the Democratic Party should be the party that welcomes legal immigration, does not attack the press and encourages civil debate.
?We can be a big tent party without sacrificing our values,? he said.
Audience member David Goodman said he agreed with Delaney about wanting to avoid trade wars, but he wondered how the U.S. could get China to change some of its trade practices. The U.S. has accused China of creating unfair competition caused by state subsidies, state-owned enterprises, and ?forced technology? transfers, whereby foreign companies must share their technology with China to access its market.
Delaney said that is not all China is doing, remarking on a series of islands the country is building in the South China Sea. As of March 2017, the U.S. estimated China had added 3,200 acres of land on seven islands in the sea. Delaney said this is significant because if this land is considered part of China, it will allow China to claim exclusive access to the waters within 12 miles of the islands, and thus control over shipping.
The congressman recommended taking China to international court. If China isn?t willing to change its practices, he wants to kick it out of the World Trade Organization.
Above all, he said the U.S. must compete economically with China, which was one of the goals of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
?The best way to put pressure on China is to compete in their own backyard,? he said.
Delaney said one of former President Barack Obama?s mistakes was not focusing on an infrastructure bill as his first piece of legislation. He said it would have helped large swathes of the country that receive little investment. He said about 80 percent of venture capital goes to just 50 of the 3,007 counties in the U.S.
?Huge regions of the country are not connected to the economy,? he said.
Delaney floated the idea of requiring government-issued contracts to include a certain percent of workers from economically depressed areas.
Delaney proposed that the president debate the Congress for three hours on television once per quarter.
He said it will give the public a better idea of who is telling the truth so that the two sides don?t have their own facts.