Congressional candidate Dr John Paschen (D) talks about issues, campaign

Dr John Paschen 

Dr John Paschen, an Ames pediatrician and a Democratic candidate in the Fourth Congressional district, will run against Rep Steve King (R) of Kiron if both are successful in the June primaries. Paschen says, “My goal isn’t to beat Steve King. My goal is to get to Washington to try to help.”

Paschen talked with GreeneCountyNewsOnline editor Tori Riley last month about his campaign. He spoke on topics he knows well, told his strategy for broadening his knowledge, and shared his campaign plans.

He talks about immigration with a much different tone than Rep King, saying immigrants play an important role not only in our culture, but in the Iowa economy. He would support a path for citizenship for immigrants who are already here to “get them back on the radar, not in the shadows.”

He said it wouldn’t be a fast, easy process and it wouldn’t be free. “But if they’ve been here, working, keeping within the law, these are the type of people we want in this country,” he said.

About healthcare, he said the Affordable Care Act has left populations uncovered and that it should be fixed, not repealed.

He suggested the ACA should be refinanced, in effect re-insuring high risk patients. The ACA initially did that, but that portion of the plan was discontinued under the Trump administration. He would also support a public option, allowing people to buy into Medicare if they have no other way to obtain health insurance. That was part of the initial draft of the ACA but it was dropped in Congressional negotiations.

“We have a complex medical system. We have a lot of different populations. We have a lot of people with their hand in the cookie jar, for good or bad. The public option would be a great dry run for single payer – see what works, see what doesn’t work,” he said. “If we’d been doing that for the past seven years instead of working so hard to defend it, we’d be that much closer. No one thought the Affordable Care Act was the last step. Everyone who looked at it, who thought about it seriously, knew it was just the beginning.”

About gun laws, he said he cried after the Sandy Hook shooting (December 2012). He was shocked when no substantive changes in gun laws were made, “and then I got numb. I think a lot of us did.”

The recent school shooting in Parkland, FL, should be a tipping point for the country, he said. “We need to make sure that any time we talk about this issue (gun laws), we do support sportsmen and hunters. We also have to support the right for people to feel safe in their home, if we need to. But we do not have to support weapons of mass destruction like assault rifles,” Paschen said.

He said the National Riflemen’s Association represents firearms manufacturers, not owners. The gun owners he knows are responsible and keep their guns locked up. “They don’t feel a need to have something that can slaughter 50 or 70 people at the drop of a hat,” he said, and added, “Until we get the NRA out of the debate, nothing is going to happened.” He said politicians should return money they have received from the NRA.

About abortion, he said that although he’s Catholic, his views on abortion are based on life experience and practicality in the face of what can be a life crisis for a woman.
“Elective abortion is a failure of society on many different levels, but until we’ve evolved beyond the point of women feeling like they need to do it, it needs to be available and safe.”

About public education, he said there should be national standards about how children are educated. He’d like to see more funding go to education, but that should fall to the states. He does not support a voucher system for private schools.

Paschen is very knowledgeable about healthcare and immigration, as he serves many international families in his pediatric practice. He is tackling other subjects that he doesn’t work with daily as a student doing independent study. He has a trusted friend who each week researches a different topic and then discusses it over coffee. Unions and the 2018 tax bill are among the topics they’ve discussed. He’s used Iowa State University experts on agriculture, mental health issues, and more.

He says King has an intellectual pool to pull from, and he’s working on building one, too.
“You can’t know everything about everything, but I do have resources and I’m trying to build up that base of knowledge for things I don’t know about,” he said.

His campaign strategy will be “to re-introduce Steve King to the Fourth District…. We have to remind people of the laws he’s voted for that have definitely hurt people in the Fourth District,” Paschen said. “By all measures I can see, he’s not doing the job we put him there to do. It’s time to change.”

He called his campaign a “ground game,” noting that previous campaigns against King have spent lo of money and not unseated him. He said he’ll rely on “old-fashioned bean feeds and corn and hotdog feeds.”

He wants to listen to people in the Fourth District and in Washington. “I really feel that if you give people an audience, if you give people a voice, you’ll find common ground. If you start yelling people, you start telling them they’re stupid, it doesn’t work,” he said. “One thing I learned in medicine is the best thing you can do is listen.”

The recent shutdown and near shutdown of the federal government is part of what prompted him to run for Congress. He said Congress is not doing what it’s supposed to do. He said the Republican majority does not have a leader, that President Trump has not risen to the role of being a leader.

He said other times in the past, presidents were elected who were “sub-optimal.” “They rose to the task. They stopped doing crazy things. They got good advisors and listened to them, and they were good leaders. He (Trump) hasn’t done that,” he said.

“My hope is that with this election in 2018 we’ll have people in power that will be able to marginalize him, that will be able to make laws, pass them, and if he doesn’t like them, just override him,” he concluded.

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