Phil Ferren seeks Third District seat

Matt Kuhns

Ottumwa Republican Phil Ferren said Monday he would work to represent the people of Iowa’s Third District, not lobbyists, if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I have the training, courage and experience to stand up to special interests,” Ferren said.

Ferren is one of three Republicans challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell for the Third District seat, which encompasses Story County and most of southwest Iowa. Jay Marcus, an attorney from Fairfield, and State Sen. Larry McKibben, R-Marshalltown, are the other two candidates.

Ferren, who once worked at the Internal Revenue Service as a tax attorney, said curtailing the powers of the IRS is a top priority.

The IRS employs a lot of “callous, indifferent, even incompetent people,” he said.

Taxpayer abuse by the IRS is a serious problem that must be corrected, Ferren said, adding that many real tax evaders are overlooked while honest people are harassed.

The IRS is not the only tax-related area where Ferren sees a need for improvement. He also said the entire tax system needs to be overhauled.

The current tax structure is “a complete mess,” Ferren said.

Ferren said he supports throwing out the current tax code completely and replacing it with a modified flat tax.

He said such a system would not only be much easier to understand but would also save the government money, because administering the tax code would be far simpler.

Ferren rates Social Security as an important issue, and he proposed two solutions to Social Security’s problems.

First, Ferren said, he would support raising the age of eligibility for Social Security to 70 and adjusting the cost-of-living payment increases. He said the amount of money the measures could save is “staggering.”

Second, he said, Social Security funds need to be invested someplace with a better return than the current rate, which he called “abysmal.”

Ferren said the federal government has “intruded too deeply” into education, and he wants to simplify their role.

National government should simply support research and development and ensure every student has access to a good education and at least one good meal, he said.

Ferren also said the government should give education money back to states in block grants, which could be offered free of unfunded mandates or other strings.

Ferren said he would represent Iowans better than the current Third District Representative Leonard Boswell, who Ferren said is “in the hip pocket of labor union bosses.”

Boswell’s vote against fast-track legislation “should automatically disqualify him for re-election,” Ferren said.

Ferren strongly supports fast-track trade authority, which requires Congress to vote on trade agreements promptly and without amendments. He said this power would help many people in the Third District who depend on foreign trade.

In a straw poll held at a recent ISU College Republicans meeting, Ferren won with a vote of 17-1-1 over other Republican candidates Jay Marcus and Larry McKibben.