Former Sha Na Na singer and “Grease” cameo star Jon “Bowzer” Bauman inserted himself into Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race Thursday, suggesting Democrat Rita Hart would expand Social Security while Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks would cut the program.
Bauman, 72, known as the “Grease” dance contest band member who sang in a deep voice,”How low can you go,” now leads the Social Security Works Political Action Committee. (However, in a Zoom appearance, he showed off both his classical and rock music chops, and proved he can still sing.)
He also knows his way around issues involving Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Bauman, appearing with slicked-back hair but no sign of a muscle shirt, said his mother went back to school late in life to get a master’s degree, and worked as a librarian.
“She had a fulfilling career in her later life,” Bauman said. “When she finally retired, I can tell you first-hand that it was her Social Security and new programs like Medicare that allowed her to live a life of dignity and independence.”
Seated at a keyboard, Bauman said Hart wants to ensure that Social Security and the federal medical programs go on, while Miller-Meeks would cut them.
“These are programs that Rita Hart is going to fight to protect and expand and that her opponent is going to try to cut,” Bauman said.
Hart and Miller-Meeks are running to replace retiring Congressman Dave Loebsack. Miller-Meeks, a state senator and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, ran unsuccessfully against Loebsack three times.
Hart said she learned how to listen growing up in a large family on a northeast Iowa dairy farm. Washington needs to listen, too, she said.
“That’s the lesson Washington has forgotten that when we forget to listen to the voices really matter, and instead listen to the voices that have all the money and all the power, that’s when we start making poor decisions,” Hart said.
That applies to the Social Security issues, Hart said.
“That’s what this issue is all about, is leaning in and listening to the voices that are saying Social Security is important to us,” Hart said. “It’s crucial to us and we’re going to be a much worse country, and a much worse society, if we don’t allow this system that has worked so well for so many for so long to continue and to actually get even stronger.”
Miller-Meeks’ campaign did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Her website, which calls her “Iowa conservative,” lists health care as one of her top issues. In a video, she supports affordable and accessible health care, but speaks against Medicare for all, “because it doesn’t give you choice.”
In her early campaigns, Miller-Meeks supported privatization of Social Security, but later focused on allowing people to use personal savings accounts to take some pressure off what she saw as a strained Social Security system.