John Delaney

U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., a 2020 presidential hopeful, talks with voters at Jackson Street Brewing in Sioux City on Dec. 2. Delaney is among a number of Democrats running for president who are expected to visit Northwest Iowa this year in the run-up to the state's 2020 caucuses.

SIOUX CITY -- Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat from Maryland and 2020 presidential hopeful, made his purported 20th visit to Iowa on Sunday, a little more than 14 months ahead of the Iowa caucuses. 

Visiting with voters at Jackson Street Brewing, 607 Fifth St., Delaney pitched his vision of a United States with less partisan gerrymandering, a rejection of the Citizens United decision and a new way of handling healthcare. 

The son of a New Jersey union electrician who worked for 60 years, Delaney says that health insurance as a work benefit made sense decades ago, when people stayed at one job a long time. Today, with employees hopping from gig to gig and benefits fewer and farther between, he says that model needs to be re-examined. 

"That doesn't mean it has to be single-payer," he said. "In my view, Medicare is actually a really good model." 

He's also got an idea to stabilize Social Security funding (using Reagan-era revisions to the program as a road map); he wants to enact immigration reform based on earlier, stalled legislation; and thinks the U.S. President should hold a meeting with Congress every three months. 

Delaney, who was first elected to Congress in 2012, decried an uneven distribution of opportunities in the U.S. -- with the manufacturing jobs a generation ago moving overseas and huge investments being made only in a handful of prosperous sections of the country. 

"Our government hasn't done the basic things it should have done to prepare our citizens for this," he said. "And as a result, huge numbers of our citizens have been left behind."  

The small group sitting with Delaney tasked him with questions that he had apparently not planned to talk about. Among other things, he was asked the so-called "Universal Basic Income" and the idea that factory automation could be specially taxed; whether lobbying should be legal; whether certain progressive ideas like free college would be prohibitively costly; and drug legalization. 

At one point, an audience member performed what he called an "energy blessing" on Delaney, placing his hand over Delaney's heart. 

"Good thing you don't have Secret Service," another audience member remarked to laughter as the man put his hand on Delaney's chest. 

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